Sourced from Dubois County Free Press
Kim Wirthwein has $10,000 to put towards anything she wants for the music programs at Holland and Huntingburg Elementary Schools.
The unrestricted grant from the Dubois County Community Foundation the music program just received will be put to good use. Wirthwein, in her 19th year teaching music, is thinking the money can be used to add to the department’s musical instrument collection.
“Really, we need instruments to make music instead of just consuming it,” she said.
She also sees some of the money going to buy sheet music for the 178-student Southridge Choir.
But the bulk of it will go to instruments like drums, xylophones and guitars. Although Wirthwein has a list of items, she also plans on giving her students a voice in the process. “This is their program, and I teach over 800 kids in a week,” Wirthwein said. “These instruments and all this, I want it to follow them.”
Wirthwein came to Southridge two years ago from the Owensboro school system. The more metropolitan Owensboro system had an extensive investment in the arts in stark contrast to the rural, smaller school corporation in Southwest Dubois County. “When I went to Holland, they had nothing,” she said. “I opened a cabinet, and there were some sticks. I wanted to cry because these kids love music.”
Wirthwein can cite the studies that show how music improves scholastic performance but it is much more than that. “In the end, what is tested is not always what is most important,” she explained. “Music will be with you the rest of your life. It makes you a better person. It makes you a better human.”
Obviously, the community agreed. The music program was one of 21 different nonprofits eligible to receive the $10,000 through the Dubois County Community Foundation’s 12 Days of Christmas. In its second year, the program recognizes some of the lesser known service organizations in the county.
For the program, members of the Foundation’s board of directors and its volunteers are tasked with providing the name of an organization they would like to see receive support. This year, the 21 organizations named were A Kid’s Place, Backpack Buddies of Dubois County, Boy Scout Troop 181, Celebrate Recovery Group at Redemption, Celestine Volunteer Fire Department, Dubois County CASA, Forest Park Band Boosters, Freedom Reins, Girls On The Run, Huntingburg Event Center, Huntingburg and Holland Elementary music programs, Ireland Volunteer Fire Department, JETT, Memorial Hospital HOPE Garden, Mentors For Youth, ROJAC, Shared Abundance, Strings, Inc., The Parklands, VFW Dubois County Post 673 and Young Life.
Each organization named benefited from a $1,000 grant that was announced daily on the Foundation’s Facebook Page beginning on December 8. This led up to a day of open and public voting to determine which of the 21 organizations would receive $10,000 from the Foundation.
The community members voted by writing their choice in as a comment in the post. The voting exploded; the Foundation’s post had over 600 comments in the first hour. “For us, that was a ‘hmph’ moment,” said Clayton Boyles, Community Foundation Executive Director. “It was over 1,000 by lunch and by the time it was over, 2,664 votes had been cast.”
They even had a few calls to the Foundation which they decided to allow so community members that didn’t use Facebook were able to have a voice in the voting.
“It’s a great event that allows our volunteers to support something they care about,” Boyles said. “We got 21 glimpses, 21 examples of what our board cares about.”
What is important, is that many of these organizations are not that well known. The contest allows the public a chance to see other organizations that need community support. Plus, this year’s voting allowed the public to become more involved.
The music program received 555 votes from the public. And the $10,000 will benefit children in the school corporation for years to come.
“This is a telltale sign of what people care about in our community,” Boyles added. “You can see who voted for which organizations. It really shows in general what our county’s people care about.”
In addition to the fun and great end of the year contest, the Foundation hopes this could inspire people to become more involved with these nonprofit organizations. “There were over 2,600 votes or 2,600 unique donors that can support these 21 organizations or the many, many others in our community,” Boyles added. “Don’t stop with just liking or commenting on Facebook. Get out your checkbook and write out a year-end contribution. Think about what $100 from 2,600 donors could do.”
A total of $31,000 was granted to local charities through the 12 Days of Giving initiative this year. The Community Foundation hopes to continue 12 Days of Giving next year and subsequent years as long as grant funds are available.