Community foundation’s YAC learns about community

“What do a church, a library and a private philanthropist have in common?” That is the question Tiffin Community Foundation asked its new 2019-20 Youth Advisory Council members Thursday.

Twelve junior and senior students from local high schools make up YAC. For the last nine years, the community foundation has begun in October, spending one day each month visiting nonprofit organizations and learning about their work in the community.

On Thursday, the YAC visited Tiffin-Seneca Public Library, where Director Matt Ross spoke about the benefits of the library’s annual “Community Read.”

Ross told how the program started as a way to get new clients into the library and has grown into an amazing opportunity to form new partnerships with community leaders, politicians, health organizations, farmers and retail organizations. Unexpected outcomes have become the norm with all of the programming that takes place around the Community Read.

From the library, YAC Director Debbie Gershutz led students to the East Green where Tiffin Community Foundation Director Jodie Reinbolt talked about the efforts of private philanthropy in Seneca County. Funded by Andrew Kalnow, his family and National Machinery Foundation, the East Green is yet another example of unexpected outcomes.

When conversations first began several years ago about replacing a worn-out courthouse, how to save an abandoned school building and how to make a more welcoming corridor from Heidelberg University to Downtown Tiffin, nobody could have envisioned a public green space with happy children running through a colorful splash pad while families enjoy the sounds of nationally acclaimed musical performances on the lawn at the beautiful next-door amphitheater.

Most appropriately, the YAC thought for the day was from Miriam Beard.

“The results of philanthropy are always beyond calculation,” she said.

The next stop was at Old Trinity Episcopal Church where Rector Aaron Gerlach spoke, asking all to tell of our favorite memory around making or sharing food with our friends and families. Students recalled special meals, favorite dishes, the excitement of boxed dinners and even the joys of helping at the St. Paul’s Sharing Kitchen.

Once Gerlach had everyone thinking about food, he began telling the students about the church’s vision to offer their facilities as a community kitchen. Students considered the needs of a growing and changing downtown population and what the needs of the community might entail. Having seen the results of previous vision at T-SPL and the East Green, students were introduced to the Old Trinity project still in its planning stages.

Concluding the day with lunch at Reino’s buffet room, where students were asked if they had figured out the answer to the question: “What do a church, a library and a private philanthropist have in common?”

“They are all building a better community,” they answered.

In April of 2020, this YAC group will consider grant applications for projects impacting youth in Seneca County. If a nonprofit organization would like to apply for a grant, organizers can complete the application at www.tiffinfoundation.org by March 31.