United Way’s Power of Youth Council Presents 2014 Power of Giving Celebration

By: Mona Sehgal Last Updated: May 30, 2014

On Thursday, May 29, the United Way of Porter County headquarters transformed into the Roaring ‘20s: Gatsby Edition for United Way’s Power of Youth Council Power of Giving event. The celebration was in honor of the accomplishments this past year and gave the Power of Youth a chance to say goodbye to the graduating seniors while congratulating the recipients of the Power of Youth grants for youth self-esteem programs.

As guests entered the building, they had an opportunity to grab delicious snacks while mingling with the Power of Youth students. Power of Youth was created through the United Way of Porter County Americorps Grant on December 6, 2007. The council consists of high school students that exhibit a passion for community through service and leadership. Each high school in Porter County is allotted three representatives on the council.

Porter County’s Power of Youth has been working since the beginning of the school year to raise money to allocate towards non-for-profit organizations of their choice. The students have held events all year, such as the Youth Day of Caring, Chalk the Walk Porter County, the “Live United” Dance Marathon, and the Valpo Half Marathon. They raised over $15,000 to give to local charities of their choice. Such organizations include Neighbors’ Educational Opportunities, Inc., Junior Achievement, Hilltop Neighborhood House/Walt’s Place, Family & Youth Services Bureau of Porter County, Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County, and Family House.

The masters of ceremony were Valparaiso High School junior Luma Khabbaz and Wheeler High School sophomore Jenna Georgi. Not only did they acknowledge the organizations that they worked with this past year, but also honored the high school seniors in Power of Youth who will be graduating. The council said their goodbyes to seniors Jake Bertucci (Wheeler), Madeline Buynak (Andrean), DJ Dull (Valparaiso), Tricia Graveline (Portage), Rachel Major (Portage), and Rachel Willing (Valparaiso). They presented the seniors with United Way duffle bags as parting gifts.

Khabbaz stated “It has been such an awesome and rewarding experience to spend this whole year raising money and finally being able to give it out and see the difference it's making in our community.”

Congratulations to the 2013-2-14 Porter County Power of Youth members on a phenomenal year!

Jake Bertucci (Wheeler), Madeline Buynak (Andrean), Kalleen Cullison (Kouts), DJ Dull (Valparaiso), Eric Erlenbach (Morgan), Jenna Georgi (Wheeler), Tricia Graveline (Portage), Skyller Hale (Portage), Larry Henley (Kouts), Sara Hutton (Andrean), Anna Jones (Chesterton), Luma Khabbaz (Valparaiso), Kurt Kohler (Valparaiso), Donnae Lipinski (Washington), Rachel Major (Portage), Kayla Malackowski (Chesterton), Kiera Markham (Adrean), Rachel Meeks (Morgan), Josh Otero (Kouts), Denis Ribordy (Wheeler), Kelsey Vinzant (Washington), Rachel Willing (Valparaiso), and Zoe Yergler (LaCrosse).

The Power of Youth council would also to personally thank McKenna Dickt for being an amazing sponsor and inspiring them to reach their full potential.

Click here for more photos!