Friday, August 20, 2010

Federal Valley Resource Center

The Federal Valley Resource Center is using their spring grant money from The Athens Foundation to bring the buildings up to safety code. The $2,550 is being used to purchase the proper exit and safety lighting and fire extinguishers for all 24 exit doors and seven hallways in the three buildings. The safety essentials will be put up with volunteer labor.

In May of 2003, the Federal Hocking School Board initiated the formation of the Federal Valley Resource Center to manage the campus for the benefit of the community. The Center serves eastern Athens County and is the only site in the area that can meet so many community needs. It is equipped with exercise machinery, a gymnasium, a concert hall, a thrift store and a computer lab. A senior club meets in the basement of the Center, and karate classes and summer programs for children are available. Reasonably priced hourly or monthly rentals are available for studios, offices, classes and parties.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Grant Application Deadline

The Athens Foundation is accepting applications for grants now through September 15th. Grants will be awarded to projects focused in the areas of health, social services, animal welfare and community improvement. Grant application forms can be found on our website at

The Women’s Fund is also accepting grant applications now through September 15th. The Fund supports social, educational and artistic projects aimed at improving the quality of life for low-income women and girls in Athens County. Grant application forms can be found on the Athens Foundations website at The Women’s Fund is a component fund of the Athens Foundation, and in just over 20 years it has donated $1 million to local charities and has an endowment of over $3 million. Any money that is donated to the Women’s Fund is used to support projects that are unfortunately not supported by other traditional sources. It only took $50 donations from eight local women to start the fund, so get your grant applications in and “be the candle that lights the way for Athens County’s women and girls.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nelsonville Community Center

Athens Foundations spring grant recipient, Nelsonville Community Center, is using their $2,550 to educate the community by promoting healthy living through a substance prevention program called LifeSkills Training.

The LifeSkills Training program is proven to reduce the risks of alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse and violence by targeting the major social and psychological factors that promote the initiation of substance abuse. The program was implemented on Auguest 1 and will continue until December 31 with Boys Group on Mondays, Girls Group on Tuesdays and Power Pals on Wednesdays from 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM.

The Nelsonville Community Center is a non-profit organization that welcomes all Nelsonville and surrounding community residents. At pre-school age, classes are offered to teach children social interaction, school readiness and educational play. School age children are educated in drug and alcohol prevention, safety education, health, nutrition and social development. A Parent Support Group provides knowledge and education to families about healthy living. The Nelsonville Community Center also provides community lunches, emergency food boxes, a free clothing bank, a community garden, a summer feeding program and an Ohio Benefit Bank site.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center

The Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center received a spring grant of $1,100 from the Athens Foundation, and they’re using the money to help enhance the local community by making arts programs accessible to people of all ages and abilities.

The grant money was used to purchase two 46” LCD monitors that will be programmed with historical and artistic content in order to enhance the printed material for the students and the visitors.

Founded in 1978 by Athens natives Harriet and Ora Anderson, the Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center is an art gallery that offers exhibitions, events and educational programs. The Barn helps increase tourism in Southeast Ohio, having exceeded 18,000 visitors in 2009 alone, including artists and individuals from 24 states and three foreign countries. The Center hosts four exhibitions each year and offers classes year round.

Because the Dairy Barn is notorious for their educational programs that help develop art appreciation among all ages, this year a new educational program was created; Project MOO CALF. This project is an educational outreach program that includes free Mentoring and Onsite Outreach for Children to inspire Arts Learning Fun. As part of the project, six educational panels will be created per exhibition, as well as education gallery guides and educational materials for hands on activities per exhibition. According to the Dairy Barn’s Executive Director Andrea Lewis, “Because children and the audiences are changing, we wanted to go into new media.” With the help of the two LCD TV’s, “each exhibition [will] have a specialized youth component that is digital in nature,” and with this, art programs really will be accessible to people of all ages and abilities.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Non-Profit Conference

"An opportunity for non-profits to network and hone their skills."

On August 25, 2010, non-profits of Appalachia Ohio will unite to network and build their leadership skills.

The conference, sponsored by both the Athens Foundation and the Regional Nonprofit Alliance at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University, will be held from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM and will feature workshops on social marketing, finance, board leadership and non-profits role in community leadership.

Speakers include Professor Robert Stewart, Director of the EW Scripps School of Journalism, and Hans Meyer, Asst. Professor of Journalism discussing the basics of social media marketing. Linda Thornton, CPA and Emily Prince, Executive Director of ARTS/West will be talking about finance for non-profits, and Professor Judy Millesen and Carol Kuhre will meet with board members to discuss board leadership. A special presentation will be made by Kathy Merchant who will talk about "Doing well by doing good: the role of non-profit organizations in driving success in school."

Kathy Merchant is the CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. She has received numerous achievement awards including the Ohio Philanthropy Award, the YMCA Career Woman of Achievement Award, and was named a "Top 50 Power and Influence" leader by The Nonprofit Times. Merchant chairs both the Strive Partnership and the Greater Cincinnati Workforce Network. She is known for serving in a number of leadership positions for non-profits including the Center for Effective Philanthropy, the National Center for Arts and Technology, and the Cincinnati USA Chamber.

If you're interested in hearing Merchant speak among many other community leaders, call 740-594-6061 or email to register.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Factory Street Studio

Factory Street Studio is one of the Athens Foundations’ spring grant recipients. The dance studio received $1,350 in grants and will be using the money to make renovations to the dance floor and a broken door.

The scuffed up, over-sanded hardwood dance floor will be replaced with a permanent Harlequin Standfast floor made of PVC. It is a specialized floor made specifically for dance studios and has a 30 year lifespan. The downstairs exterior door is no longer capable of opening and thus it will be replaced with a new door, eliminating the safety hazard the current broken door poses.

Factory Street Studio is a pre-professional and recreational dance organization which was founded in 1978 by two Ohio University dance graduates, Cita Strauss and Marina Walchi. The studio’s mission is to provide an educational program to South East Ohio dedicated to teaching creative dance, movement, and other artistic expressions. The staff aims to maximize students self-esteem and personal growth as well as dance technique and cooperative spirit.

At Factory Street, courses are offered in modern, ballet, jazz, tap, pointe, hip-hop, and modern composition. Twenty eight classes are offered every 14 week semester, with two concerts yearly. The studio has recently added two new programs to the course; taking upper class students to the Ohio Dance Festival and a visiting artists in composition program. Student age ranges from pre-school to adult.

By receiving this grant money, Factory Street is able to increase their ability to attract more students because as the quality of the building improves, enrollment in courses increases. And as more students get involved, the studio is given a greater opportunity to “encourage personal growth and cooperative spirit through creative dance and movement.”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Shade Community Center

The Athens Foundation’s most recent grant recipient, Shade Community Center, is using its' $3,000 to fulfill their mission of “strengthening lives in the community” by purchasing new computers to replace the outdated systems available to community members. The goal of replacing the outdated computers is to provide a local site for township and community members to learn Windows 7, Microsoft Office and other computer programs that may not be available elsewhere. By offering use of computer programs free of charge, the public is given the opportunity to advance their skills for better job opportunities, school projects, or even homework. When school is in session, classes will be available for members to learn how to properly use the programs.

The Shade Community Center Association was established in March of 2005. Weekly events are held at the Center, including Shade Senior Citizens Association, Shade Lodi History and Genealogy Association, Jerseyville Jammers Music Group, quilting, open gym, and Annual Community Appreciation Day. Shade is also notorious for throwing a kickin’ Halloween bash. Weekly hot lunches are offered, the computer lab is equipped with high-speed Internet, and a library is available to the public. There’s a basketball court and baseball field open to the community, and a new walking path surrounds the field. The Center is also the only emergency shelter between Athens and Coolville.

Space is available to rent by the public, and classroom size individual offices can be leased for permanent use. If you’re interested in renting out the Center, contact President Pat Davidson at

Monday, May 17, 2010

Eduacting area youth at the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery

The Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery is pursuing its mission of providing hands-on educational experiences for youth in the Athens area. The "movable museum" recently displayed one of its first exhibits, a kaleidoscope that offers insight into human perception, at Kidsfest in The Convo.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A computer literacy program at The Gathering Place

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bridgebuilders: An afterschool program at Trimble

Every day after school, Melissa Bailes offers students in Trimble Township the opportunity to engage with one another and themselves. They don’t need to pick up a football or play an instrument or anything. They just need to show up.

Bailes and the Bridgebuilders program hope to combat teen alcohol and drug abuse with mental and physical stimulation for the student population. The goal, as assessed by the Child and Family Services in Athens County, is to involve 100 percent of the students from fifth to eighth grade in some kind of after-school and summer activity.

Bailes has approached the problem by putting much of the program, which began in August, in the hands of its participants.

More than 30 students came into school on a Saturday afternoon, believe it or not, for a chance to set fire to the strings in a Guitar Hero competition that the program sponsored.

Bailes described the environment as “awesome”.

A group of students watched a stage performance of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Christmas play at ArtsWEST. Another visited the Athens Historical Society on a field trip. Students even took a few steps in a dance class. Still others joined a discussion group centered on nutrition and self-esteem.

The target students are not involved in other after-school activities and those who come from home environments where abuse is an everyday reality and the parents are often addicted to drugs, especially prescriptive ones. Children Services has reported that 85 percent of domestic abuse cases in Athens County involve substance abuse in some form.

According to a survey by Bridgebuilders, more than 7 percent of the students said they had used someone else’s prescription pain medication as a recreational drug. Even then, it ranks only fourth in the students’ drugs of choice.

“There are kids who don’t see much hope,” she said. “Now they’re excited. They come to me all the time and ask: ‘What are we doing next?’ These are kids who have never been to a play.”

The program is continuing to expand. Bailes is about to start a club called “Men of Strength”, focused on helping young male teens mature into men and not perpetuating domestic abuse in an area where it is common.

Finding community support is crucial for Bridgebuilders to maintain its success. Bailes plans on opening up a game night to involve families of students and other community members. Other possible plans include collaborations with the art studio at the Dairy Barn and Stuart’s Opera House.

Teen Power! Fighting violence with knowledge

When Kate McGuckin describes dating violence among teens, passion pierces through in her voice. Her fight is not only with individual instances of violence, but with an entire culture of aggression.

“We live in a very violent society,” said the director of My Sister’s Place, a domestic abuse shelter in Athens, “and the media glamorizes violence. We have a huge barrier trying to compete with the media.”

So, with aid from the Athens Foundation, My Sister’s Place recently partnered with Girl Power! to produce its first sessions of “Teen Power”, a program on dating violence for young teens. More than 40 area girls from ages 8 to 14 attended. The curriculum educated the girls on the characteristics of a healthy relationship, how to recognize abuse in a relationship, and what resources are available if they fear they are victims of abuse.

Teen dating violence is a tangible danger in Athens and across the nation. Studies of eighth and ninth grade students found that a quarter of them had suffered nonsexual violence in a dating situation and eight percent had been abused sexually.

The problem, as far as McGuckin can tell, forms from a combination of early exposure to sex and the prevalence of violence in television, movies and music.

“People are dating younger,” she said. “They are exposed to strong media messages about the importance of being popular, having a boyfriend, and seeking external validation through a relationship.”

In summary: “There’s a lot of peer pressure to be popular.”

So the Teen Power program responded by offering an opportunity for these young women to understand their own power against violent behavior and to prepare them for successful and healthy relationships as they enter the dating world. The girls designed t-shirts, posters and postcards reflecting those themes. The art was distributed to various local venues – libraries, schools, health centers – to raise awareness. Some girls wrote poetry; others cooperated to produce a play.

The key was peer-to-peer interaction and connection, which would ensure the lessons learned in Teen Power could translate into real-world scenarios.

“It was their program,” McGuckin said.

The authorities appear to be taking notice of the problem as well. Ohio passed legislation this last year mandating an education of dating violence in the school system.

McGuckin envisioned Teen Power as a program that could be replicated in the school environment. There is also room for expansion, and McGuckin hopes the opportunity for another session comes up.

“We would certainly like to continue this,” she said.