Transforming Josephine County
Our motto “Students Serving the Community” makes it clear that the primary purpose of JCF students is to enhance the community and the quality of life of its residents. Josephine County is blessed with tremendous natural beauty, a wonderful four season climate, and numerous outdoor activities. JCF envisions that these natural attributes combined with the improvement of social and economic conditions will transform Josephine County into the “Best” all around county in the State of Oregon. JCF students are making this vision a reality by working with community leaders to identify the county’s needs and by implementing service projects which will foster this transformation.
JCF has set the following long-term goals for each of its three focus areas:
- Health – All residents have access to basic health services.
- Education – 80% of students graduate from high school.
- Vibrancy – Teen homelessness does not exist in our county.
JCF is a student-led non-profit that inspires, engages, and strengthens the community through innovative leadership and service. JCF is focusing on its vision to transform Josephine County into a vibrant community in which every individual has the opportunity to be healthy, educated, and prosperous by working with local leaders to:
- Educate youth and keep students in school
- Improve the health and wellbeing of all residents
- Unleash the potential of young leaders
- Strengthen existing non-profits
- Assist organizations in community functions
“What a bright star this organization has been, is and will continue to be in Josephine County. This organization and the students are an example of what can happen when young people realize the needs around them and have the support of their community as they work to address the challenges in our County. These students have been allowed to dream of and will achieve a better community.” –Keith Heck, County Commissioner
Educate Youth and Keep Students in School
Why do some students succeed in school and others drop out? Who knows better than their fellow students? Thus JCF is taking advantage of this unique insight into the issue of low graduation rates to design projects which directly address this issue. The Student Enrichment Program funds special classroom equipment needs, field trips, music and art programs, etc. which increase the interest in students attending classes. The Campus Closet and Backpack Projects address the fact that some students drop out of school because they do not fit it, they do not have appropriate clean clothes, and the lack school supplies and toiletries, or are homeless and need supplies and food to survive.
JCF students also help teach a Business Academy to middle school students. The goal is to help prepare these students to be successful when they move on to high school. These teachings include public speaking and a competition, judged by community members, to raise funds for a non-profit in the community.
“The competition last night was awesome. It was an incredible experience. I was impressed with both the high school students that prepped the middle school students, as well as the presentations themselves from the Lincoln Savage students. Everyone took their roles very seriously”, Steve Roe, JCF judge.
A second element of educating our youth, is all that JCF teaches its students members (see Student Benefit section of this website). Those students involved in extra school related activities such as JCF, almost always graduate. Our goal with these students is to encourage and aid them in getting a college degree to help address the low percentage of our population with a bachelor’s degree. We must have a more educated work force in Josephine County, so new businesses will move here because there is an educated work force waiting for them. A very high percentage of the JCF students actively involved in JCF activities go on to either a two or four-year college.
“I remember a JCF student I talked to in her junior year and she said she was not going to go to college as she saw no real reason to do so. We talked and today she not only graduated from high school but is in college studying about non-profit businesses.” Frank Ault, JCF Board Chairman.
Improve the Health and Wellbeing of All Residents
It is clear from the start of JCF, the students want to be actively involved in community service projects. The first free vision clinic in December 2011 ignited the fire in the students because they saw all the good they did to improve the eyesight of some of the neediest residents in our County. The gift of clear vision enhances the quality of life for not only for the individual receiving the eye glasses, but all those who they interact with from family members to friends to employers.
“Through Amigo Vision, I have had the privilege of working with JCF students to conduct a number of free Vision Clinics to help our community members improve their lives by giving them the gift of better eyesight.” Dr. Kurt Wilkening, Optometrist
JCF has now held four free vision clinics as well as a dental/health clinic and “Pink Week” to increase awareness of breast cancer and to provide free mammograms to at risk women who cannot afford the test. This program was done at one high school and there are plans to expand it county-wide. The wellbeing of all residents is not just related to health issues. JCF students do their Day of Service project where they recruit other students to join them in doing small projects to help clean up areas, paint homes, etc. One such project was building a path at a park in the county so those in wheelchairs could enjoy the beauty of the park.
Unleash the Potential of Young Leaders
JCF is not just benefitting the community by carrying out projects and giving grants; it is creating a community of young adults with a mindset of transforming the community with leaders who make it a lifestyle to serve. JCF is developing future philanthropists who have a lifelong focus on giving back to their community.
JCF students have held community meetings with business, political and community leaders to discuss needs and solutions to help revitalize Josephine County. These sessions have created more energy throughout the community in solving existing challenges. This is accomplished through meetings, actions (community service projects) and communicating with the public via the media and discussing with service clubs and other groups.
“JCF students have been interviewed on live television at my station many times. They are impressive and are among the most polished people I have seen on live TV”, Bob Wise, KOBI general manager.
Strengthen Existing Non-Profits
Josephine County is blessed to have many valuable non-profits who have existed for years serving the needs of our community. It is important to strengthen these entities so they can flourish and continue to increase the level of service they provide. JCF students have been working to accomplish this in two ways.
- First, they volunteer their time and recruit other students to assist them in working on projects with existing non-profits.
- Second, they have raised and provided funds to help finance the operation of these non-profits. This fundraising is often incorporated in various projects they do such as the Business Academy and the National FBLA competition, as well as direct funding raising for certain projects.
Assist Organizations in Community Functions
JCF is also pleased to support local businesses and organizations by helping staff their events whenever possible given their school-related schedules. A few examples of events the students supported include: serving breakfast to cyclists and carrying luggage for Cycle Oregon; acting as hosts and hostesses at the opening of People’s Bank’s new headquarters in Grants Pass; staffing an education booth at the Healthy Food Fair; acted as waiters for Hellgate’s Ladies Night Out event; and assisting the Grants Pass Museum of Art in its Black, White and the Blues fundraising event.
“I’m continually amazed by what the JCF students can do and the difference they make in our community.” Hyla Lipson, Community Leader.