Wednesday, March 01, 2000

Kids plan leadership quest

Boosters help raise funds for youth conference

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WOODLAWN — Misha Forte and her friends want to go to Texas next month. Not to party on the beach, and not to shop for summer fashions. The youngsters in Misha's group have set their sights on a national youth leadership conference.

        They just need the money to get there.

        Misha, 15, and her friends are working with the Woodlawn Athletic Booster Club to raise $15,000 to $18,000 so 50 youths and chaperones can fly to the conference in Dallas April 26-28.

        They've done several fund-raising activities so far, and they're having another one this weekend. On Saturday, the booster club will sell barbecued chicken, ribs and metts at the Woodlawn fire station.

        Folks have the choice of picking up available food the day of the event or placing orders by the end of the day Thursday. The food will not be delivered.

        A similar food sale in February raised more than $2,000, said Ted Carter, a booster club member who is helping coordinate the fund- raising. Efforts to date have raised more than $5,000.

        “We still have a long way to go, but we're in prayer,” Booster Club president Rowena Gillam said.

        Misha and her friends hope the prayers help. Many of the young people who want to go to this year's National Youth Forum attended a similar one last year in the Pocono mountains. Misha says they learned a lot.

        “We had different workshops on leadership, diversity, conflict management,” she said. “I enjoyed meeting the kids from a different state because we got really close with them.”

        The youth conferences are sponsored by the National Conference of Black Mayors. The youths who would be financed by the booster club fund-raisers come mostly from the Woodlawn and Lincoln Heights area, Ms. Gillam said. Many belong to a Woodlawn youth group called Teens of the Village.

        The estimated $15,000 to $18,000 price tag for the trip is because the youths and their chaperones will fly to Dallas instead of taking a chartered bus. With spring break so close to the trip, organizers decided that was the easiest way to travel, Ms. Gillam said.

        In addition to holding the fund-raisers, the Woodlawn athletic boosters are asking businesses to donate money. Booster club members also plan to go door to door asking village residents each to pledge a $5 donation.

        “We'll be working hard, probably until the 25th,” when the children leave, Ms. Gillam said.

        Misha and her friends say they'll be working, too. Some plan to help Saturday, serving chicken and ribs to hungry donors.

        “I want people to know that their money wouldn't be just wasted,” Misha said.


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