By Shelly Houston
Meridian’s Promise recently held its annual Business Supporting Youth Awards program. During the presentation, Mayor Tammy, along with Meridian’s Promise President Mark Bennett, handed out awards to three outstanding individuals and groups who regularly go out of their way to support Meridian’s Youth.
What makes each of these winners so important and such good examples to our community is that they are not in traditional “kid-focused” businesses. They aren’t daycare centers; they aren’t pediatricians; they don’t run amusement parks. Yet they have each found unique ways, within their spheres of influence, to engage and enrich our city’s young people.
Let me tell you a bit about each of them.
Our Individual Winner is Rich Nesbit, a local family man and realtor for EXIT Realty. He is extremely active participant in the Meridian Kiwanis, dedicating more than 300 volunteer hours to their year-round projects, many of which directly benefit children and families.
He is a liaison for the K-Kids service club at Meridian Elementary as well as the Builder’s Club at Meridian Middle School.
Rich has made his realty office a “safe place” for the kids who wait out front for the school bus. During the winter months and inclement weather kids are invited to wait indoor in the front lobby while waiting for their bus.
He offers his services at the Meridian Boys & Girls Club, reading books during story time and obtaining donations of needed supplies. Earlier this summer he coordinated vendors to voluntarily repair the club’s HVAC system, repair the sprinkler system, and improve the outdoor landscaping.
Rich has spent time as a field trip parent for both his kids, been a soccer coach for two different youth teams, and a game day coach and team manager within Meridian’s youth soccer program.
When it comes to making sure Meridian kids get off to a healthy start, our Small Business Winner -- the Idaho Dairy Products Commission -- does more than its share to encourage strong, fit, healthy kids.
This non-profit group, with the cooperation of the members of the Idaho Dairy Council and United Dairymen of Idaho, regularly provides healthy milk, ice cream, cheese, and yogurt snacks at a variety of children’s events free of charge – including Meridian’s Free Family Fishing Day.
They have provided more than $100,000 in in-kind and monetary donations to Meridian’s middle schools, provide milk and dairy products to students at low income schools, and awarded a $12,000 prize to Meridian’s Siena K-8 School as Idaho’s winning school in the Fuel Up to Play 60 competition.
Fuel Up to Play 60 is a national school wellness program that is works with youth, schools and communities to offer actionable solutions to the childhood obesity epidemic and help youth develop positive life-long healthy eating and daily physical activity habits.
Wells Fargo, our Large Business winner, is truly a driving force in the Treasure Valley, helping support programs as diverse as the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, the Boise Art Museum, Ballet Idaho, The Boise Philharmonic, and the World Center for Birds of Prey.
When funds are tight in the school district, one area which understandably feels the pinch is bussing for field trips. Yet thanks to a $7,500 grant from Wells Fargo, Meridian students were able to be on the move. 2nd and 3rd graders got an opportunity to learn about agriculture at the Ag Expo. 4th graders go a first-hand look at Idaho history by attending Idaho History day, and 3rd graders experienced the splendor of live music by the Boise Philharmonic.
However, Wells Fargo is about much more than money. They encourage their employees to volunteer in the classroom, donate books to the Reading First program, and actively participate with youth-focused groups such as the YMCA’s Strong Kids campaign, the Boys & Girls Clubs, Computers for Kids, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and youth scholarship programs.
Wells Fargo is proud to support organizations working to strengthen our community. Through the efforts of their enthusiastic team member, volunteers, and contributions, they share their success within our community by giving back to non-profits and educational institutions that address vital community needs and issues.
As you can see, each of our three Business Supporting Youth Award honorees have found ways to help fulfill our community’s promise to youth, each in their own unique ways.
Hopefully their stories will inspire you or your company to do more for the youngsters who are Meridian’s future leaders, and perhaps to join Meridian’s Promise, our community’s initiative to build the character and competence of their community’s youth by fulfilling each child’s need for the Five Promises set forth by America’s Promise -- The National Alliance for Youth. These Five Promises are (1) Caring Adults with which they have ongoing supportive relationships; (2) Safe Places with structured activities during non-school hours; (3) A Healthy Start and future; (4) Marketable Skills through effective education; and (5) Opportunities to Give Back through community service.
Let’s all help pull our weight and ensure a bright and prosperous future for our community’s youth.