Seventh grade philanthropy essay winners announced

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rachel Leath's essay about Christina Menke's work with youth and horses at Hope Haven Horse Farm is the Grand Prize winner of the Putnam County Community Foundation's National Philanthropy Week Essay Contest.

In recognition of her accomplishment, Leach's school, Cloverdale Middle School, will receive a grant of $500, and Hope Haven Horse Farm will receive a grant of $150.

Entries are accepted from seventh grade students in all four county school corporations. Students are instructed to write a 500-word essay about "The Philanthropist I Know Personally and Admire The Most."

Elaine Peck, executive director of the Putnam County Community Foundation, said judges of the annual competition reported having a difficult time choosing the winner.

Judges evaluate essays with no knowledge of the identity of the schools or the students, and choose the grand prize winner based upon the quality, organization, punctuation, spelling and grammar contained in the essay.

Essay contest judges were Therese Cunningham (chair), Jinsie Bingham, Louis Fontaine, and Shannon Norman.

There were three finalists in the essay contest this year. Dominique Lafontant was a finalist for her essay titled, "Dhelia Williamson: Generosity in a Box." Lafontant is a student in Dawn Huber's seventh grade honors language arts class at Greencastle Middle School, and she chose the Greencastle Housing Authority Emergency Shelter Endowment to receive a Finalist Grant Award of $50.

Rebecca Moore is a finalist for her essay titled "Mary Mountz: An Amazing Philanthropist." She too is a student in Huber's seventh grade honors language arts class at Greencastle Middle School, and chose St. Andrew's Non-Food Pantry as her charity to receive a Finalist Grant Award of $50.

Hannah Mann is a finalist for her essay titled "My Hero," which recognizes the good works of her mother, Jennifer Mann. Hannah Mann is a student in Jonna Rady's seventh grade class at Cloverdale Middle School, and she chose New Providence Baptist Church Food Pantry to receive a Finalist Grant Award of $50.

The National Philanthropy Week Essay Contest is another opportunity provided by the unrestricted Community Grants Endowment of the Putnam County Community Foundation. Anyone may contribute to the unrestricted Community Grants Endowment, or start a new endowment in his or her own name.

Contributions to the Endowment should be made payable to the Putnam County Community Foundation with "Community Grants Endowment" in the memo, and mailed to 2 South Jackson Street, Greencastle, Indiana 46135.

Contributions may also be made online at

Community Foundation staff are available to help donors make gifts of cash, stock, retirement assets, life insurance, bequests, real estate and other types of gifts to the fund.

My Favorite Philanthropist

By Rachel Leath, Cloverdale Middle School

The philanthropist I know personally and admire the most is Kristy Menke.

I consider her a wonderful humanitarian philanthropist because she not only runs her business herself, with her young daughter's help, but her business is a non-for-profit organization.

She saves horses from abuse and helps sick ones get healthy again.

Also, just as important, she works with children, teens, and young adults who may -or may not be disabled. For example, she works with people who have a physical or mental disability.

She also works with people who may be at risk.

She is patient and kind with all of Hope Haven's visitors. Kristy considers herself a friend to all she meets and those she does not yet know. She loves all kids no matter what size, shape, color, abilities or inabilities they may have.

If somebody does not know how to do something, then she will patiently show you over and over again until you catch on.

She helps people of all age groups be able to do what they enjoy doing and be able to do what they want to do without judgment.

Kristy has always been one to encourage others to do what they want to do and to have fun doing it.

Hope Haven is a fun place to ride horses. She teaches you to properly care for the horse you ride.

For example, she shows you how to brush a horse and clean their hooves.

Kristy also takes the time to teach you the different parts of a horse's hoof. After you get good at taking care of and riding horses, you can go to different competitions and there are a few pageants.

One special event is Kristy's Halloween Pageant where you can buy or make a costume for you and the horse you ride.

Such pageants like this are a lot of fun and you can earn a lot of rewards by competing.

I personally have earned several first place ribbons by being in competition.

I loved Hope Haven so much. The horse I rode was named Johnny Bravo, but we called him Johnny Bee because he was always getting stung by bees.

When I moved away from Hope Haven, some really nice people bought Johnny Bee for their child who is deaf and can not speak.

They preferred to teach their daughter themselves.

As well as teaching us, Kristy taught those people to properly take care of that horse. Kristy thinks of her horses as hairy children.

She loves her horses a lot.

Kristy treats everyone with respect even if they don't treat her with respect; she is nice to everyone. Kristy is the best philanthropist I know.

I would recommend her to anyone who wants to start riding horses.

She is a great teacher and is more like a friend then a teacher because she is so nice to everyone.

She always gives you time with her to work on what you need.

Dhelia Williamson -- Generosity in a Box

By Dominique Lafontant, Greencastle Middle School

When the word philanthropist is used what comes to mind is someone like John Rockefeller or a famous celebrity.

Someone with millions or billions of dollars to spare,but they are not the only ones that can make a difference in the world. Anyone willing to give their time to help someone or something, for no reward is a philanthropist.

The person, who to me best demonstrates these qualities, is Dhelia Williamson.

The philanthropist I will focus on is Dhelia Williamson. She has immersed herself in helping others. Born in Calgary, Alberta in November, 1963, Dee has involved herself in philanthropy.

In 1986 Dhelia joined Peace Corps. At 22 years of age Dhelia became a teacher at a poor secondary school in Kenya.

At times Dhelia would have to go without the bare necessities like food and water, during her four year term. She mainly taught as a math teacher, but when help was short she filled in as a variety of roles such as language and gym teacher.

In addition to math she taught volleyball. While working in Kenya, Dhelia wrote grants to get supplies for the school such as books. She partnered with her father who at the time worked at Davidson University, and arranged to have their old microscopes sent to the school for the new science lab. The lab was built with funds from Dhelia's grants.

Dhelia stated that the experience changed her a lot. She said that she learned patience, cultural sensitivity, living like a minority, and being without necessities.

Recently she has been tutoring teens as a volunteer, and has given her car away instead of selling it because someone was in need of a vehicle.

Talking to Dee has changed how I look at people and how they donate to their community. Even if someone does something practical l can make a difference. I guess when you help someone it makes you feel good about yourself helping that person or thing.

Without philanthropists in the world who knows what life would be like?

You and I are the next generation ready to fill our elders' footsteps in order to make this world a better place. Then it will be the responsibility of our children and their children to help in the ongoing task of changing the world.

Whoever you are, young or old, big or small, it is your job to donate to your community and your world. Without your donation there will never be peace, so open your heart and mind, and show how you can help others; just like Dhelia Williamson.

My Hero

By Hannah Mann, Cloverdale Middle School

What does philanthropy mean to you?

Philanthropy is a good deed done for others.

So, if you are a philanthropist, you are a person that is doing or has done some good deeds.

The best philanthropist I know is my mom. She is a fifth grade teacher at Cloverdale Middle School. She has been a mom to several kids who don't have a very good mom or parent.

My mom teaches and helps students if they have a hard life, and are burnt out at school, or need an adult who cares. She helps students by tutoring or being a second mom.

My mom feels her reward is things that money can't buy like having an e-mail from a student's dad who said he appreciated what my mom has done for his kid.

That made my mom so happy that she reads it whenever her job gets hard, and it just makes her work harder for her students.

My mom encourages children and asks them what is happening in their lives.

She also keeps students after school and helps them with their homework.

She sometimes has them over to our house and shows them what a loving home looks like. I get new friends whenever she takes a special interest in a student because I get to know them too.

I admire my mom because she is kind and always gets me nice things.

She has had some students who need another mom, and she has opened her heart and our home to these children.

Today I have told you about a philanthropist in my life, and you have read about what she does.

I just hope there are more people in the world like her.

One day, whenever I'm an adult, I hope to be just like her.

Mary Mountz: An Amazing Philanthropist

By Rebecca Moore, Greencastle Middle School

The philanthropist I know personally is Mary Mountz.

I think that she shows humanitarianism by giving less fortunate people essential supplies every month.

The charity that she came up with and organized herself is called the non-food pantry.

Mary Mountz spends a lot of time and money organizing this pantry. She has to buy all the supplies such as paper products, dish soap, and laundry detergent, using the money fund that the Putnam County Foundation contributes to.

I find her work at the non-food pantry very generous because she gives up a lot to be able to help others in need.

She is constantly at work trying to improve and widen our supply of items that people can take and use.

Mary is kind and courteous to all our customers all the time and treats them exceptionally.

Mary Mountz is at church every week looking for donations to the pantry and helping organize the rooms full of supplies given by Greencastle citizens. Each month, we hand out the bags to the poverty-stricken people.

The people come to us for all kinds of non-food products and we give them what they need the most. Mary never turns down anyone and people respect and thank her for all she does for the community.

I find Mary to be a philanthropist because she helps others by giving up her time and money to be kind and generous.

She has been alive a long time and has learned that the most important things in life are benevolence, integrity, and generosity. She has learned that we should be grateful for what we have and give to others.

Mary does all of this just to help our community and our citizens have better lives. She gets nothing from it besides the wonderful feeling in her heart that she is doing something special and considerate for our community.

Mary works extremely hard to keep the non-food pantry going but cannot do it all by herself. She needs plenty of volunteers, money, and donations from the people.

This is how I got to know Mary very well.

I was appointed to help with the non-food pantry. When I started working at the non-food pantry project, I got to know her and realized that she was an amazing, kindhearted person who definitely showed tenacity and participated in philanthropy.

The Putnam County Foundation also helps a lot with the non-food pantry. The first time I heard of the Putnam County Foundation was during my work for the non-food pantry.

They just recently gave us a large sum of money to help us purchase supplies for the next distribution of items to the needy citizens.

In conclusion, I think that Mary Mountz is a philanthropist because she came up with and organized a charity at our church called the non-food pantry.

She is an amazing person who shows kindness and respect to everyone. We all appreciate her work for the community.

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