Written by Connie Larkman
Now that "Dancing With the Stars" champ and Iraq war survivor J.R. Martinez has signed on as keynote speaker for the UCC's National Youth Event 2012, event organizers' next critical step is finding funding for youths who need it the most.
"We want to get every youth to NYE who can't otherwise afford it," said Waltrina Middleton, NYE co-convener and UCC minister for youth advocacy and leadership formation. "The Cornerstone Fund is matching gifts from Conferences, Associations, local congregations and individuals, up to $20,000."
The quadrennial NYE will be held July 10-13 on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
As of April 13, a total of $13,500 in funds that will be matched had been pledged. Included are $5,000 gifts each from the Vero Beach (Fla.) Community Church ($5,000) and the Minnesota Conference, via the Floyd C. Ashley Endowment Fund. (The Ashley Endowment Fund has also provided an additional $5,000 in support of an adult workers' resource space.)
Other scholarship gifts have been received from the Central Atlantic Conference ($2,500) and the Hartford Association of the Connecticut Conference ($1,000).
"We have asks out for the remaining portion of the $20,000 we need to match," said Donaldson Hill, the UCC's minister and team leader for financial development.
Added Middleton, "I am hoping folks will give any amount they can and understand that even the smallest donation can help get a youth to NYE or support the programming efforts. Fund-raising is being driven by everyone –– no matter the amount of funds or size of the Conference of Association."
Contributions in support of youth can be made by clicking on the "Donate" button at http://www.ucc.org/nye.
Middleton encourages youth to check the United Church of Christ Youth's Facebook page for daily updates on youth ministry and NYE. In addition, a Twitter account (TheUCCYouth) and a Facebook invite (NYE 2012 invite) have been created to get the word out about NYE.
"We hope to use the invite as a location to help people find chaperones, carpools, caravans, roommates," said Middleton. "In essence, the invite page will create an ongoing forum for registrants leading up to this summer."
Scholarships currently are being assigned, said Middleton, adding that applicants will be receiving letters of notification within the next few weeks.
To apply for an NYE scholarship, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.