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Published: Wednesday, 7/19/2006

Springfield Township outreach program shy of funds

BY CARIN YAVORCIK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A successful community outreach program in Springfield Township and Holland may not receive funding from either government this year.

Springfield Holland Assets Partnership for Excellence, or SHAPE, was incorporated in 2001 as a nonprofit organization. Its mission is to cultivate values such as self-esteem, honesty, and caring in area youth.

"We're trying to develop well-rounded youth," said C.J. Nelson, the program's director. "We're creating a healthy environment for youth and bringing the community together."

She said the organization has sponsored a number of activi-ties, such as a group fast with a collection of canned goods for the American Legion, and promoting safety in the high schools around prom season.

In the past, both Springfield Township and the village of Holland have donated money to SHAPE. But this year, Holland will not make a donation.

"We have a certain set of funds set aside for community donations which has already been exhausted," said Noah Stone of the village council.

He said SHAPE is a good organization, but the amount earmarked by the village for community donations was too small.

Funding from Springfield is also in doubt. Though the trustees voted 2-1 to donate $7,500 to SHAPE, no money has been sent yet. According to Bob Anderson, township administrator, the Ohio Ethics Commission received a letter questioning the decision because trustee Robert Bethel is on the board of directors for SHAPE.

"There's enough of a question for us not to write a check until we hear from our attorney or the Ethics Commission," Mr. Anderson said.

Ms. Nelson said that SHAPE will continue to function through grants, fund-raisers, and other donations.

"We get bits and pieces for what we do, but it's a struggle to educate the community and maintain a sustainable coalition with funding that comes and goes," she said.

The organization recently secured a $50,000 grant from the Office of Community Services in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and has received donations from the Holland-Springfield Rotary and the YMCA.

"We will look to our community to step up to believe in their youth," she said. "That's what a financial commitment to SHAPE means."

Contact Carin Yavorcik at:

cyavorcik@theblade.com

or 491-724-6050.



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