WJRF to Washington DC
“It would be an honor to stand by the Washington Monument and Abraham Lincoln Memorial and think of what these brave people did to make America better.” WJRF Youth
Amazing doesn’t describe the past few days. Incredible and inspiring come close. We took twenty highschool students to Washington DC for a whirlwind tour of sights and museums. This trip has been in the works for over a year and our youth worked hard to get here. They earned a spot by writing an essay, interviewing and maintaining a contract with their mentor.
“I don’t know a lot about my cultural background. By going to DC, I will hopefully learn about part of my heritage by visiting the African American History and Cultural Museum.” WJRF Youth
We went there and didn’t want to leave. We also shook hands with some politicians and told them about our work. We toured the capitol and ate lunch there. We went to see a play at the Kennedy Center and to say our kids loved it is an understatement. We walked, alot. Just ask any of them. We visited the Holocaust Museum, Lincoln Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Washington Monument and Natural History Museum. Some of us danced in front of the White House and others of us tried riding electric scooters for the first time.
“I haven’t traveled a lot but wish to travel more in the future. This gives me a safe opportunity to obtain knowledge on how to travel.” WJRF Youth
“It would be an honor to go on this trip because it will be something to remember and to share my experience with friends and family.” WJRF Youth
We exist to create relationships, foster positive connections and provide opportunities for our youth. That’s how our mission is accomplished. A trip like this checks all the boxes. Free opportunity, check. Bonding time with mentors and other youth, check. A chance to see culture and life outside of your hometown, check. An escape from everyday stressors, check. That’s how we found ourselves on the roof of our hotel overlooking DC and talking about life together. We laughed, we cried and we bonded. One of our chaperones had already filled out mentor paperwork for a specific kid before we made it back to Kentucky. It’s likely other mentors may result from this trip. These connections will break chains.
Speaking of chaperones, we had some great ones. Social workers, a nurse, a police officer, an aunt, a grandmother, mothers, WJRF staff and other volunteers made up our rockstar team.
“I came on the trip to show these kids that I believe in them and they have friends rooting for them in unexpected places. After a conversation with two of the young men on the trip, one looked at me and said he had a different perspective on life. Having the guys call for me to join their pictures was really cool. A couple of the guys are talking about coming to the police department to do a ride along with me now. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this trip and make even the smallest difference in the lives of these young people. Being referred to as a cool cop or having kids ask me if I would be their school resource officer was a great feeling as well.” Shawn Wallace, Frankfort PD
This trip wouldn’t have been possible without all the special people that made it happen; 13 adult volunteers, 262 individuals who purchased boxed lunches during our fundraiser, a group of friends who made snack bags for everyone including the bus driver, friends and family who donated spending money for the kids, additional private donors and Granny Morrow’s amazing brownies!
As a nonprofit organization, we have always chosen to be transparent with our financial information. This trip cost us around $20,000 and it was worth every penny. But as you know, we count all the pennies around here…
Most of our transportation costs were paid for through a grant from the Kentucky Social Welfare Foundation. Money raised from our boxed lunch fundraiser helped cover the costs of food for our kids. The remaining trip fees were covered by private donations. And if we’re being honest, it was a stressful stretch but we know how important this trip was for our youth.
The federal grant we received last year has a strict budget for staffing and future programming (that you will soon hear about). Outside of the grant, our WJRF budget is around $110,000 per year; $53,000 of that is what’s called critical infrastructure, or things we have to have to do business; $27,000 covers part time contract positions including our high school mentors, video visitation coordinator and a marketing coordinator. The remaining $30,000 is budgeted for our operational programs like high school outreach, parent cafes, extra curricular sponsorships, KRUSH and OMAC. Fundraisers like our annual gala, golf scramble, yard sale etc. help us raise money for programming and trips like this one. Your money goes in that bucket too. Every penny that is donated and spent is monitored by our board. Know that when you donate you are providing direct services to children and families in this community. Our mission to serve children and youth will always remain the focal point of every decision we make, whether there is money involved or not.
“The reason I would like to go to Washington DC is because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity that probably won’t happen again.” WJRF Youth
Look at the faces of these world changers. This is our leadership team. We are committed to providing a pathway of hope so our youth can create their own vision of success. The kids in this photo are helping us do that. They will be tomorrow’s leaders and we are here to support them on their journey. Our first family vacation was a success!
Until next time,
Join us at our gala on April 29. Interested in being a sponsor? Let’s chat!
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