Thursday, August 11, 2011

Adrian MML Award Application Haunted Barn Dan Rodgerson

Capsule Summary
Until 1996, many of the recreational programs and facilities offered by the City of Adrian were not available to every child in the community. Children who could not afford program fees were not able to reap the benefits of community recreation.

Through a combined effort from several area organizations and volunteers, not only was a recreational scholarship developed, but a system was established to assure that revenue was available for years to come.

The City of Adrian joined with organizations such as the United Way, The Lenawee Intermediate School District and several area service clubs and businesses to raise over $9,000 to assure that needy youth would have the opportunity to participate in community recreation.

Narrative Summary
Thousands of people take advantage of City recreation and enrichment programs each month. There remains, nevertheless, a group of children who do not take advantage of our programs, not due to a lack of time, or interest. These children have not learned how to swim, ice skate, nor have they played on an organized sports team because they simply cannot afford it. Although the programs sponsored by the city are highly subsidized, they are not available to ALL children in the county.

Recreation has a price, and Community Services is doing all that it can to absorb that price. We cannot and do not do it alone. Although we currently receive assistance from several local sponsors and service clubs, it is not enough to ensure that city recreational programs are accessible to ALL of the children in the community. We believe that every child should have the opportunity to play, learn, and recreate.

Several times each week children contact our office excited about a program that they have heard about in school or through a friend. There is always an uncomfortable pause after we tell the child that the program has a price, and it is obvious that his or her family cannot afford it.
Participation in youth sports and other recreational activities has an infinite number of benefits to the children and to the community. Participation in youth sports can help channel the energy of youth at risk and spark an interest in a constructive activity. Our programs help children discover and develop their talents which will then be an asset to them as well as to the community.

Addressing the Need
In an attempt to make our programs and facilities available to all children, we needed to establish a program to address the need. Not only did we desire to secure funds to help children this year, but we also wanted to initiate a program to assure that funds will be available on a yearly basis. The project gained a fruitful start through a grant award from the local United Way. This grant had a twofold effect on the program. First, the allotted revenue allowed us to immediately establish a scholarship fund and help needy children the first year. The second part was to use the money as an "investment" in a project that would raise funds for years to come.
A large 350 acre historical park became the setting for the first annual Haunted Barn and Hayride. Our department decided to create a scary atmosphere through the element of surprise rather than gore. The Haunted Barn was carefully organized and orchestrated with the intent to attract families.

The goal of attracting members of the community was reached, by serving over 2600 visitors over the past two seasons. Unlike other haunted houses, where participants stand in line for hours and are finished in 10 minutes we attempted to promote an "evening" of activities. Participants visited the attraction, took a 30 minute hayride, and sat by the fire listening to scary stories. A refreshment stand was also available offering seasonal snacks.
A contingency of over 100 volunteers came together and spent hundreds of hours in the planning, designing, marketing, and implementing of the attraction. With the initial grant from the United Way and the help of so many volunteer hours, the Haunted Barn and Hay Ride of Heritage Park has become a favorite seasonal program.

After the funds were raised from the special event, an additional grant was submitted to the Wal-Mart Foundation. We received two different grants from the Wal-Mart organization. First, a grant was awarded from the Wal-Mart Foundation, which matched the revenue raised from admissions. The second grant was a special "in-house" program which involved employee participation. In short, the local store's contribution was reflected in the number of volunteer hours dedicated to the project.

After receiving the grant from the United Way, the revenue from the Haunted Barn and the matching grant from Wal-Mart, we had over $9,000.00 to establish the All Kids Included Scholarship Fund. After careful consideration we chose the Lenawee Intermediate School District to send referrals to our office in regard to prospective candidates.

The current process to apply for a recreational grant is rather simple. The prospective recipient will fill out a quick and simple questionnaire distributed through the Adrian Public School District. If the applicant meets criteria established by the LISD and the City of Adrian, they will receive a referral with a value of $25.00 toward any of our programs. Applicants have the opportunity to apply for scholarships three times a year. For example, a child can take swimming lessons in the summer, karate lessons in the fall and ice skating lessons in the winter.
1) How clearly are the program's goals stated?
The All Kids Included Scholarship Fund is a goal oriented program by design. Prior to beginning the project, the following goals were outlined:

1. To establish a fund designed to offer recreation scholarships to disadvantaged children in Lenawee County.

2. To have economically disadvantaged children participate in quality recreation programming.

3. To acquire funds to both initiate and continue the program for years to come.

4. Solicit the assistance from several volunteer agencies to help in the revenue producing program.

5. Search for and select an organization to refer prospective scholarship candidates to our office.

2) To what degree has the program shown measurable results in line with established goals?

Goal 1 To establish a fund designed to offer recreation scholarships to disadvantaged children in Lenawee County

After assessing the need for a scholarship program, we researched a variety of funding options. Initially, we filed a grant application and met with the United Way in an attempt to receive funds for the project. We then researched and studied other scholarship programs offered by other organizations and reviewed their policies and procedures.

Goal 2 To have economically disadvantaged children participate in quality recreation programming.

While working with the LISD, we cautiously advertised the program by meeting with school Principals and Counselors. We created a flyer detailing information in regard to fund policies and procedures. We also contacted the local newspaper to gain media attention regarding the availability of these scholarships.

Goal 3. To acquire funds to both initiate and continue the program for years to come.
Initial funds were contributed through a grant from the local United Way. We then pursued the idea of a revenue generating special event during the month of October. The Haunted Barn and Hayride of Heritage Park was then selected as the core fund raising event. Long hours were spent researching procedures for the safe and successful operation of such an event. The continued support from our group cf volunteers and from the local Wal-Mart store have enabled our department to assure that this program will remain available for years to come.

Goal 4. Solicit the assistance from several volunteer agencies to help in the revenue producing program.

At the onset of the project, it became clear that we could not do it alone. We scheduled appointments with several area businesses and clubs to solicit their volunteer support. While working with the United Way, we received a volunteer list and direct mailed a volunteer call to each of the volunteers seeking their support. We also used local media outlets to gain interested volunteers for the event.

Goal 5. Search for and select an organization to refer prospective scholarship candidates to our office.

We made appointments with local service organizations including Catholic Social Services, Associated Charities, Red Cross, Community Action Agency, Family Independence Agency and the Adrian Public School District to determine the best orgainzation to assist our project. We assessed the advantages and disadvantages of each organization and felt that coordination with the Adrian Public Schools would best fit our needs.

3) To what degree has the program met its goals?
1. A scholarship program has been established to offer recreational scholarships to disadvantaged children in Lenawee County. A system has been organized and established to refer prospective candidates to our office.

2. Since the fund was established, several area children have taken advantage of the program. Although we have met the goal of children utilizing our service, we are now attempting to ease our requirements to attract even more children. The Spring season is already upon us and we are poised to reach as many children as possible.

3. Through the generosity of the United Way and the local Wal-Mart store, we have acquired funds to both initiate and continue the program for years to come. The Haunted Barn and Hayride will continue to act as the fundamental revenue source.

4. We have successfully solicited the assistance from several volunteer agencies. Our volunteer core is close to 100 strong and growing. We offer a truly unique opportunity which our volunteers are attracted to.

5. We have selected Adrian Public Schools Office of State and Federal Programs as the host organization to determine eligibility for the program. Their help has proven invaluable in assisting the program to meet its goals.
4) To what extent does the program involve cooperation among the local government, citizens organizations and/ or businesses?
In one way or another, many of the programs offered by the City of Adrian are supported by volunteers, volunteer agencies, and social service agencies. The Community Services Department has a healthy relationship with local merchants, service clubs, and volunteer agencies. The Haunted Barn at Heritage Park was made possible by a joint effort between several groups and businesses. These relationships include:

1. The relationship with the school district to refer eligible candidates to our office.

2. The relationship with the United Way office and their assistance with both grant money and volunteer information.

3. The relationship with the local Wal-Mart store and the Wal-Mart Foundation.

4. Volunteer cooperation was also solicited from many other civic groups and local businesses. These groups include school sports clubs, church groups, Boy Scouts, Upward Bound Students and college fraternities and sororities.

5) To what extent are citizens active participants?

As volunteers As stated earlier, over 40 volunteers were used each evening during the actual course of the event. Countless hours were also dedicated in other phases of the project.
As program participants 2600 program participants passes through the doors at a minimal fee to enjoy the family oriented program.

As scholarship recipients The most important of these active participants are the youth who are benefiting from the program. Considering that we are offering scholarships of $25.00, we are currently in a position to help 360 youths.

6) To what extent does the program provide a new community service?

The All Kids Included Scholarship does provide a new community service. Although the Community Services Department does sponsor several free programs to local citizens, the majority of the programs have a cost. We are proud to be in a position that we can offer high quality programs to area children.

7) How effectively was the community involved in planning the project?

The All kids Included scholarship fund is a project by the people for the people. Long before the project began, we conducted several planning meetings and established sub-committees for the fund raising project. A formal call was announced in the local newspaper asking for organizations and individuals to assist with the project. This committee met weekly for 2 months and biweekly during the month prior to the event.

We "empowered" the local organizations to create and build their own scenes. Rather than delegate routine tasks to our volunteers, we used their expertise and assistance in the overall operation of the project.

8) To what degree has the program been actively and effectively promoted and publicized? While advertising for both The Haunted Barn and the Scholarship fund, we used several methods to reach our target audience including:

Print Press releases were sent to the local community, high school and college newspapers. A flyer detailing information about the event was inserted with city water bills to over 6,400 homes in the City of Adrian. An additional 3,000 flyers were distributed to local stores and schools. 50 posters were also displayed in various locations around the City.

Radio A local radio station agreed to sponsor the project by matching the number of radio ads purchased. In total, 120 thirty second radio advertisements were presented in reference to the event and the scholarship fund. The local station also coordinated a live radio remote on our opening night, complete with interviews with the ghouls.

Television The City of Adrian has access to a local cable channel which displays information regarding city functions and business. For three weeks prior to the event, advertisements were displayed every hour.

Special displays An elaborate display was created at the Adrian Mall for three days during The Community Days Festival. At this event we distributed over 400 flyers and spoke to several citizens about the scholarship program and the Haunted Barn. A second display was created at the Lenawee County Heritage Festival which reached over 600 potential customers.
9) How satisfied is the community with the results?

Since the establishment of the fund we have recieved countless praises and sincere "thank yous" from a variety of sources. Many of these comments came from single parents who could not afford to offer these programs to their children. Most importantly are the comments from the children who finally have the opportunity to participate in quality programming. Volunteers who assisted with the effort have also received positive remarks and encouraging comments.

10) To what extent will the program provide an ongoing benefit?

As outlined in our proposal, the revenue from the Haunted Barn at Heritage Park is used to replenish the scholarship in the future. Not only were funds raised for needy youth, but through strategic planning, we have developed a system to ensure that funds will be available for years to come. The unique benefit of this program is that we have one quality program supporting another. The bottom line is that year after year, children can and will acquire skills and interests that they otherwise would not have been able to develop.

11) How effectively are volunteers used in different phases of the project?
The entire process was designed as a volunteer based project. From the very beginning, volunteers were involved in every aspect of the event. From the first "brainstorming" meetings to the project completion, literally hundreds of volunteer hours were donated.
During our fund raising event, we searched for a core volunteer group to spearhead the project and work closely with our office. The group willing to assist in all aspects of the project, were the employees from the Wal-Mart store. Their help, along with a dozen other groups, enabled us to accomplish the event from start to finish.

Some of our key volunteer groups include: The Wal-Mart Employees, Adrian College fraternities, youth church groups, Adrian Training School students, Boy Scout troops, and Upward Bound students. The All Kids Included Scholarship Fund has been a tool to bring together volunteers for a fun and worthwhile cause for the benefit of disadvantaged children in Lenawee County.

12) To what extent does the program improve the quality of life for citizens?
The All kids Included scholarship program offerers new skills and interests to needy youth through the benefits of recreation. The benefits of recreation programs for children are endless. In programs such as swimming or karate, the children learn skills that can actually save their lives. They learn to work hard, develop self confidence, strength, and self-esteem. In team sports such as Roller-Hockey or Swim Team, the children learn cooperation, good sportsmanship, dedication, and communication.

In our outdoor recreation programs, the children have the opportunity to experience a classroom like none other. They attend nature's classroom and learn about ecology, recycling, environmental concerns, how to fish, predict the weather, and all about plants and animals. In our numerous special events such as our Daddy Daughter Dance and the Moms and Sons Night Out, the children learn a sense of family and develop or enhance relationships with parents, mentors, or close family friends.

18) To what degree is the program innovative?
As we researched departmental program needs, we discovered two deficiencies. First, we felt we needed a special event during the month of October. The second need was the establishment of a program to help children who could not afford our programs and services. We met both of these needs with one innovative approach.

We could not have provided this level of service alone. Earmarking money from a revenue generating program to fund a subsidized program is not innovative in itself Gaining the support financially and through volunteer efforts from such a wide range of businesses and agencies led to the success of project. Establishing a fun, low cost family oriented special event, while at the same time establishing a fund to help children is truly an asset to the citizens of the community.
22) How effectively can the program be managed/maintained with a minimum of effort/ expense?
Distributing scholarships is a rather simple process. After a few short forms are filled out, prospective recipients are then referred to our office. Many of the difficult tasks have already been accomplished, such as the establishment of the fund and the solicitation of volunteers. Due to the fun and exciting nature of the program, persuading our current volunteer pool to return year to year will not be hard.

Planning, building, and staffing a haunted house can be an overwhelming job, but with the support and assistance from key volunteers this effort can be minimized. Each year, the project will become easier to manage and maintain.

23) How easily can the program be modified for implementation by other communities?
We feel that every child should have the opportunity to play, learn and recreate. With this in mind, we would welcome other communities to establish alternative funding sources for disadvantaged youth. Again, the key to the entire project was the cooperation with local agencies and volunteer groups to come together for a common cause. By pooling the resources from several groups, amazing results can occur.

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