Raising dollars and awareness for youth needs

The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque’s Youth Area Philanthropists, or YAPPERS, raised well over $5,000 with their 13th annual Feed the Need luncheon and silent auction on Thursday, Oct. 18 in the Roshek Building.

Since its inception in 2004, Feed the Need has raised over $58,000, providing funds for YAPPERS to grant to local youth-serving nonprofits. But Feed the Need — and the entire YAPPERS experience — is about more than fundraising. It also gives teens confidence in their ability to make change for the greater good.

“At first when I thought about philanthropy, I was thinking, ‘How could I be a philanthropist?’ I’m probably one of the people they’re looking to help in the first place,” says Nyla Noble, a second-year YAPPER and senior at Dubuque Senior High School.

Nyla moved to Dubuque five years ago, and joining YAPPERS helped give her a sense of involvement and empowerment. “Being involved with YAPPERS made me feel like I can actually do something to help my community. I can make a difference,” she says.

After their fundraiser, YAPPERS will spend time in the community learning about local issues and needs, particularly those related to at-risk youths. Then, they will grant their funds to nonprofits working to address those needs.

“It’s really eye-opening,” says YAPPER Ashley Steele, a junior at Wahlert Catholic High School. “I sometimes feel like Dubuque’s such a small town, but you don’t realize how much you don’t know about people in other areas of the community. Where we donate our money affects those people, and it affects us personally when we learn about what they do.”

“We hand-pick each place we want to support,” adds Connor Hartig, also a junior at Wahlert.

“Going to see those places and knowing our money is actually going to something good makes it more personal.”

The YAPPERS experience has given Connor a better grasp on the specific needs of the community.

“I’m more aware of everyone’s situation and have a feel for how close it is to us,” he says. “You think Dubuque is this nice, homey environment — and it is — but the people that need help are right around us.”

The lessons YAPPERS are learning will last a lifetime. “When I go to college I’ll try to help out because I know people need more help than they’re getting,” Connor says. “So if I can do that — and I know that I can because of this — then I want to help.”

For Ashley, being involved with YAPPERS has cultivated a sense of community engagement.

“It has showed me that I can get involved wherever I live, throughout my life,” she says. “I know the Community Foundation really is a strong point for Dubuque and an extremely great part of our town. I hope that wherever I go in the future I can find something like YAPPERS to help me learn about where I’m living and reach out.”

“In YAPPERS, we’re learning how to care for something other than ourselves,” says Nyla. “We’re not doing it because we get a reward, we’re doing it because we’re actually helping.”

This article, written by Community Foundation staff, was originally published in the November 2018 issue of Julien's Journal.