Yesterday, the 2021 Indyfluence program came to a close with its final event—the GIVE BACK TO INDY celebration! This important finale was hosted by none other than Fanchon Stinger, the Evening News Anchor for Fox59 News and the Executive Producer and Reporter for the Community Hero series. During this event, our Indyfluence interns were able to make a lasting impact on the Indianapolis community by giving a $14,000 grant to the non-profit of their choice. Early on in the program, our interns voted on which service area they wanted to support, and they chose Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Then, the interns voted on which of our four finalists should receive the grand prize! The polls were open for the entire week leading up to the grand event, but interns could cast their ballot up to 30 seconds before the final announcement!
Introducing Last Year’s Winner
To kick off the event, Fanchon introduced everyone to Joseph Eldridge, the Program Director of last year’s winning organization: 100 Black Men of Indianapolis. During the interview, Joseph talked about everything they were able to accomplish thanks to the donation they received from last year’s Indyfluence interns! 100 Black Men of Indianapolis is a youth-serving organization that helps mentor children, and together, they made a significant impact in kids’ lives.
Then, Fanchon asked Joseph to give some advice to our interns on how they can make a lasting impact, even as young professionals. Joseph’s answer was both passionate and inspiring, focusing on the importance of “finding your why.” He talked about how crucial it is to find your passions early on in life because that’s what drives people to make a difference. This interview with Joseph helped our interns understand the significance of their $14,000 donation and how it will truly make an impact.
2021 Finalists Interviews
After Joseph’s interview, Fanchon announced that it was time to introduce the representatives from our four finalist organizations. This finalist panel featured:
- Jenni White, Executive Director of Trinity Haven
- Vivian Maley, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Joseph Maley Foundation
- Cassandra Sanborn, Director of Development at Exodus Refugee Immigration
- and Yecenia Tostado, Executive Director of Project Azul
Fanchon asked the four representatives to share more about their organizations, so any undecided interns could learn more before submitting their vote. Jenni spoke first, and explained that Trinity Haven helps LGBTQ+ youth build up their self-confidence as they become the person they want to be. She said that one simple way to help further their mission is using more gender-neutral terms in our everyday language. This helps promote acceptance, equity, and restorative practices in our community.
Next, Cassandra from Exodus Refugee talked about how refugee admission cuts are increasing each year. She said that one way interns can help refugees is simply by welcoming them with open arms, taking time to make them feel more comfortable and accepted in the community. Then, Vivian from JMF reinforced that message by explaining how differences can and should be celebrated, so we can build a more inclusive community for children with disabilities. Finally, Yecenia of Project Azul spoke on the value of creating opportunities for individuals to advance their careers.
In their own unique way, these four organizations share a similar mission—to make Indianapolis a more inclusive city! Our 2021 Indyfluence interns deeply value the importance of these diversity and inclusion efforts So, Fanchon asked how Millenials and Gen-Z’s—as “the most connected generation in the history of the country”—could use their networks to make an impact. All four representatives emphasized the importance of knowing what drives you and using that passion to motivate you to make a difference.
With the interviews done and the polls closed, it was the moment we’d all been waiting for! It was time to announce the winning organization! Fanchon didn’t make us wait any longer, and she revealed the winner: Exodus Refugee Immigration! Confetti covered the virtual screen, and a huge check for $14,000 was given to Cassandra.
After a quick photo-op, Cassandra sat back down to talk about how the $14,000 grant would help Exodus further their reach across the Indy region. Cassandra was both surprised and thrilled, explaining how Exodus would be able “to do a lot of good” with the prize money. She said the money would help fund their “Services to Asylum” program, which involves some of the hardest cases at Exodus. This program helps people who are often still seeking refugee status after they’ve arrived in the U.S. So, this money will help them receive the refugee status they need. Cassandra repeatedly expressed her gratitude for the chance to participate in an event like this, surrounded by three other excellent non-profits.
2021 SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT
We may have announced the winner, but there was still one more surprise to reveal! Fanchone announced that all of our other finalists would be walking away with $2,000 to help support their organizations! The representatives’ reactions were both emotional and truly inspiring, and we were so fortunate to hear firsthand how our interns were able to make a difference (even if they couldn’t be here in person!)
All in all, the final event of the 2021 Indyfluence program embodied one of our community’s most important values—coming together to do good! And hopefully, our interns left with a better understanding of how they can use their passions to spark change, create a better future, and leave a legacy of giving!
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