For $100 you can fill the gas tank on an average sedan twice. Or you can buy two new release video games. Or you can try to change your world.
Ten teams of high school juniors and seniors have opted for the latter. They are finalists in Spokane Teachers Credit Union Hundred Dollar Project.
“We wanted to have something to get teens involved with the credit union,” community relations officer Elizabeth Hooker said. “So we asked, ‘How can you make a difference with $100?’ ”
Students were asked to form a team, pick a project, set a goal and submit their idea to STCU.
Thirteen teams applied. On Feb. 13, the credit union hosted a party and announced the 10 finalists. Throughout the month of March, these teams will document the progress of their projects and film a short video demonstrating their efforts and showing how they’ve used their $100.
In April, the public will be invited to vote and select the three winners. First place gets $2,500, second place gets $1,500 and the third place team will receive $1,000.
The scope of the finalists’ projects varies from improving the lives of villagers in Uganda, to helping a local teen fight cancer.
Central Valley senior Sarah Matlack is captain of Team Where There’s a Well There’s a Way. “I was inspired to build a well in Uganda by my teacher, Mr. Kiki,” she said. “He’s a really passionate person and he asked ‘What would you do to save a life?’ ”
Kelly Kiki serves on the board of Hope For Kids, a nonprofit that performs service work in Uganda. The urgent need for drinking water sparked Matlack’s imagination. “I thought of a well,” she said. “I went home and opened my Bible to John chapter four, where Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well.”
She took that as confirmation and launched Where There’s a Well There’s a Way. Her team hopes to raise $10,150 to dig a well in Buwambo, Uganda. They are planning a Zumba fundraiser and will use their $100 for promotional materials for the event.
Other teens focused their ideas locally. Team Inspire created a clothing store at West Valley High School. Team captain Linda Juitt said, “I thought of this idea because I know in this economy there’s a lot of people who can’t afford to get fancy, flashy mall clothes. My team and I look at this project as a less expensive Plato’s Closet.”
In fact, Plato’s Closet donates clothing to the teens’ store. An empty office just off the commons at West Valley has been turned into a shop the teens have named Inspire.
Team mentor Lesley Parker said, “What these kids have done is amazing.”
Freeman High School senior Josh Parker wants to help his friend Chris Antonietti. Nineteen-year-old Antonietti was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in November.
In his submission for Team Help Chris, Parker wrote, “Chris lives off $650 a month in Social Security, $200 of which goes to rent. He has a beat-up car, no family support, and two years of maintenance chemo left to go.”
Parker’s desire to help Antonietti is born out of gratitude. “My dad is in the Air Force,” he said. “We moved here when I was in eighth grade; I didn’t know anybody.” Antonietti reached out and befriended the “new kid.”
“He’s the sweetest guy you’ll ever meet,” Parker said.
Team Help Chris is selling bracelets that read, “Cancer is a Word, Not a Sentence.” They plan to use their $100 to buy supplies for a Burger Night sponsored by Jenny’s Café in Spokane Valley.
STCU staffers have been encouraged by the way these teens aspire to make a difference. The 10 team videos will be posted on the Hundred Dollar Project website, hundreddollarproject.org, April 16 through April 20, and the public is encouraged to vote for the most inspiring project.