New Local 2 Global Program Launched by Ron Skees

Categorized as: on June 7, 2011.

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Putting his finance skills to use for a food pantry serving families in crisis in central Kentucky, Ron logged enough hours as their volunteer treasurer to earn a foundation grant card. Read how Ron’s giving just got doubled.

To engage and empower all 30 members of 3 generations in the mission of the Skees Family Foundation, we implemented a new program this year called “Local 2 Global” that lets family members earn grantmaking dollars through their volunteer service. The program was designed and named by consensus, and several family members have already begun to document time they give to tax-exempt and nonprofit organizations in their towns and cities across the U.S. Ron, a financial analyst for ACS, horsefarm owner, husband and father of 4, is the first in family to accrue enough hours to achieve credit toward a grant to a 501(c)3 of his choice.

Treasurer for the M&M Food Pantry for 2 years now, Ron knows the numbers when it comes to hunger in his community. “The food pantry was founded about 30 years ago, and for the last 20, our friends Joyce and Bill Watson have devoted themselves fulltime to this effort,” Ron explains. “In a county of 25,000 residents, we delivered about 41,000 meals in 2010.  Bill has great statistical data going back for years. It’s been steady growth for most years, with the last several arcing upward.”

It was Ron’s wife Shelly who got him involved. Already serving as a volunteer and board member, Shelly roped Ron in as treasurer when the last guy retired in 2009. “It’s not a huge time commitment for either of us,” notes Ron, “but we help keep a great organization doing good things for our community.”

Designed to help people in crisis, the M&M Food Pantry estimates that 60% of its recipients only call them once, to get through a temporary rough time. They are seeing more elderly and more multi-adult families, and Ron guesses this could be because “people are unemployed and moving in with their siblings or parents.”

Once a week, Ron stops by the post office to collect the donation checks that fund about 90% of their services; the other 10% comes from United Way. Ron writes checks for rent for the pantry and reimbursement for groceries purchased at the local Kroger and Save-A-Lot. When it’s time to reapply for a grant, “Bill fills in the text descriptions and I fill in the numbers,” he says. “It’s so easy to be involved in something like this,” he laughs in his typical self-effacing way. “When I pay our household bills, it’s just one more stack.–It’s pretty painless.”

What does pain Ron is realizing that, despite their best efforts, hunger in his hometown continues to increase. “The work that M&M does is great, but they’re just a finger in the dyke. What we really need is longterm change: education and employment training. Here in my county, of high school graduates, 1/3 go on to some kind of higher education; 1/3 join the military, and 1/3 are trying to join a workforce that just doesn’t have jobs for them.”

Where will Ron direct his Local 2 Global grant? Probably within his community, and likely Ron will research a program that could create systemic change and bring skills and jobs to Kentucky.

“I think the Local 2 Global program is great,” he says. “I’m not doing any more volunteer work than I was, but it’s making me aware that there are so many little ants doing the work of social change. I mean, look at these folks sending bicycles to Africa, the scholarships in Sri Lanka, the guy teaching literacy in Mexico. My daughter Brienne is working right now in Malawi. She’s an ant; I’m an ant.

“This [L2G] program makes me more aware of all the efforts being made out there. Maybe one of these organizations that I’m researching will be where I do my volunteer work next.”

If you would like to join Ron in donating time or dollars to the M&M Food Pantry, you can link to them through the United Way here or send a check to: M&M Food Pantry, PO Box 1158, Mount Sterling, KY 40353.

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