Sundance Vacations, a wholesale vacation company headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, not only offers affordable vacation packages in such varied locales as Hilton Head, South Carolina; Ocean City, Maryland; Marco Island, Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Palm Springs, California, and Hawaii to mention just a few, it also takes pride in giving back to the community through its charitable donations.
With that in mind, Sundance recently made a generous donation of $7,500 to the Volunteers of America’s Magnolia Project.
The Magnolia Project provides mentoring program for young, at-risk girls in ninth through twelfth grades during their pivotal adolescent years as they navigate the academic and social intricacies of their lives while building leadership qualities.
The Magnolia Project is prevalent in eight area high schools, including Meyers, Coughlin and GAR in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District.
“Our district feels there is a great need to serve at-risk girls and the programming proposed by VOA addresses vital issues of bullying, community building, alternatives to gang involvement, healthy relationships, peer pressure, substance abuse, character, personal resiliency, speaking and listening skills, managing stress and emotions in ways that are beneficial to the individuals, their families and peer groups, the school community and our area,” said Andrew Kuhl, former director of secondary education for the Wilkes-Barre Area School District and now superintendent of the Hanover Area School District.
The Magnolia Project was initially funded through a grant from PCCD for a two-year funding cycle. In June of 2014, the grant will end the tremendous success of the program. For that reason, Volunteers of America has pursued every possible funding stream in order to allow this vital community asset to grow and flourish.
“Sundance Vacations has provided us with much-needed financial assistance through its very generous donation of $7,500. The donation will go a long way in helping the Magnolia Project to continue its one-on-one weekly monitoring sessions, as well as the speakers’ series featuring notable community women, skill-building sessions, field trips and community service opportunities. We can’t thank Sundance Vacations enough for helping our project during these tough economic times,” said Alan Garner, president and CEO of Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania.
The Magnolia Project has approximately 100 girls enrolled on a full-time basis and has reached thousands of girls through its seminars. The seminars include communication skill-building tasks and team-building lessons. The seminars are conducted by staff members and current Magnolia girls from other schools.
The value component of the Magnolia Project is that a girl can enroll in the program as a rising ninth grader (the summer before ninth grade) and stay in the program until she graduates from high school. The purpose is to hone a girl’s leadership skills as she progresses through the program, eventually working in a mentor role with younger girls while developing these skills with her own, older mentor.
“The charitable and much-appreciated donation from Sundance will help us weather our tremendous expansion (area high schools requesting Magnolia chapters) by adding additional staff to serve the additional schools, assist with addressing increased transportation costs for travel throughout Luzerne County and also help us to fund other ancillary programming needs,” Garner added.
“Sundance Vacations is proud and honored to make a charitable donation to such a worthy endeavor as VOA’s Magnolia Project. It does our hearts well to support this project that empowers young girls to rise above being at-risk through the exceptional support system fostered by the Magnolia Project,” said Tina Dowd, co-founder of Sundance Vacations.
Each school year culminates in the day-long Magnolia Conference, which is held at King’s College, and is a celebration of the spirit and mission of the program. The event consists of workshops conducted by area business women, professors and professionals geared to predetermined topics. The event concludes with a dinner and an awards’ presentation for graduating seniors.
For more information visit the Magnolia Project at the Volunteers of America in Pennsylvania.
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