By Anna Skinner
Student Impact is dealing with a problem. A great problem to have, Executive Director Danyele Easterhaus said, but a problem, nonetheless.
“We will be starting a capital campaign called Raise the Rock, and it is because we have a problem of having too many kids and not enough space. It’s a good problem,” Easterhaus said. “The Rock has served a really great purpose for over 10 years now, so it’s time to either add on or find a new place to relocate.”
Easterhaus said she is unsure if the nonprofit can expand on its current building, donned the Rock, or if it would require a move. It would cost approximately $400,000 to build on the current lot, and it would cost $1 million to build somewhere new.
The campaign is expected to launch later this month or early next month.
“We are looking for people that are interested in supporting individually, as corporate sponsors, as builders that may want to supply their team or their product,” Easterhaus said. “After we are built, we need to provide furniture and things of that sort. Our goal is for a half basketball court in the building. On a day like this (cold and snowy), kids are outside playing, and it’s freezing, and if we have a place for kids to still play inside all year round we could just serve them better.
“We can literally change the direction of some kids’ lives to a much more positive direction,” Programming Director and Pastor Terry Lee said. “We also have a focus on student leadership of teaching and developing student leaders to not only be leaders in Student Impact but leaders in the community.”
Student Impact operates on an annual $108,000 budget, which is all gathered from donations.
“It’s important for people to know if we need chairs, we don’t go out and buy them. They need to be donated. Everything is donated,” Easterhaus said. “Even the food we serve is 100 percent donated. We receive that through Open Doors and just private donations.”
The nonprofit promotes leadership, and it features that aspect in various student leaders as well as the volunteers working to make a difference in kids’ lives. Westfield resident Travis Cearlock participated in Student Impact while he attended Westfield Washington Schools. When he returned from college, he became a leader to the students.
Cearlock coaches and commissions Student Impact Basketball, sits on the Student Impact Board of Directors and helps out where he can.
“It’s a heck of a lot bigger and definitely more well run now,” Cearlock said. “I think it started as an idea that was faith-based that didn’t have a lot of structure to it, and now we are bringing more structure and faith to kids.”
Last year, the program’s participation numbers were more than 3,500 kids.
For more on the capital campaign or to donate, visit studentimpactwestfield.networkforgood.com/projects/26033-raise-the-rock.
Shea Eggleston – “I look forward to Student Impact every day. I cannot wait to get out of class to come to Student Impact. It has changed my viewpoint on including everyone and getting along with everyone. In high school, you always have the stereotypical cliques that you’re excluded from or included in, and here at Student Impact, you have none of that. Everyone’s friends, and everyone gets along.”
Adrianna Avila – “You see a lot of kids that don’t talk to each other in school, but they come here and are the best of friends. They have such major differences where you wouldn’t even expect them to remotely get along, but in here it’s fair game to be anyone’s friend. That was one of our main goals with our mission.”