Pitch Piqua finalist organizations ready to present


PIQUA – The second annual Pitch Piqua competition is ready for the project pitches from three nonprofit organizations.

The community event will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 2 at the Fort Piqua Plaza Banquet Center. Tickets are on sale for $20 through the Piqua Community Foundation website: www.piquacommunityfoundation.org/pitchpiqua.

The three finalist organizations include Edison State Community College, Upper Valley Medical Center, and Health Partners Free Clinic. Each organization has presented a project idea to the Piqua Community Foundation and these three organizations will compete for a $50,000 grant to bring that project to life.

As part of the competition, the organizations are not allowed to discuss their projects.

Edison State Community College is represented by Dr. Andy Runyan, dean of professional and technical programs, and Laura Larger, criminal justice coordinator/instructor. While Edison State serves their students by helping provide higher education and degrees, they also serve their community through providing trained workers to the workforce, including police officers through their police academy.

The project that Runyan and Larger are presenting will benefit their educational programs involving the police academy and criminal justice along with the Edison Police force.

“We will be supporting the community through the things we are teaching in those programs. We think the end result will be really good for Piqua,” said Larger.

Larger was a former police officer in Iowa and after receiving a campus-wide email on the grant competition, she submitted a project that she “felt was something worthwhile for the community.”

Edison State and the Upper Valley Career Center are working together to train first responders and in doing so, they have a need to remodel the classroom space for the programs.

If this organization was to not win the $50,000 grant, they would receive a base grant of $5,000 which they would use to help with the remodel of the classroom.

Runyan commented, “No matter who comes out on top, it will be good for the city of Piqua.”

Upper Valley Career Center (UVCC) is represented by Instructional Supervisor Tim Cordonnier, and Cosmetology Instructor/SkillsUSA Advisor Sara Plozay.

UVCC also serves students by “providing high-quality educational experiences to students in a professional setting while networking with the communities we serve,” said Plozay.

The project Plozay and Cordonnier will be presenting will provide more hands-on learning opportunities to students which will allow them to advance skills and build relationships with community members. The project will also serve the people in the community by providing them free services to improve their self-care techniques and mental well-being.

“We see, firsthand, the impact students can have on the lives of others. Students build strong relationships with people in the community through volunteering. This is something we wanted to improve upon to continue to serve our community and practice our skills in a safe and effective manner,” said Plozay.

Plozay said the project will not be able to go on without the full grant even with the $5,000 base grant.

“One thing we can say is that there is always going to be an expense to better the learning opportunities for students, especially in career and technical education. The tools and equipment we use are technologically advanced to meet the growth of the industries we serve,” she said.

Finally, Health Partners Free Clinic is represented by Deborah Miller, executive director, and JoAnn Barhorst, a certified nurse practitioner.

Health Partners Free Clinic provides health care to Miami County residents who are under-insured or uninsured at no cost. The clinic has walk-in visits and scheduled appointments for patients.

“Our main goal is to increase the availability of health care for those who have no other resources,” said Miller.

They will use the grand prize to expand their services. “Our patient population has such limited access to health care and we are always looking for new ways to provide more than just basic care. We would be able to put all the systems in place to provide new services that are desperately needed,” Miller commented.

The grant will allow them to address a health concern in the community in a way that they haven’t previously been able to do which will help improve the entire community’s health. According to Miller, they were able to provide more than $1.2 million worth of health care to residents.

Even if they were to not win the grand prize, they plan to still launch their program on a smaller scale. The grant competition has provided them with new partnerships and collaborations. “Our energy levels are high now and the need is too great to not do something,” said Miller.

Each organization thanked the Piqua Community Foundation along with Michelle Perry, foundation executive director, for their help and the chance to win the grand prize. The organizations have worked together to develop their ideas. During their meetings, several guest speakers provided information on how to present their projects, maintaining the project, and getting it started.

Community members are invited to vote for their favorite project through a pass-through donation of $10 or more through the campaign page on the Piqua Community Foundation’s website. The donations will be provided to the organization on top of the grants received.

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