‘Casting blame and being negative wasn’t going to accomplish anything.’

| June 7, 2018

FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – Being told that $140,000.00 needs to be raised in two weeks in order to keep the doors of a school open is something that no students, parents, or educators ever want to hear. Especially if those students, parents, and educators are part of a private school meaning a minuscule budget as compared to their public counterparts.

Most can imagine that the ultimatum of raising the funds or closing the doors would almost certainly be met with a negative backlash from students, parents, and educators.

Maybe that is what made St. Patrick School’s “Save our School” campaign so successful. Instead of pointing fingers the students, parents, and educators banded together to accomplish what some felt was not possible.

Michelle Morrison is a parent, alum, and parish member at St. Patrick Church. She also serves as the president of the St. Patrick School Advisory Council and she told exploreVenango on Wednesday night that a major reason for the success of the campaign was the parents’ refusal to go negative.

“We have such a dedicated and passionate group of parents,” said Morrison. “Two weeks ago everyone came together and did their best to stay positive. Casting blame and being negative wasn’t going to accomplish anything.”

Two weeks ago, on May 24th, Morris and the rest of her council were informed that the parish was simply unable to fund another year of school.

“It was a surprise,” Morris said. “We were aware that enrollment had declined but we were not aware of the financial piece.”

Insert positive, passionate, and effective teamwork.

Not having time to send out mailers or organize a massive campaign like most non-profits do, Morrison pointed to the organizer’s ability to take advantage of what they already had in place to accomplish the goal of raising the $140,000.

“Time was of the essence. So we immediately turned to Facebook and other social media outlets to bring awareness to the situation. We already had an online donation service on our website so we simply reworded some of the things on there and spread that as much as possible.”

Looking at St. Patrick School’s Facebook page, the impact is obvious. Thousands upon thousands of people were reached, which in the end equated to more than $140,000.00 raised from more than 200 donors.

“We do not have a grand total yet but we are confident in saying that we exceeded our goal of $140,000.00” Morrison added. “We also want the public to know that any extra funds that come in the immediate future will be used to offset costs for the operation of the school and to possibly offset some tuition costs through scholarships and other options.”

The efforts of so many people culminated in the Advisory Council informing the parish and finance council that they had exceeded the amount that was required of them. Following that announcement, a resolution was made to maintain operation at St. Patrick School.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Morrison stressed that the result of that meeting would not have happened without the support of the community.

“Everyone’s passion and dedication to our school was profoundly felt and all of us are grateful to the parents, community, and donors for seeing our value and helping us when we needed it. We want to remain in Franklin as a choice for education for students of all backgrounds and of all religions. Thank you to everyone who helped us take the first step in accomplishing that.”

Morrison was also overjoyed with how the students embraced the campaign.

“The kids took ownership. The fourth and fifth-grade classes held a bake sale at school during their lunch on Thursday and also at the bike trail on Saturday. Another student sat outside the YMCA passing out information about the campaign. Some gave of their First Communion money. Those actions are exactly why we took on this campaign because the kids are so passionate about their school.”

While reaching the goal was certainly a milestone for the council, Morrison hopes that they never find themselves in this situation again. She went on to explain that there will be new techniques used moving forward to ensure that funding for the school is always there.

“This really got our attention and we never want to be in this situation again. We plan to work hard and come up with creative ways of ensuring that we can sustain ourselves for years to come. Some of the methods will include exploring financial sources such as grants and marketing the school in ways that we never have before.”

Isn’t it amazing what a group of passionate, united, and positive-minded individuals can accomplish?


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