WINSLOW — Betty Palmer has faith in the world that her grandchildren will inherit.

“The voices of youth will change the lives of homeless youth,” said Palmer, the executive director of Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, as she accepted a $1,600 check from area Jobs for Maine Graduates students Tuesday.

“This does amazing things for the giver and receiver,” Palmer said.

Students in the Jobs for Maine Graduates programs at Winslow, Waterville and Messalonskee high schools, as well as Winslow junior high, selected the Waterville shelter as one of five area nonprofit organizations for funding.

The celebration at Winslow High School was the culmination of this year’s Jumpstart Our Youth, which has the students award grant money to nonprofit agencies in an effort to help make a difference in their communities.

Students split the $8,000 in total grant money evenly among the winners.

Unity Foundation, Maine Community Foundation and UniTel supplied $5,000 for the awards, and students from the Jobs for Maine Graduates groups raised another $3,000.

Jobs for Maine Graduates helps students with educational challenges in grades six through 12 meet those challenges and be successful in their education, careers and lives.

The students selected the Humane Society Waterville Area as another award-winner.

When humane society Director Andrea Pasco picked up the check Tuesday she didn’t bring along Cheeks, the 5-year-old full-faced feline who stole the show about a month ago when Pasco made her formal presentation to the group.

During that presentation, Pasco said she would use the money to form a youth education team to teach children how to be responsible, caring pet owners and to stress the importance of spaying and neutering animals.

Cheeks, she told them in March, likely has feline leukemia because he was not neutered.

“When cats are not spayed or neutered they’re at a greater risk to get the disease,” she said. “If his owners had neutered him, he probably wouldn’t have roamed or fought and he’d be healthy.”

While Cheeks has a weakened immune system, Pasco said that he has no symptoms and could have a long, happy life.

Tuesday, Pasco told students that Cheeks had a valid reason for being a no-show.

“He’s neutered, he’s adopted and he’s happy,” she said.

Jim Christie picked up the check for Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“You’re learning about philanthropy and you’re going to make a difference in a child’s life today,” said the organization’s development director.

Make-A-Wish fulfills dreams of children with life-threatening medical conditions “to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”

Pine Tree Society in Bath and Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers in Waterville also received $1,600 grants.

Pine Tree Society seeks to provide children and adults with disabilities opportunities for richer lives, including fun at summer camp.

Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers looks to strengthen families and children, “instilling hope for the future and a better quality of life.”

Chauncy Paradis, a sophomore at Winslow High School, said she relished the opportunity to vote for the award winners.

She also said that she looked forward to volunteering at the humane society.

Catharine Hartnett of Jumpstart Our Youth said other Jobs for Maine Graduates students would soon be raking lawns, washing windows and otherwise prepping Pine Tree Camp on North Pond in Smithfield for its summer season.

Hartnett said she was impressed with the teens’ desire to be responsible philanthropists and be hard-working volunteers.

“It only works — you only make a difference — if you do both,” Hartnett said.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]

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