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April 4, 2020

3/25/2020 1:19:00 PM
New leadership at JCYF
Casey Ernstes, left, is the new president of the JCYF board after the resignation of Kelly Hatton, right.—Submitted Photo
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Casey Ernstes, left, is the new president of the JCYF board after the resignation of Kelly Hatton, right.—Submitted Photo
After 10 years as an extremely active board member of the Jennings County Youth Foundation (JCYF), including the last two years as president, Kelly Hatton has resigned because of health issues.

Casey Ernstes is now taking over as head of the nonprofit organization.

"I have had to adjust my priorities and how I spend my free time due to recent health issues," Hatton said. "JCYF will always have a special place in my heart. I am so proud of the work that has been done over the years to help the youth. I've met some incredible people along the way and am grateful for all the support from my friends and family and the community."

A founding JCYF board member, Hatton played major roles in starting and then coordinating the group's annual Summer Kids Camp in 2012, the Affordable Christmas program in 2014 and the Summer Food program in 2016. She also led the effort still underway to bring a Boys & Girls Club in Jennings County.

"Kelly has dedicated an enormous amount of her time to the JCYF," Ernstes said. "She and the other volunteers have laid a great foundation and I hope to continue to help the organization grow."

Hatton believes she is leaving JCYF in good hands and is happy that Ernstes is taking the reigns.

"Casey is super devoted to making a difference in kids' lives," Hatton said.

Ernstes joined the JCYF board a year-and-a half ago after learning more about the nonprofit during her job as a Scipio Elementary School teacher.

"As my school's Student Council was helping collect gifts for JCYF, I was learning more and more about the organization," she said. "I am very passionate about helping children. That is why I became a teacher. I love the idea of being able to help more children than I can reach in my classroom."

Ernstes says she plans to build on what Hatton and others have started.

"My No. 1 priority is to educate the community about the Jennings County Youth Founda­tion and what we do," Ernstes said. "We will be using a marketing consultant to help us create a marketing plan and develop brand awareness. JCYF does some amazing work and we want to share that with the community and extend our reach.

"Another goal of mine is to expand our programming. I started a new program last year to make sure everyone, especially the children, has a free Thanksgiving dinner and I plan to make this event bigger and better this year. We are also looking at ways to provide more meals to the youth during the summer," she added.

JCYF also is planning ways to support children during the current coronavirus pandemic.

"We are currently looking at ways to help the youth and community during the COVID-19 situation. We have already been discussing plans for the summer food program and helping provide meals while school is out, among other things," Ernstes said.

JCYF is tentatively planning a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner for Sunday, April 5, but may have to postpone it, also because of the COVID-19 crisis.

For more information about the Jennings County Youth Founda­tion, visit jcyf.in.





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