GIFT OF LEARNING

HOPE — A monetary gift from an Indianapolis-based nonprofit organization is allowing special needs students in the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. to once again use a specialized, Web-based curriculum.

The district’s “News-2-You” curriculum is an interactive, Web-based learning program that provides weekly news articles and databases tailored to special-needs students. The lessons are structured around state educational standards.

Alanie Flack, the essential skills teacher at Hope Elementary School, said she initially purchased a one-year subscription to the curriculum for elementary school students for the 2014-15 school year.

This year, she was able to renew that subscription, as well as add a subscription for high school students, when Anna’s Celebration of Life, a nonprofit that provides gifts to special needs children, raised $1,047 for the school district.

“This all started as a campaign of Union Savings Bank,” said Brad Haberman, director of Anna’s Celebration of Life. “The concept was to match a special needs child or organization or school with each branch of the bank.”

The matching campaign originally began as part of Union Savings Bank’s Community Action Committee, which meets every other month to discuss ways the bank can engage in community service work.

At the committee’s April meeting, Phil Jones, a senior loan officer with the Greenwood branch, introduced Anna’s Celebration of Life as a potential organization the bank could partner with in the community.

“I was also looking for kids to support (through Anna’s Celebration of Life), so I said, ‘I’m going to reach out to different branches in Columbus and Fort Wayne to see if they want to help,” Jones said.

Rebecca Miller, who is a mortgage loan processor for the bank’s Columbus branch, as well as a friend of Flack’s, said she knew through Flack that the Flat Rock-Hawcreek district would need some extra money to renew its subscription to the “News- 2-You” curriculum.

So, she decided to heed Jones’ call for help and connect her friend with Haberman.

“I know funding is low (for schools), so anytime you can help, I feel like it’s a good thing,” Miller said.

Anna’s Celebration of Life raises money for gifts through private donations, foundation gifts, United Way donations and corporate sponsorships, Haberman said.

The curriculum for Flat Rock-Hawcreek is only one of several gifts the organization plans to present this year, he said.

And gifts aren’t limited to meeting medical needs but instead are targeted at improving the overall quality of life for people with special needs.

“There are so many resources available to families and adults with special needs, and it’s overwhelming in many instances to even have to take care of that individual, let along navigate the market that’s out there,” he said.

Flack taught “News-2-You” to elementary school students last year and plans to expand the program to high school students.

“(My students) love it,” she said. “They love that it’s interactive and predictable.”

While Jones said he’s glad his idea is improving the lives of special needs students in Hope, he doesn’t want the bank to get any special recognition.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with pushing Union Savings Bank,” he said. “It’s about doing the right thing.”

About Anna's Celebration of Life

Anna’s Celebration of Life was founded in 2006 in honor of Anna Molloy, a special needs Indianapolis girl born with a rare respiratory virus that caused several underlying health problems. Anna lived at Riley Hospital for Children for two years but was eventually allowed to go home.

Upon her release from Riley, Anna wanted to find a way to help other children celebrate their “specialness,” a word she used to describe herself. So, a group of five businessmen came together to form the nonprofit organization.

Although she died at age 12 in 2008, Anna’s legacy lives on through the work of Anna’s Celebration of Life, which continues to raise money to help children embrace their specialness.

For more information, visit annascelebrationoflife.org or call 317-524-1300.

Author photo
Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.