Each Fourth of July weekend Illinois Valley High School Alumni & Friends raises scholarship money by providing ReunionMania, but due to lack of helping hands, the nonprofit has to scale back its activities.
Board President JoAnna Gavlik, Class of 1999, gave some history to the Illinois Valley News: “IVHS Alumni & Friends association was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1994 with the mission of bringing alumni together for activities and renewing friendships while raising funds to provide scholarships for IVHS graduating students.”
Gavlik explained how Alumni & Friends has awarded $174,000 to IVHS graduates since 2022: “Fundraisers, including activities such as Reunion Weekend, baseball competitions, golf tournaments, silent auctions, and raffles, have allowed the organization to award 72 scholarships which have helped IVHS graduates to achieve educational and career goals.”
Unfortunately, the last several years have proven more and more challenging to continue organizing and driving these alumni activities. Gavlik said that due to COVID-19 and the economic downturn, local businesses are less able to donate items for auctions and raffles, and fewer people can renew or purchase alumni memberships.
“Many of the older members have retired or are retiring their memberships,” Gavlik explained. She also added that many classes do not attend the ReunionMania weekend (or have get-togethers at times more convenient for them) and younger class members choose to stay in touch through social media instead of meeting in person.
But the main reason the group needs to “scale back” is due to lack of help. “The same few alumni have been doing the work of being on the board, maintaining the organization, and organizing the Reunion Weekend year after year, with very few younger members stepping up to help, despite many attempts by the board to recruit more hands to help,” said Gavlik.
As a result of these challenges, the IVHS Alumni & Friends Board has made the decision to scale back the association’s social activities and focus on continuing to raise funds for and award scholarships to IVHS graduating students. The association will keep its 501(c)3 nonprofit status, will continue to post on the Facebook page, and will maintain the current mailbox at the post office.
So, if you want ReunionMania to stay strong, now is the time to step up. “For the next few months, the board plans to continue attempts to recruit alumni who are willing to help.” Besides Gavlik the current board consists of Sherri Lamb, Donna Tellyer, Lynn Smith, Val “Dink” Cameron, Shanna Rhoten, Sue Hurtgen, Gabriella Miller and Delaine Sherman.
Gavlik gave a plea: “Although donations are always welcome, what is needed is more hands to help with the planning, organizing, transportation, phone trees, and all the little tasks necessary to pull together any of these activities – they do not just run themselves! If members want the Reunion Weekend or other social activities to continue, they will need to step up to the plate, roll up their sleeves, and help out.”
If you would like to help out with the ReunionMania Weekend, please reach out either via Facebook, or contact President JoAnna Granville Gavlik, Class of ‘99 at 541-597-2044 or email@example.com.