Slippery Rock University’s Student Nonprofit Alliance (SNA) held its seventh Annual Nonprofit Organization Academy Awards Dinner and Gala Wednesday evening at the Russell Wright Alumni House. The event recognized the feats of nonprofit organizations in five local counties, which nominated staff, board members, volunteers, and contributors for a multitude of honors.
After a semester of students planning and organizing, the event’s awardees strolled the red carpet and were presented with a trophy modeled after Hollywood’s Academy Award.
Along with a concessions table topped with snacks and candies, guests were treated to a formal dinner catered by AVI Foodsystems. After they enjoyed a salad and a bowl of wedding soup, the main dish, chicken slathered in a thick lemon sauce and green beans placed on top of mashed potatoes, was served.
Guests were also invited to bid in a silent auction throughout the night. Among the 23 gift baskets were an assortment of items and clothing from the SGA Bookstore, a dinner for two at Red Rock Falls, and a PA lottery ticket tree from New Haven Court. In all, the auction raised approximately $1,060.
Among the many awards presented were the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award, given to Butler County’s Director of Human Services, Joyce Ainsworth.
“I’m really thrilled because we’ve been doing a lot of projects with this group over the years,” Ainsworth, a class of 1977 SRU alumnus, said. “And I love these guys. Because they energize me and they make me a better worker. So for them to honor me with the first one ever, I’m really, really honored.”
Ainsworth worked regional research projects over a four-year span. One of them as an assessment of counties’ and communities’ acceptance of individuals with intellectual disabilities and, more recently, one exploring wellness and whether people have access to healthy, fresh foods.
“I think just the whole collaboration with the university and human services in Butler County has been a really good effort for both of us to succeed in our jobs,” Ainsworth said. “There are a lot of plans underfoot to do even more. The energy that comes from the young people is exactly what we need.”
Event host Kevin Boozel, the Butler County Commissioner, commended Slippery Rock University for its work in promoting nonprofits and philanthropy, saying that he thinks the program is one-of-a-kind in the state.
“Oftentimes, the community doesn’t recognize the great work that [nonprofits] do for them,” said Boozel, who worked in nonprofits for over two decades. “And it’s oftentimes done quietly and behind-the-scenes, but we all benefit from it. I think that it’s extremely important to give them the recognition that they’re due.”
“This [program] is a unique gem that we have here in northern Butler County and we’re proud to have it in Butler County,” he added.
The school is working on developing an institute within the university to provide ongoing help to struggling nonprofits with things such as marketing and training board members, said Alice Del Vecchio, SNA’s advisor.
“I tell my students, sometimes those nonprofits are so busy feeding the babies that they don’t have time to really build the capacity of their organizations,” Del Vecchio said.
The profits from the event will go towards scholarships given to SRU students who plan on working in the nonprofit sector. The university’s brand-new Department of Nonprofit and Organizational Leadership will kick off next semester.