When A Grand County kid needs something,
the Infant Through Youth Foundation is often there, and
has been since its inception in 1997.
Begun then by Mary Mullen McGann, the Foundation was created to assist
foster families and children, helping stabilize homes with financial
assistance, helping to license foster homes and advocating youth programs
of all kinds. Now in its seventh year, McGann has reduced her role as
the chair of the Foundation, handing the reins to Shannon Scherer. Still,
McGann waits in the wings to offer the counsel her years of experience
and knowledge enable her to share.
“The Foundation started as a recruiter for foster care, because the money
people received to take care of children wasn’t enough,” Scherer
said. “We fund everything from tutoring to sports to art classes. Now,
we try to meet the financial and emotional needs of the youth in our community.”
This might mean coming up with the money to help repair a water heater
for a family just scraping by, or buying sports shoes or clothing. The
foundation is run by an eight-member board of directors, about four of
who are particularly active, Scherer said. In addition, the Grand County
Infant Through Youth Foundation oversees the Nancy Hauer Foundation,
a special fund set aside to help women “achieve a dream.”
“This is what Nancy Hauer did, she helped women achieve their dream,” Scherer
said. “It was important to her. This is whether someone was in an emergency
or needed a jumpstart. That fund was started in December 2001.”
Last year the Infant Through Youth Foundation suffered a sort of “stand
still” Scherer said, because many of the board members had pressing
needs of their own. This year she hopes to jump-start the foundation
with renewed energy.
“We’re looking for more board members because the board members are
the ones who make this happen,” Scherer said. “People travel too
much, or have too many kids – we need more help.”
Currently it is Suzanne Ossana, Deb Hren, Shannon Scherer and Mary McGann
carrying most of the weight of the foundation. Grants are available through
the Eccles Foundation and the Huntsman Corporation, but somebody needs
to apply for them.
“That’s what we’re going to do this year,” Scherer said.
Shannon Scherer has been involved in the Infant Through Youth Foundation
since 2000. She moved to Moab a year earlier. She grew up in Park City
and had a successful career as a ski racer. She soon married Dr. Patrick
Scherer and began a family of her own.
“I’m a mom, I was trying to figure out what I could do to use my
time to help out somehow with other kids in the community,” she said. She
considered Big Brothers/Big Sisters and other “hands-on” youth work,
but when the opportunity to raise funds for the Infant Through Youth Foundation
came up, Scherer knew that’s where she could be effective.
“I’m reading the statistics, I know the Mexican families in town – there
are a lot of people who don’t have a voice,” Scherer said. “The
Teen Center that’s being planned is something the Infant Through Youth
Foundation wants to get involved in because that will give a voice to the very
people we want to help.”
Kids ages 7 to 14 are at the highest risk, she said. Last year the Infant
Through Youth Foundation helped 150 individuals in that age group.
“Next year we want to help 300,” she said. “Hopefully we hear
how people we helped are doing, but it’s not required that they let us
know or ever get back to us.”
There is an application process to receive help – or funds – from
the Infant Through Youth Foundation, but it’s pretty informal and
approval is solely at the discretion of the Foundation’s board
of directors. There is a similar process available to those who need
help through the Nancy Hauer Foundation.
To obtain more information about becoming a board member for the Infant
Through youth Foundation, obtaining a grant or applying for help to the
Nancy Hauer Foundation may call Shannon Scherer at 260-2047, and she
will be able to direct inquiries to the right person.