University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

NEWS RELEASE

News Bureau . Schofield Hall 201 . Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900

Campus Job Leads to Career Interest
And Community Service for Student

 MAILED:  Oct. 18, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire senior Neil Blaze found a way to fulfill his UW-Eau Claire service-learning requirement, gain experience in his newly chosen career field and help his hometown of Oshkosh all at the same time. This past summer, Blaze conducted research for the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, a public charity founded in 1928.

Primarily serving Winnebago, Green Lake and Waushara Counties, the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation provides leadership and coordination through grant making and fund development to address and anticipate community needs in those areas.

Blaze, a music major, contacted the foundation at the suggestion of his father, CEO of the YMCA in Oshkosh, when he was searching for a way to fulfill his service-learning requirement, something he admitted he hadn't even thought about until his last year of school.

But Blaze had worked as a telefund student fundraiser for the UW-Eau Claire Foundation for nine semesters, and that campus job fostered a more than casual interest in the work of non-profit organizations. So much so, in fact, that Blaze decided he might just reconsider his choice of music as a career, keep it as a recreational interest instead, and focus on the kind of professional fundraising work he was learning about at the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.

His father's suggestion that he contact the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation came at an opportune time.

Every two years the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, the Oshkosh Area United Way, Oshkosh Public Library, Affinity Health System and other key community partners publish "L.I.F.E. in Winnebagoland: Local Indicators for Excellence," a comprehensive public report on the housing, healthcare, education and economy of the region. The group wanted to add a section dealing with charitable giving, so they had a project just waiting for someone like Blaze. He ended up volunteering to work on two parts of the project.

"First I put together information on charitable giving in Winnebago County, compiled it with information from the IRS, and compared the trends," said Blaze.

Then Blaze used the results of his research to take a closer look at which charities were the recipients of that giving. A list was compiled of eight Wisconsin cities of similar size — Oshkosh, Eau Claire, Appleton, Wausau, Janesville, Fond du Lac, Stevens Point and La Crosse — which eventually could be compared to show trends in charitable giving.

The final results of the research will be available in the next L.I.F.E. report update, which will be available online at www.lifeinwinnebagoland.org later this year.

"There was never a moment during my project when I was not aware of the importance of this experience to me and my community," said Blaze, who now looks forward to graduating in December and pursuing a career in non-profit administration.

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KP/NW

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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741
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Updated: October 15, 2004