The $10,000 question


Members of last year’s Venture Philanthropy Club helped to curb the abuse of prescription drugs in Licking County. From left: professor and club advisor Fadhel Kaboub, Zack Goldman ’11, Ellie Thompson ’11, Peter Hurford ’14, Josh Goldman ’14, Corey Ackerman ’11, Mary Kimberly ’11, Lydia Boote ’11, and Rachel Mattingly ’11.

The leading cause of accidental death in Ohio is prescription drug abuse. The incident rate is higher than automobile accidents, the leading accidental killer in the United States. And the thing about the disease is the ease with which an abuser can pick his poison. Often, it’s as easy as opening the medicine cabinet.

These statistics troubled members of Denison’s Venture Philanthropy Club (VPC). Their mission was to answer what they call “the $10,000 question,” a question the student club members must ask at the start of the school year: If you had $10,000 to spend in order to help others, how would you spend it?

After soliciting proposals, club members visited the sites of the Licking County organizations that had submitted them, interviewed organization leaders, and decided where they—and the club’s annual grant—could make the most impact. Last year, the answer was to team with Pathways of Central Ohio, a social service agency serving Licking and Knox counties, to help launch a program to collect prescription drugs in a safe and secure way. Club members helped to raise awareness, provided educational programming, and established a drug abuse task force with Pathways. They also cut the check that bought the collection bins that are being placed in local police stations this fall, as well as the incinerator that would do away with the drugs for good.

VPC started three years ago when David Kuhns ’68 challenged Denison students to organize the club and then provided the money to make it work (What began as a $5,000 annual grant was just increased to $10,000). The idea was that every year students would take an active part in the community by supporting one Licking County organization with funding and at least 200 hours of service. “It ties students to the community,” says Josh Goldman ’14, chair of VPC, “and it creates positive change.”

Members of VPC will share their story with alumni and parents this Saturday during Big Red Weekend when they present: “The 10K Question: How the Denison Community is Pioneering a Model for Student Development and Social Change.”

And as soon as they’re done with their presentation, they’ll have to get right back to work, because it’s now time to answer next year’s “$10,000 question.”

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11:31 AM September 23, 2011

Doug Johnson wrote:

Thank you for your good work on this growing epidemic.

Depression and pain meds are the biggest culprits in this epidemic. Last year one of the nation’s largest metropolitan newspapers dedicated its weekly health section entirely to depression. It seems it was highly influenced by the pharmaceuticals as there wasn’t one article on healing or on finding and effectively addressing the root causes of one’s depression. Almost all of the articles were about Meds.

The pharmaceuticals don’t want the people to know that depression is something that can be truly healed. The ongoing revenue due to people being dependent on depression meds for years, even lifetimes, is more important to the pharmaceuticals than helping people to truly heal. Depression meds are best use as a tool to assist one while they are doing the incredibly challenging work it takes to truly heal.

The automobile industry responsibly stepped up to the plate. As a result to their efforts deaths due to automobiles have drastically declined. The pharmaceuticals need to step up to the plate and follow suite. This won’t happen until the people/government pressure them to do so, and until we get the word out there that there are many effective means to truly heal one’s depression other than dependence on depression meds. The same goes for pain issues and pain meds.

I am speaking from experience. I suffered from depression off and on from 13 to 29. When I was 27 I put all my goals in life aside to do whatever it would take to truly heal. It was an incredible three-year journey that would result in the complete healing of my depression, an eight-year lower-back problem and several other health problems. As 16 years have gone by without a recurrence of any of these problems I can safely say my healing was real.

I’ve posted an essay about the entire journey on my website. Please have a read if you are so inclined:

Thank you and please keep up the good work.


4:18 PM October 10, 2011

debbie wrote:

Wow, VPC sounds really cool


4:36 PM October 21, 2011

Josh wrote:

This is such a great article about a great group :)


4:37 PM October 21, 2011

SAHILA wrote:

VPC is great!


4:40 PM October 21, 2011

Taby wrote:

Great job on an very important issue last year. I can’t wait to hear what this year’s project will be!


10:47 PM October 23, 2011

Nicki wrote:

VPC is doing great work in the community. It is great that students have the opportunity to think systemically and become change-makers in VPC and beyond.


4:53 PM October 25, 2011

Peter Hurford wrote:

I’m one of the people in the picture!

Not only working to select Pathways last year, but working was a very rewarding experience for me. I really enjoy this approach to philanthropy where we work as hard as we can to ensure that our grant goes as far as possible to help both Denison students and the community.

I look forward to working with a new great group of people this year.


4:36 PM October 28, 2011

Drew wrote:

Sounds like a great club!


4:41 PM October 28, 2011

Josh wrote:

This is such a great opportunity!


4:41 PM October 28, 2011

Ben wrote:

VPC is such a great club, everyone should be a part of it.


4:42 PM October 28, 2011

John wrote:

This sounds like a great opportunity to cause lasting change! How do I join?


7:38 PM November 10, 2011

Hannah wrote:

Woah! This club looks so cool! What a great idea!


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