Pictured at an airport in Ethiopia on March 21 on their way to Uganda, the nine students from Indian Valley Academy, Plumas Charter School in Quincy, and Quincy High School are heading up three entrepreneurial programs funded by Plumas residents’ donations, including a sizeable one from the Palmaz Family Foundation. Photo submitted

Donation by local property owners help finance Uganda trip projects

Before nine Plumas County students left town for a month long project in Uganda, they made several presentations to Rotary, dinner fundraisers and festival attendees of local events to raise money, not to go on the trip itself, but for the three business projects they’ve set out to accomplish in Uganda.

They also made a pitch to new local philanthropist Christian Palmaz of Genesee Valley.

“These kids are super inspiring. I don’t even consider this a donation. This is an investment. An amazing amount of work went into this trip,” said Palmaz. Though he declined to give the amount, trip organizer Sue Weber stated that it was the largest they’d received from any one donor.

“We contributed a significant amount, but so did a lot of others. They raised $33,000. We’re happy to help get them over  that hill, but everyone contributed from all over Plumas  County,” Palmaz said. Palmaz stated that the students’ approach makes it feel like the whole county is going with them.    

Palmaz also got the impression that the students meant business.

“They treated their presentation like a business plan. It was very professional. Those kids are beyond their years. They had every detail in place, down to the design. This is not just asking for money from the community, but inspiring. This is a mission for them,” Palmaz continued.

“What they are going to accomplish over there is exciting. Hopefully a tradition instead of a one-time deal. We [Palmaz] pledge our support going forward. They won’t be able to see their work  accomplished in one trip,” said Palmaz. He visualizes, like Weber, the trip being an annual one, where younger generations are handed the baton and the work keeps going for years to come.

The lifestyle of students in Plumas County and the knowledge a rural lifestyle brings with it were also mitigating factors in the Palmaz’ donation to the Uganda mission to keep a preschool running, a protein project and a soup project for the Kunugu village the students are visiting.

“A big city school district might not do this. This is only something these kids can do,” said Palmaz. He reserved however, just as much praise for Weber.

“You have to toot her horn for this. It takes a special person with a passion for what she does. It’s really quite intoxicating,” added Palmaz.