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fund remembering Avi Kurganoff benefits youth outdoor experiences

October 20, 2012 | ECF Press Release

GIfts made in memory of Avi Kurganoff to the Evanston Community Foundation have established a fund in his name.

The first grant from the Avi Kurganoff Memorial Fund will fund The Avi Adventure, a group camping experience for elementary school youth at Y.O.U. next spring or summer. 

honoring Avi

Some months ago, Judy Mendel and and Jorge Kurganoff lost their son, Avi, after a fall in his dormitory at the University of Vermont. The outpouring of support for their son has been both generous and spirited. While not yet 21 when he died, Avi had a strong impact on his friends — and he had many friends!  Gifts made in his memory to the Evanston Community Foundation have established a fund in his name and we are pleased to announce that its first grant will fund The Avi Adventure, a group camping experience for elementary school youth at Y.O.U. next spring or summer.

A glimpse of how Avi drew upon the challenges of white-water rafting shows just how and why this project is a fitting tribute. On a trip in January 2012 he said, “The biggest thing I learn from rivers is not to worry about things you can't control, and that's a big part of life…There's so much out here you can't control, and there's so much out here you can control. You just kind of have to go with it and trust that you know what to do and how to do it…And the bond you build with people while you do it is pretty intense at times, pretty awesome and pretty epic. It's something I plan on doing for a very long time.”

Judy and Jorge want to ensure that other Evanston youngsters can draw strength from their own adventures.  

Y.O.U. envisions the program

To be based at Washington School The Avi Adventure will bring together elementary school youth to learn about and experience the joy of the outdoors. Youth will spend one hour a week for eight weeks learning both the operational and social-emotional lessons of camping. Operational lessons will include topics such as how to identify safe areas for camping, how to pitch a tent, and how to stay warm. Social-emotional lessons will focus on “camping values” such as teamwork, inclusion, interdependence, along with understanding and accepting one another. The Avi Adventure will culminate in a camping experience where youth stay in tents by the Evanston lake shore and put to use what they have learned.

growing the fund

Sara Schastok, ECF President and CEO, remarked on the significance of this fund's purpose — “We wanted the community to know that thanks to dozens of you, the Avi Kurganoff Memorial Fund at the Evanston Community Foundation will give other children adventures that might be as transformative for them as they were for Avi. As the years pass, the Fund will grow and expand its reach, but at the heart of it will remain the belief that kids are capable of changing, that skilled and compassionate social workers can support them, and that new settings, especially outdoor adventures, hold a special power to develop the adult that a child can become.”