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When Character Counts

The Character Counts® program is over 30 years old. The elementary students that were first introduced to the Six Pillars of Character® back in 1987 are now parents, teachers, business leaders, and elected officials.  By the time a student reaches high school, they have had 8-10 years of Character Counts® infused curriculum in their classroom and the behavioral expectation of the pillars in their extracurricular activities. However, knowing and living the Six Pillars of Character® are two very different undertakings.

On July 26th, the annual Character County Award Banquet, sponsored by the Robert D. and Billy Ray Center at Drake University, was held in Altoona, Iowa. The large ballroom was packed with nearly 400 “Character-worthy” groups and individuals representing 196 nominations from 96/100 counties in Iowa. Astonishingly, our rural community in Southeast Iowa had three student organizations and one individual receiving recognition. Two of the student organizations recognized at the banquet were the Legacy Youth Alliance and Al Éxito-Ottumwa. The nomination stories that were presented to the banquet attendees told of events or activities centered around one to three of the Six Pillars of Character®.  The nomination of the Legacy Youth Alliance (LYA) activities exhibited all six.

Respect and Fairness: Respect isa ground rule for all our meetings and activities. The process of evaluating, scoring, and allocating grant dollars is a difficult task but, honest dialog can only happen in an environment that upholds trust, respect, and fairness.

Caring: Emotional Wellness Month (October) took the members to the Corinthians House and Emergency Youth Shelter. LYA had provided a small grant to purchase new furniture for the Corinthians House. The scale of impact far outweighed the scope of the grant.

Trustworthiness: LYA members made a commitment to the Ottumwa Fire Department to collect toys for their Christmas Sparky Claus project. On a cold, wet Saturday in December, when most everyone stayed warm and indoors, every one of the LYA members showed up, stood outside Walmart, and covered their assigned 2-hour shift.

Citizenship: Delivering cookies to the Ottumwa Police Department and all School Resource Officers on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

Responsibility: LYA members are entrusted with money to grant to worthy causes, programs in need, and impactful projects.

The Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation Board of Directors and staff are very proud of the leadership and good works accomplished by the Legacy Youth Alliance members and congratulate them on this honor. If you would like to know more about the Legacy Youth Alliance or how to become a member, please visit our website at