Foundation awards grants to local non-profits

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Since its inception in 2001, the Carroll County Community Foundation has been growing the Giving Tree Endowment to help non-profits in need. The foundation continued this tradition on Oct. 6 at its annual Giving Tree Grant Awards Ceremony, where 16 local non-profit organizations received grant money.

Janell Robertson, executive director of the foundation, said that many non-profits applied for grant money, totaling more than $67,000 in applications. Choosing which non-profits to award, she said, wasn't easy.

"Choosing which non-profits will receive the grant funds is always a difficult decision, We have so many deserving non-profits that apply," Robertson said.

Judi Selle accepted the award for The Purple Flower, the only domestic violence resource office in Carroll County. Over the past year, Selle said, the office has partnered with the Carroll County Safety Network to provide more services for the victims and survivors of domestic violence. Selle described how The Purple Flower began, saying it all started with the murder of Laura Aceves.

"This is Laura's daughter, Josephine. Several years ago for the lack of a few hundred dollars, [Josephine's] mom couldn't get out of town safety with her children and was actually found by her abuser and murdered," Selle said.

The grant money will be used for Laura's Fund, she explained, which will provide help for families fleeing domestic violence. Laura Ponce, Aceves' mother, said the fund is very important.

"It will make a big difference in many people's lives, like my daughter's. She could've started a new life," Ponce said. "This is going to make a big difference."

Kay Haydon accepted the award for Flint Street Fellowship, saying the grant will help purchase food for the Back Our Kids program. Haydon explained that the program provides weekend food bags for students in need at the Eureka Springs School District.

"This grant money will go toward purchasing food and hygiene items for the kids in the Eureka Springs school system who do not get enough to eat at home," Haydon said. "This program supplements what the schools are able to do during the week with breakfast and lunch for the children."

This is the fourth year the program has operated in Eureka Springs, he said. Haydon pointed out that Flint Street receives help from the Eureka Springs Rotary Club and the Holiday Island Rotary Club, keeping the cost of bags under $5. He said the bags usually contain peanut butter, a rice or noodle cup, granola bars, oatmeal packets, four pieces of string cheese, three pieces of fresh fruit and a fruit cup or drink. Periodically, he said, the bags include toiletry items.

"These food bags are necessary for many reasons, and we're just glad the school can pinpoint the children in need and we can help them," Haydon said.

Peggy Lodewyks accepted the award for Loaves & Fishes Food Bank. Lodewyks said the money will be used for the food bank's own weekend food bag program, which serves the Berryville and Green Forest school districts.

"This grant in particular is going to be used ... to buy six-ounce cans of white chicken meat so each of our kids over the weekend will have more protein," Lodewyks said.

Brian Watson accepted the award for Project Self-Esteem, a backpack program providing school supplies for the kids of Carroll County. Watson said the program started out with 160 backpacks 16 years ago, saying it has grown to more than 700 backpacks this year.

"That sounds amazing and wonderful, but then I think 700 kids just in Carroll County have that need, which is a sobering thought," Watson said.

Janet Arnett accepted the award for Eureka Springs Health Outreach (ECHO). Arnett said the money will be used for diabetic medicine and supplies. When ECHO started its diabetic program, Arnett said, she was surprised at how many people need those services in Carroll County. She said ECHO has brought in a nutritionist to help diabetic patients.

"It is amazing what she has done to help folks that have a problem in knowing how to eat healthy. She comes out ... on clinic nights and I'll say, 'How'd it go?' She'll say, 'Well, he's not going to eat 30 tacos this week,' " Arnett said. "That's a step forward."

Peggy Kjelgaard accepted the award for Eureka Springs School of the Arts (ESSA), saying the grant will help purchase a pottery wheel. Kjelgaard said ESSA has been working to acquire enough pottery wheels for its pottery classes since 2012.

"Last year, the Carroll County Community Foundation helped us purchase our fifth potters wheel. We need six to help cover the present class, and this year we'll get our sixth," Kjelgaard said. "We're really excited about that."

Other award recipients include Northwest Arkansas Head Start, which will use the grant for a white board for the Green Forest campus; Carroll County Senior Activity & Wellness Center, which will use the funds to support the Meals on Wheels program and the summer food for kids program; People Helping People, which will use the money for medication for people who are under- or uninsured; Samaritan Community Center, which will use the grant for weekend snack packs for preschool students; the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas, which will use the money to fund local scholarships for single parents in Carroll County; the Girl Scouts, which will use the grant for two new troop first-year kits; Jeremiah House, which will use the funds to get word out about the program; the Learning Center of Northwest Arkansas, which will use the grant for iPads at the Green Forest campus; the Mission Clinic, which will use the funds to purchase diabetic supplies and medication and Unconditional Love Pet Rescue, which will use the grant to supplement pet food and vet costs.

"It is always inspiring to hear about the good work that supports the people of Carroll County, from the youngest to the oldest," Robertson said. "It's important that we focus on growing our Giving Tree Endowment and provide more funds where they are needed."

Each gift to the endowment is tax-deductible, she said, and grows and gives back every year. For more information on the Carroll County Community Foundation, visit http://www.arcf.org/About/AffiliateOffices/CarrollCounty.aspx.

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