Foundation awards more than $400,000

After a competitive application process for grants in four categories, more than 30 nonprofit organizations received funds totaling more than $400,000 Thursday during the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania’s grant reception.

“It’s Christmas in July,” said Betty Gilmour, foundation director of grantmaking, of the event.

A total of $405,494 was presented to 35 nonprofit organizations during the reception at the Williamsport Country Club. Organizations received their funds through four grant categories – Ralph and Josephine Smith Fund, which provides for upper Northumberland County; Margaret W. Waldron Memorial Fund, providing for the Muncy area; Tree House Fund for children’s projects and programs in Bradford, Clinton, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Tioga counties; and the Williamsport Lycoming Community Fund Minigrant Program, which gives funds for the county.

“Today really is a celebration of the donors that provided these funds as well as a celebration of the reach of the foundation,” said Jennifer Wilson, president and CEO of the foundation.

During the application review process, Wilson said she gets “excited” to see the many organizations’ services and ideas they have for their communities.

And by gathering the grant recipients to hand out the funds, Wilson added that it’s special to recognize the hard work they all do.

After receiving their checks organizations were thankful for the foundation’s support.

“It means a lot because it means we can continue the work we do (at the Learning Center),” said Linda Herr, director of the Learning Center.

The center received received $10,000 from the Williamsport minigrant program. Herr said the funds will go towards helping clients like a father of three who is unable to secure employment because of his lack of high school diploma or GED certificate.

“He doesn’t want to be invisible (to employers) anymore. He wants to step out of the shadows,” she said.

Herr added: “This gift from the foundation will go a long way.”

The Lions Club of Williamsport received $4,900 for a program to provide hearing aids for free or a reduced price. Arthur Girio, a representative of the club, said that many insurance plans do not cover the cost of hearing aids and therefore there is a great need for the program.

The club has helped purchase 140 hearing aid devices over the past five years.

Dr. Don Adams, the newly named superintendent of Williamsport Area School District, was on-hand to receive a grant of $30,000 on behalf of the Lycoming-Sullivan Standards Coalition for transportation and tickets for students from the two counties to attend shows at the Community Arts Center.

“Without this grant many of our students would not be able to see the outstanding shows at the Community Arts Center,” Adams said.

The foundation awards grants and scholarships throughout the year. It is expected to award more than $3 million in 2013.