Foundation’s funding aids community groups

“The best way to forge a lasting bond is to build something together.”

That was how Marshall Welch III welcomed grant recipients and attendees to the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania’s Winter Grant Reception at the James V. Brown Library Thursday afternoon.

Welch, chair of the board of the directors, was emphasizing the importance of community involvement in grantmaking.

“Our donors are our friends … the people whose lives we touch are our neighbors,” he said. “The partnership strives to have a lasting impact on every facet of our community.”

The partnership, headquartered in Williamsport for almost a century, manages and distributes funds from endowments, donations and scholarships to community organizations and nonprofits.

The reception recognized the 2013 grant recipients in two different areas: field of interest grants, which are specific to the township or borough to which they are awarded; and unrestricted grants, which are specific to Lycoming County and are given final approval by the Williamsport Lycoming Regional Advisory Board.

The field of interest grants were awarded to The Roscoe M. and Edith M. Wolf Fund, established in 1985 to benefit nonprofits in the Jersey Shore Borough, and the Plunketts Creek Township Foundation Fund, which supports community needs for people living in and around the rural township.

The Wolf fund received $8,430 for the Jersey Shore YMCA’s Brick House After School Program, and the Plunketts Creek fund received $2,000 for the Barbours Library Link of the James V. Brown Library, a satellite location that brings library services to rural areas.

The 2013 unrestricted grant recipients were chosen from a field of 52 applications that totaled more than $2 million in requests, making it “the most challenging year to date, to say the least,” said Betty Gilmour, director of grantmaking.

Among the seven nonprofits receiving grants was Diakon Family Life Services, which received $15,000 for their Tele-Psychiatry program for children and adolescents.

The program offers real-time sessions with a child psychiatrist based in another part of the state or country, using webcams and other audio/visual equipment.

“We have historically offered psychiatric services, and we have one on staff for adults, but there is a real shortage in the area of child psychiatrists,” said Laurel Spencer of Diakon.

The psychiatrist is on-call all day, she said, and it’s very much like a regular office visit. Children can even receive prescriptions for medication – sent via fax during the visit – as all of the participating doctors are licensed to practice in Pennsylvania.

The program has been in place in Diakon’s Lewisburg location in September of last year, and Spencer said that they have had “nothing but positive feedback.”

North Central Sight Services Inc. was another grant recipient, receiving $40,000 for expansion and renovations for their facility and the growth of their Techno Trash recycling program.

The funds will “go mainly towards our brick-and-mortar operations,” said president and CEO Bob Garrett.

The renovations, he added, will allow for space for three additional trailers of recyclables to be delivered and create several more jobs for blind and visually impaired persons.

The Techno Trash program recycles electronics like computers and cell phones in addition to traditional paper and plastic. Garrett said that the staging and grinding of these electronic devices in preparation for recycling requires specific equipment, which the group will be able to purchase more of with the funds from the partnership.

The partnership also recognized the representatives of fifteen organizations out of more than fifty – that will receive funds in 2014, including the Ways Garden Commission of the City of williamsport.

The money will help with all manner of things, “flowers along Maynard and Fourth streets, water, mulch, trees, everything,” said Bob Esposito of the commission, which maintains the garden park for the city.

He added that, although he couldn’t reveal any details, the funds will also help with the “big things that are planned” for the park’s 100th anniversary this year.

Gilmour said that the 2014 grant awards will total more than $2.4 million.

She also noted that partnership will hold their annual grant workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 22, at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, where attendees can learn about grantmaking structure and funding opportunities.

The total list of 2013 recipients is as follows:

2013 Field of Interest Funds:

The Roscoe M. and Edith M. Wolf Fund was established in 1985 to support the missions of nonprofit charities in the Jersey Shore Borough. For 2013 a grant was approved for the Jersey Shore Area YMCA in the amount of $8,430. This grant will support the Brick House After-School Program for youth and teens ages 12-18.

The Plunketts Creek Township Foundation Fund was established by Charles S. Whipple, who had an affinity for the library, the children’s playground, and the ambulance service. He created his fund to provide grants for additional support of community needs for people living in and around rural Plunketts Creek Township. In 2013 a grant in the amount of $2,000 was approved for the Barbours Library Link of the James V. Brown Library. This grant will support the enhancement of the adult and juvenile materials collection at the Library’s Barbours Link facility.

2013 Williamsport Lycoming Unrestricted Grants:

Diakon Family Life Services $15,000 Tele-Psychiatry for children and adolescents, which utilizes audio/visual equipment to provide the same psychiatric services as traditional in-person sessions, esp. in areas with a limited number of available doctors

Montgomery Area Public Library $20,900 replacement of the windows from the 1920’s to provide safety and energy efficiency for the building

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Lycoming County – $21,000 Fostering Futures Initiative for CASA Volunteers to help transition older children and adolescents in the foster care system into adulthood more successfully

North Central Sight Services, Inc. – $40,000 expansion of the facility to allow for continued growth of the Techno Trash recycling program, which has ground and recycled hundreds of thousands of pounds of plastic and paper and created 8 additional jobs for blind and visually impaired people

The Learning Center $51,100 equipment, materials and technology necessary to adequately prepare adults to successfully take and pass the revised General Educational Development tests

Muncy Area Pool Association $125,000 Pool House Expansion and Renovation Project for the existing facility that was constructed in 1962, to continue the quality recreational activities of the residents in and around Muncy.

STEP, Inc. $150,000 transformation of the former Bureau of Forestry Building in South Williamsport into a Senior Activity Center. Moving out of a church basement, the new center will allow for the expansion of opportunities for seniors to continue active, independent lives