Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Women?s foundation covers valley?s needs

7 organizations benefit from group?s largesse


By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer

The Wood River Women's Charitable Foundation awarded $91,000 in grants to seven Wood River Valley nonprofit organizations at a ceremony Tuesday, Aug. 7, at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum.

The foundation's 113 members each pledge to donate $1,000 a year. At least half of each donation is pooled for grants that are expected to make a significant impact on community needs. The other $500 can go to the pooled grant fund or to the nonprofit organization of the member's choice.

"Many of our members donated their entire $1,000 to the pooled funds, so we had almost three times as much money available this year as last year," said foundation President Jo Murray. "Our members appreciate the fact that our grants process alerts them to needs that otherwise might have escaped their attention, and we all appreciate their generosity."

La Alianza received $20,000 to establish a Hispanic center to improve cross-cultural understanding. This grant will complete the center's first-year budget of $58,000 and allow it to open this fall.

Sun Valley Adaptive Sports Program received $15,000 to offer recreation programs and summer and winter camps to approximately 100 local children and teens with physical, developmental and emotional disabilities.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness was given $15,000 to fund a part-time administrator to help the organization work with families of people with mental illness and expand its public relations and fund-raising capabilities. Until now, the organization has been run by volunteers.

The Environmental Resource Center received $13,000 to help hire an environmental educator, Tessa Westbrook, for the new Mobile Natural Learning System, the Eco-Camp and after-school programs.

The Council Circle Foundation was awarded $10,000 to offer two youth circles a week at Woodside and Bellevue elementary schools for children who are struggling academically, emotionally and socially. The character-based education program provides structured activities for youth after school and allows them a safe, supportive environment in which to talk about their feelings.

Wood River Fire & Rescue asked for and received $10,000 to purchase two automatic ventilators and two state-of-the-art blood pressure monitors for all three of its ambulances. When weather closes the airports, patients in critical condition must be transported to Boise by ambulance. In two of the vehicles, a paramedic now must operate a ventilator manually for the entire trip.

Sagebrush Equine Training Center for the Handicapped, which provides horseback riding for 12 children in the Blaine County School District equine therapy program, received $8,000. Sagebrush serves children and adults with diagnoses such as paraplegia, cerebral palsy, autism, developmental delay, multiple sclerosis and Down's syndrome.

A grants committee reviews all applications and forwards the ones that most closely fit the organization's goals to the general membership for the final vote. Each member has one vote in determining how grant dollars are allocated.

"The Hispanic cultural center is an example of a project that will benefit all of us in Blaine County," Marcia Liebich, grants chair, said. "The strong economy of the county is in part based on the hard work and endeavors of the Hispanic community, but we know that adjusting to life in a new country is very difficult. The aim of the center is to more fully integrate Hispanics into the community and to improve cross-cultural understanding."

Women interested in joining the group should contact the foundation at info@wrwomen.org or 578-8004. For more information, visit www.wrwomen.org.




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