Homelessness can happen to anyone at anytime, according to Margaret Taylor, director of the YWCA Sojourner’s Shelter for Homeless Women and Families.
“There is really no way to predict it, and there is definitely no way to prepare,” Taylor said.
Through a grant received from the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation last month, Taylor said Sojourner’s Shelter is much better equipped to deal with the needs of the community it serves, which embodies the mission of GKVF and its grant funds.
“The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation is definitely a community, and it believes in supporting the community, and these [grants] are some of the way it’s able to do that,” Taylor said. “They put the money toward some of the most vulnerable populations.”
The Sojourner’s Shelter received a $25,000 grant from the GKVF in June as part of the organization’s second quarter grant disbursements.
The money received by the Sojourner’s Shelter will go toward providing basic needs to those staying at the shelter, and will help alleviate the stress of staying open 24/7, Taylor said. By providing these basics, like food, clothing and shelter, she said shelter residents can put more attention on helping themselves.
“When there is no longer a barrier, no longer those questions of what we’re going to eat, where we’re going to stay, what my kids are going to do, it allows them to focus on other things,” Taylor said. “They can focus on gaining tools they need to become self sufficient, to go out, get a job and maintain that job. Then there is one more person in the work force; one more tax paying citizen.”
In all, 12 grants were awarded to different organizations in Kanawha County as part of the second quarter disbursements, totaling $314,107.
Other organizations awarded the second quarter grants include: $20,000 to Pollen8, Inc. for its Camp Appalachia program; $30,000 to the Regional Family Resource Network for its education grant program; $25,000 to the Southern Appalachia Labor School for its after school and summer enrichment program, Accent Education; $42,000 to Kanawha County Schools for health education; $31,702 to Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, Inc. for dental care and oral health education programs for low income pregnant women and veterans; $43,905 to the Robert C. Byrd Institute for business education program Ten50 Business Accelerator; $22,000 to Community Development Outreach Ministries for basic needs necessary to serve residents in South Charleston and Putnam County; $17,000 to Charleston Ballet for its 2017-18 season and programs; $20,500 to Kanawha Valley Fellowship Home for basic needs to help men in the home recovering from addiction; $22,000 to REA of Hope, Inc. for basic needs to help women recovering from addiction and $15,000 to the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra for its Symphony Sunday event.
In addition to these bigger grants, the GKVF, in partnership with BB&T, also named four recipients of “mini-grants” — $2,000 awarded each — this week, which went to organizations that attended a two-day training for local leaders on economic development in May.
These mini-grants are meant to fund projects focused on promoting economic development and improving quality of life in local communities, according to Susie Salisbury, vice president of community development for the Charleston Area Alliance, one of the recipients of the mini-grants.
Salisbury and the Charleston Area Alliance plan to host a Business Appreciation Week sometime in the next few months, where they will visit about 50 local businesses and briefly survey them, asking questions about their experiences in Charleston, their future plans and what the Charleston Area Alliance could do to better support them.
“This lets [local businesses] have a face for the Charleston Area Alliance, and it lets them know we’re there to help them,” Salisbury said. “Sometimes it’s just nice to know someone is listening.”
After the week visiting businesses, Salisbury said there is going to be a breakfast for all the businesses, where the Charleston Area Alliance will share the results of its surveys and talk to the businesses about they learned, and the needs of the community.
The other four recipients for the mini grants were: the Fayette County Commission, to help implement a Mount Hope Historic walking tour; The National Coal Heritage Area Authority, to install picnic tables, benches, trashcans and signs, among other things, to the Guyandotte Water Trail in West Hamlin and the Kanawha County Commission, to install a handicap accessible fishing pier at the Elk River, behind Old Clendenin Middle School.
These groups were able to apply for these grants only after attending the training seminar in May, and according to GKVF President and CEO Michelle Foster, these community trainings are an integral component of any grant awarded by the GKVF.
“No one can really submit [for these grants] blindly,” Foster said. “[The trainings] help community organizations be strong, work more collaboratively and help ensure the long-term impact of whatever they’re doing.”
The GKVF hosts several training sessions a year, all focused on helping local organizations review their operations and try an pinpoint how they can improve their services and relationships with community members. The trainings, Foster said, are all about planning for sustainability.
“It’s important for us to help strengthen these organizations so they can be better equipped to secure funding from other sources — state sources and federal sources,” Foster said. “Eventually we want them to kind of outgrow us. That whole capacity to build, to strengthen, it’s a key initiative for us.”
All the money disbursed through the GKVF comes from local, community based donors, Foster said, so none of it ever really leaves the community, an important aspect for the Foundation.
“It’s critical that people in the community care enough to give money that supports the community. It’s really a way to grow different forms of wealth, and is key to the operations of the state and the community as a whole,” Foster said. “Needs continue to be great for these organizations, and we look to our generous donors — who are community members — to continue support.”