City funds lift social service groups
For members of the Hillsboro City Council, December is truly a season of gift-giving and holiday cheer, because December is the month council members get to award a series of grants to a number of public service organizations.
On Dec. 3, councilors welcomed representatives from 25 nonprofit service organizations and formally provided them with grants ranging from $1,000 to $6,000 to help further their work in the community.
The types of programs and activities that qualify for the citys Community Services Grant Program include mental and physical health services, child care, drug and alcohol abuse, vocational rehabilitation, aging, housing and family support.
The grant program was created in 1996 to provide support to local social service agencies as a way to help build a better community by improving the mental or physical well-being of Hillsboros citizens. To be eligible, organizations must be nonprofit social service agencies serving Hillsboro residents.
The money for the grants comes from the citys general fund and is subject to budget approval each year. The city provided $65,000 for distribution for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Darell Lumaco, chairman of the citys finance committee, said there were several considerations involved in the committees grant recommendations.
Funding decisions are based on many factors, including the number of Hillsboro residents served by each organization and the need for a specific program, Lumaco said. More specifically, we evaluate the amount of money that is requested, the overall budget of the applying organization, their other sources of revenue, and, if the organizations request were to be partially funded, could the program still proceed?
Grant applications are reviewed and objectively scored by the finance committee, which makes the initial award recommendations that are then taken to the full City Council for approval, added Patrick Preston, the citys public affairs manager.
Representatives of the organizations receiving the citys grants said the program is having a substantial impact.
Christy Scattarella, executive director and founder of the Shadow Project, said even a relatively small infusion of cash makes a big difference in her organizations efforts.
The program costs about $150 per student per year, and let me tell you, that $2,000 is significant. The $2,000 goes a long way, said Scattarella.
The Shadow Project provides resources such as professional development and classroom materials for special education teachers working in kindergarten through eighth-grade classes. The Shadow Projects objective is to help put at-risk kids generally students with learning disabilities such as autism and attention deficit disorder on a path to graduate from high school.
We provide training and educational development support for special education teachers to implement programs to incentivize students who are disengaged, Scattarella explained.
Scattarella said the citys grant also lends emotional support for her organizations goals.
It shows the city has a belief that these children can be just as successful as anyone, said Scattarella. The city has supported us for several years. It makes such a difference for our kids.
Although the Shadow Project is based in Portland, it serves approximately 100 children at two elementary schools in Hillsboro: Mooberry Elementary School and Eastwood Elementary School.
I believe this is the third year weve received support its really been phenomenal for us, Scattarella said. The city should be applauded for this program. Its wonderful.
Another beneficiary of the Community Services Grant Program is Hillsboro-based Voices Set Free, an organization that assists families in Hillsboro and around Washington County.
We provide mental health services for people in Hillsboro and in Washington County, as well as drug and alcohol recovery and re-entry services and support with domestic violence issues, explained Louise Bauschard, executive director and founder of Voices Set Free.
The money awarded to Voices Set Free will be used to cover staffing costs for those who assist those the nonprofit seeks to assist.
This is the first year the agency has won a grant from the city of Hillsboro, and Bauschard said she was overjoyed to receive the citys support.
In our little budget, $2,000 does make a big difference, Bauschard said. We didnt even know about this program until recently. It was a steep mountain to get our name in the hat, and it was very exciting for us when the call came in. It is recognition for our efforts.
The Dougy Center, which provides grief support programs for families whove lost family members and for children who have lost a parent, also benefited from the citys program.
The majority of our funding comes from relatively small grants, said Donna Schuurman, executive director of the Dougy Center. Were not funded by the government or the county; its all contributions. So $2,000 is still a lot of money for us.
Schuurman said the Dougy Center, which is based in Portland, opened a facility in Hillsboro in 2008 and since then has served about 400 people in the Hillsboro area.
A lot of families wouldnt or couldnt make the drive to southeast Portland, she said.
Schuurman said she appreciates the contributions from the city.
To have the communitys support is very gratifying, she said. Death is going to touch everyone, and children are going to be affected.
Lumaco said the efforts of the various nonprofits help boosts the entire community, and the city will continue to assist local service organizations as much as the citys budget allows.
We all recognize there are significant needs in our community, and we appreciate every organization that works to assist our residents, Lumaco said. While we cannot completely fund all requests, it is gratifying to help as many Hillsboro residents as possible to get the assistance they need.
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