Greater Waupaca community benefits from more than $100,000 in grants

It’s all thanks to the Waupaca Area Community Foundation, wanting to help those most affected by the pandemic.
Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 5:46 PM CDT
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WAUPACA, Wis. (WBAY) - Over twenty non-profit organizations in our area will be getting over $100,000 in grant money. It’s all thanks to the Waupaca Area Community Foundation, wanting to help those most affected by the pandemic.

It’s organizations like Foundations for Living, a warming shelter in Waupaca, that is seeing how the pandemic is impacting hundreds of people.

“I think because of COVID, family members that were taking care of other family members on a temporary basis, it’s lengthened and it’s lengthened, and it’s gotten to be a lot, financially and emotionally,” said Wilma Akright, Foundations for Living Executive Director.

The organization is getting about $10,000. The shelter helps people in crisis, provides food, shelter, necessities, and without the support of the community it can’t help people who lack basic needs right now.

“If you can imagine your life, you maybe had a good income and suddenly you have nothing, how long could you go?,” said Akright.

In total, 22 non-profits will benefit from the money. The Waupaca Area Community Foundation works in partnership with the Rhodes Sanford Foundation.

“I think in any case whether it’s during a pandemic or not, certainly while we have our very very special place here, we realize that there are people that need some assistance,” said Stephen Johnson, Waupaca Area Community Foundation Chairman.

Others are seeing the extreme need in our schools, organizations like Project Backpack.

“There are so many hungry children in our communities, it’s really sad honestly, and we actually help five communities, Weyewega-Fremont, Waupaca, Iola-Scandanavia, Manawa and Amherst,” said Jacci Peterson, Project Backpack Coordinator.

Peterson said the group packs about 186 bags a week, and that number is growing. In this case too, it’s all done through everyone pulling together.

The combined grant money from Rhoades Sanford and WACF funded these proposals:

· CAP Services: $2,000 from WACF to contribute to financial aid to low-income Waupaca residents who’ve lost income due to COVID-19.

· Family Health la Clinica: $3,500 from WACF for an outreach campaign to re-engage Waupaca patients in health, behavioral health and dental services.

· Foundations for Living: $10,000 (half from each funder) to help hire two part-time overnight staff to replace volunteers to allow the warming shelter to stay open this season.

· NAMI Fox Valley: $2,000 from WACF to support virtual mental health support group services for people from Waupaca.

· Project Backpack: $3,000 from Rhoades Sanford to provide nutritious food on weekends to children in need through the Lakes Community Church and the Waupaca County school districts.

· Sunny Day Daycare: $10,000 (half from each funder) to sustain operations through reduced attendance due to COVID-19 and the resulting reduced revenues and increased costs.

· Tomorrow’s Children: $3,000 from WACF toward the purchase and training of a therapy dog to work with children with traumatic or difficult pasts.

· Weyauwega Arts Organization: $3,000 from Rhoades Sanford to support WEGA Arts' 10th annual film festival, screening more than 40 national and international films with virtual audiences.

· Waupaca County Senior Nutrition Program: $4,000 from Rhoades Sanford to sustain the home-delivered meal program serving more than 250 Waupaca seniors through end of 2020.

· Waupaca County Suicide Coalition: $2,000 from WACF to support suicide prevention activities in Waupaca County, such as an awareness campaign, distribution of a booklet of coping tips and virtual seminars.

Prior to its joint grantmaking with the Rhoades Sanford Foundation, WACF approved these grants from its annual competitive grant program:

· Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Wisconsin: $5,000 to continue one-to-one mentoring relationships through Waupaca Foundry Workplace Mentoring and Waupaca Area School District’s School Buddies programs.

· Camp Hope Inc.: $4,000 for Weekend Bereavement Camp, which gives grieving children and their families the chance to get away and enjoy the Wisconsin Lion’s Camp in Rosholt.

· CAP Services-Stevens Point: $5,000 for counseling, legal advocacy, information, referrals and education programs for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence of all ages and genders in Waupaca County.

· Catalpa Health: $5,000 to enable Catalpa’s Waupaca-based children’s mental health providers to become certified in tele-mental health, along with the technology needed to offer telehealth options to families long-term.

· Foundations for Living: $5,000 to add an Americorps volunteer coordinator to recruit, interview, vet, train and schedule volunteers for the warming shelter, freeing up the executive director.

· Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes: $5,000 to bring the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) to at-risk girls in grades K-12 in the Waupaca area who may not otherwise be able to participate in traditional Girl Scout troops.

· Golden Sands RC&D: $2,000 to add the Oz Natural Area and Center for Biodiversity Education in Waupaca to the Demonstration Forest Program, which allows private landowners to share information about the importance of land stewardship with other landowners, school groups and the general public.

· Neighborhood Partners: $3,500 to help the program of Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin increase social connectedness in neighborhoods across greater Waupaca. It would encourage all residents to appreciate and connect with one another through the Great Neighbor Shout-Out, administer microgrant funding for neighbors' social connection ideas, and train a peer network to create their own neighborhood organizations.

· Living the Waupaca Way: $5,000 to help fund the farm market manager position for the Waupaca Farmers Market 2021 season.

· Mission of Hope House of Wisconsin: $5,000 to support the only 24/7/365 homeless shelter in Waupaca County. It promotes self-sufficiency for families affected by poverty and homelessness by providing safe shelter, food and training in budgeting, parenting, life skills, finding gainful employment and qualifying for affordable and sustainable housing.

· Opera for the Young: $1,500 for its production of “Hansel and Gretel” in Waupaca elementary schools.

· Rawhide Inc.: $5,000 to support the basic living needs of at-risk youth who come to live at Rawhide to receive residential and mental health services.

· Valley Packaging Industries: $5,000 to prepare young adults with disabilities in Waupaca County to seek, obtain and maintain competitive, integrated, community employment.

· Waupaca County Suicide Prevention Coalition: $5,000 to provide “Comfort Kits” to mitigate the mental health fallout from traumatic loss post-COVID-19 and HOPE Kits to help with prevention, as well as suicide prevention training and community education.

· Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region: $5,000 to support EmpowHER and Starting Point, programs that aim to break the generational cycle of poverty by helping young women identify what is holding them back and removing barriers to education as a pathway to economic security.

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