By Michelle Strubeck for Seward City News-
On May 2nd members and supporters of the Seward Community Foundation spent the evening at the Seward Brewing Company for their annual Donor Appreciation and Grant Event. The room was bustling with excitement as 18 Seward and Moose Pass nonprofits were presented with grant money they had applied for. Over the course of the evening a total of $114,913 was awarded.
Every March, committee members meet to review each application. This year there were 21 applications totaling approximately $186,000 in requested funds. It was decided that 18 nonprofits would be funded in smaller amounts. Presenters for the evening were Jim Pfeiffenberger, Chip Arnold, Amy Haddow, Carole Tallman and Dan Walker.
The Seward Community Foundation Advisory Board members are Patty Linville (President), John Eavis (Vice President/Grant Committee Lead), Allison Fong (Program Manager), Teri Arnold, Cindy Clock, Rodger Painter, Amy Haddow, Karen Sefton, Melody Spangler-Hatch, Kim Reierson, Phyllis Shoemaker, Carole Tallman and Emily Wezenberg.
The Seward Communty Foundation endowment allows grants to be made in areas such as arts and culture, youth, education, health, human services and community development. These grants are helping to improve the lives of Seward and Moose Pass residents. The Seward Community Foundation is an affiliate under the umbrella of the Alaska Community Foundation.
The Alaska Community Foundation is a state wide community foundation that works with corporations across Alaska as well as individual donors, families, nonprofits and communities, connecting people who care with matters that are close to their hearts and increasing philanthropy at the same time.
The affiliate program was established in 2008 with a grant from the Rasmuson Foundation with the sole reason of supporting local communities in their philanthropic efforts through grants and charitable giving. Over the next four years a total of $185,000 in matching funds will be available for each affiliate. The Alaska Community Foundation and the Rasmuson Foundation will provide an additional dollar for each dollar raised in every affiliate community. A number of communities are already rising to the challenge by raising gifts through businesses, families and individuals.
The first award of the night went to the Seward Band and Choir Boosters. The Seward Community Foundation funds will be used to expand music opportunities in Seward through instruments and concerts. The keyboard and percussion instruments will be expanded in the Seward Middle School and provide opportunities for elementary, middle school and high school students to see performances by professional musicians. One large marimba and xylophone will be purchased with the funds received for use in the elementary and middle school. Current music students gave a brief marimba performance showcasing things to come.
The Teen and Youth Center received a grant that will help fund summer camp activities such as panning for gold, hiking at Portage Glacier, kayaking trips to Resurrection Bay and Caines Head, and zip lining just to name a few.
The Seward PTSA will use funds received for the Seward Moose Pass Imagination Library Monthly Book Delivery program. This grant will support the monthly delivery of Imagination Library books to eligible children in Seward and Moose Pass through the national Dollywood Imagination Library program. The program promotes early childhood literacy. The books are free and all families have to do is spend time reading together. The Seward PTSA also received a grant for their Theater For All project. Theater For All brings professional, live family oriented entertainment to Seward and the surrounding area. This year there was a performance by Cascada De Flores (Waterfall of Flowers). Theater For All brought this performance to 650 Seward and Moose Pass students, home schooled children and school staff. There was also a paid public performance by Cascada De Flores with numerous music lovers in attendance.
The Seward Senior Center will be using their Seward Community Foundation grant money for their Modernizaton of Senior Services program. This program entails modernizing the office setting by constructing a private office space, increasing visual safety for staff and seniors and improving lighting and sound. The office space will allow individuals to access social services in a private setting.
The Seward Prevention Coalition will be using their funds to build a community garden in Seward. The newly formed Seward Community Garden By the Bay will use their garden space where locals can grow their own produce, share the fruits of their labor with the Food Bank and provide educational events throughout the year.
Eileen O’Brien and Tanya Foote accepted the grant for the Seward Area Hospice. This is a volunteer hospice program providing non-professional assistance making the difference between an individual passing away in the comfort of their home versus being in an institutional setting. This grant will allow the Seward Area Hospice to focus on operating a quality program and implementing a fundraising plan.
Science teacher and Connections Advisor Carlyn Nichols accepted the Seward Community Foundation grant for the Seward Middle School. The project being funded through this grant is the Maker Lab. The Maker Lab provides students with resources, tools and an environment where they can create anything that is of interest to them. This is an independent, self-driven experience allowing students to work on stimulating projects and develop new skills outside of the traditional classroom. Carlyn talked about a two tier tire chair that a student made. This chair was upcycled and repurposed, providing a source of pride and engagement for the student. There was also a violin that was turned into a jewelry hanger.
The Lowell Point Volunteer Fire Department will put their funds towards a tanker/pumper gear fit out. The Lowell Point Volunteer Fire Department recently acquired another fire fighting tanker that can hold 4,000 gallons of water. This increased capacity will allow the fire department to fight fires more effectively and the grant will allow for the purchase of fire fighting equipment to fit out the newly acquired tanker to NFPA specifications.
The Alaska SeaLife Center received a grant that will be used for their ASLC Ocean Sciences Club. This is an after school club open to middle school and high school students where they focus on marine science skills and concepts. Students involved in this program have assisted in necropsies, they have done problem solving exercises and they have built their own underwater remote controlled vehicles.
Seaview Community Services will focus on their Empowering Families Through Parenting Support and Education program. The Seward Community Foundation grant will allow for two employees to receive their training in the Circle of Security Parenting classes. After receiving the training, this will enable Seaview to offer a structured parenting program that gives families the opportunity to take part in high quality, researched based parenting program targeted at reducing at-risk or out of home placements. The program will also encourage community members to become foster parents.
The Moose Pass Public Library received a grant to expand patron opportunities at their library. A new facility will be opening in May with a primary goal of ensuring that the new facility becomes an asset to the community. The funds will be used to purchase headphones, tablets and provide training for the use and care of tablets for local residents and library staff.
The Independent Living Center received a grant for their TRAILS program. This is an inclusive recreation program that promotes inclusivity and equal rights for those who experience disabilities whether they are visible or invisible. The grant will help to purchase transportation for day trips , supplies for fundraising for arts and crafts and wilderness first aid training for TRAILS staff. Several of the TRAILS individuals expressed their gratitude for opportunities they have had through this program and the grant will allow them to continue enjoying a variety of activities.
The Bear Creek Volunteer Fire Department and EMS will be happy to use their Seward Community Foundation funds for tech rescue equipment. They have a standing agreement with fire and EMS agencies in Seward, Moose Pass and Lowell Point offering technical rescue services to these communities. The purchase of this highly specialized equipment will continue to enhance professional and high quality services to these areas.
Seaview Community Services will use their funds to replace worn furniture in their Evergreen Group Home. Purchasing new furniture will create a comfortable space for residents to relax in the living room, dining room, sitting room and a cabinet for storage. The Group Home residents also host a variety of holiday parties, birthday parties, BBQ’s and other events where community members, staff and family are invited.
The Seward Community Library Association will use their grant money for their Friends of the Seward Library Strategic Plan. This plan assists the library with material and book replacement through used book sales and other donations. They have also supported new library programming by purchasing new equipment for staff and library needs. With the development of a strategic plan, a five to ten year course has been laid for the Seward Community Library Association.
Wellness for All is focusing on Seward Strong with their grant money. The first annual Seward Strong planning day was an immense success and Wellness for All is thrilled to host the second annual event in the fall of 2017. This is a one day event where community members target two community health and wellness initiatives. The selected initiatives will receive $2,000 in kick starter funds and support from Wellness for All for up to one year following the annual planning day.
The Seward Nordic Ski Club has decided to put their Seward Community Foundation funds toward Nordic ski grooming fleet improvements. The Seward Nordic Ski Club was established in 1983 and it is the only organization that promotes Nordic skiing on the Eastern Kenai Penninsula from Seward to Moose Pass. Funds received will help to purchase a new snow machine to assist in the grooming of 28 miles of trails. The ski club also promotes winter recreation in the local area and they are a strong supporter of the Nordic ski programs in the Seward elementary school, middle school and high school.