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Centre Foundation Announces Recipients of 2013 Field of Interest Grants

by on December 29, 2013 10:00 AM

Centre Foundation recently announced the recipients of the 2013 field of interest grants.

“We received over forty applications for worthy causes across the county,” explained executive director, Molly Kunkel. “While these decisions were tough to make, our staff, the grants committee, and our board members ultimately decided these were the right projects to fund at this time.”

Penns Valley Conservation Association’s Healthy Environments Initiative received $1,028 from the Centre County Medical Society Fund, which focuses on promoting healthy and active lifestyles for children. The grant will be used at the Penns Valley Environmental Center, a tract of 65 acres across from the Penns Valley Elementary School on Highway 45, to plant an edible forest of fruit and nut trees that students and the public can enjoy.

“This community-driven restoration initiative will continue to revitalize the Penns Valley Environmental Center for exploratory and interdisciplinary education centered around healthy connections with our environment,” said Andrea Ferich, the association’s Executive Director/Consultant.

Centre Wildlife Care received $837 from the Mattil Family Fund. Robyn Graboski, Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator, explained that the grant “will help us repair our volunteer entrance [and] keep all of our volunteers safe.”

The YMCA of Centre County’s Team Wellness Program received $1,394 from the Philipsburg Area Fund. Mel Curtis, the Moshannon Valley YMCA Branch Director, will oversee this program. Beginning in January, middle and high school students from the Philipsburg Osceola School District will participate in team-building and physical fitness activities with a trainer/nutritionist twice a week. Participating students will come from all socioeconomic backgrounds and be able to engage in the program as an outlet, a way to express themselves, and a launching pad for becoming better students. “Ultimately, our goal is to have the kids turn into mentors,” Curtis said.

Gregg Township received $1,719 from the Ruth E. Rishel Charitable Fund, established by Centre Foundation’s long-standing volunteer in honor of her home community, Penns Valley. Cathy Pierce, Event Coordinator at Old Gregg School Community and Recreation Center, was excited to learn the news.

“It will enable us to provide hot showers for the growing number in our community who come to Old Gregg School to improve their health and well-being through the variety of fitness opportunities offered at this community-guided center,” Pierce said.

For their class project, the Leadership Centre County (LCC) class of 2013 applied for a grant on behalf of the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC). The CAC will receive $1,505 from the Centre Children’s Fund and $1,686 from the J. Alvin and Vera E. Knepper Hawbaker Memorial Endowment Fund. “The funds will be granted directly to the new Centre County Child Advocacy center and will be used to renovate their family waiting room – a special project launched by the Class of 2013,” explained Georgia Abbey, Executive Director of LCC. The Centre Children’s Fund supports organizations that provide programs and services to at-risk children. “The LCC Class of 2013 has really grasped the concept of the CAC and worked with the community to champion our cause,” said Kristina Taylor-Porter, the newly hired Executive Director of the CAC. Taylor-Porter went on to say that “the waiting room is the first place children go when they begin this process, so it is important that it be not only a safe environment, but also warm and welcoming.”

The Hawbaker Memorial Fund also granted $2,000 to Interfaith Human Services (IHS) for their Financial Care Program. This grant will provide an “educational opportunity to low-income, Centre County residents … as a first step in breaking a cycle of poverty and helping our neighbors find long term financial stability,” explained Ruth Donahue, Executive Director at IHS. The Hawbaker Fund supports organizations that provide educational services in Centre County.

The Patricia Farrell Music Fund made two grants. The Central Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association (CPMTA) will receive $1,000 for the Phyllis Triolo Music Competition and the Nittany Valley Symphony (NVS) will receive $1,458 for their annual family concert. This fund supports all types of music programs — especially those focused on children – and is named after a former chair of Centre Foundation, an active community volunteer, a Penn State professor, and a musician.

The grant for the competition in May will help cover the event’s expenses.

“This will be the 30th year of the competition ... started in 1985 in memory of Phyllis Triolo, a concert artist, teacher, and member of the organization who passed away in July of 1984. Many of the winners have gone on to pursue musical careers and all have benefited from the judges' comments and the experience of the competition,” said Patricia Lloyd of the CPMTA.

Roberta Strebel, Executive Director of the NVS, was “thrilled to receive this grant for our Annual Family Concert — The Animated Orchestra. It will cover so many of our costs, and we are honored to say that our concert is sponsored in part by the Patricia Farrell Music Fund of the Centre Foundation. Pat Farrell was a supporter of live classical music, and we will honor her with our performance.”

The Counseling Service Fund, which supports organizations that provide behavioral and mental health services in Centre County, made a total of three grants.

Cen-Clear Child Services will receive $3,560 to provide on-site counseling services to students in the Bald Eagle Area School District. Gene Kephart, Executive Director for Cen-Clear, knows that the “on-site” part of this program is essential in keeping students in class as much as possible and not putting a financial burden on families that may otherwise have to take time off from work to travel to a counselor. In a rural school district, this program provides a win-win solution.

Catholic Charities’ counseling outreach program at Centre County prison will receive $1,000. Jean Johnston, Executive Director, knows that incarcerated people “struggle with same emotions as do the rest of us — grief, anxiety, anger and frustration,” and that their “problems are compounded by lack of privacy and timely access to services.” Through this program, Johnston is hoping to “enhance the inmates’ chances of living a crime-free life after release.”

Housing Transitions will receive $4,000 for its Access to Mental Health Services program. Currently, two-thirds of the residents at Housing Transitions’ Centre House have a pre-existing mental health diagnosis. Trained staffers provide nightly programs to assist adult residents in overcoming challenges such as “mental illness, substance addiction, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and the stress that comes with being homeless,” said Ron Quinn, Executive Director. Quinn went on to say that “[w]e are proud of our clients’ successes, and have recently invited two former residents back to share their experiences of success during the classes. Both of these former residents have a mental health diagnosis, and both are flourishing in their professional and personal lives. Their unique ability to inspire our shelter residents provides an extra layer of compassion and understanding to our work…We are grateful to the Centre Foundation and the Counseling Service Fund for helping to sustain programming that makes a tremendous difference in our neighbors’ lives.”

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This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.
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