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Centre Safe to Build Outdoor Play Area at Child Access Center with Giving Circle Grant

by on September 24, 2019 4:30 AM

Centre Foundation's Giving Circle members on Sept. 11 awarded $17,000 in grants to three local nonprofits.

At their annual reception, held at Above the Valley, members voted to award $11,000 to Centre Safe to build an outdoor play area at the Centre County Child Access Center. 

Centre Safe, formerly known as the Centre County Women's Resource Center, provides services to survivors of domestic or sexual violence. The Centre County Child Access Center, a Centre Safe program established in 2008, provides a safe place for custody exchanges and supervised visits for families with a history of violence.

Families have expressed interest in wanting to play outside during their visits, but without a secure area, that was not possible.

“When I see my dad, we always make the best of our time together," one teenage boy in the program said, according to a press release. “It’s nice, but we used to always spend our time together outside. That’s how I wish I could spend time with my dad again, playing catch and catching up. The outdoors makes me happy.”

Recognizing the need for a safe outdoor space, Centre Safe partnered with the Construction Trades Program at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI), which will design and implement the project free of charge, leaving only the materials needed as costs.

“I consider projects like these to be life changing for my class,” said Joe Luther, CPI horticulture/landscaping teacher. “This project will give my students a chance to showcase their newly learned skill sets while giving back to the community.”

Anne Ard, executive Director of Centre Safe, and Jamie Jones, director of the Centre County Child Access Center, were on hand to accept the check from Giving Circle members.

“The generosity of this community is truly amazing,” said Ard. “This evening really shows just how much support there is for all of the community organizations here in Centre County.”

Receiving runner-up grants of $3,000 each were Housing Transitions and Taproot Kitchen

Housing Transition, which provides housing programs and supportive services to those in need throughout Centre County, will use the grant to increase security at their homeless shelter, Centre House, by adding facial recognition cameras and remote door access.

Executive Director Morgan Wasikonis discussed the importance of added security to maintain a safe environment for both clients and Housing Transitions staff. Karl Gassmann, development and community relations coordinator, was also in attendance to share the project idea with Giving Circle members.

Taproot Kitchen, a catering venture that engages and employs people with intellectual disabilities, will use the grant to hire a part-time kitchen assistant to coordinate staff and volunteers, manage inventory, and maintain food safety and quality controls.

Co-Founder Sharon Schafer presented the idea to Giving Circle members and employee Sarah Pelchar, described as Taproot Kitchen’s “star baker,” along with volunteer MJ Kitt, were on hand to answer questions from Giving Circle members.

The Giving Circle was established in 2006 to commemorate Centre Foundation's 25th anniversary. Since then, members have pooled resources to award $156,000 in grants to Centre County organizations. Giving Circle membership is based on an annual membership donation.

After 40 grant proposals were received in June, 10 were selected to advance to the next round. Giving Circle members narrowed the list to the final three to give presentations at the annual reception. 

The $17,000 awarded this year is an increase over the $15,000 in previous years, thanks to an increase in Giving Circle memberships.

Previous recipients of the Giving Circle grant include ACRES Project, Interfaith Human Services, Park Forest Preschool, House of Care, Discovery Space, Housing Transitions, Strawberry Fields, and Centre Helps.

More information about the Giving Circle program is available at

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