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Community Foundation alters spring grants help local COVID-19 response

It seems most everything is at least slightly different in the world since the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the spring grant program through the Community Foundation of Kingston and Area is no different.

Normally, the Community Foundation hosts a spring grants award evening, where grants are given out to local agencies and programs through a variety of different Community Foundation funds and initiatives. This spring, with everyone practicing physical distancing and home isolation as much as possible, the organization that connects donors and charities addressing local community needs decided to focus their grants on three organizations that are helping respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the issues associated with it right here in our community. The $31,411 in funding will help feed the most vulnerable people in the area, and offer support services for isolated seniors and those grieving in the new reality we’re all experiencing.

The list of funded projects is notably smaller than it usually is. According to the Community Foundation, this is because the Foundation decided to put its regular granting cycle on pause to ensure it could “achieve the most impact with its available grants,” the Foundation said in a press release on Friday, Apr. 17, 2020.

“The Foundation is currently exploring what our granting process and priorities for 2020 should be to ensure that our grants will respond to the most pressing needs of local charities and the people and causes they serve,” Community Grants Chairperson Julie Burch said in a statement. “We are in consultation with other funders and our charitable-sector partners, to understand both immediate needs and those anticipated in the medium-to-longer-term recovery period, to ensure we are positioned to support local charities and their emerging needs as best we can.”

The three projects receiving funding are:

Frontenac Kingston Council on Aging: The Sunshine Call Pilot – Rebuilding seniors’ social networks ($8,115)

The Sunshine Call pilot program has been created in response to the “critical epidemic of vulnerable senior loneliness and isolation, a need more prevalent now with seniors self-isolating indefinitely at home,” the Community Foundation said.

The project will a group of trained volunteers who are seniors themselves phone participating isolated seniors at a specific time each day to conduct a wellness check and connect participants through a teleconference-style party line. The volunteers will facilitate the discussion and encourage participants to maintain the established connections independently, allowing seniors to rebuild their social networks.

Outreach by George: Upgraded kitchen stoves for Lunch by George ($15,395)

Lunch by George offers a free, nutritious lunch five days a week, and is continuing to serve hot takeout meals to those in need during the COVID-19 crisis. According to the Community Foundation, the organization’s domestic stoves are worn out, and this grant will allow for the purchase of two professional-grade ranges that can be delivered and installed so the organization can continue to provide an uninterrupted safe meal service for those in need.

Bereaved Families of Ontario – Kingston Region: Supporting the Kington community with virtual bereavement ($7,900)

The Community Foundation points out that grief is made even more difficult during this time of physical distancing and self-isolation. The grant will allow Bereaved Families of Ontario – Kingston Region to continue delivering grief-support services to the local community through text, chat, and video conferencing platforms.

The Community Foundation of Kingston and Area has supported the local community well-being in Kingston, Frontenac County and Loyalist Township for over 25 years. The organization states it is committed to continuing to support local charities through this difficult time, and beyond. For more information on the Community Foundation, click here.

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