Williamsburg Community Foundation gives thousands in spring grants

Nine nonprofits walked away from Williamsburg Community Foundation’s grant luncheon Wednesday with fatter pockets.

It was the foundation’s first grant-giving event of the year, handing out $31,500 over lunch at the Ford’s Colony Country Club. Grants are given twice each year to organizations or individuals working to better the lives of area residents, according to the foundation's website.

“It’s a very competitive process. We had 29 applications and we were able to fund nine of them,” foundation director Nancy Sullivan said. “There are always organizations that we can’t fund that we would have loved to have funded.”

One big winner of the day was Colonial Heritage Community Foundation. It received the largest grant, $5,000 total — $3,000 from the foundation’s community endowment and $2,000 from an anonymous donor. The funding is for its Senior Champions Program, which provides day services to Williamsburg seniors, giving family caregivers a break. 

New this year, Rita Smith and the Hospice House Volunteer Guild both took home the first installments of the Williamsburg Landing Outstanding Service to Seniors Award. The award is part of an endowment with the community foundation established by Williamsburg Landing.

"(The Hospice House) have more than 350 volunteers who contribute more than 14,000 hours annually," said Kathy Kammer, Williamsburg Landing's communications director. “And of course the extra service they do of sitting by the bedside of those near the end of life, and they do that at a client’s home, they go to hospitals or right there in the client’s house. It’s quite remarkable all that they do.”

Kammer said they may not hand out an award to both an individual and an organization every year as they did on Wednesday. She said both were very deserving this year. 

Smith is executive director of Williamsburg Area Faith in Action, an organization supporting daily needs for residents over 60. Williamsburg Area Faith in Action was also awarded a $2,780 grant from an anonymous donor.

The foundation’s endowment grants fall into five categories including senior services, children and youth programs, environment and conservation, arts and health and community wellness.

“We are the only grant maker that supports across such a wide spectrum,” Sullivan said. “For us, we try to reach every area when we do our grant-making. The work that (the organizations) do in the community is necessary, and becoming more so every day.”

For arts and culture, Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra was awarded $3,000 for its “Carnival of Animals” concert April 29. The interactive, multi-sensory performance at the Williamsburg Community Chapel will incorporate animal-themed music and movement from the orchestra and Virginia Regional Ballet.

Both the Early Childhood Music School and Virginia Peninsula Foodbank won in the children and youth category. The $3,000 for the music school will support its efforts to give music education to at-risk preschool children.

The foodbank’s grant is for its BackPack Program, helping ensure kids who don’t have a reliably get healthy food on weekends are sent away from school with nutritious food. The $4,000 from the foundation will benefit 250 Williamsburg-James City County students, a foundation news release stated.

For health and community wellness, the $2,900 given to Olde Towne Medical and Dental Center will bring bilingual educational materials into the office for pregnant women. The prenatal clinic serves about 1,500 patients each year, most of which are uninsured and 35 percent are Spanish-speaking, according to the release.

Literacy for Life is the other wellness grant winner, receiving $3,000 to be put toward a new curriculum for adult learners, and a $5,000 donation from the Beck Family Fund went to Covenant Christian Academy.

The Girl Scout Council of the Colonial Coast is taking on the task of renovating the Holly Hill site at Camp Skimino, off of Fenton Mill Road in Upper York County. That project won $2,800 from the foundation in the environment and conservation category.

“I would love to fund them all, that’s the hard part of what we do,” Sullivan said. “We see the needs every day and making those choices, it’s difficult.”

Another round of grants will be awarded in the fall, Sullivan said. The deadline to apply for those is July 19.

Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.

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