Women Who Care distribute annual grants

ST. MARYS – Women Who Care, a charitable organization comprised of Elk County women who use philanthropic giving to strengthen the quality of life for families in area communities, presented grants to several area organizations at its Annual Membership and Grant Awarding Dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 26. The philanthropic membership giving circle is a project of the Elk County Community Foundation, which provides administrative support for the group. Pooled funds by the organization’s approximately 105 members supply the initial investment for projects selected in Elk County. Since its inception in 2009, the group has given $27,000 to local charities. The theme of this year’s awards dinner, hosted by the WWC Events Committee, was “Travel Around the World with Women Who Care.” Paula Fritz Eddy, executive director of the Elk County Community Foundation, said there were 12 area vendors who provided ethnic foods and beverages while participants visited each station and got their “passport” stamped, which they then turned in for a drawing. Participating vendors were Gunners Restaurant and Inn, Monica’s Restaurant, Red Fern, Kopper Kettle, Aiellos’ Café, Royal Inn, DD’s Bakery, BiLo of Johnsonburg, Johnsonburg Fire Department Auxiliary, Walmart, Flickerwood Wine Cellar and Straub Brewery. Members who brought a guest were also eligible for a special drawing, and several other prizes were awarded throughout the evening. The Grants Committee of the organization reviewed all grant applications and presented seven projects to the membership that committee members felt met the criteria and reflected the mission of the organization. After a five-minute presentation from each of the applicants, the current membership then voted for the project that they felt was most important to them and would be the most beneficial to Elk County residents. Members who were not able to attend were provided an absentee ballot. The organizations that received funding this year were: Catholic Charities Counseling and Adoption Services for their “Real Alternatives” program; Dickinson Center, Inc. and St. Marys Area School District for their kindergarten readiness program; Guardian Angel Center for their diaper pilot program; Salvation Army to help fund their energy assistance program; and Community Nurses, Inc.'s Hospice for the extension of its “Flutterbye” program for children who have experienced the death of a loved one. The local Catholic Charities Counseling and Adoption Services received $6,000 to offset budget cuts to their “Real Alternatives” program, which helps expectant mothers envision and provide a better future for themselves, their infant and their family. Diapers, formula and baby clothing are provided, and counseling is offered to help prepare clients to become self-sufficient and better parents. Approximately 80 families from Cameron and Elk Counties are participating weekly. Since this service is available for all parents regardless of religious affiliation, referrals come from many local human service agencies. The funding provided by WWC will allow Catholic Charities to continue services for families in need in 2011-2012. Dickinson Center, Inc.’s Children’s Prevention Services LIFE/Incredible Years programs was awarded $2,000 for a Kindergarten Readiness Program (KRP) for the St. Marys Area School District. The district had expressed a need for the program, which has already been successfully implemented in the Johnsonburg Area School District. The six-week program will be held at South St. Marys Street Elementary School and will be offered to all incoming kindergarten students in the district; about 50 percent of eligible students in the district are expected to participate. The KRP helps prepare children for the elementary school setting and addresses kindergarten readiness skills, letter formation, phonemic awareness, literacy, peer interaction, acclimation to the school setting and fine and gross motor skills."Research has shown that early intervention and prevention services improves success in education reaching into high school years. The grant dollars from the Women Who Care will allow us to provide early education intervention to our incoming kindergarten students at SMASD," said Tracey Myers and Deb Freeburg of Children’s Prevention Services. For more information on Women Who Care or to join, contact Paula Fritz Eddy at 834-2125 or visit the Elk County Community Foundation’s website at www.elkcountyfoundation.com.Pick up a copy of the Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.