By Sue Moore
Vicksburg area youth will have a better opportunity to go camping, read books or, if they’re disabled, play on the Miracle Field thanks to United Way grants made by its allocations board in July.
Senior members of the community will also gain in the grant process which awarded a total of $22,250 from contributions in the community in 2018.
South County Community Services received the largest grant, $9,000, to continue its “Aging Well in South County” program. This is a continuation of the work that has been supported by Vicksburg United Way funds in the past. “The goal is to continue building partnerships and creating an accessible network of programs and services that will give our seniors the quality of life they deserve,” said Danna Downing, executive director of South County. Additional funds for supporting Aging Well in South County will be coming from the senior millage via the Area Agency on Aging Region 3A as well as from the SCCS operating budget.
The senior outreach person would be partially funded by this grant along with extra funding to supplement direct cash assistance to clients. This would include money for such things as home safety devices and preventive services for the Safe at Home program beyond what’s provided by the Rotary Club and other partners.
The Boy Scouts of Troop 251 received $5,000 for camping equipment. “We strive to keep boys involved in scouting. The main reason that boys are unable to participate is the cost of equipment and activities,” said Scoutmaster Matt Luegge. “Camping equipment is expensive to purchase and maintain and it is difficult to keep youth involved if they do not have their own gear. In this case, it is important that the troop be able to loan gear to the scouts.”
Friends of Vicksburg Youth were also looking for funds for camping experiences and received $2,500. Some children are unable to attend Boy Scout camps or band camp because of financial hardship. This group hopes to expand the program with this funding (see accompanying story on page ?). So far scholarships were given based on recommendations from adult leaders in the organizations who identified kids who might be unable to afford camp.
The Southwest Michigan Miracle Field requested money for a high-quality sound system for the facility to be built in Schoolcraft. This system would include a public address system, speakers and amplifier. $3,250 was awarded with the knowledge that other funds would need to be donated to fully fund a sound system. They plan to begin building the field in the spring of 2020, Bill Deming reported in the application.
The Big Read Machine, a project of the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation was granted $2,500 to support summer reading for students all across the school district. A school bus has been converted and stocked with donated and purchased books, all funded by donations from the community. The estimated cost to remodel and equip the bus is $40,000.
Fawn Callen chaired the committee that considered the requests which amounted to a total of $26,500, requiring discussion of how to allocate the available dollars. Cathy Musselman, Carol Lohman, and Laurel Clark were the decision makers along with Callen.