Fourteen area nonprofits recently received a collective $30,000 in financial support from Rotary Club of West Chester members.
Community philanthropic grants usually are supported by funds raised at the Rotary’s annual Chili Cook-off, which was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, a generous donation from a Rotarian allowed grants to be given this fall.
Meghan Ervine, Home of the Sparrow, volunteer coordinator, says the grant will assist women in their housing programs, as well as collecting school supplies for the women’s children.
Glenda Brion, Community Warehouse Project executive director, says they serve an average of six families a week who come out of shelters needing furniture and household items. “Rotary funds will be used for bed pillows, and transportation costs to deliver furniture to families when volunteers aren't available,” she says.
Hallie Romanowski, executive director of Act in Faith of Greater West Chester, thanks the Rotary Club for being one of the organizations who've provided overwhelming support. “We never had to close, remained able to help needy individuals throughout the pandemic, and will continue to do so with this grant,” she says.
Dr. Dolly Wideman-Scott, CEO of the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County, says their organization also remained open during the pandemic because the need for services continues year-round. She thanks Rotary members for volunteering with some DVC projects during the pandemic, providing the grant, and emphasizes the partnerships with other nonprofit organizations in the county to meet victims’ needs.
The West Chester Area Senior Center representative, Ellen Donohoe, acknowledges their long-term partnership with the Rotary Club, specifically in helping with WCASC’s food distribution program. “We provide food for seniors to pick up every week, and deliver food to seniors who cannot get out or who live in low income senior housing,” she says.
North Star of Chester County director, Don Neimetz, also cites long-term support from Rotary and other organizations that make it possible for them to help single, working parents. “Rents have been going up significantly,” he explains, “so Rotary funds will help us provide rental assistance for the working poor.”
“The connection between horses and riders is visible,” says Dallas Knowlton, program director of Hope Springs Equestrian Therapy, which works with individuals having physical and/or cognitive issues. One example she cites was after their program was able to reopen, one of the horses noticeably responded to a returning rider. “We often note an emotional component,” she adds.
Emily McClure, chief advancement officer of Friends Association for the Care and Protection of Children, thanks Rotary for providing support since 2007. “We've been able to double our staff since then,” she says, noting that Friends is approaching its 200th anniversary. “Funds will go toward the housing we have recently acquired in Coatesville, which will eventually house up to seven families," she adds.
The Arc of Chester County serves 400 families annually, says director of advocacy, Kim Booz, who adds their grant funds will go toward education advocacy and system advocacy for people with disabilities.
“Our grant will help remove barriers to and provide increased mental health counseling,” says Tyler Changaris, director of development at Family Service of Chester County, noting that “mental health crises’ went up during the pandemic.”
Funds will be used to continue bringing exercise programs to The Hickman Senior Living Community residents, assures Rita Brouwer-Ancher, director of development. She says Myrtle, a 101-year-old resident who has lived at the Hickman for 20 years, recently led their ‘Olympic Parade,’ an exercise event that included wheelchair volley ball and other sports. Marching forward with her walker, Myrtle declared, "I’m so glad to get out of lockdown!"
“Our 24/7 hotline, advocates who provide legal and medical accompaniment, prevention outreach, and advocacy education will all benefit from our grant,” says Christine Zaccarelli, executive director of the Crime Victims Center of Chester County.
Natalie Coughlin, representing the Maternal and Child Health Consortium, says she was impressed that folks, such as Rotarians, are so invested in the community, and in organizations like hers, who work with mothers and children, and significantly in the Hispanic community.
“Improving outcomes for youth will be the recipient of funds for West Chester Communities That Care,” says Loretta Cohen, Community Mobilizer of the organization. As part of their work with youth at risk, they're helping with the Padres Latinos program to encourage fathers and men to work with at-risk youth.