Sixteen programs aimed at educating and preventing drug use in Blair County have received more than $ 52,000 in grants from Operation Our Town.
Area businesses have formed Operation Our Town to tackle drugs and violent crime in Blair County. Grant recipients range from the Blair Regional YMCA to the Evolution Expressions: Arts for Healing program.
This is the first grant for Leaders of Tomorrow, a mentoring program for people aged 11 to 17 that provides educational, recreational, physical and spiritual opportunities and outlets.
“It’s a real blessing” said founder Jeremiah Witherspoon.
The Gloria Gates Memorial Foundation received money to help at-risk youth enrolled in after-school programs run in the low-income subdivisions of Evergreen Manors, Fairview Hills and Logan Hills.
“Almost all of the risks our children face, just like adults in the community and the community as a whole,” said Toni Bilik, executive director of the Gloria Gates Memorial Foundation. “So it’s so important to reach out to these kids, and I’m so grateful that Operation Our Town understands at-risk youth and therefore devotes so much funding and hard work to helping us break these cycles. “
Operation Our Town board chairman Michael Fiore told the assembled grant recipients on Tuesday that the board sees the hard work they do every day.
“It does not go unnoticed” Fiore said. “Your work is admirable and relentless.
Operation Our Town raises funds for grants through its annual September golf tournament; grants from local businesses, organizations and individuals; and donations from major annual donors, according to Shawna Hoover, executive coordinator of Operation Our Town.
Since its organization in 2006, Operation Our Town has provided more than $ 1.2 million in grants to prevention programs in the county, according to a press release.
Operation Our Town will resume accepting grant applications in May 2022.
The beneficiaries of the scholarships for the 2021 cycle are:
* Altoona Area School District Adult Education Program ($ 2,500) to cover the cost of GED subtest exams for adults who do not have a high school diploma.
* AASD Education Program Leading to Employment and Skills Training ($ 2,000) to provide meals and snacks for pregnant and parenting teens.
* AASD Foundation: SOAR (Study, Overcome, Achieve, Reward) Project ($ 4000) for supplies and materials for students identified as receiving financial assistance to pursue post-secondary education.
* ArtsAltoona Music Programming ($ 2,000) to provide music lessons for children from grade three, targeting Altoona’s 6th neighborhood and the underserved population living within an eight-block radius.
* Big Brothers Big Sisters of Blair County Students and Mentors Achieve Results Together ($ 5,000) to support Mentor-Mentee matches.
* Blair Regional YMCA: Family Y-Nite ($ 1,000) to help low-income families participate in activities.
* South Central PA TEAM Builders Center for Independent Living ($ 1,500) to promote self-confidence, self-esteem and respect as part of a bullying prevention program.
* The Central Blair Recreation & Park Commission’s Happy Hoops Program ($ 2,000) to help with the start-up costs of new program supplies and equipment for basketball programs for children ages 4-6.
* Child Advocates of Blair County’s CHOICES Summer Program ($ 1,925) to purchase supplies and incentives for a youth summer program at Evergreen Manors.
* Community children of the community worship center! Weekly program ($ 2,500) to purchase food, clothing, school supplies and educational materials for a weekly program for children in Kindergarten to Grade 5.
* Evolution Expressions’ Arts for Healing program ($ 2,800) for the purchase of art supplies to help at-risk youth cope with the effects of trauma.
* Gloria Gates Memorial Foundation’s after-school program ($ 12,000) to fund educational materials, field trips, snacks and one-on-one support for at-risk youth enrolled in Evergreen Manors, Fairview Hill and Logan Hills.
* The Home Nursing Foundation’s Healing Patch Children’s Grief Program ($ 2,500) to help with supplies associated with peer support groups held twice a month during the school year for children in County of Blair and their families who have suffered the death of a loved one, as well as bereavement books and brochures for his lending library.
* Leaders of Tomorrow ($ 2,000) to mentor youth ages 11 to 17 through fitness, educational opportunities, life skills and community engagement.
* The ROCK at 2nd Avenue: (Reaching Out to Community Kids) ($ 6,500) to purchase food and program supplies for kids from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and provide a home cooked meal, gym activities / physical, arts and age-appropriate breakout groups that encourage a healthy lifestyle.
* Blair County United Way Family Resource Center programs ($ 2,500) for supplies and instructional materials for parent education programs, parent-to-teacher education, and parent education classes.