As part of A Community Thrives, a program funded by the Gannett Foundation, four local organizations are receiving a total of $25,000 to help invest in community-building initiatives in north-central Kansas.
The program is part of the USA Today Network, which includes USA Today and hundreds of Gannett local media brands, including the Salina Journal and The Hutchinson News.
This year, two Salina organizations, the Salina Emergency Aid Food Bank and Salina Grace Foundation, will each receive $10,000 and two organizations in McPherson County, the Central Kansas Conservancy and Sprout House Learning Center, will each receive $2,500.
Organizations within each newspaper’s area had to apply for these competitive funds.
What does this funding mean for these organizations?
The organizations chosen in the Salina and McPherson area said these funds will help serve the community and are thankful for the funds.
“We are expending over $10,000 (a month) of our funds here at the food bank to purchase food to supplement the donations we’re receiving because of the high demand we’re seeing,” said Karen Couch, the executive director of the Salina Emergency Aid Food Bank.
She said this $10,000 is essentially one month of purchasing power for the food bank at a time when the need is great.
“In September (of this year), we actually distributed as much food as we had done in all of 2021,” Couch said.
Couch added that the months of October, November and December are always times when need seems to be great.
More:Salina Food Bank sees increase in need for its services, amount of people served up 55%
For the Salina Grace Foundation, this money will be used to help with an effort it began earlier this year to assist community members who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
“(The Community Resource Center helps them) to find the resources and services they need to help them with whatever their situation is,” said Chad Young, with Salina Grace.
Young said this center basically offers a clearinghouse of information about the resources in the community.
“We sit down with people who come in, hear their stories and start understanding what types of help they might need,” Young said. “Then we start connecting them with the resources in town that are there to help.”
He said people who are in crisis when it comes to finding shelter often get overwhelmed when they are told they have to go to several locations to get the services and help they need, so the resource center offers a way for those services to be brought to the person in crisis.
“We’re partnering and collaborating with many agencies throughout the community in order to achieve this,” Young said.
Specifically, this grant will be going to help fund care managers at the resource center.
“Oftentimes, the individual coming in will need help from three, four or five different agencies, so the care manager sits there and helps coordinate all of this with the individual,” Young said.
More:Retired and CASA volunteer in Salina looks out for the best interest of each child he serves
Smaller grants making impacts as well
The organizations receiving grants of a lesser amount are also happy to be able to use the funds for the good of the community. These two organizations include, The Sprout House Learning Center in Lindsborg and the Central Kansas Conservancy in McPherson.
Central Kansas Conservancy owns the right-of-way for 46 miles of rail-banked lines in McPherson and Marion Counties.
“We have spent the last decade working on one of those lines…between McPherson and Lindsborg that basically runs north-south between the two towns,” said Sharon Long.
Long said the conservancy has worked on this line a little bit at a time, as funding comes in. So far, it has completed four miles from McPherson north and several miles from Lindsborg south to help make a set of rail trails.
“This grant is going to help us finish the last two miles, in the middle, so the two communities can be linked by a rail trail,” Long said.
Rail trails are former rail road tracks converted and designated for use by non-motorized traffic, such as walking, hiking, biking and horseback riding.
Additional funding has been granted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and with this, Long said the conservancy hopes to have the trail completed by fall of 2023.
More than $5 million in grants nationwide
In addition to these four central Kansas initiatives, A Community Thrives and the Gannett Foundation has distributed more than $5 million to 700 participating projects across the country this year.
For a list of the recipients, visit www.gannettfoundation.org/act