The Spence Neighbourhood Association — and 11 other local organizations — now know financial grants can sometimes come from out of the blue.
Or over the telephone. And, in this case, from the Winnipeg Foundation.
The association, which has grown from its namesake area and now helps residents and people from Central Park through to the West End, was the surprise recipient of a $75,000 grant. It was part of $650,000 given by the Winnipeg Foundation to 12 organizations working in the areas of mental health, addictions and community safety.
"I was totally surprised when I got the call," Linn Howes Barr, the association’s acting executive director, said at the official announcement of the grants and the release of the foundation’s annual report Wednesday.
"I am just really grateful. The Winnipeg Foundation is just so ahead of its time in how it listens to agencies and how it trusts them to roll out the best programs."
She said $25,000 of the money will go to fund the Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthews Community Association’s Our Place-Safe Place program, an initiative that offers a safe place for sex-trade workers and survivors of sexual exploitation to go on Friday nights.
Rick Frost, foundation chief executive officer, said the dozen one-time grants are unusual because, not only are they unrestricted, meaning groups can spend the money in any way they want to, they didn’t have to file a request to get it.
"They didn’t ask for it, but we have confidence in all of them," Frost said. "We know they are right on the front lines. They just got a phone call for our grant team; all they have to do is tell us how you spent it."
Other recipients of the surprise grants, most of which were $50,000, include Bear Clan Patrol, Ka Ni Kanichihk, Resource Assistance for Youth, and Thunderbird House. 1Just City was the only other organization to receive $75,000.
The foundation also announced $4.6 million in major grants to organizations also working with mental health, addictions and community safety. These include $750,000 to the Main Street Project (with $500,000 going to its capital program which includes doubling the number of overnight beds at a new facility on Main Street), $750,000 to Bruce Oake Recovery Centre (including $50,000 annually for operating support for five years), and $100,000 to St. Boniface Hospital to help provide a better healing space for people looking for mental health treatment.
As well, through the Moffat Family Fund, which is held by the foundation, $1.7 million will be given to the Tamarack Recovery Centre, $766,000 to St. Raphael Wellness Centre, and $500,000 to Dakota Ojibway Child and Family Services.
Frost said they are part of a total $57.5 million in grants given out by the foundation in 2019 — an increase of 40 per cent from more than $16 million doled out in 2018.
Anastasia Ziprick, Main Street Project director of development, said the grant will help open doors.
"We received an email about the grant and we were over the moon," Ziprick said. "The operating support it is giving us is huge, too. We didn’t ask for that, but it helps us.
"We’ll be in a better situation to help people in the homeless community."
Doneta Brotchie, foundation board chairwoman, said: "The foundation’s strategy aims to augment and enhance existing services provided by front-line organizations and also to invest in long-term treatment and recovery facilities to help address these urgent community issues."
"We know this investment will not eliminate mental health and addiction challenges from our community, nor will it address every neighbourhood safety issue, however, we are confident this strategy will better equip the organizations dealing directly with these pressing community issues," she said.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
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