Helping feed hungry families, including hundreds of children, is difficult, emotional, fulfilling work.

It’s also expensive. That’s why the $7,500 donation that St. Vincent de Paul Society of Myrtle Creek got from the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation means so much.

“It’s a huge help,” said Terri Day, manager of St. Vincent de Paul.

The agency’s food bank is a lifeline to as many as 250 families per month, and also hands out close to 200 bags of food each Friday to children as part of its snack bank program, Day said.

“On a yearly basis, we help way over 3,000 people,” she said.

It costs the agency between $750 and $1,000 per week to buy all that food, a level that could not be accomplished without donations like that from the foundation, Day said. This is the third time the agency had received emergency funds from the foundation.

“We love those guys there,” she said.

St. Vincent de Paul was one of eight nonprofit agencies in Douglas County to get funding from the foundation as part of its semi-annual funding cycle.

The Glide Booster Club was awarded $5,000 to help pay for a new athletic track renovation for the Glide School District. The money will help replace the worn track, which was more than 30 years old, said Booster Club President Rich Livermore.

The track had been patched a number of times over the years, but it was so old and had cracked so bad of late that “it got to the point where patching was not an option anymore,” Livermore said.

Replacing the track entails putting down a new rock base, putting asphalt on top of that, and then adding a layer of rubber on top of that. Total cost: $360,000.

“We’re hoping everything is finished by the end of August, so it’s ready for the first football game,” Livermore said.

The remaining grant recipients announced by the foundation Wednesday are:

  • Camp Millennium, $5,000 to support a virtual Camp Millennium 2020 and supplies for “Camp in A Box.”
  • Canyonville City Friends of the Library, $2,000 to support the 2020 Summer Reading Program or purchase books to update adult nonfiction and juvenile reading collections.
  • Douglas County Master Gardeners, $2,500 to purchase supplies for a new water-wise irrigation system for the plant nursery.
  • Friends of Ford’s Pond, $5,000 to assist with construction costs of a portion of the ADA-accessible path around Ford’s Pond Community Park.
  • Oakland School District, $3,000 to help buy a pickup truck for the Oakland Agriculture Department and Oakland FFA.
  • Umpqua Valley Habitat for Humanity, $5,000 to support the Home Repair Program for low-income homeowners.

All told, the foundation awarded 59 charities in Coos, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, and Lane Counties a total of $329,300 in this round of its semi-annual giving. The foundation handed out $474,650 to 70 nonprofits in January.

Due to concerns over COVID-19, the foundation for the first time did not hold a grant awards ceremony and checks were mailed to all recipients. The foundation was founded in 1997 and began its philanthropic efforts the following year. To date, it has awarded $19.3 million to the seven counties from which it accepts grant requests.

Carma Mornarich, executive director of the foundation, said canceling the conference was not the only thing that changed this year due to COVID-19.

In fact, just about everything was flipped on its head, beginning with the early application process, she said.

“The deadline was March 1, so we were all still in bliss. Then 15 days later, everything changed.”

Mornarich, who has been at the helm of the foundation since 2007, said nonprofits can often struggle even during good financial times. COVID-19 forced all of them to re-think how they do business financially and operationally, all while having to also adapt the way they provide service under this new social distancing environment.

“They’re so focused on putting whatever money they have back into their services, that sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with everything,” Mornarich said.

Because of that, Mornarich said she and her staff worked doubly hard to help the agencies adjust, including tweaking their applications and what services they intended to provide with the grant money.

“Everybody was kind of up in the air with everything, so we gave them a lot of leeway on changing their applications and helping them figure out how to do business in this climate,” she said.

The foundation board also decided to go ahead with the fall round of grants, despite tribe’s Seven Feathers Resort Casino being closed for three months due to COVID-19.

“The foundation board was adamant that they wanted to provide for the community needs, even with restricted funds,” Mornarich said. “They decided they would prioritize giving to food banks and pantries with whatever limited funds might be available for a fall grant cycle. Other community organizations would be considered after that.”

The deadline for grant applications is Sept. 1. More information can be found at the foundation website: www.cowcreekfoundation.org/

Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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