By Anna Burgess
Sentinel & Enterprise
June 10, 2016
LEOMINSTER — As foundation president Phil Grzewinski put it, being able to give away almost half a million dollars after only 15 years of operation is “quite an accomplishment.”
But that is what the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts did on Thursday night.
As the Community Foundation celebrated its 15th year, they gave $433,640 to 23 nonprofit agencies and programs, helping them continue or expand services.
On Thursday, at a celebratory grant-awarding ceremony, Ted Lapres, chairman of the Community Foundation Board of Trustees, looked back on the past decade and a half.
“We’re really proud of what we’ve accompished in the first 15 years,” he said, “but I can tell you I want to see us do even more in the next 15 years.”
“We’re trying more and more to shine a light on the critical needs our region is encountering,” Lapres added. “We want to be a go-to resource for all nonprofits.”
The audience was able to see firsthand the impact they are making when students from Leominster’s music program, which is funded in part through the Community Foundation, performed on Thursday night.
“You’ve given us the ability to advance a music program,” Leominster School Superintendent Jim Jolicoeur said. “Typically, in public schools, when funding gets tight, art and music goes away. But not in Leominster.”
As Grzewinski began awarding the grants, Boys and Girls Club director Donata Martin thanked the foundation for their $3,000 donation, which she said will go toward opiate abuse prevention.
Cindy Delaney, the public relations specialist for LUK Inc., said the $13,879 from the Community Foundation will assist “street outreach to prevent homelessness, while Kylee McCumber of Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kidz said the $15,000 she received will expand her backpack program to Winchendon schools.
MOC Inc. Executive Director Kevin Reed said their $11,000 grant will help train students how to respond as bystanders to sexual violence, “so when they get to college, they can help prevent sexual violence.”
Other recipients were Becket Family Services; House of Peace and Education, Inc. in Gardner; Quabbin Mediation, Inc. in Orange; The Friday Market of Petersham; the Winchendon School District; the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust in Athol, North County Land Trust, Inc. in Leominster; the Princeton Land Trust; Athol-Orange Community Television, Inc.; Cooperative Elder Services, Inc. in Groton; Mount Wachusett Community College; the Leominster Spanish-American Center; the Virginia Thurston Healing Garden in Harvard; Ginny’s Helping Hand food pantry; AED Foundation, Inc.; the United Way of Tri-County; Veteran Homestead, Inc.
In the past 15 years, the foundation has awarded nearly $48 million in grants and distributions from 185 funds.