Centre Foundation announces recipients of the 2013 field of interest grants

Nearly $20,000 in field of interest grants will benefit several Centre County philanthropic initiatives.

The Centre Foundation, which announced the grants, whittled the list of recipients from more than 40 applications, Executive Director Molly Kunkel said.

“While these decisions were tough to make, our staff, the grants committee, and our board members ultimately decided these were the right projects to fund at this time,” Kunkel said in a news release.

The Centre Foundation helps donors fulfill philanthropic goals by building and maintaining a permanent collection of endowment funds. The grants awarded are:

•  Penns Valley Conservation Association’s Healthy Environments Initiative received $1,028 from the Centre County Medical Society Fund, which focuses on promoting healthy and active lifestyles for children.

The grant will be used at the Penns Valley Environmental Center, a tract of 65 acres across from the Penns Valley Elementary School on state Route 45, to plant an edible forest of fruit and nut trees that students and the public can enjoy.

•  Centre Wildlife Care received $837 from the Mattil Family Fund.

Robyn Graboski, licensed wildlife rehabilitator, explained that the grant “will help us repair our volunteer entrance (and) keep all of our volunteers safe.”

•  The YMCA of Centre County’s Team Wellness Program received $1,394 from the Philipsburg Area Fund.

Mel Curtis, the Moshannon Valley YMCA branch director, will oversee this program.

Beginning in January, middle and high school students from the Philipsburg-Osceola School District will participate in team-building and physical fitness activities with a trainer/nutritionist twice a week. Participating students will come from all socioeconomic backgrounds and be able to engage in the program as an outlet, a way to express themselves and a launching pad for becoming better students.

•  Gregg Township received $1,719 from the Ruth E. Rishel Charitable Fund, established by Centre Foundation’s long-standing volunteer in honor of her home community, Penns Valley.

Cathy Pierce, event coordinator at Old Gregg School Community and Recreation Center, was excited to learn the news.

“It will enable us to provide hot showers for the growing number in our community who come to Old Gregg School to improve their health and well-being through the variety of fitness opportunities offered at this community-guided center,” Pierce said.

•  For their class project, the Leadership Centre County class of 2013 applied for a grant on behalf of the Children’s Advocacy Center. The CAC will receive $1,505 from the Centre Children’s Fund and $1,686 from the J. Alvin and Vera E. Knepper Hawbaker Memorial Endowment Fund.

The Centre Children’s Fund supports organizations that provide programs and services to at-risk children.

•  The Hawbaker Memorial Fund also granted $2,000 to Interfaith Human Services for its Financial Care Program.

The grant will provide an “educational opportunity to low-income, Centre County residents … as a first step in breaking a cycle of poverty and helping our neighbors find long term financial stability,” said Ruth Donahue, IHS executive director at IHS.

•  The Patricia Farrell Music Fund made two grants. The Central Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association will receive $1,000 for the Phyllis Triolo Music Competition, and the Nittany Valley Symphony will receive $1,458 for its annual family concert. This fund supports all types of music programs — especially those focused on children — and is named after a former chair of Centre Foundation, an active community volunteer, a Penn State professor and a musician.

•  The Counseling Service Fund, which supports organizations that provide behavioral and mental health services in Centre County, made three grants.

Cen-Clear Child Services will receive $3,560 to provide on-site counseling services to students in the Bald Eagle Area School District. Gene Kephart, executive director for Cen-Clear, knows that the “on-site” part of this program is essential in keeping students in class as much as possible and not putting a financial burden on families that may otherwise have to take time off from work to travel to a counselor. In a rural school district, this program provides a win-win solution.

Catholic Charities’ counseling outreach program at Centre County prison will receive $1,000.

Housing Transitions will receive $4,000 for its Access to Mental Health Services program. Two-thirds of the residents at Housing Transitions’ Centre House have a pre-existing mental health diagnosis. Trained staffers provide nightly programs to assist adult residents in overcoming challenges such as “mental illness, substance addiction, physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and the stress that comes with being homeless,” said Ron Quinn, executive director.