The COVID-19 pandemic played a role in many of the applications for the 2020 fall grant cycle at the Community Foundation of Jackson County.
One of those will help fight suicide, promote self-esteem and offer mental health materials at area middle and high schools across Jackson County.
Another fall grant will help victims of domestic violence.
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Yet another will help feed children enrolled in Jackson County schools.
They are among 18 grants recently awarded through the foundation’s fall grant program. The grants totaled $84,676. Last year, the foundation approved 18 such grants totaling $54,924.
The foundation approved a grant of $7,563 for Mental Health America of Jackson County. The grant will help fund several mental health programs in the community, including suicide prevention awareness, a preschool self-esteem program, mental health materials to middle and high schools, mental health provider referrals and online screenings and social events for people with a mental health diagnosis.
“We believe our work has and will continue to have a positive impact on our community,” Executive Director Melanie O’Neal said of the grant.
“Individuals with mental health diagnosis need and deserve to obtain appropriate mental health treatment,” she said. “We believe with our continued efforts that the stigma associated with mental health diagnosis will be reduced and appropriate treatment options will be obtainable by community members. Our goal is improved mental health while reducing suicide rates in Jackson County.”
She and others in the community have been concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic is aggravating the problem of mental health issues. They are not alone.
“The pandemic combined with social distancing does appear to create a very stressful situation, and a fairly high number of people are exhibiting mental health symptoms, such as depression or anxiety,” said Zoe Peterson, a professor in the Indiana University School of Education’s Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology.
Her comments and findings were reported in a June 29 report from the university.
Increased stresses from the pandemic also were cited in a grant request from Turning Point Domestic Violence Services. The agency received a $1,500 grant to help provide for client financial assistance.
“COVID-19 has severely impacted many clients with elimination of jobs, reduction of hours and furloughs,” Julie Orben of Turning Point said. “Many clients and their families have been struggling to meet household budgets, especially for items such as food and gas.”
Increasing access to client financial assistance is an important part of the long-term stability of Turning Point’s direct service to clients, Orben said. Client financial assistance is defined as support provided to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to help with whatever hurdles need to be cleared between the survivors and safe, stable housing.
The foundation approved a $7,500 grant to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana to help fund its school-based pantry program to help students and their families struggling with the issue of food insecurity.
This is a switch from Gleaners’ BackSacks Weekend Food for Kids program at schools, a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Haley Nagila of Gleaners.
Feeding America’s 2020 Map of the Meal Gap shows 17.4% of Jackson County children face food insecurity, meaning they don’t always know where their next meal is coming from or when, according to the Gleaners grant application.
“Due to layoffs and school closures as a result of the statewide COVID-19 pandemic response, we expect this number to increase over the next several months,” Nagila said.
Gleaners has established school-based pantries at Brownstown Central High School, Seymour High School and Medora Junior-Senior High School that are open to the public.
The agency expects during the 2020-21 school year the program will serve at least 130 duplicated households each month of operation, distribute 18,000 meals to the food insecure in Jackson County and provide 3,000 pounds of produce to the food insecure.
These three grants along with the 15 others provide a wide swath of impact across Jackson County, foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Dan Davis said.
“The foundation’s grant committee, board of directors and staff work hard to ensure that our unrestricted and field of interest earnings provide as large an impact as possible throughout Jackson County,” he said.
The grant committee strives to ensure grant dollars see a wide distribution and impact, said chairwoman Priscilla Wischmeier.
“This year, we’ve approved grants that will assist projects and programs in Brownstown, Crothersville, Medora and Seymour and places in between,” she said.
Earnings from community and field of interest funds generated through prudent investment of the endowed gifts from individuals and businesses fund the fall grant cycle.
A portion of the earnings from those investments remains in the endowed funds to protect against inflation, while other earnings become grant dollars that are awarded through impact grants, president’s grants and classroom education grants.
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The following grants were approved by the Community Foundation of Jackson County:
Actors Community Theater of Seymour, $1,575 for video equipment
Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry, $2,600 for a technology upgrade
The Arc of Jackson County, $5,000 for handicap-accessible playground equipment and flooring at Gaiser Park in Seymour
Boys and Girls Club of Seymour, $5,196 for junior staff and building workforce readiness
Brownstown Christian Church, $6,425 for a fixed structure in the child care playground area
Developmental Services Inc., $7,800 for technology equipment for group homes and day services
Girls Inc. of Jackson County, $1,000 for the Friendly PEERsuasion program
Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Inc., $7,500 for the school-based pantry program for Jackson County schools
Jackson County History Center, $6,725 to help repair a concrete floor in the livery barn
Jackson County United Way, $5,000 for the Covering Kids and Families program
Medora Brick Plant and Historical Sites Inc., $7,800 to replace roofing on the brick plant barn and shower house
Mental Health America of Jackson County, $7,563 for mental health initiatives in Jackson County
Riverview Cemetery, $4,000 for removal of ash and other old trees
St. Peter’s Child Care Ministry, $3,992 for furniture and educational materials
Seymour Christian Church, $3,000 for a handicap-accessible electronic door opener
Seymour Fire Department, $3,000 for paint and a railing at a new fire training facility under construction at Freeman Field
Southern Indiana Center for the Arts, $5,000 for classroom gallery space and art supplies
Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, $1,500 for client services financial assistance program
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The Community Foundation of Jackson County administers the following unrestricted endowed funds:
Aisin USA Mfg. Inc. Endowment
Donn Bishop Memorial Endowment
Don Bollinger Memorial Fund
Jackson County Community Endowment
Jackson County Unrestricted Endowment
Bob and Kate Hall Endowment
Thomas J. Lantz/Montgomery, Elsner and Pardieck Community Endowment
Psi Iota Xi Sorority, Alpha Beta Chapter Endowment
Potts Family Endowment
SIHO Insurance Services Community Endowment
Virginia G. Otto Endowment Fund
Irwin Union Bank and Trust Co. Fund
Larry and Joanne Sunbury Community Endowment
Michael and Ardith Fleetwood Unrestricted Endowment
Nehrt Family Community Endowment
Mary Evelyn Mellencamp Memorial Fund
Mark and Sue Smith Community Endowment
Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 655 Community Fund
John and Kay Beatty Community Endowment
Seymour Oktoberfest Community Endowment
Sarah M. Waldkoetter Community Fund
Schneider Nursery Community Endowment
Field of interest funds
The Community Foundation of Jackson County administers the following field of interest funds:
Cartwright Endowment for the Arts (performing arts)
Granger H. and Ruth M. Smith Drug Abuse Prevention Fund
Carl Hemmer Memorial Fund (performing arts)
Tri Kappa Endowment (charity, culture and education)
The Shelter Fund (homelessness)
Nippon Steel Pipe America Inc. Charitable Endowment for Education
Jackson County Youth Foundation
One other fund administered by the foundation contributed earnings for the 2020 fall grant cycle:
Orville and Mary Schnitker Memorial Endowment