Sunday, June 02, 2002

Grants fund arts, shelter




By Cindi Andrews candrews@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The Warren County Foundation has announced its biggest grants yet — $5,000 each to organize summer activities for low-income kids and to help homeless families.

        The Warren Metropolitan Resident Council will get the grant to provide arts and other events for children at Brookville, a low-income community. The Interfaith Hospitality Network will get the grant to help Warren County families seeking shelter.

        “We want to draw attention to their fine work,” Warren County Foundation President Robert Elias said of the two groups.

        The awards come as the 5-year-old foundation prepares to step up its money-raising and distribution efforts. Its chief role so far has been as a conduit for people who want to give money to a specific cause.

        “We wanted to see those folks who live in Warren County have a place where they can put their money here,” said board member Richard Yost, a Mason pharmacy owner.

        The foundation also has awarded grants of $500 to $2,000 to local agencies. It hopes to boost those efforts by raising $1 million in unrestricted money in the next 18 months, Mr. Elias said.

        “There are a lot of needs, and people who have good ideas and intentions, but not the funds to fulfill them,” Mr. Yost said.

        People such as Mary Wells, whose stint as a Girl Scout leader evolved into a mission to help the youngsters of Lebanon's East Ridge community realize their potential.

        Ms. Wells began organizing Art Days at East Ridge about six years ago with a grant from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

        The first day, she said, she knocked doors looking for children to join her makeshift art studio.

        “The kids got so they knew when the tarp went up something was happening,” said Ms. Wells, 57, of Oregonia. “They didn't know what it was, but they knew it would be something good.”

        Ms. Wells' programs have inspired the kids to do well in school and even inspired some of their parents to form the Warren Metropolitan Resident Council.

        Now, the Warren County Foundation is betting $5,000 that she can replicate her success at Brookville.

       



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