The Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge awarded $518,022 to 143 local nonprofit organizations in a grant ceremony yesterday.
The ceremony was held at Orchard Creek in Waynesboro, and audience members were encouraged by Community Foundation President & CEO Dan Layman to cheer and use noisemakers to celebrate each recipient.
“We take great pride in supporting such a broad spectrum of critical and creative charitable work in our community,” Layman said. “Our community is very fortunate to be served by such a diverse and robust nonprofit sector. Through this annual grants program, we are distributing over $500,000 of the $4 million we anticipate giving back to our community this year.”
The afternoon’s festive atmosphere was infectious for all who attended.
“This was so fun,” Clara Metzler, Project Grows Executive Director, said. “This is my first time, so I don’t know what these events are usually like. It was a ton of fun, and I made so many connections. It gave me a better picture of the nonprofit landscape in the Valley. This was like a gold mine. It was great.”
Metzler was also thankful to be a grant recipient.
“It helps us do the work that we need help doing,” she said. “This helps underwrite the funding for some of our key programs.”
Debra Freeman-Belle, CEO/Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta, agreed.
“After attending this event for several years, I thought this year’s was the most fun,” she said. “It was the most rewarding with the most networking opportunities. It highlighted relationship-building and not just handing us a check, and that’s beneficial to all of us.”
Freeman-Belle knows the funding will have a huge impact.
“For the Club specifically, the only way we’re able to keep our rates affordable is from community funding like this grant,” she said. “It literally means access to affordable care for kids and households that are 200 percent of the federal poverty line or below. It’s the difference between access and no access.”
Sharon Coplai, executive director of Renewing Homes of Greater Augusta, enjoyed the celebration.
“It was great, creative and fun,” Coplai said. “I think everybody enjoyed being introduced to all of the nonprofits in our area in a quick, fun fashion. We depend on this funding. It makes up a big part of our support.”
The Community Foundation has invested more than $20 million into the local community since 1992 with grants, scholarships and education awards. A complete list of this year’s grant recipients is available online.