June 18, 2014

Stories needed for $5,000 grant competition

As published in The Erin Advocate

Donations of money and food are always welcome at the East Wellington Community Services (EWCS) Food Bank, but as part of a competition for a $5,000 grant, Erin and Rockwood residents are being asked to donate a few words to the cause.

The Guelph-based Oak Tree Project will award $5,000 to one charity for a new initiative.

EWCS wants to start a program called Growing, Giving & Getting Healthy. It will provide 520 Food Bank clients with a better quality of life through workshops on healthy eating and meal planning, including training and equipment for gardening and food preservation.

“It comes down to barriers and access,” said Erika Westcott, EWCS Manager of Community Services and Volunteers, noting that healthy eating can be difficult for clients in a time of high stress and a tight budget. “The more we can do to help them better their health, the more we help them get back on their feet.”

Groups will make it to a short list of five depending on the number of on-line nominations they get. Final judging will be based on the stories that people provide in their nominations, about why this charity is important to them.

“Originality counts in our judging – put some thought into your story,” says the website, www.oaktreeguelph.ca, in the Nominate section. Submissions are accepted from June 15 to July 31, and people can only vote once.

“We just need a short paragraph,” said Westcott. Nominators can also include a picture and a YouTube video link in their submission.

She said the competition provides a fun alternative to traditional grant applications. They are hoping to work with organizations like Transition Erin and Everdale that already have an interest in local, sustainable food production.

“It’s a chance to reach out and build partnerships with others, and make people aware of what we want to do,” said Westcott.

The program is organized by The Mactaggart Team, which provides investment management through Richardson GMP. They will make a primary donation of $5,000 and a second one of $1,000.

“We’re not just handing over a cheque to a worthwhile organization,” they said. “We’re encouraging the community to identify the needs that matter to them – and we’re expecting to hear some amazing stories of impact along the way.

“This will help our community’s charities spread to word long after the contest ends. When charities have strong roots beneath them, they are more resilient with the best infrastructure, people, tools and resources to do their work.”