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Community foundations award $490K in grants to aid youth, seniors

• Aug 16, 2016 at 1:00 PM

The health of Ottawa County youth and seniors just got a much-needed shot in the arm.

The Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, in partnership with the Community Foundation for the Holland/Zeeland Area, has awarded grants totaling $490,000 from the Michigan Health Endowment Healthy Ottawa Fund to organizations whose programs focus on youth, senior citizens and other high-need populations.

The projects and programs that were awarded funding demonstrated the most potential for advancing the three most critical needs identified within Ottawa County’s 2015 Community Health Improvement Plan: mental health, access to health care, and promoting healthy behaviors around nutrition and exercise.

Grants awarded:

— $40,000 to the Wayne Elhart be nice Memorial Fund to provide matching funds for schools within the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District to offer the “be nice” education program on mental illness awareness and suicide prevention.

— $55,000 to Holland Hospital to expand its School Nursing Program to the high school level in Holland Public Schools.

— $70,000 to TCM Counseling to extend counseling and school services to the Holland/Zeeland area, and to increase counseling and psychiatric services in the Tri-Cities.

— $75,000 to Love INC of the Tri-Cities to expand the hours of its Free Health Clinic to more broadly meet the needs of the community.

— $100,000 to the Ottawa County Food Policy Council to expand Project Fresh for senior citizens, grow the Meet Up and Eat Up Summer Meal program for low-income children, increase access to Community Supported Agriculture, and launch the Prescription for Health program to increase fruit and vegetable consumption.

— $150,000 to the Ottawa County Department of Public Health to launch Pathways to Better Health, an evidence-based community health worker model that has been proven to reduce health care costs while improving health outcomes for patients.

“This re-granting opportunity made possible by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund will help our community make meaningful progress on our highest-priority health issues,” Grand Haven Area Community Foundation President Holly Johnson said. “Joining hands with Holland/Zeeland on this initiative gives us the ability to have countywide impact toward solving some of our most complex public health issues.”

Lisa Stefanovsky of the Ottawa County Department of Public Health said the Pathways to Better Health Community Health Worker project grew out of the 2015 Ottawa County Health Needs Assessment and planning process, which informed a large group of community partners that there are many challenges for people in accessing health services and achieving better health.

“This award will enable us to build the Pathways to Better Health model and move our community toward greater health and well-being,” she said.

The Michigan Health Endowment Healthy Ottawa Fund is a three-year re-granting initiative made possible by a grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and leveraged funds from both community foundations; $330,000 of the grants came from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, with an additional $80,000 from each of the community foundations. The review committee included representatives from both community foundations’ grants distribution and youth advisory committees.

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