Community Grants Make a Difference

Glennwood House
Glennwood House

Parents of some developmentally disabled young adults may have one less worry as their loved ones finally leave the nest for semi-independent living at the newly renovated Glennwood House of Laguna Beach.  As a first-time recipient of a community assistance grant, Glennwood administrators intend to use the extra cash to subsidize room and board for seven residents.

City Council last week approved the distribution of $240,500 in community assistance grant funds to 30 local non-profits. And though an unwritten rule seems to favor past recipients, two newcomers did make the coveted list of grantees this year: Glennwood House and Soroptimist International of Laguna Beach.

Others, including the Laguna’s nascent nonprofit FM radio station KX 93.5, the My Hero project and Laguna Art Museum, came up empty, and only Friends of Laguna Beach Library and the South County Crosscultural Council received the full amount of their requests.

Each year the city receives a sum from the Festival of Arts for their lease of the public park they occupy and divvies it up among the local nonprofits that have submitted grant applications. And each year two City Council members volunteer to sort through the worthy causes, an unenviable task since demand perpetually outweighs supply, making disappointments inevitable.

Mayor Kelly Boyd and Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson, who volunteered last month to divvy up the pie, cut out slivers of varying heft for 30 of the 39 applicants seeking a total of $485,409 in grants. Grant requests were up by 20 percent, more than double the available $243,839.

As Pearson noted, they honored the full requests of two applicants, with the remainder receiving at best a portion of their requests, and some none. Still, at least the two new recipients rejoiced over what they received rather than ruing what they didn’t.

Glennwood House received $5,000 of $20,000 requested, and those are appreciated, said executive director Shauna Bogert. Renovations transforming the property for 50 developmentally disabled young adults will be completed by month’s end, with most of the excited residents moving in by July. All donations will go straight to the program, said Bogert.

The private nonprofit Glennwood House relies on grants and donations to turn no eligible individuals away due to financial hardship, Bogert said. The facility’s size makes it ineligible for funding from the Regional Center of Orange County, the conduit for state services for the developmentally disabled.

Disabled residents qualify for a maximum board and care allotment of $1,200 from Social Security, which they can use towards Glennwood’s monthly fee of $2,500 for a single or $1,900 for a double. But they have to come up with the rest.

Seven incoming residents will need assistance paying their way. “When monies come in like this,”Bogert said, “it goes right back to supporting those individuals. Every little bit helps right now. It all adds up.”

Likewise, Maggie Hempen, the communications director for Soroptimists International of Laguna Beach said it “means a lot to our club to be recognized for our success and entrusted with community funds to support and carry out our mission,” which is enabling women and girls to take control of their lives and live their dreams.

This year, that mission took tangible form with their first annual Healthy Girl Festival, an event they were still organizing when the grant application came due. Hempen said it took “a leap of faith” to request money for a future event that hadn’t yet survived its inaugural run.

Her leap paid off. More than 600 people attended the event and likely contributed to the decision to grant the group $500 of $3,000 requested towards improving next year’s festival. “With the Community Assistance Grant and other support, we plan to make next year’s event a real blow out,” said Hempen.

Since Boyd and Pearson’s allotment of $240,000 left a contingency of $3,839, Council member Toni Iseman suggested at the June 18 City Council meeting that her colleagues each choose a recipient for the remainder, and assigned an extra $500 to the HIV Advisory Committee, bringing their total grant up to $13,500. The others deferred their decisions to a later date.

Grant recipients this year include: Age Well Senior Services, Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, Coastal Family Therapy, Friends of Hortense Miller Garden, Friends of Laguna Beach Library, Friendship Shelter, Glennwood House of Laguna Beach, Helping Hand World Wide, Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce, Laguna Beach Community Clinic, Laguna Beach Historical Society, Laguna Beach HIV-Advisory Committee, Laguna Beach Live, Laguna Beach Seniors, Laguna Canyon Foundation, Laguna Community Concert Band, Laguna Dance Festival, Laguna Ocean Foundation, Laguna Outreach Community Arts, Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, Laguna Relief and Resource Center, No Square Theatre, Pacific Marine Mammal Center, Rotary Club of Laguna Beach, Sally’s Fund, Sawdust Art Festival, Soroptimist International of Laguna Beach, South County Crosscultural Center, TLC Branch Laguna Club for Kids, and Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach.

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