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A small price to pay

Area not-for-profits receive special mini-grants from United Way

Diane Bumgarner, site manager and regional director for Community Nutrition Network in Grundy County, and Katie Ulrich, pack meals at the Community Nutrition Network office in Morris for home delivery back in February of 2011.
Diane Bumgarner, site manager and regional director for Community Nutrition Network in Grundy County, and Katie Ulrich, pack meals at the Community Nutrition Network office in Morris for home delivery back in February of 2011.

Several area not-for-profit agencies were notified this week they will be receiving a special gift from United Way of Grundy County.

In addition to the normal contributions partner agencies receive from United Way, many will also receive dollars awarded as a “mini-grant,” thanks to some very generous donors in 2012.

“We surpassed our goal in 2012,” United Way Executive Director Karen Nall said. “Our goal was $425,000, and we went almost $60,000 over that. . . We were ecstatic. We’re still celebrating. We are so proud of the people of Grundy County and what we can all do when we work together.”

That the larger-than-expected donations occurred in such difficult economic times tells a lot about the people of the community, Nall said.

“This community is just ready to take care of its neighbors,” she said, “and they trust knowing that all the dollars they donate to the United Way will stay in their community. They know that all their dollars are staying right her to help their neighbors.”

Nall said the board convened and decided to apply the overages in three ways: one was directly to partner agencies to enhance their existing programs. Another was to offer some of the dollars to local food pantries. The Coal City Food Pantry took them up on that one. The money will purchase one full truck of food for them, and United Way board members will be there to unload it.

The United Way is also applying some of the extra funding to establish a disaster relief fund for the area. Superstorm Sandy opened the eyes of some of the board members, Nall said, to the need for such a fund in Grundy County.

The United Way let each of its 27 partner agencies know they could apply for the mini-grants, and 17 of them did. All who applied were approved to receive the dollars.

One that will receive a check from the mini-grant is the Community Nutrition Network. The United Way funding CNN normally receives goes directly to pay for the meals given to homebound seniors and for other meals to seniors, such as the Congregate Community Café. They will use the mini-grant to purchase a new freezer.

“We normally distribute funds that go directly to serve the residents of Grundy County, such as the meals themselves in the Community Nutrition Network,” Nall said. “The mini-grant can go to other expenses, even such brick-and-mortar ones like a new freezer.”

Regional Coordinator of the Community Nutrition Network, Diane Bumgarner, said she was very excited to learn they had received the extra money.

“It will enable us to replace a freezer we inherited,” she said. “It’s a very old freezer.”

In addition, CNN will be able to provide supper meals to its recipients. Normally, the agency operates Meals on Wheels throughout Grundy County, using volunteers to transport hot lunches to homebound seniors on the weekdays and frozen or cold meals to eat on the weekends. Meals are brought to seniors in Morris, Coal City, Minooka, Mazon, Braceville, Carbon Hill, Gardner, and Goose Lake.

The agency accepts donations from the seniors for the meals. For those in the program who also want suppers to go with the lunches, Bumgarner said CNN will now be able to give them the second meals at no cost to the seniors.

“It’s amazing that in this economy, people were so generous,” Bumgarner said. “They opened up their wallets and their hearts, and they gave. It’s just hard to believe.”

Other agencies that will be receiving dollars from the mini-grants include Grundy Community Volunteer Hospice, the Joliet Area Community Hospice, The Crisis Line of Will and Grundy Counties, Easter Seals, and the Morris Hospital Bus #3, which is funded by United Way.

“They needed new tires,” Nall said of the MH patient transportation bus.

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