BEMC awards community grants

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Eleven agencies in Brunswick County and seven from Columbus County have been selected as recipients of Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation’s 2009 Community Grants

This year’s grants total $20,463 to help local agencies and groups implement a variety of programs to help the community. In today’s economic climate, many nonprofits are struggling while demand is increasing, particularly in local food pantries.

According to BEMC, more than 55 community groups and agencies applied for the grants this year.

BEMC started the grant program to expand community involvement and to complement the Bright Ideas grant programs for schools.

Grant consideration is given to the following general areas of community necessity: family service programs, cultural and programs for the arts, emergency services as well as civic and community development activities. Grants are not made to individuals, but rather to organizations, and range from $500-$2,500.

BEMC’s Vice President of Customer Services Judy Gore commented, “The tough economic times are showing up in the grant applications. Our winners reflect some very basic needs in the community this year, but we still try to get a good mix of family assistance programs, health and emergency services, civic and community development activities and more.”

Brunswick County organizations that received grants were Brunswick County Housing Opportunities, Brunswick Pink Angels, Cedar Grove Improvement Association, Dixon Chapel Food Pantry, Hope Harbor Home, John H. Ellis Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9408, South Brunswick Interchurch Council, Southport Oak Island Interchurch Fellowship Food Pantry, The Family Emergency Teen Shelter (Providence Home) and the Town of Sunset Beach Fire Department.

According to Providence Home Executive Director Warren Mortley, the agency received $1,500 to help defray costs of providing educational and recreational activities for teens living in the shelter.

“So many of our residents have never attended a play or visited a museum or an art gallery,” Mortley said. “This will help pay for trips to historic places in North Carolina.”

He said shelter staff has taken students places in the past, but “it’s something we need to do more of. This grant will let us continue the project.”

A maximum of six teens in crisis situations can stay in the shelter in Southport temporarily.

“We put them in a space where they can have structure, supervision and the guidance and encouragement that they need,” Mortley said.

At Hope Harbor Home, the county’s domestic violence shelter, a $1,433 community grant will pay for statistical software for two additional computers, according to executive director Lynn Carlson.

The software is needed for accountability reports required for state and federal grant recipients.

“For several years, we only had software on one victim’s advocate’s computer,” Carlson said.

The grant will allow the software to be installed on two other computers, making recordkeeping easier and freeing victim’s advocates from additional paperwork.

The South Brunswick Interchurch Council received $500 for the food pantry that serves about 150 families every Saturday at Camp United Methodist Church.

According to council treasurer Dick Connolly, representatives from a different church operate the pantry each week, and the council spends between $1,500 and $2,000 per week.

“We applied to a lot of places [for grants], and we are happy to receive these,” Connolly said.

Columbus County programs that received grants were Building Bridges After School Program, Chadbourn Evening ECA Club, Columbus County Sheriff’s Office, Friends of the Tabor City Library, Good News Community Youth Outreach Ministry and Matthew 25 Center of Tabor City.

Gore noted, “With these grants, we want the community to know they can count on BEMC to be there through the tough times as well as the good times.”

Grant applications are accepted between Jan 15 and Feb 15 each year, with awards announced in March. Letters of thanks went out to all applicants March 6.