A charitable endowment fund in Petersburg has awarded grants totaling 11-thousand dollars to six different local non-profit organizations. That money will fund teaching supplies for young children, food for kids on the weekend, library programs for kids and a shelter building for the humane association among other items.

The Petersburg Community Foundation is a permanent charitable endowment. It was established in 2008 with local contributions, and organized under the Alaska Community Foundation. The organization has been giving out annual grants from the earnings of the donated money.

The foundation’s vice chair Glorianne Wollen said the group was excited this year to award 11,000 dollars in grants. “Really trying to help as many groups as we can with a substantial amount that makes a difference with their projects,” Wollen said. “And some reasons we were able to grant them a higher percentage. Some grants we were able to fund the entire project, so we were real thrilled about that.”

Photo by Karin McCullough courtesy of the Petersburg Community Foundation

Photo by Karin McCullough courtesy of the Petersburg Community Foundation

The fund earned around 20,000 dollars in the past year and some of that has been set aside for a potential future larger local project. The foundation announced this year’s grant winners at an event during the Little Norway festival weekend. Of the $11,000 awarded, $3,000 dollars goes to the Salvation Army for an effort new to Petersburg called the backpack program.

“We’ve heard that there’s been some identification from the school district that there are some children who do go hungry over the weekends,” said the Salvation Army’s Mysti Birks. She said starting next school year, the Salvation Army will be filling 15 backpacks with food and then giving them to the school district. The school district which will then distribute those packs to kids who need the food over the weekend. “This project has been really big on my heart. I just have a strong feeling, belief that no child should go hungry. And even if it’s just over the weekend then what we can do to help them we need to do to help them.”

Another 1,500 dollars will go to the Petersburg Children’s Center. Pre-school teacher Shauna Pitta-Rosse wrote the grant application for materials that will help teach reading, writing, music and movement. “Music and movement tie closely into literacy because it helps children really get things like consonants, vowels and the syllables of things,” Pitta-Rosse said. “And it makes it more fun cause you can get up and dance and sing to books and there’s things like stuffed animals and flannel board pieces so they can act out the stories, hopefully even some dress-up clothes, kids would love that. Like the pout, pout fish actually I was just getting out goes with the book and they love to take the pout-pout fish out and make it tell the story.”

Pitta-Rosse said it’s the second time the children’s center has landed a grant through the community foundation. “And they’re awesome to write to because they’re funding all kinds of things in our community that make an impact here, not kindof on a larger scale, but directly to children, families everyone in our community, so I love everything about them.”

In other grants, $1,000 will go to new display cases at the Clausen Museum and $1,000 will fund new equipment at the Petersburg Medical Center’s physical therapy department. The foundation also awarded $2,000 to the Petersburg Humane Association to outfit a new cat shelter. The humane association has purchased a portable container that has been placed at the dog park near Sandy Beach Park. Association vice president Jane Smith said they applied for the grant to make that container livable for stray and unwanted cats. “In particular we’re going to purchase materials to make caging, so when you go into the facility you know you can have cats separate in nice big cages that will be comfortable for people to come in and pet them,” Smith said. “We’re also going to have shelving in there for storage. We’re gonna have a washer and drier in there to keep the facility clean and the blankets and towels that we use to keep the animals in good shape.” Association board members have been housing cats at their homes for more than a decade. Smith said the facility should be fixed up within the next year because of the grant money.

One more grant of $2,500 will fund programs for youth at the public library. Librarian Tara Alcock said the money will be used to develop programs for Science Technonology Engineering Arts and Math or STEAM. “The whole goal of programs like this is to turn students from learners into makers,” Alcock said. “So it’s part of that maker’s movement and so you’ll see some potentially classes with lego or circuitry. And also some classes that combine arts and sciences. We’re really excited about that.”

The money will cover supplies and instructors stipends. Alcock said the library was also successful in landing an $8,800 dollar grant from the state library. “We’re really lucky we’ve got these two grants we can pair them and purchase laptops and really expand that programming, it’s going to be really exciting to see, sort of into fields we’ve not been able to go before.”

That money could help start a local Minecraft program, a computer game that involves building in a virtual world.

The community foundation plans to keep awarding grants once a year and wants to keep the pool of money growing. Foundation vice chair Wollen says the Rasmuson Foundation offered a challenge grant of up to 10,000 dollars. “Linda Leary and Kris Norosz who are both on the Rasmuson board have some discretionary funding and they announced at our donor event that they would like to challenge Petersburg in finding new members, new people, new donors,” Wollen said, adding, “It’s not really a membership thing, it’s a donor thing. So we are actively seeking new people that are interested in supporting the future of Petersburg and are excited that we’re creeping up on about a half million dollars in this account that will be managed into perpetuity on behalf of the future of Petersburg.”
That new challenge runs into the fall.