Petersburg’s shooting range on Mitkof Highway (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

The Petersburg Community Foundation this week announced $32,910 in grant funding for projects and programs in Petersburg. The foundation’s endowment fund has now paid out nearly a quarter of a million dollars to non-profits since residents started it in 2008.

The endowment fund relies on charitable donations from the community. That money is invested under the umbrella of the Alaska Community Foundation and the earnings pay for annual grants. This spring ten organizations will receive payments ranging from one thousand to $8,500.

The foundation’s advisory board chair Liz Cabrera said the board tried to award grants to those applicants partnering with other organizations to address important needs.

“So we tried to highlight those and also support those where it made sense,” Cabrera said. “And just as an example, there’s a new partnership between the Petersburg Medical Center and Kinder Skog to establish a once a week after school program for 8-12 years old. And as you know, child care’s been an important issue to the foundation and we really tried to raise awareness of that working with the SHARE Coalition’s child care task force and now there’s a task force set up at the assembly. So we kind of see this partnership that’s forming there is one of the good avenues to really address the issue across the community.”

That grant is $5,450 for the Petersburg Medical Center to provide a summer camp for kids ages 8 to 12 along with Kinder Skog, an outdoor program for kids.

Another grant of $2,370 will support the continuation of a Petersburg summer camp offered by the Girl Scouts of America. And the Petersburg Children’s Center will use a thousand dollar grant to upgrade the center’s sand box.

During the first years of the COVID pandemic, the foundation had an ongoing grant cycle designed to address emergency needs in the community. Cabrera said they’re changing back to their once-a-year grant cycle.

“It was nice to not feel like you’re just having to address an emergency this time we could actually look a little bit longer term and look at more projects in broader subject areas then we have been able to in the last couple years,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera said the foundation had 16 applicants seeking over 75,000 dollars during this grant cycle and they weren’t able to fund all the requests. The largest award, a payment of $8,500 goes to the youth shooting sports club, Devils Thumb Shooters. That group plans to build a new five-stand covered practice area at the range on Mitkof Highway. There’s also a five thousand dollar grant to the Clausen Museum for interpretive displays. The school district will use $4,500 for a new greenhouse for the community garden behind Stedman Elementary. The existing greenhouse was damaged by heavy snowfall last winter.

The Petersburg Arts Council will partner with the school district to replace some audio equipment in the Wright Auditorium using another grant of one thousand dollars. The public library receives $1,780 for a LEGO education program that will have high school students mentoring younger kids. The Rainforest Festival gets money $1,310 to bring birds from the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka to several venues in Petersburg.

There’s also a $2,000 grant for the Sons of Norway to improve the hardware on its front doors. The foundation board’s vice chair Glorianne Wollen did not propose that grant but is excited to see it funded for another organization she’s a part of.

“As a historical landmark in our community we became a non-profit here this last spring and we’re hoping that that will help maintain forever at the Sons of Norway,” Wollen said. “So this was a really neat first attempt and successful!”

Since the foundation started the endowment fund, the fund’s earnings have paid over 120 grants totaling $241-thousand to 36 organizations. Wollen called that exciting.

“Quarter of a million dollars,” she said. “That is so exciting to me. We are, we’re making a difference and it’s all coming from within and it really follows our independent nature here in Petersburg and I’m very proud of that.”

Wollen said the foundation board also decided to recognize a long-time volunteer, one of many people who give their time.

“There definitely are standouts in our community, people that kind of rise to the occasion whatever the occasion is, whatever the issue is,” she said. “So we nominated Dave Berg within our group and thought that he would be a stellar first awardee. Dave has given decades and decades of his time and energy and intelligence to so many different groups and we really wanted to recognize this first volunteer of the year with Dave Berg.”

Berg has been with the Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department for decades and helps set up community fireworks displays each year. He also has volunteered his time with the student-run theater, the Lutheran Church, Rotary Club and other groups.