November 18, 2012

Foundation achieves big results via small grants

Submitted by The Dalton-Whitfield Community Foundation

— The Dalton-Whitfield Community Foundation recently announced that the organization awarded $24,300 to 11 local organizations who applied for grants during the fall cycle. Most of the grants are small, from $500 to $3,000.

“We feel that we can make a big difference by being smart and selective with our grant-making activities,” said Sherwood Jones, foundation grants committee chairman. “Many times, a small grant can make more of an impact than a larger grant. Our committee evaluates each request and weighs the expected impact against the foundation’s investment.”

Jones continued, “And our foundation is nimble. We can make decisions quickly so that organizations can go about the business of helping people and making our community a better place to live.”

According to Jones, the foundation often grants seed money to budding nonprofit organizations and programs. He cited Quilting for Others, a local charity committed to designing, constructing and delivering hundreds of quilts each year to the homeless, to nursing home residents, to children living at the Northwest Georgia Crisis Center, and others facing emotional, physical and spiritual distress. The group formed in 1997. However, they didn’t file paperwork with the state to formalize their nonprofit status until earlier this year. The foundation awarded the quilting group $500.

“Five hundred dollars will help us tremendously,” quilter Hope Mosley said. “Most of our fabric and sewing materials are donated, so we plan to use the grant to replace our old sewing machines with three heavy duty sewing machines with rolling cabinets, and to purchase bulk batting. The grant will help us reach out and comfort even more people by producing more quilts, sleeping bags and blankets.”

Quilting for Others, which meets each Monday morning at 10 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on West Emery Street to “spread their love one stitch at a time,” welcomes volunteers (no sewing experience required) and donations of money, fabric and materials.

“Most of our quilts are delivered to people in need right here in northwest Georgia, but on many occasions we reach out to people in other parts of the world, too,” Mosley said. “We made a quilt for a terminally ill child in Nova Scotia one time, and we sent quilts to the students who were injured and survived the Columbine massacre. Most recently, we sent several quilts to families in Staten Island who are still coping with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. It’s all about caring for us, and this is how we show the world we care.”

Quilting for Others also delivered hand-made, patriotic quilts to veterans living in local assisted living facilities in celebration of their service to the country.

“It was our way of saying ‘thanks’ to the veterans on Veterans Day last week,” Mosley added.

The foundation also awarded a $500 grant to the American Legion to support Dalton’s Veterans Day Parade.

“We felt strongly about recognizing our local veterans,” said David Aft, president of the Community Foundation. “It was a small grant, but a grant our foundation is particularly proud of.”

Aft cited Malcom Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point.”

“I recently reread the insightful book ‘The Tipping Point,’ in which the author discusses the manner in which small ideas or projects grow into movements that change thinking or behavior across communities or larger population groups,” Aft said. “His notion is that ideas, trends or behaviors that are repeated eventually reach a ‘tipping point’ or cross a threshold, before spreading like wildfire.”

In his book, Gladwell makes the point that big ideas often start modestly and small gestures can — and often do — lead to significant and positive impact.

“I believe that the same holds true with small grant awards and their impacts on communities,” Aft said. “We see it every grant cycle, as many of the foundation’s small, but thoughtful, grants contribute to the community’s vitality and momentum. The ripples created by these small actions resonate beyond the charitable organizations of our community.”

Aft noted that the foundation also awarded a modest grant to the Northwest Georgia Girls Home to purchase a large refrigerator freezer to replace an older unit.

“We’ve served 250 girls ranging in age from 11 to 21 since 1989,” said Reita Raughton, administrator of the home. “We provide a safe, constructive, stable home environment for children who have been removed from their homes due to safety concerns or because they were neglected or their parents are incarcerated. It’s home to six or seven girls at a time — they sleep here, they eat here, they study here, etc.

According to Raughton, the home now relies on a 20-year-old freezer to store food.

“We’ve been holding our breath and hoping that our freezer doesn’t break,” she said. “The expense wasn’t in our budget, so we are relieved to receive a grant from the foundation. The $3,000 grant will purchase a new freezer that will not only store food, but hopefully will be more energy efficient than the appliance that we currently have and reduce our monthly power bill.”

Since the establishment of its permanent endowment in 2005, the foundation has awarded more than $600,000 in grants to local charities and projects in Whitfield County through its competitive community grants program. Foundation representatives review applications and award grants twice each year — spring and fall.

“We regret not being able to help every organization that asks for assistance, but, unfortunately that isn’t possible,” Aft said. “These limitations force us to focus our efforts on projects and areas of need that touch a cross section of our community.”

An affiliate of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia, the Dalton-Whitfield Community Foundation awards grants to charitable organizations and helps families and individuals make the most of their charitable giving, allowing them to give more to charities while paying fewer taxes. To learn more about the foundation’s grants or philanthropic services, call Aft at (706) 275-9117.