News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

October 18, 2013

Foundation awards 18 grants

Nonprofit organizations receive more than $120,000 for community projects

TERRE HAUTE — As they gathered in the stately lobby of the renovated and historic Indiana Theatre, representatives of more than a dozen local not-for-profit groups received more than $120,000 in badly needed grant funding from the Wabash Valley Community Foundation Thursday morning.

“This is going to help out a great deal,” said Tim Fagg, CEO of the Light House Mission, a homeless shelter, which received more than $5,000 to purchase new kitchen equipment, just in time for Thanksgiving.

The mission prepares up to 30 turkeys on Thanksgiving, and the old stove has nearly worn out, Fagg said. The foundation’s $5,611 grant comes just in time to purchase the new equipment for the holiday, he said.

Just moments earlier, Tiffani Schmidt, executive director of the Terre Haute Symphony Association, gratefully accepted a foundation grant of $20,000, which will cover the costs of the March 2014 free children’s concert.

“A lot of those children have never experienced anything like that,” Schmidt said after receiving the grant. About 2,000 Wabash Valley fourth-graders attend the free concert each year, she said.

“I love the diversity,” said Jackie Lower, a member of the Foundation board who helped distribute the funds. “We feed the stomachs. We feed the souls.”

One by one, representatives of not-for-profit groups accepted their foundation grants. Each representative took the opportunity to explain why the money is important and how it will be used.

Nikki Fuhrmeister and Sharon Russell, representing Vigo County CASA, explained how they plan to use a $15,000 grant to hire a part-time recruiter for volunteers. CASA, which trains volunteers to speak for foster children in juvenile court, currently needs as many as 70 volunteers and is always looking for help, Fuhrmeister said.

“We’re really thrilled to get this help from the foundation,” Russell said.

The foundation is made up of more than 400 funds, many earmarked for specific causes, such as the arts or serving the needy. The minimum fund size is $5,000, said Fred Nation, president of the foundation’s volunteer board. Each year, the foundation distributes about $1.3 million in grants and scholarships.

Another grant handed out Thursday will provide a trailer and equipment for the United Way of the Wabash Valley’s new Mobile Food Market, which provides fresh fruits and vegetables to area residents who may have difficulty accessing fresh foods.

“So far, it’s going very well,” said Mark Johnson, community impact director for the UWWV, who accepted the grant along with Troy Fears, executive director. The mobile food market, which just launched operations this fall, may expand outside Vigo County soon, he said.

Grant money awarded Thursday will also help the WILL Center provide at least a dozen wheelchair ramps, said Peter Ciancone, executive director of the center. The ramps will allow people with disabilities to remain in their homes, he said. “Staying in-house is one of the key elements to independent living,” he said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or

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