A first-time grant award that was created to advance social justice through health equity will help three Boulder County nonprofits with their missions to serve their community.
Veterans Community Project in Longmont, Coal Creek Meals on Wheels in Lafayette and Community Food Share in Louisville received Centura Health’s first-time Health Equity and Advancement Fund grant. The nonprofits were three of 19 recipients awarded the funds.
Paul Melroy, executive director of Veterans Community Project, said the nonprofit was awarded a $30,000 grant from the health care agency. Melroy said the nonprofit is donations-based and doesn’t receive any funds from state or federal sources.
“This is just wonderful,” Melroy said. “It’s coming from inside the community … and it’s unrestricted, so it can be used for general operating. We just love when we get general operating because it means we can plug that money in as needed.”
The funds, he said, will help Veterans Community Project with its renovations to its office space. The nonprofit in May moved into a brick and mortar location at 1228 Main Street in Longmont after roughly two years of service from remote locations.
Melroy said the funds also will be used to help the nonprofit serve more people in the winter, when he said service demands increase.
“While we do a pretty good job of getting things, like coats and scarves and hats donated, occasionally there are supplies we have to just go out and buy,” Melroy said.
At Coal Creek Meals on Wheels in Lafayette, Executive Director Lark Rambo said the nonprofit was “thrilled” to be the recipient of a $25,000 Centura Health grant. The funds, she said, will help the nonprofit’s meal delivery service, which has seen an increased demand because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The nonprofit provides fresh meals every weekday to residents in Lafayette, Louisville, Superior and Erie. Rambo said that services for meal delivery nearly doubled — from 560 meals a week to roughly 950 meals a week at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. That amount has plateaued to about 800 meals a week.
“With these funds we will be able to deliver nutritious and delicious meals to seniors, individuals with disabilities and families in need,” Rambo said. “That helps to alleviate barriers to transportation access to food and meal prep, which impacts their overall health and well-being.”
At Louisville’s Community Food Share, Julia McGee, director of communications, expressed her gratitude to Centura Health. She said the $40,000 grant will provide a means to kick-start a new effort to help low-income seniors.
“We’re particularly excited about this grant because it’s going to allow us to launch a pilot project that we’ve wanted to do for a while now,” McGee said.
The Elder Share Prescription Food Box program will be the newest element to the nonprofit’s Elder Share program, which delivers free groceries to low-income and homebound seniors in Boulder and Broomfield counties. Building off that, the nonprofit is expanding its partnership with Clinica Family Health, a medical and dental clinic, to distribute prescription food boxes. The meals will be crafted to help address health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
McGee said the prescription food box pilot will start by serving about 25 people, with the aim to eventually expand the number of people served. The boxes will be delivered twice a month.
Another element to the pilot program is teaching people involved in the program how to prepare their own healthy meals and learn more about the connection between food and health. In addition, the funds also will support the Latinx Outreach Initiative by expanding outreach into the Latinx community through the continued partnership with Clinica Family Health. The clinic will help by getting the word out and referring more people to local food services.
McGee said Community Food Share is seeking volunteers to help with delivery of meals. People interested in volunteering can sign up on the nonprofit’s website at communityfoodshare.org.
Dr. Oswaldo Grenardo, Centura Health’s diversity and inclusion officer, said the first-time grant was created with the intent to support patients outside the health care agency’s walls by helping them gain access to things such as housing and nutritious meals.
Grenardo, who is based in a Centura Health office in Denver, said the Boulder County nonprofits were awarded grant funds because their mission aligned with this effort.
“We loved all three applicants,” Grenardo said. “These were groups that resonated with the work we are doing and the work we wanted to support.”
The grant, which recipients applied to, is funded by Centura Health’s budget. Grenardo said Centura Health plans to distribute a new round of grants about the same time every year.
While the grant program doesn’t currently have a place for people to donate online, Grenardo said people interested in giving back can support Centura Health Foundations at centura.org/community-impact/foundations.