Foundation commits $1.3M in grants to Texas community

By Matt Phinney
The San Angelo Standard-Times (Texas)

SAN ANGELO, Texas — The San Angelo Health Foundation handed out its latest round of grant money this week, $1.3 million divided among six groups.

"It's just a real blessing for us to have their help," said Eddie Albin, chairman of the Schleicher County Wellness Foundation Inc., which received $250,000.

The health foundation provides grants to local nonprofit organizations and public entities every quarter. Since 1997, the San Angelo Health Foundation has given a total of $28 million in grants to area groups.

House of Faith in San Angelo got the largest portion of the grant money.

The non-denominational, faith-based organization gets up to $900,000 across five years to initiate a higher-education scholarship program for qualifying House of Faith participants.

The Schleicher County Wellness Foundation formed about two years ago to start a grass-roots effort to build a wellness center in Eldorado.

The 3,600-square-foot building will be used to combat cardiovascular disease, obesity and Type II diabetes. The proposed center will house exercise equipment, an aerobics multipurpose room and a physical therapy room.

The Schleicher County foundation has raised about $150,000 from the county and city, and Albin said the school district has agreed to pitch in as well. It will continue to raise money through cash donations and in-kind work, he said.

"It would be very difficult for a community our size if we didn't have their help," Albin said of the foundation. "They are a critical component in doing this for the community."

A full-time counselor will oversee the House of Faith program and provide support for the youth throughout their academic careers. Foundation money will cover the cost of college tuition, fees, books and, in some instances, room and board, according to a news release.

"There really aren't words to describe it," said Rachel Beaver, co-director and co-founder of House of Faith. "This kind of thing doesn't happen every day. The San Angelo Health Foundation sees and recognizes there are some great young people out there that need a shoulder to lean on."

The House of Faith addresses problems such as youth delinquency, substance abuse, violence and gang involvement by teaching a value-based curriculum through a network of weekly neighborhood clubs for children and a range of engaging programs for older youth, according to a news release.

The East Concho Volunteer Fire Department got $28,818 toward a fast attack truck that will enable the department to respond to fires more quickly, said department spokesman Dennis Thompson.

The department is scheduled to get a $54,000 grant from the Texas Forest Service to pay the remainder of cost.

That's not a bad price, Thompson said, because large firetrucks cost about $200,000, he said.

Thompson said he has been told the Texas Forest Service grant should be here by September. The department responds to about 70 calls a year in eastern Tom Green County and has about 20 active volunteers.

Without such grants, the department would not be able to operate, he said.

"The Health Foundation is a fantastic organization," he said. "We think they are terrific and they are a great bunch of people to work with."

The following grants were awarded by the San Angelo Health Foundation:

House of Faith — Up to $900,000 across five years to initiate a higher-education scholarship program for qualifying House of Faith participants. A full-time counselor will oversee the program and provide the support structure for the youth throughout their academic career. Foundation funds will provide for tuition, fees, books and, in some instances, room and board.

Concho Valley Workforce Development Board — $15,000 to provide new computers for their resource room, assessment room and computer lab. The updated equipment will allow them to serve additional clients and employers with current technology for their training, testing and job search and placement activities in the Concho Valley region.

East Concho Volunteer Fire Department, $28,818 toward a fast attack truck. The new vehicle will enable the department to transport equipment and double the amount of water it can deliver to a fire scene.

Fairview Accelerated Education Cooperative — $50,000 to provide new playground equipment and fencing for the existing child-care facility. Irion County Emergency Medical Services — $50,000 challenge grant to expand the current training facility in Mertzon. Schleicher County Wellness Foundation — $250,000 challenge grant to establish a Community Wellness Center in Eldorado.

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