Published : Wednesday, April 25, 2018 | 5:18 PM
The Pasadena Rotary Club awarded nearly two dozen Pasadena non-profit organizations $43,627 in community grants for their work in helping the homeless through food and nutrition, employment and projects in arts and culture.
The donations were announced at the 2018 Community Grants Award Luncheon at the University Club facility on Wednesday.
“This is people coming together to do good for their community. Not only do we do hundreds of hours of volunteer work, but we actually put our money where our mouth is and we are giving back to our community,” said 2020 Rotary Club President Scott Vandrick.
The Rotary Club of Pasadena Foundation is able to award the grants out of donations from the members. The donations are then distributed to 501c3 non-profit organizations serving the Pasadena community.
The 13 members of the Club’s Grants Committee seek applicants, review grant applications, conduct site visits, select grant recipients, gain approval from the Rotary Club of Pasadena Foundation, and award the grants at a luncheon honoring the recipients.
Since 2004, the Foundation has issued more than 340 grants totaling close to $600,000 to over 130 organizations.
“On behalf of the many women and children who find themselves homeless, we are here for them,” said Debbie Unruh, 2018 Community Grant recipient and Executive Director of Elizabeth House.
Elizabeth House has been serving women and children in the Los Angeles area for more than 20 years and provides shelter and other support to homeless, pregnant women and their children by addressing their physical, emotional, spiritual, and economic needs.
Elizabeth House has provided shelter, food, care and counseling for 280 women and over 400 children in the San Gabriel Valley.
Unruh says the $2,000 grant is going toward supporting the organization’s programming that is designed to help women move forward specifically with job skills training.
“Many of the women that come to us have internal obstacles that keep them from being able to find a job, pursue employment, and we want to break that cycle and those obstacles,” said Unruh.
Another grant recipient is Flintridge Center, which was awarded with $4,000 to help fund the Apprenticeship Preparation Program that helps with job-training for adults who are at-risk for homelessness.
Flintridge Center works to interrupt cycles of violence and poverty through reintegration programs for formerly incarcerated and gang-impacted adults, and development programs for youth who are at risk of falling into the justice system or dropping out of school.
Flintridge Center’s programs focus on Northwest Pasadena, West Altadena, and the greater San Gabriel Valley.
“We’re helping community members that are returning home from prison and, as many people know, there are lots of obstacles and barriers in doing so,” said Daniel Torres, Strategic Partnership Specialist at Flintridge Center.
Those obstacles Torres speaks of deals mostly with housing, employment, and basic living needs.
“The money will be used to help our community members transition back into the community,” said Torres.
Torres says he is a product of the Flintridge Center, being a formerly incarcerated individual himself who completed the organization’s apprenticeship preparation program.
Using his newfound credentials and determination, Torres eventually landed on a union construction career path and was able to provide for his family, receive full benefits and a retirement plan.
“This issue is swept under the rug and society kind of continues to punish community members returning home, but what people don’t understand is that the people returning often have children, often have family members that depend on them, and when we don’t allow community members the opportunity for meaningful employment then what we are really saying is that we don’t care about their families as well,” said Torres.
Other recipients: the Boys and Girls Club of Pasadena, Eastern Sierra Symphony, Five Acres, Foothill Unity Center, Friends In Deed, Hillsides, Kidspace Children’s Museum, Leadership Pasadena, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Pasadena Conservatory of Music, Pasadena Dance Theatre, Pasadena Master Chorale, Pasadena Playhouse, Pasadena Senior Center, Pasadena Symphony and POPS, Pasadena Child Development Associates, the Salvation Army, and Union Station Homeless Services.
The Rotary Club of Pasadena is part of the Rotary international service organization, working to eradicate polio worldwide, building wells in rural communities, and funding schools for girls around the world. Locally, Pasadena Rotary contributes to the community through a variety of programs and volunteer activities at the Pasadena Unified School District and to local charities. Rotarians focus on “service above self.”
To learn more about the Rotary Club of Pasadena, call (626) 400-6750, or visit www.pasadenarotary.com.