Westerly, Hopkinton organizations win grants from R.I. Foundation

Westerly, Hopkinton organizations win grants from R.I. Foundation

Record-Journal
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Representatives of local non-profit groups were presented on Friday with grants from the Rhode Island Foundation. From left, Neil D. Steinberg, foundation President, Martin Bide, Cyndy Johnson and Chris Anderson, all of the Friends of the Hopkinton Land Trust, Janice Sassi and Peter August of the Watch Hill Conservancy, and Brigitte Hopkins, Executive Director of the Westerly Library and Wilcox Park. | Cynthia Drummond, The Westerly Sun

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Three local nonprofit groups, two from Westerly and one from Hopkinton, have been awarded a total of $22,190 in community grants by the Rhode Island Foundation. The ceremony took place Friday at the South Kingstown Senior Center.

Statewide, 130 groups applied for funds and 30 received grants. Foundation President Neil D. Steinberg said the three southern Rhode Island groups had presented worthwhile projects.

“Most of these grants will benefit many people,” he said. “It’s not just a small audience, it’s not just one thing that benefits just kids or just adults. It’s really for the community, and that’s what they all have in mind. When we look at things, that’s what we look at: What’s the impact going to be? How many people will get to use it, enjoy it, appreciate it and benefit from it?”

The Memorial and Library Association of Westerly was awarded $7,690. Executive Director Brigitte Hopkins said the money would be used to install an information kiosk and 10 interpretive signs throughout Wilcox Park.

“There’ll be signs at the comfort station, at the 1902 bandstand, at several of our landscaping areas such as the native gardens, just to inform visitors about what their role is in the park,” she said. “We’re really excited about the information kiosk, because it’s another place for us to inform our community about the programs and events that are going on.”

The Watch Hill Conservancy received a $9,400 grant to install signs that will warn people to stay off the dunes and out of bird nesting areas, thus helping to protect the Napatree Point Conservation Area ecosystem from the effects of heavy visitor traffic.

Janice Sassi, manager of the conservation area, said the new signs will be installed at the entrance to Napatree Point and also at the new visitors’ center at One Bay Street Center, the Lanphear Livery.

“We hope to link the two, so that Napatree programs can be held at One Bay Street Center, One Bay Street Center is directing people to come enjoy Napatree,” she said.

Peter August, who chairs the conservation area’s Science Advisory Committee, said that “Napatree celebrates the natural history of Watch Hill, One Bay Street celebrated the social and cultural history of Watch Hill. We want to tie those together,” he said.

The Friends of the Hopkinton Land Trust received a $5,100 grant to build a permanent stage at Depot Square Park in Hope Valley. The stage will be used for the land trust’s Music in the Valley community concert series.

Chris Anderson, president of the Friends group, said the plan was for between three and four concerts a year.

Land Trust Treasurer Cyndy Johnson added, “They’re free concerts. They will be free in perpetuity.”

Anderson said she was thrilled to learn that her group had been chosen from more than 100 applicants.

“When we found out that there were only 30 out of 130, that was really amazing to us,” she said. “We’re very, very excited.”

Steinberg said recognizing the organizations for their work was an important aspect of the community grants.

“What we find is, it’s not just the money, it’s the recognition for very, very good work,” Steinberg said. “The Rhode Island Foundation is the biggest funder, but we can only do our funding if there’s somebody to fund. These organizations who are doing the work every single day in the communities are the most important partners for us.”

The foundation, based in Providence, calls itself “the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island.” In 2016, it awarded a record $45 million in grants to various organizations.

cdrummond@thewesterlysun.com

@cynthiadrummon4


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