Charlotta Harris, Jane Williams, Paula Nelson and Tana Aardal peer through sun hats reflecting the luncheon theme “Hats Off!”
Thursday, August 5, 2021
Story and photos by Karen Bossick – to read the original article go to Eye on Sun Valley’s website here.
Lilian Wu is among the millions of Americans who have been on edge since anti-Asian sentiment reared its head this year.
But Wu, who divides her time between Sun Valley and New York, found reason to smile Wednesday afternoon under a tent at Trail Creek Cabin.
“Efforts like this are so American,” she said, as she watched a couple hundred members of the Wood River Women’s Foundation celebrate the $287,928 they had gifted to 20 nonprofits in the valley. “Here we are—strangers, really—but we get together because we care so much about this community.”
The BCRD’s Morgan Buckert, Wood River Trail Coalition’s Sara Gress and Hailey Public Library’s Lyn Drewien were among those whose organizations had received a grant.
After missing last year’s Annual Luncheon due to the pandemic, members of the Foundation were only too happy to sip champagne on the lawn of Trail Creek and take a chair around tables topped with sun hats.
“Despite obstacles, we pushed on with our annual grant cycle. We had to rethink almost everything about the way we served our community,” WRWF President Teri Bullock told the women. “While our valley had the highest rate of COVID cases per capita, COVID impacted our organization in ways we couldn’t imagine, and I couldn’t be more proud of the response.”
Bullock said she learned to ask “What if?” during the pandemic as the foundation tried new ways of addressing the needs of the community.
“What if we try and fail?” she asked.
Chris Vik, Marie Gallo, Pamela Sandine, Marcia Liebich and Dede Huish take their place around the champagne wall.
If we fail, we end up right back where we were before, she added. But what if more students are able to go onto college because of a new approach? What if more families have what they need to make sure their children succeed in school?
“We impact social justice right here in the Wood River Valley!” she said.
The organization received applications from 31 organizations asking for $590,000. Since 2005 the Foundation has awarded 173 grants surpassing $3.2 million.
Teresa Beahen Lipman told the women how The Senior Connection had been able to leverage the money it was given.
Darci Swanson, Manijeh Brueggeman and Patti McLean discuss how Swanson and McLean will be snacking on Gatorade, Snicker Bars and trail mix in a few days as they climb Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the Lower 48.
In 2020, she said, The Senior Connection was awarded $18,600 for new heating/cooling units. It was able to turn that into an additional $207,000 with the help of a Community Development grant. This year, The Senior Connection received $15,228 and was able to get an additional $50,912 from Idaho Transportation Department to buy a new bus to transport seniors.
“Next to health, transportation is the biggest concern for seniors,” she said. “They don’t want to be a burden for others. They fear not being able to leave their homes.”
Nationwide less than 2 percent of donations go to seniors, Lipman said. Here in Blaine County that percentage is 2.4 percent.”
“It’s very good to be in the midst of women who make such a powerful impact on our community,” she added. “We want seniors to feel a part of instead of apart from. Seventy percent of our money comes from donations.”
Marie Gallo, Chris Vik and Nancy Waslewski welcome Pamela Sandine, who recently moved to Sun Valley from Florida.
Lipman recounted some of the new endeavors at The Senior Connection, including iPads that allow seniors to face time, a psychologist that offer health counseling, a pending kitchen expansion and a new initiative for those unable to afford eye care and hearing aids.
“Because of you…those with Alzheimer’s have a place to go,” she said. “Seniors feel valued members of the community—because they are.”
THE 2021 GRANTEES:
BLAINE COUNTY CHARITABLE FUND—$25,000 for Emergency Assistance Grant Program, which provides financial aid for housing, utilities, transportation and healthcare to Blaine County residents experiencing hardship due to an unanticipated crisis.
BLAINE COUNTY EDUCATION FOUNDATION—$25,000 for Back on Track Support program to compensate teachers and staff for afterschool tutoring and enable students to access resources online to catch up from pandemic-related learning loss.
BLAINE COUNTY HOUSING FOUNDATION—$11,000 to help households pay rent or mortgage.
BLAINE COUNTY RECREATION DISTRICT—$25,000 to fund access and infrastructure improvements at the south end of Quigley Trails Park.
FRIENDS OF THE HAILEY PUBLIC LIBRARY—$25,000 to fund Expanded Program Space Initiative, which installs moveable furniture that library can use for larger audiences for story time, lectures and other presentations.
GIRLS ON THE RUN—$9,940 to help fund two eight-week sessions of interactive lessons and running games for 65 girls ages 8 through 13 from three Blaine County schools.
I HAVE A DREAM FOUNDATION-IDAHO—$25,000 to help sponsor 60 first-grade students from Alturas and Bellevue elementary with academic and social-emotional learning.
LEE PESKY LEARNING CENTER—$25,000 to help fund a reading specialist and four tutors providing reading instruction to 25 incoming first-grade English language learners.
LITTLE WOOD RIVER DISTRICT LIBRARY—$10,000 to fund installation of an outdoor patio, establishing a new community gathering place.
SWIFTSURE RANCH THERAPEUTIC EQUESTRIAN CENTER—$15,664 to replenish the footing material in the main indoor arena to ensure the safety of horses, participants and volunteers.
THE ALLIANCE OF IDAHO—$25,000 to support a contract with a local attorney to provide legal support for asylum seekers, those seeking citizenship, DACA renewals and those needing resources when their primary wage earner has been detained.
THE SENIOR CONNECTION—$15,228 for matching funds to secure funding from the Federal Transportation Administration to purchase a new 14-passenger bus.
WOOD RIVER COMMUNITY YMCA—$25,000 to help fund the five-week, summer academic and enrichment program designed to mitigate summer learning loss for first- and second-graders.
WOOD RIVER TRAILS COALITION—$22,460 to employ a seasonal volunteer coordinator who will train eight Trail Bosses to organize 200 volunteers assist with three major maintenance events this summer.