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Lawrence Township Community Foundation awards grants

While a few hundred dollars may not seem like a lot of money, it means that Jewish Children and Family Services will be able to expand its mobile food pantry across Mercer County – to sites that include the Eggerts Crossing Village and Project Freedom housing developments in Lawrence.

Jewish Children and Family Services was among the dozen or so nonprofit groups that were awarded grants, totaling $26,500, by the Lawrence Township Community Foundation at its spring grants cycle awards ceremony May 13.

Since its inception in 2002, the Lawrence Township Community Foundation has awarded more than $1 million in grants to nonprofit groups in Lawrence and neighboring towns.

The Lawrence Township Community Foundation was the brainchild of Eleanor Horne of the Educational Testing Service, Becky Taylor of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., and Pam Mount, co-owner of Terhune Orchard. They realized that the needs of Lawrence Township residents could be met by a community foundation.

The Educational Testing Service and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. gave their support to the fledgling foundation, along with attorney Daniel Haggerty of the Stark and Stark law firm and Conrad Druker of the Mercadien Group accounting firm.

Meanwhile, among the awardees in the spring 2021 grant cycle was the Boys and Girls Club of Mercer County, which has a location on Spruce Street in Lawrence. It will use its award to fund a summer camp and supplemental education program for 50 low-income, at-risk children.

Dress for Success will use its grant to bring its “Designing Your Future” workforce development program directly to Lawrence residents, said Michelle Cash. The program is based at the Lawrence Community Center at 295 Eggerts Crossing Road.

Designing Your Future is an intensive learning experience that teaches women how to write a resume, how to respond during a job interview and how to negotiate job offers, Cash said.

Dress for Success also provides clothing for interviews, plus a week’s worth of office clothing when a participant lands a job, she said.

HomeFront plans to use its award to buy, prepare and deliver food, diapers and other basic necessities to vulnerable people, children and adults – with an extra emphasis on providing diapers and baby wipes.

“Every extra diaper and food bag really does matter,” said HomeFront representative Brian Helmuth.

Lawrenceville Main Street will use its grant to bring back its signature Music in the Park series in Weeden Park, next to the Lawrenceville Post Office on Main Street. The money also will be used to support the Summer Arts Market, plus beautification projects and signage.

“We are so excited to be able to offer events outside,” said Gina Totaro, who sits on Lawrenceville Main Street’s board of directors. The group helped to revitalize the Main Street business district in the historic village of Lawrenceville, and continues to do so.

Court Appointed Special Advocates of Mercer County (CASA) will use its grant to expand recruitment and training efforts for community volunteers, who support children in foster care.

The CASA volunteer stays in touch with the child while he or she is in foster care, and is sometimes the only constant in that child’s life, said CASA representative Laura Wall.

Interfaith Caregivers, which helps underserved senior citizens who are homebound and adults with disabilities to stay in their homes, plans to apply its grant toward volunteer recruitment and training. It will also be used to help identify and support new and ongoing care recipients.

Lawrence High School’s Project Graduation was approved for grant funding. Project Graduation helps graduating seniors celebrate their achievement – traditionally, through an after-graduation, drug- and alcohol-free party. The event was canceled last year because of COVID-19.

The grant approved by the Lawrence Township Community Foundation will help the Class of 2021 celebrate in a COVID-friendly manner, including the distribution of lawn signs, gifts and give-aways – much like the celebration of the Class of 2020.

NAMI Mercer, which provides help for the mentally ill, plans to apply its grant toward the annual Harvest of Hope wellness conference, which will be held in October in conjunction with National Mental Illness Awareness month.

Prevention Education Inc., also known as PEI Kids Inc., offers counseling to young victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect. Child abuse thrives in secrecy, and the lockdown and stress associated with COVID-19 provided it, said PEI Kids Inc. Executive Director Roslyn Dashiell.

Dashiell said that for the first time in five years, there is a waiting list for help in crisis situations. The grant will address the immediate need and will serve Lawrence residents, she said. It will help five Lawrence Township children and five family members in a dozen, hour-long counseling sessions, she said.

Paula Rainey of The English School at the Lawrence Road Presbyterian Church said it will use its grant to pay for teachers during the fall semester. The English School helps immigrants to learn the English language. COVID-19 meant it had to switch to online learning, and there was a drop-off in participation, she said.

“Hopefully, with this money, in the fall we can be back physically and teachers can come in to teach,” Rainey said. Some of the adult learners do not have access to computers, she said.

Womanspace plans to use its grant to buy gift cards to grocery stores, which will be given to clients staying at its Safe House and to others who are being served through its counseling center, said Womanspace representative Erin Hartshorn.

Fewer victims of domestic violence could stay at Womanspace’s Safe House because of COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, so they were placed in motels, Hartshorn said. The gift cards will allow the women to buy food at grocery stores. Counseling center clients also have experienced food insecurity, she said.

 

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