The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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April 30, 2013

Lee Initiatives awards grants

JOHNSTOWN — Each Friday during the school year, when more than 100 needy students pick up food for the weekend, compliments of the Johnstown Backpack Project, they are actually being helped thanks to the efforts of several nonprofit organizations.

Members of the coalition are The Learning Lamp, Alternative Community Resource Program, Christ Centered Community Church, Greater Johnstown School District’s Trojan Learning Center Elementary School Program and Beginnings Inc. Changing Expectations Mission.

Together, they determine which students in their respective afterschool programs might need food for the weekend, purchase nonperishable goods and fill the backpacks.

On Tuesday, Anita Faas, executive director of Lee Initiatives Inc., praised the nonprofits for collaborating when her organization awarded Johnstown Backpack Project a $20,000 grant during a ceremony held at Holiday Inn Johnstown-Downtown.

“Success by collaboration is what it is,” said Faas.

The backpack project, coordinated by Emily Wentworth, was one of 43 groups to receive a grant. The money awarded totaled $515,000, the largest amount ever given out during the seven-year history of the initiatives.

Johnstown Backpack Project was one of 10 nonprofits to get $20,000 or more. The others were Beginnings Inc., Blacklick Valley Foundation and Ambulance Service, Catholic Charities, Distinctive Human Services, Johnstown Free Medical Clinic, New Day, Richland Township Volunteer Fire Department, St. Francis University and Salvation Army.

St. Francis University, Johnstown Free Medical Clinic, Richland Fire Department and Salvation Army topped the list with $30,000 apiece.

The Salvation Army plans to use the money to help fund its dental clinic that is expected to soon open. “We hope to be drillin’ and fillin’ by the end of the summer,” said Salvation Army Maj. Joseph Pawlowski.

The medical clinic’s grant will be used to provide free health care to the uninsured.

St. Francis is planning a health science initiative.

Richland’s fire department will use its grant to purchase hydraulic rescue tools.

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