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Community Foundation hands out $200K in grants

Money helps fund dozens of grassroots programs in Thunder Bay.
Peter Panetta Community Foundation
Peter Panetta (centre) of the Underground Gym on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 accepts a cheque from Deborah and Jouni Kraft at the Thunder Bay Community Foundation's annual grant reception gala at Badanai Motors. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY – For most organizations in the city, money is often hard to come by.

With plenty of competition for charitable dollars, every little bit helps in their effort to provide programming and services to the community that might otherwise go by the wayside.

On Wednesday night 35 organizations shared in more than $200,000 in donations courtesy of the Thunder Bay Community Foundation, which doled out the money at its annual grant reception ceremony.

Michelle Kolobutin of the NorWest Community Health Centre said her organization will use the $4,479 it got through the Donny Ritza Fund to cover costs associated with the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Experience Through Artistic Means, a program that will allow those affected by the condition to develop confidence, understand their diagnosis and help educate the greater public through their personal experiences.

“It’s a very large group in Thunder Bay, but it doesn’t receive a lot of funding,” Kolobutin said. “We were so pleased to receive funding for a grant that’s going to allow us to do a very innovative art project that ends with a gala.

“This is something that is really new to this group. We’re able to bring in community folks to do some facilitation and this kind of grant is so fundamental in seeing this kind of project happen. There’s not funding out there for these kind of things.”

The Boys and Girls Club of Thunder Bay got $10,137 to help cover the costs of Taylorpedia's Safe Zone program, a peer-to-peer counselling initiative based in elementary schools that provides help for students who have fallen victim to bullying and harassment, an attempt to end the cycle.

Executive director Albert Aiello said it’s going to have a huge impact throughout the city.

“The money from the Community Foundation is so important, basically because it funds grassroots projects, projects that directly affect the citizens of Thunder Bay. It’s the work that often goes unrecognized, but it’s the work that is truly important for quality of life in the city of Thunder Bay,” Aiello said.

Foundation chair Jackie Dojack said it’s never easy finalizing the list of recipients each year through the application-based process.

This year more than $550,000 in grants were sought, which had to be narrowed down by the judging panel.

“We have a committee that looks at all of the grant application and rates them and then makes decisions based on that,” Dojack said.

“It’s three people looking at the same grant application and rating it, knowing that we don’t have enough money to give to all of the requests.”

Dojack said the money that is given out helps immensely each year.

“The charities in town really are always looking for money, additional money to do the work that they do. This is another source. They will apply for a grant to do a specific thing and if we don’t give them money they may not be able to do that specific thing,” Dojack said.

“It enables the charities to extend the work they do in our community.”

Other recipients included St. John Ambulance, Paws for Love Dog Rescue, the Underground Gym, Caring Hearts Cat Rescue, Hospice Northwest, Magnus Theatre, the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, Habitat For Humanity, the Thunder Bay District Humane Society, Shelter House and Wilderness Discovery Camp.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith has been the editor of Thunder Bay Source for 19 years and has served a similar role with since 2009. Wants his Expos back. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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