West Warwick organizations win grants for community garden, fitness park for kids

WEST WARWICK, RI –  Two West Warwick nonprofit organizations can get to work on a community garden and a children’s fitness park thanks to $20,000 in grants from the Rhode Island Foundation. The projects are 2 of just 47 statewide to win funding from the Foundation’s competitive Community Grants Program.

“We’re excited about these ideas for making community happen in more and better ways at the local level. Supporting community-building will improve shared places and quality of life, promote collaboration and increase community engagement,” said Jessica David, executive vice president of strategy and community investments. “We’re grateful to have donors who invest in our work and partners like these that understand the needs of their community.”

Thundermist Health Center received $10,000 on behalf of the West Warwick Health Equity Zone to develop an accessible fitness park to serve children ages 5-12 of all physical abilities. The work will include buying five pieces of equipment that provide a safe fitness experience for area children, which the town will install in River Point Park.

“Community needs a place where everyone can gather, develop friendships and be active in an inclusive environment. This project will fill that void in the public recreational space for every child and family,” said Krista Handfield, Thundermist’s project manager for health equity initiatives.

Tides Family Services of West Warwick received $10,000 to repair a community garden and to install a new greenhouse in order to harvest more crops by extending the growing season.

“The garden was built on a vacant, overgrown lot in order to increase access to free, fresh produce and engage a broad group of youth and adults from the community to contribute their knowledge, skills and experience to the garden. Produce from the garden goes right back into feeding the community at no cost,” said Rachel Yoder, vice president of treatment programs.

Another area nonprofit that serves residents of Coventry and West Warwick also received funding. The Hope Library received $3,000 to expand its Senior Fitness Program. The twice-weekly program at the library offers health and wellness presentations by the Scituate Health Alliance as well as exercise classes for people age 55 and over.

“Our fitness program is taught by a certified senior fitness specialist who emphasizes ways to increase bone density, exercises for flexibility and balance, and nutritional guidelines for healthier eating. We even address mobility issues by teaching seniors that they can sit and still be fit,” said Paula DiBiase, director.

Work on the Community Grants projects are expected to be completed by 2019. The funding was supplemented by a gift from long-time Foundation donor Anne Sage.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $38 million and awarded $43 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2017. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit rifoundation.org.