Grants awarded to Boyle County organizations

Published 7:36 am Tuesday, October 17, 2017

More than $80,000 was given in grants to 18 charitable organizations serving residents in Boyle County and $30,000 in scholarships were given to students in Boyle County by the Hudson-Ellis Fund in September.

The 2017 Hudson-Ellis Discretionary Grant Recipients are: the Arts Commission of Danville-Boyle County Assisting Deaf Adults to Participate Totally, Boyle County Education Foundation, CASA of the Bluegrass, Community Arts Center, the Boyle County Public Library, Danville Schools Education Foundation, Danville-Boyle County Happy Feet Equals Learning Feet, Danville-Boyle County Senior Citizens, Family Services Association of Boyle County, The Gladys Project, Grace Café, Heritage Hospice, Kentucky School for the Deaf Charitable Foundation, New Hope Food Pantry, Special Persons Advocacy Network, Sunrise Children’s Services, Wilderness Trace Child Development Center.

For the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Bluegrass, the $8,000 the agency received is going to recruit, train and supervise up to eight new volunteers.

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“It’s important because we have a lot of kids in the community that could potentially slip through the cats of the social welfare system,” said Executive Director Laura Guerrant.

Currently, she said, the system is overburdened, especially in light of the opioid epidemic in the state.

Volunteers with CASA work with children, to be their voice, and as the eyes and ears of court, speaking in the interest of the children.

“Those with a CASA are more likely to receive permanency and more quickly than those without a volunteer. They are more likely to be adopted, graduate high school and less likely to abuse their own children one day,” said Guerrant.

Getting funding like the Hudson-Ellis grant is very important, she said.

“It’s really important. This is the next generation. The people that are going to run Danville and Boyle County in the future — the future of our community,” Guerrant said. “The old adage, it takes a village? That’s what I think of when I think of CASA.”

Another agency using their money to help children, for the Community Arts Center, receiving the $3,600 grant helps them provide free field trips to students in the Boyle County Schools, Danville Independent Schools, Danville Christian Academy and the Danville Montessori School, and to homeschooled students in the county.

“It enables us to cove some of that financial barrier schools are facing,” said Kate Snyder, director of Marketing and Development for the Community Arts Center. “We want to make art as accessible to as many people as possible.”

Last year, 900 students were served.

Snyder said that at one point, there was a charge for the field trip, to cover the costs of materials used by students, the development of the curriculum and for the facilitation of the tours.

Then, “a few years ago, we noticed the field trip numbers were declining,” she said. 

Snyder said they started talking to teachers, who shared that they simply didn’t have the budget for field trips.

“With the growing number of students eligible for free and reduced lunch, they weren’t comfortable asking parents for the money,” Snyder said. “We started trying to look at ways to make the field trips free.”

Grants like the one from the Hudson-Ellis Fund is one of the ways they make that happen.

They do have students from neighboring counties and other districts that visit the center, Snyder said, but only students who attend school within the county limits benefit from the grant funding.

Specifically, students in second and third grades are targeted, as well as special education students.

“We can take anyone in grades K-12, but we focus on those,” Snyder said. 

They have two trips a year planned for the students — one in the fall, and one in the winter or spring — and students get to visit, look at the exhibit and talk about the pieces they see with Brandon Long, creative director at the center, and local artist. 

“In this exhibit, in particular, it’s a lot of abstract landscapes. They spend a lot of time talking about, what do they see in the art. Their experiences shape what they see in the artwork,” Snyder said.

Students also get to talk about the techniques used and consider if they would create something like that.

Then students create their own piece, inspired by the respective exhibit, using three different media. To go along with the current exhibit, titled “Horizon: Contemporary Landscape,” students are being asked to make their own aerial landscapes.

“It challenges them to look at landscapes beyond just, ‘It’s a painting of a tree. Here’s a brown trunk, here’s a curly top and that’s my landscape,’” Snyder said. “It’s incredible what they’ll put into it.”

A student in one of the special education classes, for example, used part of an upside-down egg carton and white tissue paper to create a mountain with snow.

“They’ll make landscapes of areas that are important to them … It’s a way for them to really make art personal to their lives,” she said.

The next exhibit, which will be titled “New Year, New You” focuses on an artist’s identity. Snyder said they use that to teach the students that each piece of art expresses the identity of its creator in some way.

Students then create some type of self-portrait that reflects who they are in some way.

“It’s really fun. The field trips are great … it is so fun to see the exhibits through the eyes of the kids that come see the show,” Snyder said. “There’s one piece in the show right now that, multiple kids, they take one look at it and they’re like, ‘It’s a cheeseburger!’ We say, ‘Sure, absolutely. If it looks like a cheeseburger to you, that’s okay.’”

An agency helping people on the opposite end of the age spectrum, the Boyle County Senior Citizens received $3,000 to help with transporting senior citizens for free.

“Our staff drives people: to and from the center, to doctor’s appointments, to the grocery store, to the pharmacy — basically to assist in activities of daily living,” said Director Ben Guerrant.

Based on the number of rides given through September of this year, coupled with projections for the rest of the year, Guerrant said they were expecting to give 5,673 individuals rides in 2017.

“That’s a lot,” he said. “There’s no cost for the seniors when they do ride.”

Some make donations, if they can, but it is not required.

It’s an important opportunity for the seniors, Guerrant said, offering a solution to a very real problem.

“For example, imagine you are a senior with limited access to transportation, unable to drive for medical reasons, and you don’t have family or a support network that can get you to and from a grocery store or your primary physician. That presents a pretty big problem,” he said.

“You still need to eat, still need to go to the doctor, still need to get your medications filled. It’s something we take for granted. We don’t think twice about it.”

Three scholarships were given, too, to Tara Quesenberry of the Boyle County High School, Alayna Wood of the Danville High School and Allanah McBride of the Kentucky School for the Deaf.