Local organizations and community projects got a big boost last Thursday thanks to the A.D. Makepeace Company.
The Company’s Neighborhood Fund Board of Trustees awarded $120,000 in grants to 23 organizations during a reception ceremony at the Makepeace Box Mill Hall in Tihonet Village on May 9.
Board of Trustees Chairman Christopher Makepeace noted that the funded projects were extremely diverse during the ninth annual awards ceremony.
“These projects will help our communities in a wide variety of ways,” said Makepeace. “We’re supporting college courses for Carver students, troubled teens in Plymouth, shellfish in Wareham, and walking trails in Rochester, and that’s just a sampling.”
Makepeace President and CEO Michael P. Hogan said he saw the awards as “direct investing” in the community rather than “direct giving.”
The Makepeace Neighborhood Fund put an unprecedented $20,000 in reserve for the Wareham Public Schools. The new superintendent, expected to be hired in the upcoming months, will get to decide how the money is spent in the school system.
“We kind of see this as a welcome present for the new superintendent,” said Hogan.
Hogan said a number of Wareham School staff members applied for the grants for various projects, but the board felt it would make more sense to let the new superintendent choose what to do with the additional funding.
Among the awardees were several Wareham groups, including the Area Committee for the Homeless Baby Point Diapering Program, which gives diapers, gently used clothes, and formula to local moms and dads in need.
Baby Point Director Lisa Dankers said she was extremely grateful for the award of $7,618.
“Huge, that’s all I can say,” said Dankers, who started the program three years ago. “Huge. It will make a huge difference.”
Dankers said she helps about 50 to 90 families a month. Although they work, the families are struggling to get by, and even one pack of diapers a month can make a big difference.
“These moms are living paycheck to paycheck,” said Dankers. “Think about it. If they make $260 a week and have to pay bills and don’t get a lot of help, how much money does that really leave you? Diapers are expensive.”
Baby Point Grant Manager Patricia Reynolds said the program relies completely on donations and is run entirely by volunteers.
“This award means we will be able to expand our program and make it the way we always wanted it to be,” she said.
The Wareham Library Foundation also received $5,000 to go toward its Reading Partners program, an important boost after word that town budget cuts may eliminate many of the programs at the library next year.
Library Director Denise Medeiros said the program offers free tutoring to adults who are working toward obtaining their GEDs and for those who are learning English as a second language.
“It’s a very individualized program,” said Medeiros. “We help people with their specific needs.”
For example, Medeiros said the program recently helped an Egyptian immigrant who was working at a pizza place in town.
“The tutors taught him phone skills and how to take orders from customers,” said Medeiros.
The Wareham Harbormaster Dept. was also awarded $8,000 for its goal to increase the oyster population in town. Harbormaster Garry Buckminster said the extra money will allow his department to double its oyster restoration efforts.
“It’s a multi-year undertaking,” said Buckminster.
He said some of the money will go toward buying more oyster seeds and cultch systems. Cultch is basically a word for recycled shells that are placed in the water so oysters can adhere to them and survive.
Hogan said increasing the oyster supply will help solve some of the pollution caused by nitrogen and other pollutants.
“Oysters are a great way to clean the water,” said Hogan during the ceremony.
Other Wareham awardees included Cape Cod Child Development for exploring nature, the Gleason Family YMCA for the Livestrong program, Good Shepherd Food Pantry for Caring for Your Health, and the Wareham Fire Dept. for propane gas meters.
Hogan said the current meters don’t register for propane, which is vital in an area where a lot of homes use propane gas.
About halfway through the reception, Hogan was assisted by Claire Smith in announcing a special award in honor of her late brother, Robert “Grumpy” Conway, a longtime Makepeace Company employee and naturalist.
The award went to the nonprofit organization, “Keeping Company with Kestrels,” run by Joanne “Joey” Mason, who protects birds of prey from hazards such as power lines where they prefer to nest.
“We try to keep the award consistent with what Bob cared about,” said Hogan. “We like to take a moment each year to recognize Bob with this award.”
The Makepeace Neighborhood Fund has now awarded nearly $1.5 million in grants to community groups for 246 different projects since it was founded in 2005. The Fund was created as a way for the A.D. Makepeace Company to target the charitable giving for which the company had become known, a press release stated.
Grants are available for projects benefitting residents of Wareham, Plymouth, Carver and Rochester in the areas of education, community housing, environment, health care, historic preservation, agriculture, and community service.
Makepeace Vice President of Marketing and Communication Linda Burke pointed out that the grants are important because they benefit everyone including Makepeace employees.
“When you’re supporting things like schools and health care programs, everyone in the community benefits and it ultimately ends up helping our employees who not only work in the community, but live in the community, too,” said Burke.
Burke said the Makepeace Company has always supported the community, “but did it really quietly.” In 2005, the Neighborhood Fund was established to make the giving “more focused” and to allow more local organizations to hear about it, apply, and benefit.
Other organizations awarded during the reception included the A.L.S. Family Charitable Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of Plymouth, Caron Treatment Centers in Plymouth, the Arc of Greater Plymouth, Carver Public Schools, Community Nurse and Hospice Care, Jenney House Museum, Junior Achievement of Southern Mass., Melmark New England, Plymouth Department of Marine and Environmental Affairs, Rochester Board of Library Trustees, Rochester Conservation Commission, Rochester Land Trust, South Shore Community Action Council, Tobey Hospital and the Wildlands Trust of Rochester.
Contact Caitlin Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org