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Grants for social services boost entire county

The benefits of Hillsboro’s Community Services Grant Program were on full display last week when representatives of organizations that serve citizens in Hillsboro, Forest Grove and elsewhere around the county attended the Dec. 3 Hillsboro City Council meeting. The representatives were there to formally accept grants from an initiative the city created in 1996 to support local social service groups and, by extension, boost the well-being of the community’s citizens.

And what a group it was. The list of nonprofits serving Washington County’s citizens is beyond impressive, and the variety of services being provided is simply amazing. Taking a glance at the services these organizations provide makes clear that this is a county with people who care about their fellow citizens and are dedicated to trying to help others.

Here are just a few representative examples of the organizations Hillsboro provided support for: Forest Grove-based Adelante Mujeres, which educates and empowers low-income Latina women and families in Hillsboro as well as Forest Grove. HomePlate Youth Services, which supports the positive development of young people experiencing homelessness or housing instability. CASA for Children, which provides support services for children who have been abused or neglected and are in the foster care system. Virginia Garcia, which delivers health care, behavioral health and prenatal services — with a focus on health care for seasonal farmworkers and day laborers in Virginia Garcia’s new facility in Cornelius. Youth Contact, which provides behavioral services and support for alcohol and drug prevention in young people. Love, Inc., which brings churches together to help neighbors in need. Lifeworks, which offers mental health and addiction services and strives to prevent teen pregnancy, child abuse and drug addiction.

We commend the city of Hillsboro for investing funds to help make social conditions better for residents of the area. In the 2013-14 fiscal year, the city set aside a total of $65,000 to assist a variety of nonprofit organizations not because it is obligated to, but because the city’s leaders believe these programs are making a vital impact to the lives of local citizens. We believe that is a very wise approach to governing.

This year, grant funds were divided among 25 organizations, so the individual dollar amounts were not huge. They ranged from $1,000 to $6,000 per organization, but the directors we spoke with all agreed that while a grant of $1,000 or $2,000 might not seem like a large amount, the funds are having a huge impact, financially as well as emotionally.

Christy Scattarella, executive director and founder of the Shadow Project — an organization that provides support for K-8 special education teachers — said even a relatively small infusion of cash can make a big difference in what they are trying to accomplish.

“It shows the city has a belief that these children can be just as successful as anyone,” said Scattarella. “It makes such a difference for our kids.”

Donna Schuurman, director of the Dougy Center — which provides grief support for those who have lost a parent or spouse or other family member — echoed Scattarella’s view, saying the city of Hillsboro’s generosity with these funds is having a profound impact.

We wholeheartedly agree. The city’s “above and beyond” financial support for these nonprofit organizations is making the county a better place for all of us.

We salute all of these social service providers, and believe the city deserves hearty applause for its efforts on behalf of these vital entities.




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