St. Charles on Monday announced its first round of priority grant awards to eight Central Oregon organizations that aim to address loneliness in the community.
The health system said in August it was accepting applications for grants aimed at reducing loneliness and increasing welcoming and belonging.
St. Charles is awarding more than $80,000 total to these groups:
- Council on Aging of Central Oregon, which received funding for in-person meetings of Caring Connections, which pairs participants with volunteers for weekly connections
- La Pine Middle School, which received funding to bring social connections through Challenge Day
- National Alliance of Mental Illness of Central Oregon, which received dollars to help fund the NAMI Gather program to help those with mental illness and their loved ones forge new social connections
- Oregon Adaptive Sports, which received funding to help individuals with disabilities to participate in a variety of summer programs
- Redmond Senior Center, which received funding to increase opportunities for social engagement and interaction
- Shepherd’s House Ministries, which received funding to support community and connection activities for individuals who are experiencing homelessness
- SriPonya Collective, which received funding for a variety of youth activities in Warm Springs
- Trust for Public Land, which received funding to support a community schoolyard at Madras Elementary School
St. Charles says the grant priority will continue for three more years, with new recipients announced each year.
“We recognize that community members are craving opportunities to come together, meet new people and rebuild their social networks coming out of COVID. From in-person social events for seniors to new youth opportunities in Warm Springs, we believe that these grants will help make a positive impact in reducing loneliness and bolstering belonging in Central Oregon,” Carlos Salcedo, St. Charles manager of community partnerships, said in a statement.
St. Charles highlighted the Council on Aging’s Caring Connections program. The health system says the program, which started during the COVID-19 pandemic, pairs 45 seniors with volunteers for weekly phone calls. The grant allowed he council to host in-person meetings for these pairs for the first time.
“Seeing those first hugs and moments of connection was incredible,” said Emma Fried-Cassorla, director of communication and programming for the council in a statement. “We can’t do these programs without this kind of funding. We rely on our partner organizations like St. Charles who understand the importance of connection and the powerful positive difference these programs can make in our community.”