If you’ve been feeling the twinge of loneliness that comes with months of relative isolation, the Whistler Community Foundation (WCF) can help with that.
The non-profit has streamlined its long-running neighbourhood grant program to better respond to projects that promote community cohesion during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Partnering with the Vancouver Foundation, WCF is helping administer the Responsive Neigbourhood Small Grants Program, which offers funding for small-scale projects aimed at reducing social isolation.
The application deadline is end of day on July 31.
“The whole point of the [traditional neighbourhood grants] program is to share skills and talents and connect people. But obviously with COVID, it wasn’t going to be as easy to do that,” explained Claire Mozes, executive director of the WCF.
So with limited opportunities to physically gather, the Vancouver Foundation switched focus by reducing the turnaround time for grant approval. Typically, community foundations like the WCF will wait until their application window closes to decide on which projects will receive funding, and for how much.
Now, the WCF is processing the applications as they come in, with the goal of deciding on and issuing grants within 10 days.
“It’s just a different style of granting,” Mozes said.
So far, only four applications have come in, including a virtual clay-making workshop offered by local artist Penny Eder; a tiny lending library in Taluswood; and an online writing workshop led by author, filmmaker and Whistler Writers Festival manager Rebecca Wood Barrett.
“I look forward to connecting with people because, in my own experience, when I’ve gone to workshops, it fuels me for months afterwards,” said Wood Barrett, noting that the virtual workshop is set for Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.. “It’s not just a one-time thing that helps people. It’s something that can give them ideas and inspiration and that energy to keep going.”
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The community initiatives must be free to attend, and, with the COVID-19 situation relatively under control in B.C., Mozes said in-person neighbourhood events will also be considered alongside virtual ones, provided the applicant can show their idea will work in a physically distant manner with a smaller group.
Mozes said there are “endless” possibilities to the kinds of projects that will be considered.
“Think about what would help ease social isolation and/or finding a way to share your skills and talents with somebody else,” she said.
The grants are for up to $500, and can cover basic material and labour costs, as well as an honorarium for the applicant’s time. Successful projects in other areas have included online cooking classes, a care-package delivery program for seniors, and even virtual fishing tutorials.
“A small, simple idea can be really powerful and meaningful, so just jump in. Take a chance and make the application,” urged Mozes.
Visit whistlerfoundation.com/grants to apply.