Neighbours in Whistler are being encouraged to connect using a small-grants program, which is offering up to $500 for community members who plan events for their surrounding area.
The grants are being made available by the not-for-profit Community Foundation of Whistler (CFOW) through its Neighbourhood Small Grants program. Previously, the program was operated by The Whistler Centre for Sustainability.
"Research has shown that people who feel connected through others and feel like they have a support system in place, who have a strong sense of belonging, those people are physically and mentally healthier," said Carol Coffey, executive director at the CFOW.
"But (the Neighbourhood Small Grants program) is also about the entire community, so the resiliency of the community and people are helping each other out, people are connected, people have pride in their community and they participate more. The community is then better able to adapt to change or cope with difficult times."
Coffey explained that the focus of the program is to connect people, which doesn't require large projects. Simple events such as film nights, yoga at sunrise, art shows and any other experiences to bring neighbours together are the types of activities the grants are available for. Those who are looking for funding over $500 should look at other programs.
"What we are finding is that people don't actually need a lot of money in order to create these projects," said Coffey.
"We are hoping to give out about eight to 10 grants ... but not all people ask for the full amount ($500), so if that is the case we can give out more grants."
There might also be more funding available for this program as Coffey is applying to the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) for a community enrichment grant to support it.
Whistler residents can apply online for a grant before April 9, 2019 at http://neighbourhoodsmallgrants.ca/. All applications will be considered by the Neighbourhood Grant Committee, which is made up of local volunteers.
Once an applicant has been granted the money, they are required to keep track of expenses, retain their receipts and report back to the CFOW. As well, neighbourhoods are also asked to share their stories of the event.
"We are trying to make it easy for people to get these grants and make it fun," said Coffey.
"There will be a wrap-up celebration in the fall. Project participants can come together and share their stories and just celebrate."
This year the CFOW has partnered with the Vancouver Foundation, a member of the Community Foundations of Canada, which has been running its own Neighbourhood Small Grants program for 20 years.
The Vancouver Foundation will be matching the funds that the CFOW puts in.
The CFOW has made a three-year commitment to support the Neighbourhood Small Grants program.