Thursday, August 25, 2011

Local High School Students Make Big Decisions and Change the Future of One Local Nonprofit Organization

Foundation for Roanoke Valley’s Youth Leadership Committee (YLC) announced today that it has awarded a $25,000 grant to Katie’s Place for Persons with Special Needs located in Blue Ridge, VA.  

Five years ago a volunteer group of parents came together to form Katie’s Place, a residential farm community for individuals with special needs.  The mission of Katie’s Place is to improve the quality of life for people with special needs by providing them with opportunities to pursue the rewards of self-satisfaction, growth, and community in a rural, farm-like setting.  To date, Katie’s Place has been serving individuals of all ages by providing respite weekends twice a month.  Now, with the assistance received from the YLC, Katie’s Place can begin its day support program which is designed to enrich the lives of special needs adults and create an inclusive environment.   

“Day support in this rural area is very much needed, “ said Amy Baker, Director of Katie’s Place.  “Our focus is to provide services to those who have finished high school but are unable to continue to higher education or transition into the mainstream work place.”

This grant will provide scholarship assistance for 5-8 individuals (based on the individual’s level of care to be determined by Katie’s Place staff), transportation costs, and staffing needs.  The day support program will include options to attend five days, three days, or two days per week giving parents and caregivers the opportunity to work outside the home or tend to other responsibilities.  Joy Parrish, Co-President of Katie’s Place added, “Because of this grant, Katie’s Place will be able to begin providing services much sooner than we otherwise would have been possible.”  

The YLC received twenty-four (24) grant requests totaling over $617,000, and were charged with the very tough task gaining consensus among the group on a single project to fund.  “I am so impressed with the YLC’s ability to understand the plight of their disabled peers.  They showed great compassion and maturity in arriving at this decision,” said Parrish. 

The Philanthropy Project was established in 2006 by Foundation for Roanoke Valley to introduce high school students to the world of philanthropy, both in terms of philanthropy’s role in being a productive citizen of the community and philanthropy as a possible career option.  The program also develops leadership and consensus-building skills.  This large impact grant has taken the YLC over the $100,000 level in cumulative grants.  For more information about the Youth Leadership Committee and how to get involved, please visit         ###

Foundation Partners with Erie Insurance on Child Safety Grant

Foundation for Roanoke Valley announced today that it has awarded a $2,500 grant from its Community Catalyst Funds to the Child Health Investment Partnership (CHIP) of Roanoke Valley for the agency’s comprehensive child safety program.  The grant will enable CHIP to purchase and provide to its many families and children such items as infant and child car seats and child bike helmets, as well as safety gates, socket plugs, cabinet locks and other safety items for the home.

The Foundation’s grant was made possible through a partnership with Erie Insurance, a Fortune 500 corporation headquartered in Erie, Pennsylvania.  Erie Insurance was established in 1925 and has grown to become a multi-line insurance company offering home, auto, business and life insurance through branches in 11 states and the District of Columbia.  This year, Erie made the corporate decision to leverage its charitable giving by connecting its many locations with the community foundations in its corporate footprint.

Mark Banks, Vice President and Branch Manager of the Erie Insurance Virginia operations, joined the Foundation in presenting the grant check to Robin Haldiman, CHIP’s CEO.  Banks noted “We are excited about this new partnership with the Foundation and look forward to the relationship growing in the years ahead.  Our employees are passionate about helping children in this community, and given Erie’s long commitment to safety, this grant to CHIP represents a perfect match for us.”

Haldiman added:  “Every year, 14 million children are injured enough to require medical treatment, and 90% of those injuries occur in the home.  Unfortunately, home and child safety supplies are some of the most expensive to purchase and are very rarely donated to CHIP, so while we always address home and child safety issues during home visits with our clients, it is not always possible to provide families with the items they need.  This grant from the Foundation through Erie Insurance is a wonderful resource that will help us ensure the safety of CHIP children.”

Foundation for Roanoke Valley is the community foundation serving this region.  The Foundation has worked for more than two decades to administer and make grants from hundreds of funds on behalf of the community. For more information, visit Foundation for Roanoke Valley’s website at

Foundation for Roanoke Valley Purchases Floating Beach Wheelchair for the Community

Foundation for Roanoke Valley announced today that it has awarded a $2,150 grant from its Community Catalyst Funds to Blue Ridge Independent Living Center (BRILC) for the purchase of a “Mobi-Chair,” which is a floating beach wheelchair.

According to the chair’s maker Deschamps, the Mobi-Chair is a “high-quality, amphibious rolling beach chair that provides a seamless transition from boardwalk-to beach-to water.”  It is designed for wheelchair users, people with special needs and children, is convenient, portable and comfortable, and provides easy mobility through sand.

Alan Ronk, the Foundation’s Executive Director, noted:  “In doing online research for a donor on another project, I came across a video for the Mobi-Chair and was immediately struck by its design and purpose – to enable adults or children who have mobility impairments or special needs to have the same experiences at the beach as the rest of the family.  This chair can provide the very first opportunity for someone to play in the ocean or lake water, rather than always having to be a spectator.”

Ronk added:  “In looking for a grantee partner, it was a natural fit for the Foundation to select the Blue Ridge Independent Living Center.  The Center’s longstanding mission is to assist people with disabilities to live independently, and the folks there provide terrific and vital services to many families throughout our region.”

Karen Michalski-Karney, BRILC’s Executive Director, said:  “The Mobi-Chair brings a wonderful new resource to our agency.  One of my staff has already notified a family we serve, and they are very excited that their daughter may finally get to go into the water on their annual beach trip.  We expect to see that excitement play out with lots of families over the coming years.”   

Families interested in using the chair should contact BRILC at 540-342-1231 (v/tty) for further information, eligibility and availability.  It is important to note that although the Mobi-Chair floats, it is not a boat.  The sitting position is stable, and users should not slip out under normal conditions of use.  However, for safety reasons, a life jacket is still required for non-swimmers (and may be required by law), and the chair is not intended for areas with currents or strong waves.

Foundation for Roanoke Valley is the community foundation serving this region.  The Foundation has worked for more than two decades to administer and make grants from hundreds of named endowment funds on behalf of the community.  For more information, visit Foundation for Roanoke Valley’s website at or call 985-0204. # # #

Vinton War Memorial Dedication is Held

"High Ground", the Vinton-Roanoke County Veteran's Monument was dedicated June 14, 2011 in a ceremony that gave Veteran's and their families an opportunity to honor loved ones that sacrificed their lives for this Country. A grant from the Melva P. Jones Fund for Music and Art was awarded to the Vinton Vision Committee in 2009 to help construct this beautiful Monument. Thanks to all those involved in making this happen and to those Veteran's who have served and who continue to serve this Country.

The Voice Has Spoken!

The Voice has spoken - Voice of the Blue Ridge to be exact.  Foundation for Roanoke Valley announced today that the agency has won the Foundation’s second “Project Make-A-Difference.” Project Make-A-Difference is a “crowd-powered philanthropy” grants initiative of the community foundation that spotlights two local nonprofit organizations and their needs and invites citizens to take an active role in making a difference by casting votes on the Foundation’s website.

In a fiercely competitive contest that saw numerous lead changes throughout the month of May, Voice of the Blue Ridge eked out the win at the bell over the Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline Council.  The total votes from throughout the country were staggering, with over 6 million votes cast between the two organizations, as compared to just under 1 million total votes in the Foundation’s inaugural contest in February.  The final percentages were 50.6 % of the vote for Voice of the Blue Ridge to 49.4% for the Girl Scouts. 

Voice of the Blue Ridge provides numerous services to meet the needs of the blind and visually impaired, with a special focus on accessibility to the printed word, audio aids and technical communication aspects.  The agency will receive a Foundation grant of $1,000 to assist Adaptive Technology Center students, many of whom are elderly or on fixed incomes, with transportation to and from the Center.  The Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline Council was seeking support for its “camperships” program that enables girls from low-to-moderate income families to attend summer camp, something which might otherwise be inaccessible to them.  Such summer camp experiences help these girls acquire self-confidence and positive decision-making skills. Foundation for Roanoke Valley encourages the community to get to know both organizations and the good work they do.  

The Foundation selects two local nonprofit organizations for the grants contest quarterly.  The organizations are profiled on the Foundation’s website, and voting lasts one month.  The winning organization receives a $1,000 grant.  The Foundation has sole responsibility for final determination of the winning grant. Qualified charitable organizations in the cities of Roanoke and Salem and the counties of Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig, Franklin and Roanoke are eligible to participate.  To be considered for August, an organization must complete and return the Project Make-A-Difference application by June 30, 2011.  Visit for more information.

Foundation for Roanoke Valley Announces Holland Scholar Award

The Foundation is pleased to announce Mr. William J. Gooding as this year's Holland Scholar and recipient of a $16,000 scholarship.  The Holland Scholar Award, the Foundation's largest scholarship, is made possible through a generous bequest from the estate of Ethel Snidow Holland.  The process started with over 70 applicants, and of that number, 10 outstanding young men and women were selected for a personal interview, making the decision very difficult!

William is a senior at Hidden Valley High School and the Roanoke Valley Governors School for Science and Technology.  He is ranked at the top of his class and has participated in many activities throughout his high school career and plans to attend Washington University in St. Louis with the goal of obtaining a PhD.