Foundation gives $75,000 to new center

November 6, 2009 by

Curtis Mansfield, left, and Gene Ganstrom, both employees of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, work Thursday to finish installing new windows in the second floor of what will be the new Neighbor to Neighbor center in downtown Concordia.  The upper floor in the 121-year-old building had only been used for storage in recent years, and the windows had been boarded up for decades.

Curtis Mansfield, left, and Gene Ganstrom, both employees of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, work Thursday to finish installing new windows in the second floor of what will be the new Neighbor to Neighbor center in downtown Concordia. The upper floor in the 121-year-old building had only been used for storage in recent years, and the windows had been boarded up for decades.

The new Neighbor to Neighbor center in downtown Concordia has received a $75,000 boost from the Sunflower Foundation — the largest one-year grant ever awarded in Cloud County by the statewide organization.

Brad Snyder, an employee of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, works on a new interior wall as part of the renovation of what will be the new Neighbor to Neighbor center. The interior of the two-story building will be completely redesigned and rebuilt by the time the center opens in February 2010.

Brad Snyder, an employee of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, works on a new interior wall as part of the renovation of what will be the new Neighbor to Neighbor center. The interior of the two-story building will be completely redesigned and rebuilt by the time the center opens in February 2010.


The one-time grant comes from the foundation’s 2009 “Finding Solutions in Challenging Times” program. The money will be used for health-related programs at the new center, scheduled to open at 103 E. Sixth St. in February.

Neighbor to Neighbor, a project of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, will offer a wide array of programs and services to women and women with young children. The three women who are the driving force behind Neighbor to Neighbor — Sisters Pat McLennon, Jean Befort and Ramona Medina — envision it as a resource and education center as well as a place to meet and connect with other women in the community.

The Sunflower Foundation grant will go toward programs that focus on exercise, nutrition and school readiness, and will help pay for start-up materials and furnishings in the building.

The “Finding Solutions” grants grew out of the foundation’s recognition of the tough economic times facing nonprofit health and human service organizations as they work to meet increasing needs among Kansans.

Sunflower received more than 100 grant applications for the “Finding Solutions” grants and awarded fewer than 50, according to Larry Tobias, the foundation’s vice president for programs.

Gene Ganstrom flips through the pages of a 1925 Buick catalog workers found behind a wall in the 1888 building at 103 E. Sixth St.

Gene Ganstrom flips through the pages of a 1925 Buick catalog workers found behind a wall in the 1888 building at 103 E. Sixth St.

Tobias noted that the Neighbor to Neighbor request “was not an exact fit” with the goal of the one-time grant program, “but we recognized the merit, and saw that this was a response to the needs identified by the community.”

Those needs were first formally identified in a survey the sisters compiled from a series of lunches with community leaders in the fall of 2008. Since then, the Sisters of St. Joseph have hosted community forums and working lunches to identify a wide range of challenges for Concordia and to help find solutions.

More than 70 individuals representing some three dozen agencies and organizations have taken part in those meetings this year.
“With this program, we were looking at (grant) requests directly linked to solutions,” Tobias added. “And that’s what we saw with Neighbor to Neighbor.”

The Topeka-based Sunflower Foundation was created in August 2000 as part of a $75 million settlement between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, the state attorney general and state insurance commissioner. The foundation’s goal is to serve the health needs of Kansans with an emphasis on programs that serve the poor, uninsured, underinsured; promote preventive health care; and support activities aimed at reducing the number of Kansans who use and are addicted to tobacco products.

In its first six years of operation, the Sunflower Foundation provided more than 500 grants worth more than $20 million.

Neighbor to Neighbor has also received $2,500 grants from the Community Foundation for Cloud County and the Orscheln Industries Foundation, as well as private contributions from more than 150 individual donors.

The skeleton of interior walls begin define the playrooms, meeting space, kitchen and other rooms in the first floor of the new center.

The skeleton of interior walls begin define the playrooms, meeting space, kitchen and other rooms in the first floor of the new center.

Comments

4 Responses to “Foundation gives $75,000 to new center”

  1. barbara tacon on November 22nd, 2009 1:55 pm

    I read with interest about your neighbour to neighbour project.it isvery like our project in NZ and is a great success. As always we are looking for donations as well. It is great Jean keeps me up with the news. I loved my timme in Concordie and hold you all in my heart
    Aroha-hui
    Barbara rsm Nz.

  2. Missy Ljungdahl on November 10th, 2009 8:51 pm

    Wow, what a great gift! This is a pretty amazing project and many will benefit from it.

  3. Norma Schlick, csj on November 6th, 2009 1:58 pm

    what a wonderful gift sent from heaven with the $75000 grant from the Kansas Foundation. God is blessing this, a great work in progress.

  4. Loretta A. Jasper, csj on November 6th, 2009 1:21 pm

    Congratulations and Stay with God! May all of the resources around us continue to provide not only verbal and physical support, but also fiscal support.

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