Sewickley Valley Community Fund awarded record $40K in grants during pandemic

The Sewickley Valley Community Fund awarded a record number of grants this year to local organizations in need during the coronavirus pandemic and is now trying to raise funds to continue its work.

John Poister, secretary for the SVCF, said the nonprofit was able to award more than $40,000 to four organizations in the area.

“We are blessed to be living in this wonderful community and in some instances, we may not always see or know that some of our neighbors are struggling”, said Mark Gensheimer, SVCF’s board president. “Our valley has a number of community service organizations that moved to fill the gap when the pandemic hit. With demand for services reaching all-time highs, many of these organizations turned to SVCF to provide important emergency funding.”

One of the organizations that received a grant was Sweetwater Center for the Arts. Barb Pontello, chair of Sweetwater’s board of directors, said the $2,500 boost helped in many ways and called the grant a God-send.

“We stretched it as far as we could,” she said, adding the organization bought cleaning supplies, hand sanitizing units that hang on the walls and various art supplies.

Pontello said Sweetwater had to lay off its part-time staff and one full-time staff member at the end of March. But the staff was brought back once it received an approximately $30,000 loan from the federal CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program.

She said the monies received helped keep the facility open and operate under proper health guidelines. The facility has not closed through the pandemic, but operates under reduced hours.

Other organizations that received grants from the SVCF were the Union Aid Society, the Sewickley Community Center’s food pantry and the Sewickley YMCA.

Gensheimer said he hopes residents in the area will consider contributing to the fund, which is now seeking donations through an appeal letter.

“Our goal is to continue to provide support to the many organizations that provide services and work to insure that our area remains a special place to live and work,” he said.

SVCF has been around for 21 years and has provided matching grants in the 11 communities that make up the Quaker Valley School District.

For more information, visit www.sewickleyvcf.org.

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