The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

PAWS, Food Pantry receive Montana Community Foundation Grants


March 16, 2016

PAWS volunteers

Representatives of the Montana Community Foundation were in Chinook last week to award grants to the Food Pantry and PAWS. The foundation helps more than 75 Montana communities to create permanent philanthropy and build strong communities. Since the inception of the foundation some 8,000 grants, totaling $18.6 million, have been awarded to participating communities in the state.

This year's local awards were supported by an 'endowment in perpetuity' created by Warren Ross several years ago. Ross, a south county rancher now deceased, set up the endowment to provide annual grant awards to support projects by non-profits in Blaine County. Each year Montana Community Foundation officials review grant proposals for local projects and make awards. Warren Ross established the initial endowment, while serving on the foundation's board of directors, with the hope of creating a permanent local community foundation for Blaine County.

PAWS, the local animal shelter, will use its $1,500 grant to help support spay and neutering. Laura Kleinjan, representing PAWS, accepted the grant award. She noted, PAWS spends about $4,000 per year on spay and neutering and "this grant will be a big help with that work."

Accepting a $3,000 grant for the Food Pantry were Jeanne Dalton, current director, Amelia Funk, who recently retired as director, and several active volunteers with the food distribution organization. Dalton said the grant award would be used to purchase needed food items not covered by other grants and donations from locals and the state food network.

A grant to the Missoula County weed control group will also benefit Blaine County as their work on noxious weed control is also carried out in our area. Foundation staffers explained that proceeds from a local community's endowments must be spent in the area where the endowed funds were established.

Steve Edwards

Food Pantry Volunteers.

In remarks before the presentations in Chinook, Montana Community Foundation staffers Jenifer Gursky and Jessica Stewart-Kuntz explained how the foundation works. Gursky, who works with about 75 local community foundations, said, "Many communities have established their own foundations that allow a local board of directors to make decisions about grant awards in a community." In Blaine County, where there is no local foundation with its own directors, decisions about how to spend the proceeds from the local endowment are made by the board of directors of Montana Community Foundation. She urged locals to think about forming their own foundation which would allow more direct control of how money earmarked for the county is used.

The Montana Community Foundation representatives said organizing a local community foundation, supported by local endowments, is a great way to establish a local legacy. Gursky added that Montana has some very attractive tax laws that make contributing to a local community foundation beneficial to the donor. There was interest from the group gathered for the grant presentations ceremony to pursue creation of a local foundation. Warren Ross, before his death, had tried to start a local foundation but the process was never completed.


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