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Funding Provided: Columbia Pacific CCO Awards $363,524 To Nonprofits In Columbia Count

Columbia Pacific CCO announced that in 2023, it approved $721,229 in grant funding to be awarded to more than a dozen nonprofit, community-based organizations in Columbia, Clatsop, and Tillamook counties. Of that, $363,524 was awarded to nonprofits serving Columbia County.

The grants will support programs and initiatives that align with the community-identified priorities of Columbia Pacific’s 2020-2024 Regional Health Improvement Plan. The priorities include community resilience and trauma-informed care, chronic disease prevention, and access to primary care, behavioral health care, and social-safety-net programs addressing food insecurity and other local challenges.

“Since the start of our current Regional Health Improvement Plan, Columbia Pacific has invested millions in the plan’s focus areas to improve the health of our members and the wider communities we serve,” director of community health partnerships Nancy Knopf said. “We are honored to be able to listen to community voices and act on what our communities have told us they need most.”

The largest grant ($201,024) was awarded to Amani Center in St. Helens, where children who are or may be victims of abuse, neglect, or witness to violence receive forensic evaluations and support services in a child-friendly, developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed setting.

Amani Center will use the funding to start a mental health program providing trauma-focused therapeutic interventions, counseling, case management, expert witness and court testimony for crime-impacted children, and coordination with investigative partners. Program staff will include bilingual mental health providers and victim-advocate community health workers.

“The launch of our Child Advocacy Mental Health Services program will more than double the availability of trauma-focused therapeutic interventions in our community,” Amani Center Executive Director Amelia Kercher said.

“Using evidence-based intervention models, we can help children and families heal and go on to lead healthier lives,” she added. “The program will help families get timely access to services and, being integrated with our assessment team, reduce the burden on children and caregivers to navigate multiple systems or tell their story multiple times.”

Columbia Pacific also awarded grants (totaling $102,500) to Columbia Pacific Food Bank in St. Helens, Turning Point Community Service Center in Clatskanie, and HOPE of Rainier, organizations that play a vital role in addressing food insecurity in the geographically diverse and relatively isolated communities of Columbia County.

• Columbia Pacific Food Bank plans to use its $36,250 grant to provide greater access to and delivery of fresh produce to organizations serving low-income residents. The regional food bank distributes more than 16 tons of food weekly through its community partners, including food pantries, community meal programs, senior centers, children’s programs, and domestic violence centers.

• Turning Point plans to use its $36,250 capacity-building grant to meet the higher demand for food assistance among children and families in Clatskanie. The grant will fund food boxes, fresh produce, and food-filled weekend backpacks for students at local schools, as well as the purchase of a larger cooler/freezer for food storage.

• HOPE of Rainier plans to use its $30,000 grant to serve the growing number of community members struggling to feed their families. In addition to distributing food boxes, the organization will partner with the local school district to provide students with backpacks containing snacks and breakfast food, helping to fill a gap during weekends and summer breaks when school meals are not available.

Columbia Pacific also awarded:

• A $25,000 grant to EngAGE Northwest, which partners with affordable housing developers to provide residents with free onsite arts, wellness, lifelong learning, and intergenerational programs. The organization plans to use the funding to enhance the services it provides to residents of Broadleaf Arbor, an affordable housing community in St. Helens.

• A $25,000 grant to Riverside Community Outreach of St. Helens, which serves vulnerable children and supports families impacted by foster care in Columbia, Clatsop, and Tillamook counties. The organization plans to use the funding to enhance its Fostering Success program. The outreach program focuses on keeping families intact, supporting the recruitment and retention of foster parents, reunifying families, and helping fill financial gaps for foster parents.

• A $10,000 grant to Community Meals of Columbia County, a volunteer-run program that serves free meals out of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in St. Helens. The program paused its meal service for nearly three years during the pandemic. The grant will help it build back to serving more than 125 meals every Tuesday.

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