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South County nonprofits win funding
By Chris Barnett / August 23, 2017 /   Loading Disqus...

Seven South County nonprofits have won grants through the Rhode Island Foundation’s Community Grants program. The funding will support work ranging from creating performance spaces to keeping senior citizens healthy.

“These grants will create places to gather, build relationships and launch new collaborations that will make community connections stronger all over Rhode Island,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation.

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Friends of Canonchet Farm received $6,000 to install interpretive signs along the Canonchet Nature Trail in partnership with the Town of Narragansett and the University of Rhode Island.

“The signs will educate visitors who wish to explore and learn about the culture, history and scientific aspects of the property,” said Thomas Hoagland, vice president.

One sign will be installed at a 40-foot section of colonial-era stone wall that was cleared of invasive plants by volunteers in 2016. The sign will describe the process of removing invasive plants, how the plant material was re-cycled as natural shelter for small animals and the historical significance of the stone walls.

The second sign will be located at a woodland fresh water wetland section of the trail and illustrate the importance of this habitat for the life-cycle of native plants and animals.

Friends of Canonchet Farm is a volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining and improving the lakesides and trails of Canonchet Farm by removing invasive plants and restoring the natural diversity on the property.

Friends of the Hopkinton Land Trust received $5,100 to build a permanent stage for community performances in Depot Square Park on Mechanic Street. The organization supports the mission of the Hopkinton Land Trust through trailblazing and maintenance, publicity, fundraising, education and grant writing.

“Our town is a rural aggregate of farm land, old mill villages, homes and small businesses tucked into 44 square miles of land on which 8,200 people live. Community here involves gathering together to work, enjoy down-time and to find meaning in shared experiences like music and theater,” said Christine Anderson, president.

The Land Conservancy of North Kingstown received $10,000 to restore a historic walking path in Wickford Village. The path traverses the Lower Mill Cove salt marsh, connecting Wilson Park, the town boat launch and nearby neighborhoods with the Conservancy’s Bush Hill Preserve and historic Wickford Village.

“A culvert in the earthen causeway built in the 1700s by farmers to connect their pastures and woods collapsed about 20 years ago, severing this tie among the community. Our work will once again make this historic pathway accessible for all to use and enjoy,” said Gidget Loomis, project co-leader.

“This is a community project, designed to bring together many groups and people. With the town's blessing, we applied for and received this grant, and we welcome help from organizations, professional services, individual volunteers and donations. As a tax-exempt 501(c)(3), our mission is to preserve the natural and scenic character of our community for present and future generations,” said Donna Hutchinson, project co-leader.

The Memorial and Library Association of Westerly received $7,690 to install 10 interpretive signs and an informational kiosk in Wilcox Park.

“This project will vastly aid the visiting public in learning about the culture, history and environmental aspects of Wilcox Park and the Westerly Library,” said Alan Peck, Wilcox Park superintendent.

The signs will highlight the 1911 Comfort Station, the 1902 Bandstand and the 1892 Library as well as the park’s environmental features, pond ecology, the rain garden and native plants. The 10’x4’ wooden kiosk will include more information, including promotional material for library and park events.

“We will strengthen the community and enrich lives by stimulating intellect and sparking imagination through access to literature, information, nature, and the arts. The wide range of free activities that are offered to the public will attract people with an equally wide range of interests,” said Peck. 

The Town of Narragansett received $9,000 for landscaping and irrigation enhancements at Kinney Bungalow in partnership with Sunset Farm, the Narragansett Land Conservancy Trust and the Narragansett Parks Department.

“We will extend the privet hedge, provide a new irrigation system and plant trees and ornamental shrubs to enhance the grounds of this majestic building,” said Steve Wright, director of Parks and Recreation.

Kinney Bungalow was built in 1899 by Francis S. Kinney, a tobacco and real estate millionaire, in order to host parties, especially following polo matches. In 1991, the Town acquired the property, which is a popular spot for weddings and other events.

The South Kingstown Senior Center received $2,350 to purchase exercise equipment, including exercise mats, hand weights, Pilates stability balls and yoga blocks, exercise straps and meditation cushions.

“For decades South Kingstown seniors, who have attended the Center, have come together in support of one another and their attempts to remain healthy and independent while leading purposeful, involved lives,” said Terry Murphy, director of Leisure Services.

“A community of older adults, with similar goals of maintaining physical and mental wellbeing, continues to grow and evolve in our town. It is a testament to this population’s enthusiasm towards being open-minded, adventurous and health conscious, in order to enjoy life to its fullest regardless of age,” she said.

The Watch Hill Conservancy received $9,400 to install educational signage designed to protect the ecologically fragile Napatree Point Conservation Area (NTPCA) from the wear and tear of having upwards of 1,000 visitors a day.

“The challenges include keeping visitors from trampling the dune grass vegetation and wandering into closed bird-nesting areas. The signs will ensure visitors know the right things to do to keep Napatree unspoiled,” said Grant G. Simmons III, vice president.

The new signs will be installed at the main entrance to the NTPCA and the public visitor’s center at the newly restored Lanphear Livery, now called One Bay Street Center. The work will be done in partnership with the University of Rhode Island.

“The signage will help us manage the heavy visitor traffic in a way that does not disturb wildlife, habitats and the dynamic geological processes that maintain this barrier ecosystem,” he said.

Designated a "Globally Important Bird Area" by the National Audubon Society, Napatree is home to many species of federally and state-listed endangered species, including Piping Plovers, Least Terns, Osprey, and American Oystercatchers.

“Napatree is an all-season destination for many reasons. The barrier dunes, ocean beach, Little Narragansett Bay and rich birdlife are uniquely pristine. Napatree is a place where families can enjoy the sea, naturalists can view the wildlife and children can develop a natural history and a respect for nature,” he said.

The Foundation received nearly 130 applications for Community Grants. Work on most of the projects that received funding is expected to be underway before the end of the year.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2016, the Foundation awarded a record $45 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.

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