VALPARAISO | No one went home empty-handed Wednesday after the Impact Porter County membership dinner.
Impact Porter County, the women's giving circle of the Porter County Community Foundation, awarded grants to four local nonprofits. Project Neighbors and Jacob's Ladder each took home a $25,000 grant. The Boys & Girls Club of Porter County and Dayspring Women's Center each took home $2,500 grants.
Since Impact Porter County began awarding grants in 2007, the group has awarded more than $300,000 to local nonprofits and raised more than $500,000 for its endowment funds.
"We are fast approaching the million-dollar mark," said Barb Young, president of the Porter County Community Foundation. "You ladies are doing amazing, amazing things."
This year is the first year two organizations have received high-impact grants. Jacob's Ladder will use its grant to launch a respite program for the parents of the special needs children the nonprofit serves. The program will offer the parents of these children one day a month for themselves while Jacob's Ladder takes the children for the day.
"These kids have to be watched every minute they're awake," said Mariann Frigo, executive director of Jacob's Ladder. "These supermoms are running on four hours or less of sleep a night."
Project Neighbors will use its grant to finish remodeling what used to be HealthLink clinic. By the end of the project, the old clinic will be transformed into an 18-unit apartment building for homeless, single women. The rent on the apartments will be between $400 and $450 a month for two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments.
"I think there's some merit to people paying for what they get," said Paul Schreiner, executive director of Project Neighbors. "They'll take care of it."
The Boys & Girls Club will put its grant money toward a new teen center at its Portage location. The Dayspring Women's Center will use its money to expand its operation by training more volunteers and working to move its part-time case worker to full time.
Each year, the women of Impact Porter County vote on which nonprofit receives the grant. This year was the closest race yet, according to Kathleen Walsh, grant committee chairwoman.
Porter County Foundation community resource director Carol Costakis said, "I think generally they want to see the groups that (can be helped the most)."