Originally published by The Chronicle Online
Two very large checks went out to the Amani Center in St. Helens and Columbia Pacific Food Bank this month.
Each Columbia County organization got money from Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) as part of their Community Wellness Investment Fund (CWIF) grant program. The non-profit works to provide Oregon Health Plan members care across Columbia, Tillamook and Clatsop Counties, according to a news release from Columbia Pacific CCO.
Applicants were asked to show how their own non-profits work together to use the awarded funds in their own communities.
“Every bit helps,” said Casey Wheeler, executive director at Columbia Pacific Food Bank.
The food bank will put their $15,000 toward a $100,000 payment on getting a refrigerated food truck. Wheeler said that they have raised at least $40,000 on their own and worked to find additional funding elsewhere.
“It’s extremely helpful,” Wheeler said. “It’s going to mean that we’re going to be able to distribute more food throughout the county.”
The food bank received part of a one-time funding grant, while the Amani Center will receive around another portion of their grant next year.
Amani Center Executive Director Cassy Miller said they received about $13,600 so far to help increase hours for their on-site medical examiner.
The Amani Center helps provide support for children in Columbia County who may have experienced forms of child abuse or neglect. But an increased need has put a strain on their current staffing hours.
Right now, the medical examiner works two days a week. Now they’ll be able to add an additional eight hours, which helps families avoid hospital emergency room visits when they have nowhere else to turn in a crisis.
“I think that the CCO has recognized that and has done everything they can to support our mission to intervene in child abuse,” Miller said.
Miller credits her own staff for coming together to write up and suggest the need for the CWIF grant.
The grant has three high-level areas of focus for improving health at the community level, which includes decreasing obesity rates, improving mental health and combating substance abuse, said Nancy Knopf, community health partnership manager at Columbia Pacific CCO.
The maximum amount any non-profit could receive is $15,000 a year. They also have sponsorship grants, which start at $1,500.
“We’ve had some great outcomes,” Knopf said. “We’re just really excited to be a partner in Columbia County.”