By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Applications are being accepted for grants to benefit programs that focus on providing for the general care of and assistance to children who are in special need.
But the Sept. 15 deadline is fast approaching for St. Vincent Center Home Corporation grants, said Kent Ferris, director of social action for the Diocese of Davenport who oversees the corporation’s board.
St. Vincent Home once served as an orphanage. After it closed, the board changed its focus to child care efforts and broadened its services.
Hand in Hand in Bettendorf, which serves individuals with special needs, has benefited for many years from grants received. “Our mission at Hand in Hand and St. Vincent Home Corporation’s mission match. We serve children with disabilities and their families,” said Mark Smith, Hand in Hand’s CEO. Grants have helped Hand in Hand start many programs and to offer a variety of activities over the years, Smith said.
One grant helped fund a special needs expo where information is shared with families about various resources. Another grant helped start an adaptive camp at Camp Abe Lincoln. “It started with one week and 40 individuals.”
Through the years, Hand in Hand has grown to offer year-round programs that create “fun, inclusive learning and recreational opportunities for children and young adults, which give their primary caregivers respite from their caregiving duties,” Smith said. Hand in Hand has served more than 800 individuals in its 20 years.
More recent grants have helped fund other adaptive programs, summer field trips and an inner-city partnership with the YMCA. “Our kids require extra help with lower ratios for children to adults,” Smith said. On average in the state the ratio is one adult for every 15 children. At Hand in Hand that ration is 1:2 or 1:3. “We have a high level of care.”
Smith started Hand in Hand when his son with special needs was 10. “He is now 30…. The organization doesn’t just benefit children, it supports families.”
As in past years, Smith plans to submit an application this year. “We could not have achieved all we have done without help from St. Vincent Home Corporation.”
St. Vincent Home Corporation grants do not fund staff salaries. Funds are allocated on a non-denominational basis and will not be distributed to government agencies. Projects or activities for which funding is requested must conform to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. Eligibility for grants requires organizations that work with children to document their efforts to perform background checks of employees and volunteers who work or have direct contact with children.
For more information on St. Vincent Home grants or to get an application visit https://www.davenportdiocese.org/st-vincents-home.