June 10, 2014
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Harvest Foundation is providing the Grace Network $1,500 toward its costs for a strategic planning effort.
The Pick Up the Pace (PUP) grant will help the organization pay a facilitator to lead the effort, which will involve community focus groups, according to a release from the foundation.
Kim Adkins of KEA Consulting Services will be the facilitator, Grace Network officials confirmed Monday. Adkins is Martinsville’s mayor.
The strategic planning effort will provide critical feedback about Grace Network’s work and will “enable us to modify, adapt or enhance our services to better fulfill our mission,” said Executive Director Donna Proctor.
“Ultimately,” she said, “it will enable Grace Network to serve more families in a way which enhances their self-sufficiency.”
The Grace Network, which receives funding from about 100 area religious congregations and assistance from numerous volunteers, provides to needy area residents services such as a food pantry, assistance in paying housing, heating and cooling bills, and financial mentoring, according to its website.
The organization served almost 5,000 people last year, according to board President John Collins.
Basically, it helps “those falling through the cracks” who are not eligible for government assistance, he said.
Those receiving assistance must meet strict requirements to prove they need it, Collins said.
With limited funds, “we don’t just hand out willy-nilly,” he said. “We spread it as much as we can to help as many people as possible.”
As the Grace Network approaches its 10th anniversary, Collins said, “we thought it would be the smart thing” to do some strategic planning with participants, such as the religious congregations, and make sure its work meets the community’s needs and expectations.
“I think we do a great job, and I think we’re well respected” for the work that the organization does, Proctor said. She emphasized that most of the work is done by “caring and dedicated volunteers.”
Proctor and a bookkeeper are Grace Network’s only paid employees.
She said she is optimistic the planning process will show that Grace Network has room to expand its services, such as by helping people figure out ways to resolve their financial needs, not just provide them short-term assistance.
The public is invited to participate in the focus groups, Grace Network officials and Adkins said.
Focus group meetings will be held in the courtroom of the historic former Henry County courthouse uptown (now known as the Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center and Museum) on the following occasions:
• 5:30-7 p.m. June 11
• 10-11:30 a.m. June 12
• 8-9:30 a.m. June 17, and
• 9-10:30 a.m. and 1-2:30 p.m. June 26.
Collins said he hopes the strategic planning process can be finished by this fall.
Pick Up the Pace grants are small grants intended to help fund efforts that entice people and organizations to get involved in transforming Henry County and Martinsville into a better community, according to the Harvest release.
The goal is to spark new ideas, collaboration and positive change that “will encourage everyone to ‘pick up the pace’ to make this a community of choice” where people will choose to live and work, the release stated.
“We are pleased to partner with Grace Network on this strategic planning process to reaffirm the relevancy of the organization within the community,” Nancy Cox, Harvest’s senior program officer, said in the release. “The end result will be increased community awareness, improved service delivery and a plan for sustainability.”
Cox could not be reached for further comment.
Collins said he understands Harvest was “very interested” in helping to fund the planning effort because of the Grace Network’s interest in “doing self-exploration” to help itself.
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