Group gets Harvest grant

April 19, 2015

 The Harvest Foundation has awarded a $10,000 grant to help a community group in Sandy Level develop an after-school program for children. 

The Pick Up The Pace! grant, awarded to Concerned Citizens of Sandy Level, was announced Friday.

The citizens group is operating a fledgling program from St. John’s Baptist Church to provide youths with a safe, supervised after-school environment. 

The grant funds will be used to purchase educational supplies, such as iPads and laptop computers, as well as costs related to field trips and visits to college campuses and other expenses.

“Through this grant we will be able to provide our youth with a type of program that they currently don’t have access to in the Sandy Level area,” said program director Garrett Dillard. 

The program, which was started by the citizens group this spring, already has begun providing some services to children, giving them with a place to do homework, reading and other educational activities. It aims to empower youth to make educated choices about pursing higher education or career opportunities. Students in the after-school program will work to improve communication skills, develop strong study habits and strengthen the overall academic performance of all participants.

The program now serves about 12-15 youths from preschool through high school, and the group hopes to serve 25-30 during the summer, said Dillard. 

The group will continue to provide services a couple of days per week during the summer, Dillard said, although those plans have not been finalized. Fridays will be devoted to field trips, he said. For example, a trip has been planned June 5 to visit Virginia Tech and Radford University.

The program will work in collaboration with Henry County Public Schools to provide students with healthy snacks during the after-school program and lunches during the summer. 

Books have been collected for a library, which will be housed in the church. The group hopes to have it functioning in the summer, according to Dillard.

The organization does not intend to charge fees other than minimal fees associated with trips, such as to cover the costs of lunch, admission tickets to museums or other sites. It is relying on volunteers, although the grant will allow for some paid staff for a few months, according to Dillard. 

The group is seeking other grant funds and will conduct fund-raising activities, too, he said. It also is accepting donations of money, volunteer time and other resources.

“We are extremely excited to get the program off the ground,” said Dillard. “We will provide our students with every available resource, so in the future they will be able to make educated choices about attending college or entering the work force.” 

The Pick Up the Pace! small grants program is designed to engage more people and organizations in the transformation of Martinsville and Henry County, The Harvest Foundation said in a release. The goal is to encourage everyone to “pick up the pace” to make this a “community of choice,” according to a release from Harvest.

The Harvest Foundation, established from the sale of the Memorial Hospital of Martinsville & Henry County in 2002, researches and invests in programs and initiatives to address local challenges in health, education and community vitality. 


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