Cpl. Kathy Rochlitz of the West Shore RCMP oversees a scrabble game at the Juan de Fuca seniors' centre between Norene Ritchot (left)

Community grant program has measurable impact

West Shore RCMP contributes to area it serves

The deadline to apply for the RCMP’s twice-yearly community grant is fast approaching.

Organized by the Community Policing Advisory Committee, the grants program provides local groups with up to $500 for projects or initiatives focused on public health and safety, prevention of drug and alcohol use, reducing crime and supporting youth, senior or at-risk populations.

Since the program was established in 2011, 23 grants worth about $8,000 have been awarded to a diverse range of groups in the community, says West Shore Cpl. Kathy Rochlitz, a committee member.

“We’ve given money towards the purchase of sporting equipment, healthy snacks for a Friday night teen drop-in, purchasing safety equipment for skateboarding teams, supplies for a grief support group for youth and started a gardening group at one of the schools,” she says.

Amy Cooper, the school age and youth programmer for West Shore Parks and Recreation, applied to the program for their teen drop-in night, not realizing the small grant would have a long-lasting impact.

“We realized there were kids coming who were hungry,” she says.

Having food available also brought in some kids who may not have otherwise come, Cooper adds. The event quickly grew, with leaders teaching the teens how to cook healthy meals and even how to grocery shop and budget for food. Though the original grant money has long been used up, she says cooking classes are still held at least once a month.

“It made us realize there was a need and now we make that part of our program.”

The grant program also made quite an impact at the Juan de Fuca 55-Plus Activity Centre, which received a grant to purchase board games for a new games day on Saturdays.

“For a lot of our members, this is their only social outlet and weekends can get very lonely,” says Ruth Reynolds, past-president of the centre.

“(The grant) gave it a really good kick start,” adds Norene Ritchot, entertainment chair. “We were able to serve lunch and it definitely brought them in to start with.”

The games day was so successful, that now, two years later, there are at least two games days a month. Ritchot says she doesn’t even have to be there anymore. “(The members have) really taken ownership of it.”

Rochlitz says the committee tries to “spread the wealth” around the community as much as possible and has tried to make the application process simple. “We want this to be easy and accessible,” she says. Projects designed to meet a specific need in a school or community are more likely to be accepted than large, non-specific applications.

The application deadline is Sept. 26. Forms can be picked up at the West Shore RCMP detachment, 698 Atkins Ave. For more information, contact View Royal Coun. Heidi Rast at hrast@telus.net.

acowan@goldstreamgazette.com