Community grants to help address Merced’s health needs

aibarra@mercedsunstar.comJuly 13, 2014 

Mercy Medical Center is working on awarding $115,000 in community grants to projects that try to improve the health of Merced residents.

Every three years, Dignity Health, the hospital’s parent company, conducts a health needs assessment in which it prioritizes a community’s needs.

The grant program awards funding to nonprofit organizations that partner together and develop proposals to respond to the priorities identified in the health assessment. The proposals that receive funding are expected to provide services to underserved populations in the community.

According to Janice Wilkerson, the director of mission integration and grant representative, the last assessment was conducted in 2012. The evaluation identified several areas of need, including access to health services; resources for managing diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer; and education on mental health and mental disorders.

Grant applicants with proposals addressing any of these areas will be given strong consideration, Wilkerson said.

While there is no set number of grant recipients, Wilkerson said proposals are typically dwindled down to five or six. This year’s letters of intent are due Friday. Applicants will be notified by July 28 if they have been selected to present a full grant proposal.

Last year, a total of $118,000 was awarded to local organizations. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Merced County, Girl Scouts Heart of Central California, Atwater Police Activities League, JMJ Maternity Homes, Love INC of Greater Merced, National Alliance on Mental Illness and Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program were last year’s recipients.

Project ideas from the past include summer youth programs that promoted physical activity, as well as family nutrition workshops that educated families on healthier eating. Some projects target specific groups, such as the Project Prevention Coalition, which promoted hepatitis B education within the Hmong community.

Wilkerson said the Dignity Health Community Grants Program allows the hospital to fulfill its mission of partnering with others to improve the health of the community.

“This is a way for us to give back to organizations that work extremely hard and rely heavily on volunteers,” Wilkerson said, “but also address those areas of need here in Merced County.”

To apply for a community health grant, organization representatives can visit www.dignityhealth.org.

Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or aibarra @mercedsunstar.com.

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