Mercy Medical Center awards $124K in grants to Merced-area programs

12/18/2013 8:09 PM

12/19/2013 9:19 AM

Six community organizations have received $124,287 from Mercy Medical Center Merced and its parent company, Dignity Health, to continue their outreach programs, particularly those focusing on health and wellness.

Grants have been given to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Merced, the Atwater Police Activities League, JMJ Maternity Homes, Love Inc. of Greater Merced, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program.

“I’m pleased that Mercy Medical Center is able to provide this much-needed funding to local groups in Merced County,” David Dunham, hospital president, said. “This year’s funding is focused on supporting local nonprofits that facilitate more coordinated and integrated care by partnering with local hospitals and other nonprofits.”

The obesity program received $50,000 to change the environment within lower-income groups and assist smaller rural and unincorporated communities, Claudia Corchado, program manager, said.

The group will be focusing on joint use of school sites for physical or play activities for all ages, Corchado said. Winton residents, for example, do not have access to a gymnasium. This follows a successful public use program implemented about a year and a half ago at Farmdale Elementary School in Merced.

The Boys and Girls Club received $35,000 to address issues of obesity and physical fitness through its Healthy Habits program in south Merced. It will expand that program this year to Planada and Beachwood-Franklin areas.

Tony Slaton, Boys and Girls Club executive director, said the money from the hospital will expand efforts already under way, primarily in the summer months. At the heart of everything they do, the club tries to provide a safe place for youth to learn and grow and make good decisions in their lives and what they eat, he added.

The Atwater Police Activities League is receiving $14,284, which will enable it to expand its program from Monday, Wednesday and Fridays to Monday through Friday, said Joe Hoffar, PAL executive director.

The PAL provides programs for boys and girls from 8 to 18 years of age. Atwater PAL will use the grant money to provide a safe haven for youths and a place where they can be physically active. While safety is a prime focus, they have incorporated promotion of good health through physical activity and nutrition education to combat childhood obesity.

JMJ Maternity Homes will receive $10,000. It provides shelter and services to homeless pregnant women, helping 50 women since it was founded six years ago.

Love Inc. will receive $5,000, which it will use in its Love Plus program next year. Upcoming workshops will cover financial management, a health-nutrition component, family life, vocational preparation and community stewardship, said Sherry Macias, Love Inc. executive director.

The mental illness alliance will receive $10,000 from the hospital to do outreach not possible before, said Mary Hofmann, the group’s past president. The group will be able to gain visibility for its efforts by placing fliers and information in hospitals and medical offices.

The grant from the hospital will help NAMI with its nine programs and pay for training for its all-volunteer staff, Hofmann said. The hospital’s first grant to the group five years ago was invaluable in expanding the program, she added.

Janice Wilkerson, mission integration director for Mercy Medical Center, said the grants are part of the hospital commitment to the community to advocate for the underserved and help improve the quality of life for residents.

Dignity Health’s community grants program is funded through donations from its member hospitals, which contribute a percentage equal to the previous year’s audited expenses. Grant awards typically range from $5,000 to $50,000, said Robert McLaughlin, hospital marketing director.

Since 1990, Dignity Health has awarded nearly $47 million through grants to local nonprofit organizations.

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