Food Pantry, Riding Center Earn Community Needs Grants

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A volunteer assists a client in the Grove Christian Outreach Center's food pantry Nov. 24. (Photo courtesy of Grove Christian Outreach Center)
A volunteer assists a client in the Grove Christian Outreach Center’s food pantry Nov. 24. (Photo courtesy of Grove Christian Outreach Center)

Two James City County organizations will receive awards from Dominion Resources’ first Critical Community Needs grant program.

The Grove Christian Outreach Center earned a $20,000 grant to go toward its food access program while Toano-based Dream Catchers at the Cori Sikich Therapeutic Riding Center received a $4,000 award.

In an email to WYDaily, Dominion spokeswoman Daisy Pridgen wrote the Critical Community Needs program was launched this year to support “programs and projects that address urgent and pressing needs.”

A total of 119 organizations from 12 states shared $1 million in grants from this year’s program.

Pridgen wrote two of the 16 Historic Triangle organizations that applied for grants received awards.

“Both organizations were selected because of their demonstrated ability to serve their communities, and it’s a perfect fit for the intentions of the grant program – and that’s to help feed, shelter and care for people in need,” Pridgen wrote.

Pat McCormick, the executive director of the Grove Christian Outreach Center, said the food access program was “very, very small” when the center opened in 2000. Last year, McCormick said the program received 415,000 pounds of food to distribute to 1,685 individuals visiting the food pantry.

“We’ve gone from going out and buying food at grocery stores to becoming members of the food bank,” McCormick said.

She said the $20,000 award from Dominion is timely because changing funding priorities have reduced the amount of money the center has received in grants over the past few years.

“I was just really humbled we were chosen to receive an award like this,” McCormick said. “We’re very grateful for what Dominion has done not only for our organization but for all the programs that have received this funding that are providing services and help for people in need.”

She said the award will allow the center to continue a summer pilot program that provided fresh milk to families as well as launch an effort in 2016 to stock client-requested items such as cooking oil, sugar, butter and eggs on a regular basis.

McCormick said the pantry is more than just a place to pick up food – volunteers develop personal relationships with clients and have become part of the Grove community through the outreach center.

“We call people our clients but they are really our friends, our Grove friends. They’re like family,” McCormick said. “It’s not just about the food and the clothes and the financial assistance, but also caring about them and what goes on in their daily lives.”

A Dream Catchers client participates in a riding lesson. (Photo courtesy of Dream Catchers)
A Dream Catchers client participates in a riding lesson. (Photo courtesy of Dream Catchers)

Terry Jacoby, development director at Dream Catchers, said it costs $2,000 per year to feed one horse. The $4,000 grant, which will go toward general horse care, will benefit the 15 horses and the Dream Catchers clients, which participate in a combined 4,000 lessons annually.

“We have found that the bond created by our students and our horses results in life-changing results,” Jacoby said. “We feel the expense is justified by the incredible success our students have.”

A complete list of grant recipients is online now.