Local News

Assembly makes grants to Sitka nonprofits

Middle school campers register for sessions inside Allen Memorial Hall at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp earlier this summer.  The nonprofit received a $10,000 grant from the City of Sitka. (KCAW photo by Ed Ronco)

Middle school campers register for sessions inside Allen Memorial Hall at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp earlier this summer. The nonprofit received a $10,000 grant from the City of Sitka. (KCAW photo by Ed Ronco)

Leaders of a dozen or so Sitka nonprofit organizations walked out of Centennial Hall with slightly heavier pockets last night.

The Sitka Assembly disbursed about $82,000 in grant money to groups that provide services ranging from mental health to arts education. The money is given annually as grants to organizations throughout the community.

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The city had $100,000 to spend on nonprofit organizations. It opted to keep about $10,000 for emergencies. But most of the rest of it went to 12 different organizations.

More detail: You can see the names of those organizations, and how much money they got, at the bottom of this story.

Nonprofits can apply for the grants, which come from a special line item on the Sitka budget. They’re grouped into three categories: human services, cultural and educational services, and community development.

By and large the process went smoothly, if slowly. The only hiccup appeared to be a conversation about whether to give money to the Girl Scouts, who run a local unit in Sitka.

The organization requested $19,400, under the “human services” category.

“It doesn’t, to me, meet the human services bar I’m looking at,” said Assembly member Matt Hunter. “The others, particularly BraveHeart, Southeast Alaska Independent Living and Youth Advocates, all provide extremely necessary services for the needy members of our community.”

When it was the public’s turn, Hannah MacPike, a senior Girl Scout, sat down at the witness table wearing her patch-covered sash.

“Girl Scouts really helped me,” MacPike said. “It helps a lot of girls who can’t do sports. Who don’t feel comfortable during sports. It’s helped me feel comfortable to come and talk to you this evening. There really is a lot more to Girl Scouts than selling cookies.”

And while other organizations focus on dealing with issues after they’ve arisen, Hannah’s mother, Patti MacPike, said Girl Scouts does the opposite.

“Girl Scouts is an organization that tries to offer an alternative, and prevention, prior to people needing intervention,” Patti MacPike said. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

That’s worth something to the community, she said.

A lot of Assembly members agreed, but not to the tune of $19,000. The Assembly ended up giving the Girl Scouts $2,300.

In the Human Services category, the big winner was Brave Heart Volunteers. The end-of-life and eldercare nonprofit received all of the $20,000 it requested.

Other grant awards went out to the Sitka Summer Music Festival, Sitka WhaleFest, the Island Institute and Sitka Trail Works, whose board president heeded the mayor’s call for quick testimony as the clock inched closer to a mandatory adjournment deadline.

“Brian Hanson, Sitka Trail Works, thank you, grateful, we leverage, great to be a partner, thank you,” Hanson said to chuckles from the Assembly.

The grand total of grants turns out to be less than what’s in the budget. Talk around the Assembly table suggested moving that money into some sort of infrastructure or emergency funds.

The Assembly ran out of time, but they’re expected to take up the issue at their next meeting on Sept. 24.

Organizations, and their grants

Human Services
Brave Heart Volunteers – $20,000
Girl Scouts of Alaska – Sitka Service Unit – $2,300
Sitka Local Foods Network – $5,650
Southeast Alaska Independent Living – $10,000
Youth Advocates of Sitka – $4,500

Cultural and Educational Services
Greater Sitka Arts Council – $4,000
Sitka Seafood Festival – $3,000
Sitka Whalefest – $3,500
Sitka Summer Music Festival – $6,000
Island Institute – $3,500

Community Development
Sitka Fine Arts Camp – $10,000
Sitka Trail Works – $10,000

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