Rotary club expanding its grant program

Rotary club expanding its grant program

It’s been a good fundraising year for the Rotary Club of Sarnia Bluewaterland.

Record-breaking sums at the service club’s annual book sale and at Art in the Park earlier this month — both made returns in 2022 after being sidelined two years amid COVID-19 — mean the club has more in its coffers and can increase the grant money available to local organizations, said Tom Robitaille, the club’s community services chairperson.

Community grants have been doled out through the club to agencies like Literacy Lambton and Habitat for Humanity since around the club’s inception in 1990, he said.

“We’re just now looking at how we can expand it to possibly take in more agencies that are in the business of helping people in need,” he said.

The jump in dollars available through the grant program is substantial.

Past president Marie Watson estimated about $7,500 was available for grants in the club’s fiscal year ending in June 2021, and the same sum again the following year.

A federal report for the club’s charitable trust fund shows revenue of $112,000 and expenses of $99,000 in the year ending June 30, 2021.

This year — fall 2022 and spring 2023 — there’s $30,000 available via the grant program, said Robitaille, stressing that’s not set in stone.

“The board has agreed to revisit the limit, depending on the response,” he said.

How much the club’s book sale and Art in the Park actually raised in 2022 wasn’t clear, he said.

Each in the past has typically raised about $30,000.

Bingos, a Donut Days fundraiser, and dinners at the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club have also added to the total, he said in a statement, thanking people “for their tremendous support for our fundraisers over the past two years.”

The Sept. 30 deadline for fall grant applications is coming fast, he said.

“But we have another one coming up in six months’ time.”

The spring deadline is March 31.

Grants are announced in October and April, officials said.

Typically there aren’t enough applications to take advantage of all the grant money available, Robitaille said.

“I don’t think we’ve ever used the full amount that we allocated.”

Hopes are getting the word out will help change that, he said.

“If we have the money, let’s make the public aware of it.”

Details and application forms are available at rotarysarniabwl.org.

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