Community Fund nears $55 million in giving

With the distribution of 41 grants totaling $659,350 on Wednesday, Sept. 14, Spirit Mountain Community Fund approached the $55 million mark in giving since it was formed in 1997.

The Community Fund, which distributes 6 percent of Spirit Mountain Casino profits to charitable organizations in 11 western Oregon counties, is less than $5,000 away and will surpass the $55 million mark with its next quarterly check distribution in December.

At the Sept. 14 quarterly check distribution held in the Tribal gym, the Community Fund continued its tradition of helping a wide variety of worthwhile efforts, from AIDS testing to encouraging chess programs in schools to supporting healthy meals for senior citizens to funding a stage production of Yiddish stories.

And much of this quarter's grant money will have a direct effect on local residents and children.

The Grand Ronde Community Resource Center received $25,000 to help the local food bank on Hebo Road and provide supplemental foods and senior meals, teach nutrition, operate a community garden and teach food preservation techniques to local residents.

The Willamina School District, which educates many Tribal and descendant children, received $50,000 to help pay for the construction of a new six-classroom complex and multi-purpose building at the Oaken Hills campus in Willamina.

The new buildings were required after the cash-strapped district closed the middle school building in Grand Ronde and consolidated its high school, middle school and elementary school operations at the Oaken Hills site.

District Superintendent Gus Forster and Elementary School Principal Carrie Zimbrick picked up the check for the district.

And the Oregon Native American Business & Entrepreneurship Network received $20,750 to revise and update its Indianpreneurship curriculum, which is designed to help Native Americans start and succeed in starting a business.

"We are proud of what we have accomplished over the 28 years since Restoration," Tribal Council Vice Chair Reyn Leno told organization representatives before the check distribution. Leno also sits on the Community Fund's Board of Trustees.

Tribal Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy briefly recited the history of the Grand Ronde Tribes, from being herded together at the Table Rocks site near current-day Medford to signing seven treaties that ceded most of western Oregon to the federal government to the Trail of Tears march to Grand Ronde.

"You see the survivors of a great tragedy," Kennedy said. "We welcome you to our homeland. It pulls on the heart strings to see the good work being done. Your work is very much appreciated."

Tribal Council Secretary Kathleen Tom gave the invocation for the event and attendees watched the 25th Restoration commemorative video so they could learn more about the history of the Grand Ronde Tribe.

After the video, Community Fund Programs Coordinator Louis King read the list of recipients, who then posed with Leno and Community Fund Board of Trustee Ron Reibach, a Tribal member who works as Facilities Director at the casino, for a photo taken by Tribal photographer Michelle Alaimo.

In addition to the previously mentioned grants, recipients were:

  • African American Health Coalition, $25,000;
  • Arts Action Alliance Foundation, $20,000;
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Portland, $10,000;
  • Boys and Girls Club of Lebanon, $35,000;
  • Brooklyn Bay, $4,000;
  • Campbell Institute, $40,000;
  • Cascade Aids Project, $15,000;
  • Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence, $30,000;
  • Center for Diversity & the Environment, $25,000;
  • Chess for Success, $25,000;
  • Children's Course, $10,000;
  • Colton Helping Hands, $12,100;
  • Compassion in Dying Federation, $4,000;
  • Educate Ya, $4,000;
  • Elders in Action, $5,000;
  • Friends of Polk County Casa, $5,000;
  • Friends of the Children Portland, $10,000;
  • Friends of @NCRD, $4,000;
  • Hacienda Community Development Corp., $30,000;
  • Japanese Garden Society of Oregon, $10,000;
  • Jewish Theatre Collaborative, $2,000;
  • Linn County Child Victim Assessment Center, $12,500;
  • Meals for Seniors, $4,000;
  • Microenterprise Resources Initiatives & Training, $15,000;
  • Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, $15,000;
  • Neighbors for Kids, $14,000;
  • Oregon Coast Aquarium, $10,000;
  • Oregon Mentors, $30,000;
  • Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, $25,000;
  • Oregon Tradeswomen, $20,000;
  • Pendulum Aerial Arts, $4,000;
  • Portland Taiko, $10,000;
  • Store to Door, $10,000;
  • Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, $15,000;
  • Trauma Healing Project, $25,000;
  • Triangle Productions, $4,000;
  • Understanding Racism Foundation, $5,000;
  • and Western States Center, $20,000.