Tribal Government & News

Community Fund nearing $82 million in giving

Outgoing Spirit Mountain Community Fund Grants Coordinator Jesse Knight received a blanket from Tribal Council members Kathleen George and Denise Harvey during the third-quarter Community Fund check presentation held in the Governance Center on Wednesday, Sept. 11. After 20 years of casino and Tribal employment, Knight is pursuing his dream of owning a restaurant at Fort Hill. (Photo by Timothy J. Gonzalez/Smoke Signals)

By Danielle Frost

Smoke Signals staff writer

The awarding of 21 large grants and seven small grants totaling $713,629 on Wednesday, Sept. 11, propelled Spirit Mountain Community Fund to almost $82 million in giving since it was started in 1997.

The 28 grants also increased the number awarded during the last 22 years to 2,784 grants that have been distributed to 1,165 nonprofit organizations in 11 northwest Oregon counties.

The Tribe’s philanthropic entity held its third-quarter check presentation in the Governance Center Atrium. The Community Fund receives 6 percent of Spirit Mountain Casino proceeds to distribute to nonprofit groups in the areas of health, education, public safety and environmental preservation, among others.

The event opened with an invocation by Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George. Other Tribal Council attendees were Steve Bobb Sr., Denise Harvey, Jack Giffen Jr. and Kathleen George. Harvey, Giffen and George also serve on the Community Fund’s Board of Trustees.

Tribal Lands Manager Jan Looking Wolf Reibach performed a flute song to open the presentation followed by an honor song for Grants Coordinator Jesse Knight, who is leaving after 20 years of Tribal and casino employment to pursue his dream of owning a restaurant.

A video was shown that highlighted the history of the Tribe and Community Fund, as well as the work done by some past and current grant recipients.

“This gives us an opportunity to celebrate you,” Program Coordinator Angela Sears said. “We really try to find ways to help show your successes and get that information out there.”

This quarter’s highlighted grant recipient was Ophelia’s Place of Eugene, a prevention-based organization that is “dedicated to helping girls make healthy life choices through empowerment, education and support,” states its mission statement.

“Things are a lot different now than it was for us growing up,” Executive Director Verna Wise Matthews said. “But we still believe that kids are kids, and need trusted adults to talk to. We would much rather have our kids making good choices than picking up the pieces of a broken life down the road.”

Community Fund Program Coordinator Angela Sears announced grantees’ names while Executive Director Michael Cherry, Harvey and Bobb shook recipients’ hands.

Cherry also recognized past Tribal Council Chairwoman and key Restoration leader Kathryn Harrison as well as Elizabeth Furse, who attended the check presentation. Furse was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993-99 and an instrumental figure in helping the Tribe during Restoration efforts of the early 1980s.

Harvey then asked all attendees to observe a moment of silence for the families affected by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Following the check presentation, Todos Juntos Inc. of Canby won a Pendleton blanket that was raffled off.  

Large grant recipients during the event were:

  • Active Children Portland, $40,000, for its health program;
  • Camp Fire Columbia of Portland, $25,000, for its Camp Fire high school academic achievement, social justice and leadership activities;
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates Voices for Children of Corvallis, $30,000, for its “Giving Voice to the Invisible Child” program;
  • Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence of Corvallis, $50,000, for its confidential and emergency shelter program;
  • Family Building Blocks Inc. of Dallas, $50,000, for its Polk County child abuse prevention program;
  • Forward Stride of Beaverton, $13,000, for its “Tribal Horse and Human Partnership” program;
  • Friends of the Children Portland, $32,000, for its pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship training for high-priority youth;
  • Lewis and Clark Montessori Charter School Parent Teacher Organization of Damascus, $19,200, for its “Greater Than Partnership: Alder Montessori” program;
  • Northwest Housing Alternatives Inc. of Portland, $25,600, for its “Supporting Oregon’s Kids” program;
  • Old Mill Center for Children and Families Inc. of Corvallis, $40,000, for its Monroe satellite program;
  • Ophelia’s Place of Eugene, $50,000, for its girls’ trauma intervention and behavioral health empowerment program;
  • Oregon Children’s Foundation of Portland, $32,000, for its community-based programs;
  • Oregon Justice Resource Center of Portland, $50,000, for its women’s justice project;
  • Oregon Native American Business & Entrepreneurship Network, $50,000, for its Native Arts and Culture Accelerator;
  • Project Able of McMinnville, $10,304, for its peer support training for rural Polk and Yamhill counties;
  • Qigong Sensory Training Institute of Salem, $32,000, for its updated training videos;
  • Shriners Hospitals for Children of Portland, $25,315, for its family meal support program;
  • Store to Door, $16,000, for its nourishment, wellness and connection to homebound seniors program;
  • Strengthening Rural Families, $25,600, for its emotional growth program;
  • Todos Juntos Inc. of Canby, $32,000, for providing support services/mentorship for Latino youth in rural Clackamas County;
  • Yamhill Community Action Partnership in McMinnville, $25,000, for its Harvest2Home program.

Smalls grants were awarded to:

  • Corvallis Environmental Center, $7,500, for connecting youth and food for a sustainable future program;
  • Family and Community Together of Portland, $7,500, for its regional learning summits to empower families experiencing disability;
  • Horses of Hope Oregon of Turner, $7,500, for its foster children outreach project;
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness of Lane Country in Eugene, $7,500, for expanding peer support programming in Lane County;
  • Warrior Sisters of Eugene, $5,000, for its Warrior Sisters Sundays program;
  • Wisdom of the Elders Inc. of Portland, $7,500, for its Wisdom Workforce Development and Multimedia Education program;
  • Wordcrafters of Eugene, $7,500, for at-risk students.