More teens will have something to eat in the morning and patients at Ridge Meadows Hospital will receive more support thanks to grants given out by the Maple Ridge Community Foundation this week.
Nine grants were given out on Monday evening at a foundation event at Electra Restaurant on Lougheed Highway, including $5,000 from the George Mussallem Youth Fund, totalling $16,000.
Dennis Hemminger with YFC Youth Unlimited - previously Youth For Christ - received $1,500 from the foundation.
A few years ago, he realized that a teacher he knew was feeding kids in the morning. His thought at the time was "what's going on here?"
"It was kind of a shock," he said.
For the past two years, Hemminger has been running a breakfast program at Westview Secondary, and about a year ago started one at Garibaldi Secondary. He is currently contacting other high schools to see how he can further expand the program that allows needy students to start their school day off with a full stomach.
Hemminger, who is the area supervisor for Maple Ridge with the faith-based youth organization, has enlisted the help of local churches as well, including Burnett Fellowship and the Christian Reformed Church.
The grant will give a "boost" to the program and help launch one at another school, he said.
Hemminger said he believes it's his "calling" to work with youth - he also mentors young people going through the youth diversion program.
"I like to see the spark in their eye and the lightbulb go on," he said. "I love inspiring teens to be and do more than they think they can."
Annika Polegato was at the community foundation event on Monday, and she accepted a grant of $2,000 for the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation's Whatever It Takes program, which helps people who are ready to leave the hospital but have a financial or social barrier to leaving.
Social workers at Fraser Health came up with the idea, as they deal daily with patients who have poverty issues, are socially isolated, or have substance abuse or complex health problems.
The newly introduced program Whatever it Takes takes a creative approach to getting patients home, and, as a result, it frees up beds for other patients and saves between $800 and $1,000 per day on hospital costs.
The program might help a single mother who can't afford to buy an orthopedic brace for a child because she doesn't have extended health coverage.
Or it might help an elderly stroke patient who can't pay for a prescription because he's waiting for his pension cheque.
Whatever it Takes is meant to bridge these gaps as a temporary transition until social or community services can be accessed.
The program is designed to reduce readmission and decrease congestion at the hospital.
The Ridge Meadows Youth Advocacy program was given $2,500 from the George Mussallem Youth Fund. This fund also provided $1,500 for the Three Rivers Scouts group to support youth in need so they can join scouts.
Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services received $2,000 to renovate the kitchen at its Rainbow Clubhouse that is used by people with mental health issues.
Ridge Meadows Seniors Society received $1,000 to reprint its seniors resource guide, and Friends In Need Food Bank got $1,500 for its Diapers for Babies program.
The North Fraser Therapeutic Riding Society will get a new mechanical lift installed thanks to a $3,000 community foundation grant.
And Innervisions Recovery Society, which runs the women's rehab facility Hannah House in Maple Ridge, received $1,000 for recovery textbooks.
Dallas Coutts, a recent Garibaldi graduate, received a $1,500 scholarship from the Maple Ridge Community Foundation, from the George Mussallem Vocational Education Opportunity fund, toward his post-secondary education with BCIT and came to the event to thank the foundation.
Coutts is in his second year of the Garibaldi BCIT Auto Foundations program.