Operation Our Town grants $50K to groups

Operation Our Town has distributed grants totaling $50,000 to 15 Blair County organizations who will assist with drug prevention and treatment efforts.

“It’s important that we reinforce the good work you’re doing and the good work we’re doing,” Operation Our Town co-founder and President Michael A. Fiore told the organization’s representatives who attended Wednesday’s check presentation ceremony at the organization’s headquarters.

Fiore also advised them to talk about their organization’s efforts so more people become aware of what they do and why.

“Prevention takes decades to make a difference … a couple generations to make an impact,” Fiore said. “You play a significant role in the long haul and the short.”

Twenty-five applications were submitted this year for grants from Operation Our Town, an organization founded in 2007 to combat drug and alcohol abuse through the collection and distribution of donations to support law enforcement efforts and proven treatment and prevention programs.

Grant committee member Donna Gority, retired Blair County commissioner, was among those who reviewed the applications and selected the winners. Most of this year’s recipients will get $2,000 to $3,000, she said.

Blair County Drug & Alcohol Program Inc. will use its grant to cover transportation costs for its Youth League program that plans two or three trips during the summer for approximately 150 at-risk children and their families.

Those trips usually take the children and family members to places such as the Pittsburgh Zoo or PNC Park for a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game, Executive Director Judy Rosser said.

“I can usually get free tickets for them, but this grant covers the transportation cost and that’s really helpful,” Rosser said. “A lot of these kids have never been out of Blair County.”

In addition to $50,000 for these organizations, Operation Our Town will also distribute $120,000 this year to support law enforcement efforts, Executive Coordinator Shawna Hoover said. Those are the same amounts initially awarded last year, although due to successful fundraising, an additional $10,000 was awarded at the end of 2013 for prevention efforts.

Those interested in next year’s grants should plan to submit applications in the spring, probably in May, Hoover said.

In addition to Blair County Drug & Alcohol Program Inc.’s Youth League, other grant recipients are as follows:

– Altoona Area School District’s Study, Overcome, Achieve, Reward (SOAR) program.

– Altoona Parochial Catholic Youth Organization’s athletic program.

– Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Blair County’s One-to-One Youth Mentoring program.

– Blair County Juvenile Probation Office’s Juvenile Drug Court program.

– Booker T. Washington Revitalization Corp. for the Prospect Park revitalization.

– Evergreen Manors Supportive Services for the community garden project.

– Gloria Gates Memorial Foundation for the after-school program.

– Hollidaysburg Area YMCA for its Family Y-Nite program.

– Home Nursing Agency’s Blair County Nurse-Family Partnership.

– Joshua House Inc.’s Cross-Town Basketball League.

– Northern Blair County Recreation Center’s Family Nights.

– Ski Gap Community Action Council’s outdoor movie night against crime and drugs.

– The ROCK, an after-school program offered at the Second Avenue United Methodist Church.

– United Way of Blair County in support of the Family Resource Center’s Parents as Teachers Program and the Make Parenting a Pleasure curriculum.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.