New West invited to get connected during COVID-19

Grant deadline extended

Dancing, cooking and learning are among the projects being funded through a new grant program that aims to help residents stay socially connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Neighbourhood Small Grants have been funding programs that bring people together for 20 year, organizers believe that’s more important than ever.Applications are now being accepted for the Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants, which will provide grants of $50 to $500 for projects that connect people socially or involve sharing skills or talents with each other – while adhering to physical distancing guidelines developed in response to the current health crisis.

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“Public health orders to physically distance from others has had the unintended impact of creating more social isolation,” said a notice about the grants. “But so many of you are stepping up to counteract this. Thousands are already self-organizing online to support each other out of their own pockets.”

Applications for the new Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants were being accepted from across British Columbia until July 1, but the deadline has been extended until July 30

Projects must build community by finding ways to connect with people socially, reduce social isolation, build community strength and resilience, and foster community creativity and wellbeing. Examples could include delivering care packages to elderly or immune-compromised people in the neighbourhood, sewing and distributing masks, hosting a webinar about a topic you’re passionate about or a cooking demonstration, storytelling or mindfulness workshop.

Because of physical distancing guidelines, organizers believe this is an opportunity to get creative in quarantine and explore new ways to build community.

Each year, Family Services of Greater Vancouver administers the Neighbourhood Small Grants program in New Westminster, which is funded by the Vancouver Foundation. In 2019, New Westminster residents received $36,500 that went toward 81 projects, including potlucks, barbecues, plantings of native plants and wild flowers for pollinators and murals.

Community coordinators will be contacting people who applied for 2020 Neighbourhood Small Grants to discuss if those projects can be modified to suit the new grant program’s criteria or should be deferred until physical distancing requirements are lifted.

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