Obici Foundation extends $1.3M in grants

Published 8:43 pm Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thirteen different Western Tidewater organizations have had major grants renewed by the Obici Healthcare Foundation this month, foundation officials said on Monday.

“Organizations will continue serving the communities of Suffolk, Franklin and Isle of Wight and Southampton counties by helping residents improve their health status in areas such as obesity, mental health, HIV/AIDS and access to basic health services,” Gina Pitrone, Obici Healthcare Foundation’s executive director, stated in a press release dated Friday.

The renewal grants will help continue and extend the work that each of the recipient institutions has been involved in, according to Rick Spencer, a senior program officer for the Foundation.

Each had received a two-year establishing grant from the Foundation in October 2007, Spencer said, though not all of those who received grants in 2007 had their grants renewed this year.

Some did not qualify this year, and others did not pursue the grants again, he explained.

The largest renewal grant went to the Western Tidewater Free Clinic, which received $300,000 to expand access to basic healthcare and to add disability and gynecological care to its offerings.

The Obici Healthcare Foundation has been a major benefactor of the free clinic since its inception. In fact, an earlier, separate grant from the Foundation enabled WTFC to move recently into its new facility on Meade Parkway.

Another major beneficiary of the Foundation’s largesse has been Sentara Obici Hospital, which received $272,000 for its Community Health Outreach Program.

That program aims to help indigent, elderly patients who live alone to receive assistance with a medical plan of care and to give them the knowledge, resources and social support needed to follow the plan.

Obici Hospital’s grant also will be used for First Steps and Healthy Families, programs that improve access to maternal and infant medical care, enhance school readiness and increase parenting skills.

The Foundation’s relationship with the hospital goes back to 2006, when the Foundation was created with assets established through the generosity of the late Amadeo Obici and with funds raised in the merger of Louise Obici Memorial Hospital and Sentara Healthcare.

Since that time, the organization has distributed $12.4 million in grant funding for an average of $4.13 million per year, according to Foundation officials.

The economy and fallen stock prices kept the Foundation from offering new grants this year, Pitrone said Tuesday, but the organization’s board of directors wanted to be sure that at least some of the programs it had supported in 2007 would have their funds renewed for a year.

Even at that, though, some of those who sought money went away empty-handed, Pitrone said.

To some extent, though, a smaller amount of renewal grant money is also a function of the success of some of the programs the Foundation funded in 2007, Spencer said.

“One of the things we like to see is these programs becoming integrated into the (organization’s) normal delivery,” he explained.

Grant-funded programs, he added, should be “moving in a direction of sustainability” and eventually should become self-sustaining and “part of the fabric of this community.”

Those grantees selected for renewal grants, Pitrone said in her statement, “were selected because they developed strong program designs, have a history of turning in timely reports and produced excellent outcomes….”

Others funded in this round included:

ACCESS AIDS — $55,125 for the Sisters Informing Sisters About Topics on AIDS Program, which increases the knowledge and prevention of HIV, targeting black women in Suffolk;

Chesapeake Service Systems — $41,580 for Promoting Healthy Behavior and Lifestyles for People with Developmental Disabilities, an obesity reduction program focusing on adults with developmental disabilities;

Smart beginnings of Western Tidewater — $45,626 for increasing the availability of early childhood education in Franklin, Isle of Wight and Southampton County;

Genieve Shelter — $124,000 for the Health & Lifestyle Initiatives Project supporting domestic violence victims with health challenges;

Isle of Wight Christian Outreach Program — $13,500 for Building a Strong Foundation for the Christian Outreach Program to Foster Grown, which addresses the health needs of IW’s low-income residents;

Let’s Talk — $34,000 for the Nutrition, Education & Dance program, available to at-risk Suffolk children 10-14 years old.

Peninsula Institute of Community Health — $156,840 for the Main Street Dental Clinic in Suffolk;

Roanoke-Chowan Community health Center — $97,873 for the Gates County Continuation Grant, providing services at the county’s Adolescent Care Clinic and Medical Center;

The Up Center — Separate grants of $54,965 and $47,185 for outpatient counseling services and in-home counseling services;

Virginia Legal Aid — $50,000 for the Health, Education, Advocacy and Law Project, which assists with health-related legal matters;

Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community — $41,000 for implementing aspects of its Community Health Action Plan.