Foundation awards nearly $220,000

Sixty-two grants were distributed to local groups Thursday.

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WALLA WALLA -- In doing one of the things he loves best, Lawson Knight gave away a lot of money Thursday afternoon in front of an audience of about 140 attendees.

Knight, executive director of the Blue Mountain Community Foundation, and his board members doled out $218,686 in 62 grants at the foundation's annual meeting.

That figure is up about 10 percent from 2010, when the recession reduced the amount available for grants, he said.

It's a pleasure to help community efforts across the region, Knight said this morning. "Grants that are particularly exciting are examples where nonprofits take their programs into the community."

Heading such a list includes the YMCA's "Y on Wheels," which provides education and recreation for families "who cannot walk through the doors of the Walla Walla YMCA." The nine-month program offers after-school recreation for the Walla Walla Public Housing families and Washington Park neighborhood.

The BMCF board also recognized the outreach of Friends of Children of Walla Walla's "ABC," a school-based program that brings volunteers to mentor children in College Place schools and Blue Ridge Elementary School. As well, the YWCA's "Fun Factory" was given funding for organized outdoor activities to kids in underserved areas.

"It was really cool to see the ability to make nice investments in community assets like McRae-Ireland Field in Milton-Freewater and the Seeley Theater in Pomeroy," Knight added. "Those are important to the community and there are places where people in the towns we serve come together for important things.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

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