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Flooded Cedar Rapids non-profits getting recovery grants

Nine Cedar Rapids non-profits will receive $50,000 each today to help fund their recoveries from last year’s flood.

The grants announced today are the first from the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation’s Flood 2008 Fund directed to flood-affected agencies’ recovery.

“Clearly the first priority was to help displaced families, but then we have to think about the other parts of our community that are so critical to our quality of life,” said Dan Baldwin, CEO and president of the foundation.

“The community, in particularly the Greater Cedar Rapids Foundation, has really assured the survival of organizations like ourselves,” said Myrt Bowers, director of the Witwer Senior Center. “We have not gotten any other dollars except for the dollars from the foundation.”

Launched two days after the June 2008 flood, the Flood 2008 Fund raised about $5 million from about 3,500 donors. Earlier grants went to non-profit programs helping residents and neighborhoods recover from the flood. Today’s grants will help the agencies’ own long-term recovery efforts.

“It’s outstanding for the club,” said John Tursi, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Cedar Rapids. “We’ve been out of administrative offices since the flood.”

Since losing its offices and neighborhood center at 1501 Ellis Blvd. NW, the club has offered its youth programs at four locations around the city at churches, schools and the Salvation Army’s northwest Cedar Rapids center. But Tursi and seven other full-time workers have been using a temporary space at Tanager Place.

The grant will help the staff move to offices on the second floor of the former Pennysaver building on Fourth Avenue SE.

“It’s going to give us an administrative building, so we can actually pool all our employees together on a daily basis instead of working out of our cars,” Tursi said.

The Witwer grant will cover the senior center’s share of remodeling and equipping its new kitchen at 605 Second Ave. SE. The facility, shared with Green Square Meals and the Ecumenical Center, replaces the senior center at 305 Second Ave. SE. Witwer uses the kitchen to prepare about 550 meals a day, served at the Ecumenical Center and nine other locations.

Bowers is waiting for a response to its damage claims filed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration.

Today’s grants also include $50,000 toward the $15 million downtown Human Services Campus. The United Way of East Central Iowa is coordinating the project to build the 65,000-square-foot center, which also will house the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois, Abbe Inc., Four Oaks, Aging Services, Neighborhood Transit Services and Iowa Legal Aid.

“We’re delighted, and it does help,” said United Way Director Lois Buntz.

Baldwin said the Flood 2008 fund has about $1 million left, which he plans to distribute by the flood’s second anniversary.

Grant recipients

The following non-profits are receiving rebuilding grants in the latest disbursement from the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation’s Flood 2008 Fund:

  • $50,000 to the African American Museum of Iowa for returning it to its pre-flood status
  • $50,000 to Orchestra Iowa for rebuilding the Symphony Center
  • $50,000 to Theatre Cedar Rapids for the Next Act
  • $50,000 to Abbe Inc. for rebuilding Witwer Center’s production kitchen
  • $50,000 to Arc of East Central Iowa for program structure improvement and expansion
  • $50,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Cedar Rapids for rebuilding administrative offices
  • $50,000 to Horizons: A Family Service Alliance for Rising Above, Expanding the Horizon
  • $50,000 to the Human Services Campus of East Central Iowa
  • $50,000 to the YMCA of Cedar Rapids for rebuilding the future of the YMCA
  • $7,794 to the Neighborhood Transportation Service to finance repairs to the agency’s drivers’ office and storage area.

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