Charity awards grants to groups

Horizon Foundation gives $1.5 million in gifts to local organizations

Howard County

August 11, 2002|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Autistic children receive individual care at school, but they can't attend after-school programs because of their sometimes unusual behavior. But a gift of $10,000 - the smallest grant among $1.5 million from the Horizon Foundation - might help fix that.

"It's vitally important," said Catriona Johnson, president of the Howard County chapter of the Autism Society, describing it as "seed money" for help in training after-school caretakers.

The Horizon Foundation announced Friday an array of gifts intended to promote the welfare of Howard County's neediest residents, including the $10,000 and a three-year grant of $377,250 to Family and Children's Services to help create a program in North Laurel-Savage.

Horizon director Richard Krieg said the list of organizations benefiting from the grants is always changing. This year, the foundation wanted to support conclusions reached by a group of North Laurel residents and based on county studies, which have found a dearth of services in southeastern Howard.

"For 13 years, they [Family and Children's Services] have been wanting a satellite down there," said Krieg, adding that Horizon had earlier paid for a police satellite office in the area. In a case of domestic violence, he said, county police had only two squad cars on duty at any given time.

The grant will provide counseling and other services to people who often have trouble getting to the current office, which is in Columbia's Wilde Lake village.

"It's great," said the group's Howard County services director, Sharon Thompson.

A $150,000 grant is slated for the Health Alliance, a free clinic in the 5900 block Cedar Lane that provides health care to people who can't afford it. The clinic has struggled for years.

More than 8,000 people live in poverty in Howard County, according to census figures, and almost 5,000 subsidized housing units are in the county. Also, the number of immigrants in Howard County is growing at a time when federal law prevents them from getting medical care under Medicaid.

Pam Mack, the clinic's director, said one-third of the Horizon money will help pay the annual $210,000 budget. Another third will match money to help coax more donations from corporations and private sources, and the remainder will help pay for equipment.

Fund raising for the alliance has improved, Mack said, pointing to a recent campaign that raised $91,000.

"I really believe we have stabilized," she said.

Not every grant is going to traditional assistance organizations.

Two-year grants were awarded to Children of Separation and Divorce ($207,350), and the Tai Sophia Institute ($250,000), which teaches acupuncture from a new campus in southern Howard County.

"We have a national resource right here in the county," Krieg said of Tai Sophia, explaining that acupuncture can be used as treatment for drug abuse. He provided acupuncture treatment at the institute's Penn-North facility in Baltimore for 40 addicts, he said, while researching the grant.

The Horizon money, Krieg said, will help focus the institute's resources on drug treatment in Howard County. "In our own back yard, we've got problems," he said.

The grant to Children of Separation and Divorce can make a good service even better, Krieg said. "It's got a lot of promise in terms of making the county a place where families can go through transition of divorce and come out of it a lot better" than they might without the service, he said.

Director Risa Garon said the money will pay for new computers and a new phone system, and enhance research on the National Family Resiliency Program.

Other grants include:

$61,000 to the Foreign-born Information and Referral Network to complete a health outreach program for foreign-born residents.

$59,100 to the Association of Community Services to centralize and coordinate training for nonprofit and human service providers.

$40,000 to Howard County General Hospital.

$65,000 to Running Brook Elementary School for parent-training programs.

$22,000 to the Local Children's Board to increase services for non-English speaking residents who need health services.

$30,000 to MEDBANK of Maryland to help low-income county residents pay for medicine.

$30,000 to Howard Community College to develop a wellness center for students.

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