BEND, OR -- A new grant program aims to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation in Central Oregon. "The purpose of this grant is to support organizations that are bringing people together and provide a welcoming space for people to hopefully get to that sense of belonging again" says St. Charles Health System Community Partnerships Manager Carlos Salcedo.
It’s in response to the pandemic, but he says the need has been building for a while, "As a society, we’ve been kind of going towards this isolation, with this focus on productivity. And the pandemic just magnified all of that and just compressed everything to a shorter time frame."
Salcedo says targeting isolation became a priority after a recent community health needs assessment, "So, we put this work under three different buckets, which is Loneliness & Isolation, Welcoming and Belonging. So, we’re looking for organizations that are creating that space where people can come and gather and socialize in a welcoming environment that’s very inclusive."
There are very few parameters for applicants because, Salcedo says, he’s looking for unique ideas. Applicants must be in the tri-county area and, "We don’t want it to be just a one-time event. We want it to be recurring. Because, a lot of times what we notice, especially in smaller communities, is that things will get done once and if people don’t show up, it’s called a failure. So, we’re looking to work past failure, and give people an opportunity to engage - if not the first time, maybe the second time or the third time. Because we’re so [eager] just to, like, leave." He tells KBND News, "And it may not be something new; it may be something that we rediscover. Maybe we’re not doing something we used to do? So, what are those things? And I would probably venture to say that that’s the case, more than this unique, new discovery."
Salcedo wouldn’t reveal the dollar amount available, because he says, for the right idea, St. Charles could bring in other partners to make up for funding shortfalls. Applications are due September 30, 2023. Click HERE for more details.