Community Chest seeks donations, grant applicants for 2022 cycle

Camas-Washougal grant-funding organization gave $127K in grants to local nonprofits in 2021

“There are so many needs beyond what health insurance covers,” said Susan Stearns, CEO of Pink Lemonade Project, a Vancouver nonprofit that seeks to educate, empower and support people affected by breast cancer.

A breast cancer survivor herself, Stearns knows those types of “beyond health insurance” needs intimately.

“Feeding children and getting kids to school, paying rent or utilities, lymphedema sleeves — compression garments — for swelling in the arms, groceries, wigs, supplements recommended by doctors for foot neuropathy … paying for childcare when you need to go to radiation treatment … all of these financial needs impact quality of life,” Stearns said.

That’s where the Pink Lemonade Project’s Pink Practicalities program comes in.

“Pink Practicalities offers cash assistance or some financial support for the needs not covered by health insurance,” Stearns explained. “Pink Practicalities can make an immediate difference around financial stress.”

The Pink Practicalities program was one of the Camas-Washougal Community Chest’s new grant recipients in 2021.

“We were incredibly grateful for the Community Chest’s $4,000 award,” Stearns said.

The money may have helped several Camas-Washougal residents remain in their breast cancer treatment during the pandemic by helping them pay for extra childcare costs during the school shutdowns and for transportation to and from their cancer treatment appointments.

“For patients in Camas and Washougal who have 20 radiation and eight chemotherapy appointments, maybe in Vancouver or in the Portland area, those miles add up,” Stearns said. “You have those miles to drive, and possibly overnight stays. And what we understand from research and from patients’ oncology social workers is that patients who have transportation barriers will miss appointments … With treatment, many breast cancers can be nearly cured, so we need to help people get to their appointments and get their treatments.”

Pink Practicalities was one of 28 nonprofit programs helped by the Community Chest and its Camas-Washougal Rotary Foundation partner in 2021.

Together, the Community Chest and Rotary Foundation funded a total of $127,671 in grants in 2021, including three new grants — the $4,000 Pink Practicalities received, as well as a grant that helped foster children and youth from low-income families afford the Washougal-based Lunchmoney Indoor Skatepark; a grant for the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society in Washougal that established a pet food pantry and emergency veterinary care fund to help people care for their pets during times of hardship; and “Campership Awards” to local Boy Scouts of America troops to help families in need send their children to summer Scouts camps.

Since 2016, the Community Chest has awarded nearly $500,000 in grants to 34 local nonprofits.

The 75-year-old Community Chest’s main grants support the food bank at the Inter-Faith Treasure House and family support programs at the Children’s Home Society of Washington in Washougal. Other grants help homeless youth maintain their grades, fund local Meals on Wheels People programs, improve habitat in the Gibbons Creek watershed, support the Camas library’s summer reading program, fund outdoor environmental education programs for sixth-graders at Jemtegaard and Canyon Creek middle schools in Washougal, and help REACH Community Development purchase groceries, baby essentials and basic household items for families in need at the Washougal-based Gateway Gardens and Towne Square communities.

To meet its 2022 campaign goals, the Community Chest is seeking at least $125,000 in donations from businesses and individuals in Camas and Washougal.

“Giving to the Community Chest is an easy and efficient way to help people in need in our hometown,” said Community Chest President Joelle Scheldorf.

Local nonprofits that benefit Camas-Washougal residents through education, youth activities, aid to people with special needs, natural resource conservation, health and welfare programs, crisis and emergency services, and/or equity, diversity and inclusion services can apply for grant funding through Dec. 15. Applicants will find out if they have been funded — and at what level — in March 2022. Applications for 2022 grants are available at the Community Chest’s website at camaswashougalcommunitychest.org.

In 2021, 97 percent of all Community Chest donations went back into the Camas-Washougal community. To donate to the all-volunteer, nonprofit Community Chest, visit camaswashougalcommu nitychest.org/donate. All donations to the Community Chest are tax-deductible.