The Food Pantry's van, which is to be replaced, being loaded by volunteer Wendy Wilcox and Treasurer Pete Stenner.

From a much needed new van to funding to ‘keep the lights on,’ grants have a big local impact

Rappahannock County nonprofits were recently cumulatively awarded more than $100,000 from the Warrenton-based philanthropic PATH Foundation’s flexible spending grant.

The grants, which were awarded to nonprofits in Rappahannock, Culpeper and Fauquier Counties in upwards of $75,000, can be spent by the organizations how they best see fit.

“Flexible Funding is a great opportunity for organizations to get unrestricted support as they work towards their mission,” Christy Connolly, president and CEO of PATH, said in a statement. “With this cycle of grantmaking, we aim to prioritize organizations helping those most in need, as we continue to work together to strengthen our community’s health and vitality.”

Flint Hill resident and PATH Board Chair Betsy Dietel in a statement noted the value of the grant funding.

“These type of dollars are precious, allowing organizations to be more nimble, more responsive, and more innovative,” she said. “As non-profits in Rappahannock are asked to do more with less unrestricted grant money can be fundamentally life changing.”

Here are all the Rappahannock organizations awarded funding:

Headwaters Foundation

The Headwaters Foundation, which works closely to support Rappahannock County Public Schools, was awarded $50,000. The grant will help to support the organization’s core programs including After-School Enrichment, College and Career Access, Starfish Mentoring, and READ, according to Executive Director Brittany Dwyer. 

“Just this year, our After-School Enrichment Program has grown to serve over 60 children and our number of pairs in the Starfish Mentoring Program tripled. As a result of the PATH grant, Headwaters will be able to support our two full-time professional staff members and several part-time program staff,” Dwyer said in an email. “We will also be able to purchase more educational materials, meaningfully collect data to measure our successes and shortfalls, and increase our communication to underserved families. With PATH's help, we look forward to serving a more diverse group of students in Rappahannock County.”

Rappahannock Food Pantry

The Rappahannock Food Pantry, which provides meals for underprivileged families in the county, was awarded $50,000. Pantry Treasurer Pete Stenner said in an interview that the organization plans to replace its van with the money. “This is just another example of PATH bending over backwards to try to help the food pantry,” he said.

The organization’s refrigerated van is critical to its operations, traveling across the region several times each week to deliver food from as far as Charlottesville. The grant will cover the vast majority of the new van’s cost, Stenner said.

“They’ve been very generous to us since the pandemic began,” Director Mimi Forbes said of the PATH Foundation.

Rappahannock Center for Education

The Rappahannock Center for Education, a non-degree post secondary school that offers a variety of classes that are often taught by community members to help train potential workers and enrich students’ knowledge of niche subjects, was awarded $25,000.

The organization plans to spend the money to help pay for instructors, purchase equipment for classes and cover students’ tuition. PATH is among the nonprofit’s primary funders, according to founder Doug Schiffman.

“They have been as critical to our success as anybody,” Schiffman said of PATH. “They have been extremely generous and they take an active interest in what we do.”

Family Futures

Family Futures, an organization that deposits $100 into each Rappahannock County Elementary School kindergartener’s savings account with the intention of investing the fund so that it grows by the time they graduate high school, was awarded $7,000.

“Many foundations restrict uses of funds to specific projects or activities; but you have to ‘keep the lights on.’ All nonprofits have expenses that are necessary but not direct service: for example, insurance, accounting, internet and website connections and the like,” Executive Director Anne Yeoman said in an email. “We will use the flexible funds for these kinds of operational expenses so that we can apply donor dollars directly to student saving accounts and financial education activities in the county public schools. These are always our highest priorities. FamilyFutures has no paid staff, only a few part-time contractors; no office expenses.”

“We are extremely grateful to PATH for recognizing how essential operational support is for us and the many other nonprofit recipients here in Rappahannock and elsewhere,” Yeoman said.

Rapp at Home 

Rapp at Home, an organization that supports seniors in Rappahannock County, was awarded $50,000. Executive Director Patty Hardee said they plan to use the funding to expand many of its services that help aid seniors amid the pandemic, including one that connects nursing assistants with people to provide home care. 

The organization also hopes to expand transportation services that include delivering groceries to people’s homes or driving people to medical appointments.

“We’re very grateful to the PATH Foundation. They’ve understood our work and supported our work almost since we started … in 2015,” Hardee said in an interview.

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