JOHN DAY – Three local nonprofits received substantial grant awards from the Oregon Community Foundation last Wednesday, Jan. 15.

The awards went to:

• The Grant Union Junior-Senior High Track Restoration Committee, $25,000 from the Community Foundation’s Shelk Fund and Fred W. Fields Fund.

• The North Fork John Day Watershed Council, $16,000 from the Stuart and Leah Durkheimer Fund.

• Families First Parent Resource Center, $25,000 from the Shelk and Fields funds.

John Shelk presented the awards on behalf of the Oregon Community Foundation in a ceremony at the Grant School District 3 office.

The grant for the Grant Union track will help restore what was lost in the May 2011 flood. The base of the track has been laid, and the money will go toward completion of the project, which includes laying rubberized asphalt on the eight-lane standard approved track.

“I’m absolutely elated,” said Shermayne Boethin, chairwoman of the track restoration committee. “We had faith, but to see that number was very worthwhile.”

She said the committee is close to its goal to finish the track.

Elaine Eisenbraun, executive director of the watershed council, said the grant will support the organization’s youth crew program for restoration projects.

“It helps high school kids go out in the field and get real life experience,” she said. “Our goal is to get as many kids experience as possible.”

The grant will allow the council to offer 26 summer youth crew positions this year, up from last year’s 18, she said.

Sarah Hatfield, a board member for Families First, said the organization’s grant is for its Parents as Teachers program.

The program serves families through pregnancy and until the child enters kindergarten, offering parents knowledge of early childhood development and hand-on activities to do with their children.

Shelk, managing director of Ochoco Lumber Company in Prineville, said his parents started a fund with Oregon Community Foundation in the early 1970s – now OCF is one of the 20 largest community foundations, he said.

The Shelk Fund has offered grants to nonprofits in Grant County since the arrival of Malheur Lumber Company in John Day 30 years ago. It also helps nonprofits in Crook, Wheeler and Harney counties.

He said his wife Linda “has pushed people she knows to recognize the needs of rural Oregon,” adding that $500 can be leveraged to a greater extent in Grant County compared to Portland where there are more resources, and where amount would be “pocket change.”

He encouraged the recipients to apply again in the future and thanked them for the work they do for the area’s greatest resource: “children.”

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