– Local neighborhood groups will receive more than $20,000 from
a large endowment fund as part of a countywide drive to strengthen
a sense of community, according to the Community Foundation Silicon
GILROY – Local neighborhood groups will receive more than $20,000 from a large endowment fund as part of a countywide drive to strengthen a sense of community, according to the Community Foundation Silicon Valley.
Six of Gilroy’s local neighborhoods will become recipients of CFSV’s money, which will be used for everything from organizing neighborhood watch programs to hosting ice cream socials. The grants were awarded to Gilroy’s neighborhoods with the help of the Gilroy Police Department, South County Housing and United Neighborhoods.
One of those neighborhoods is the Summerhill Association, which received a $4,500 grant. Located off Longmeadow Drive and Santa Teresa Boulevard, Summerhill is a three-and-a-half-year-old development of 65 homes that was built with funds provided by South County Housing, a local non-profit housing developer.
“We are a homeowners association, and we wanted to get to know our neighbors a little bit better,” said Judy Hess, who is an association member.
The association plans to host a cleanup day and beautification day. On the Fourth of July, there will be a community barbecue. Throughout the summer, Hess says the association will hold ice cream socials for neighborhood children.
To make sure people become involved, Hess said association members will knock on their neighbors’ doors to survey them. For instance, Hess said the association is looking for someone who enjoys being a barbecue cook. The association will also print a newsletter to keep neighbors updated on events.
Hess and other members of her association came up with their ideas through several meetings held at Old City Hall. The meetings were hosted by a representative from United Neighborhoods and Community Services Officer Rachel Muñoz of the GPD’s Neighborhood Resources Unit.
Topics covered at the meetings included how to put together grant applications, how to become better neighborhood leaders and figuring how to spend the money. Five other Gilroy groups participated in the meetings.
The IOOF/San Ysidro Association received $3,250 to host a Family Fun Night, a holiday posada and to fund a neighborhood watch program. The Fairview Drive Neighborhood Association received $3,650 to host a youth day and a neighborhood beautification day. Four social events are also planned to bring the 100 or so families living in this South Gilroy neighborhood together.
The North Murray Avenue Community, to which more than 100 households belong, received $4,000 to begin holding more meetings where community concerns can be voiced. In addition, several fairs are planned for local youth and seniors to get together.
The Rogers Lane neighborhood received $3,350 to host block events, facilitate meetings and to hold ice cream socials. The Southgate Neighborhood Association, located in southeast Gilroy and includes 32 households, received $1,800 to organize a neighborhood beautification day, a youth and family day, children’s volunteer programs and cultural awareness activities.
Giving out such money is central to CFSV’s mission, according to CFSV Spokeswoman Michelle McGurk. CFSV was founded in 1954 with $55,000, and now gives out about $1 million every week to charitable causes across Silicon Valley, she said. With the goal of community building, the endowment fund gives out its own money, and connects potential donors to the causes they wish to sponsor, she said.
“We see ourselves as being sort of a catalyst for philanthropy,” McGurk said. “Our community is only as strong as our least healthy neighborhoods.”
Building a sense of community is particularly important in the Silicon Valley region, because many residents have moved from other parts of the country and even the world, she said. Many newcomers do not share any sense of local history, she said.
Anyone interested in applying for a grant can visit the Community Foundation Silicon Valley’s Web site at www.cfsv.org