Grants will bring improvements
Three area towns receive funds from Wellmark Foundation
Three central and northwest Iowa towns have received a total of $150,000 in matching grants from the Wellmark Foundation to help individuals, families and communities achieve better health through initiatives that encourage physical activity or access to nutritious foods.
Both Manson and Pocahontas received $25,000 from the foundation, and Algona received $100,000.
The groups were notified in August of their pending awards and had 12 weeks to secure the required matching funds to receive the grant awards.
In Pocahontas, the $25,000 grant is going to help a collaborative effort among the Pocahontas Chamber of Commerce, Pocahontas Hometown Pride Committee and city of Pocahontas to improve Elbert Park. This will fund the second phase of the park improvement project, which will include adding trail extensions to create a walking trail that connects Elbert Park to Princess Park and Rosenberger Park.
According to chamber Executive Director Parker Aden, Pocahontas received its award from the Wellmark Foundation last week.
“It’s been a great collaboration between a lot of different community organizations and there’s been so many great volunteers and donors and supporters of the project,” Aden said.
The push to improve Elbert Park started with a retired business leader in town, Bonnie Wood, Aden said. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Wood sewed and sold face masks, donating the money back to the community.
“She was looking into community projects to invest into,” Aden said, calling her the “catalyst volunteer” who initiated improvements at Elbert Park.
The first phase of the project was to raise money to install new playground equipment. Now, in the second phase, Aden said they will use the grant money to create a master trail plan to connect the three parks. The trail extensions will begin construction in the spring and the master trail plan is expected to be released in the next month or so.
The Wellmark Foundation required the community groups to match half of the grant with in-kind donations, services and cash in order to receive their awards. Pocahontas was able to raise the $12,500 with the help of “some great donors,” Aden said.
Manson will be using its $25,000 grant for its Youth Sports Complex Project, which includes relocating two youth baseball fields and two youth soccer fields to a space adjacent to the Manson Area Community Center.
Algona will be using its $100,000 grant to fund its Central Park Redevelopment Project, which aims to breathe new life into the city’s most prominent park. The project will reconstruct the skate park and basketball court, add fencing around the tennis courts, add green space for free play, increase lighting and add new sidewalks to make the park more accessible.
“The projects these organizations are implementing will enhance the quality of life and the overall well-being of citizens in their communities for several generations,” said Wellmark Foundation Executive Director Mary Lawyer.
In total, the Wellmark Foundation awarded 1,699,000 in large and small grants across more than 30 Iowa communities.