RED BLUFF, Calif. - Tehama County nonprofits and public entities are receiving a total of $154,399 in grants from the McConnell Fund at the Community Foundation at the North State.
This year they saw a record-breaking amount of people applying for the McConnell grant due to the pandemic.
The City of Red Bluff Parks and Recreation Department was one of the groups awarded a grant of $32,699.
They are going to be using the funds to give the train in Diamond Park a complete makeover.
They will be swapping out the beloved Diamond Park wooden train for a concrete cast one.
"This is just going to make a safer project for kids to play on it and it will just be nicer,” said Karen Shaffer, City of Red Bluff Parks and Recreation supervisor.
Juan Cruz used to go to the park every day to play with his cousins as a kid.
He is sad to see the train from his childhood go but knows the upgrade is much needed.
"The train has a little wear and tear on it because of the splinters going into people’s hands, so it does need a lot of upkeep,” said Cruz. “Thank God the park is getting more upkeep and maintenance that it does need."
Shaffer told Action News Now that the pandemic pushed back the distribution of many grants.
This was the first grant Shaffer has applied for since she took over as supervisor three years ago.
She cannot wait to welcome kids back to the park.
They hope to have the new train rolling into the park in six to eight weeks, just in time for summer.
Hope Chest Thrift Store was another one of the recipients of the grant, getting $20,700 to fix the sewer lines that run through a 30-foot stretch of carpet inside the store to the side alley pipes.
They will also be using the money to expand their tiny bathroom from its original spot to the storage room, so it can be ADA compliant.
"We do have some volunteers that use a walker or a cane, so having a larger bathroom will benefit them greatly,” said Lucretia Betts, president of the board of Hope Chest Thrift Store.
The thrift store is not just supporting itself, but the low-income family counseling center that sits right next door.
"This grant is going to help us from going back in the negative because we would have to pay for this regardless and we would definitely be in the negative as far as our books,” said Lori Hale, manager of Hope Chest Thrift Store.
Even with 56 years of business and a 100-year-old building, Betts told Action News Now they only ask for help when they really need it.
“We are very, very grateful to be considered when awarding grants because certainly do need it,” said Betts.
They do not have a start date for the projects yet but anticipate it will take four to five days to complete.
They may need to close shop for that short time to get the work done.
The Northern California Child Development Inc. (NCCDI) is getting $15,000 to purchase equipment for sensory integration rooms for seven different NCCDI locations across the county.
At the NCCDI, they are working with kids with lots of different behaviors and disabilities and are noticing a lack of sensory interaction in children.
The spaces will include things like painting rooms, soothing colors and eventually even sensory swings.
“We are looking at soft mats and things that are really light and also heavy,” said Mellissa Owens, site supervisor. “Heavy balls that they can just use if they are really upset and if their impulses are hands-on based. It is appropriate to throw that heavy ball, but it is not appropriate for you to shove my friend to the ground."
Some classrooms already do have some makeshift sensory spaces, but the grant will help them better support kids in coping at school.
"We are helping them learn how to control their behavior, calm their bodies and put themselves in a sensory surrounding to calm themselves,” said Rosie Flores-Wilfong, Head Start program director.
They are extremely grateful to the McConnell Foundation and excited to turn their vision into reality.
The Red Bluff Joint Union High School District also received $36,000 to replace theater seating for their Performing Art Center in time for the new school year.
Community Housing Improvement Program Inc. was awarded $50,000 to repair seven balconies and handles at the Brickyard Creek Apartments.
In total, the organization awarded $683,313 split between 28 different groups across Shasta, Siskiyou, Trinity, Tehama and Modoc counties.