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Take Action to Improve Your Neighborhood!
Who hasn’t stood on their sidewalk with a neighbor and remarked on what the city or others ought to fix, improve, take away or build? Most of us could look around our neighborhood and come up with two or three things that really need attention or would really improve that area. Getting something done, however, often takes organization, committed volunteers, a solid plan and usually some money. So most often nothing gets done. Enter AARP. Through a Community Action Sponsorship from AARP VT, you could move from an idea to real action. The program offers modest grants to neighborhood groups in the Burlington community along with support and organizational help from AARP staff.
In an effort to encourage and support grassroots action to make Burlington more livable, AARP Vermont is now accepting applications for the Community Action Sponsorship Program. The initiative is part of the Burlington Livable Community Project aimed at preparing Burlington for the rapidly aging demographic shift – particularly in the areas of housing, mobility and activities that foster multi-cultural and intergenerational connections.
These sponsorships are intended to inspire and support grassroots groups that have a vision for their neighborhood or the city and how it can be improved to the meet the needs of all residents. AARP hopes our funding and support can jump start projects that will really make a difference. The sponsorship is open to grassroots groups and small non-profits in Burlington and should represent a desire to make change through local level activism and advocacy.
Over the past two years AARP has funded four groups for $2,000 each. All these groups started with an idea, put it on paper and effectively communicated how — with a little support — their idea could help citizens and make our community more livable. The proposals can be about physical changes to a neighborhood or focused more on people through programs, services, entertainment or any form of engagement.
Linda Deliduka of Burlington KIN credited the grant funding for enabling her to reach more families and for raising awareness of the issue of grandparents raising their grandchildren. “Thanks to this support, we’ve increased the families in our support group from 3 to 20 and are connecting with many other families and individuals as word spreads,” she said. “This grant really enabled us to reach out to these folks and show them how to navigate the system to find benefits and support.”
Another project that received a grant was about creating a new entrance way to the bike path in the Old North End leading along the 127 beltway. It includes an interpretive kiosk and wayfinding signage as well as beautification improvements. “The path entrance looked like – and was treated like – a dump entrance,” said Jon Griesser who led the effort. “We hope these improvements to the entrance will bring a lot of change, including a better and safer impression, increased visibility, and most importantly, increased utilization of this incredible resource.” Now complete, the response has been overwhelmingly positive from users and neighbors alike.
Burlington residents and groups are encouraged to apply. The deadline is August 17, 2012, and up to three groups will be selected for grants ranging from $500-$2,000. Grants will be one-time funding for a 12-month period and groups that are awarded sponsorships will receive technical assistance from AARP staff. This will include advocacy and communications support, administrative support (as appropriate), and access to office equipment and meeting space. Sponsored projects will receive public recognition through AARP, including letters of support, as needed to achieve their goals. So take action toward a more livable community and AARP can lend a needed hand.
Applications are available at www.blcp.org or by calling Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur at 951-1313.