TWIN FALLS — Christmas arrived four days early for 16 Twin Falls County nonprofits.

They received a total of $250,000 in grants Thursday from the Twin Falls Health Initiatives Trust during a ceremony at Cooper Norman.

It was a huge impact for the nonprofits, many of which operate on a shoestring budget providing services to those in need. They’ll use grant money in 2018 for health and wellness-related programs.

“It’s been fun and a joy to go through the process,” the trust’s board president Mark Brady told the crowd.

The trust has awarded $2.9 million in grants since 2008. This year, grant amounts ranged from $4,962 to $20,000.

Grants address the health trust’s priority areas this year, including access to care and affordability, health education and economically disadvantaged populations.

Projects also must address at least one of these subcategories: mental health, healthy weight, nutrition or exercise, substance abuse or strengthening family wellness.

The Twin Falls Health Initiatives Trust is administered by a 13-member all-volunteer board. The trust was created when the Twin Falls County-owned hospital — Magic Valley Regional Medical Center — was sold in 2006 to the St. Luke’s Health System.

County commissioners put some money into a trust and proceeds are used to award grants each year. Nonprofits attend a grant application class over the summer and apply by September.

The trust typically receives about 20 applications each year. Beyond the traditional community nonprofits, Brady told the Times-News he’d like to see other groups — such as schools — apply as well.

During the awards ceremony Thursday, an employee from each nonprofit talked about how they’ll use money and changes they’re expecting in 2018.

Here are the grant recipients:

Wellness Tree Clinic:

  • $20,000 to provide x-ray services, medical and dental care, and hearing tests to low-income residents who don’t have health insurance.
  • $20,000 to serve meals to homebound senior citizens who don’t qualify for existing programs.
  • $20,000 for transportation to medical appointments and for other health-related needs for community members who are elderly, disabled or chronically ill.
  • $20,000 to help with expenses for a crisis shelter for at-risk youth. Money will pay for 150 days of care for low-income youth.
  • $20,000 to buy a panoramic x-ray machine for an expanded dental office on Eastland Drive.
  • $20,000 to put in a commercial kitchen to help with providing weekend meals for the homeless in downtown Twin Falls.
  • $4,962 to provide meals for senior citizens, better meet nutritional requirements and improve the efficiency in food purchasing.
  • $20,000 to provide behavioral health, substance abuse treatment and mental health services for about 40 at-risk and low-income residents.
  • $16,645 to recruit and train volunteers to represent children in child protection cases. It’s currently serving nearly 300 children in eight counties — about 150 of whom are in Twin Falls County.

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Stanton Health Care:

  • $20,000 to provide free testing, treatment and education for sexually transmitted infections for those who are uninsured or underinsured.
  • A change for the new year will be having a registered nurse on site during all business hours, allowing for walk-ins.
  • “Thank you all for allowing us to have that growth in 2018,” employee Nicki Kroese told the health trust’s board.
  • $20,000 to increase the number of Latina families served by the victim service and advocacy organization, which provides support and a shelter for domestic violence victims.
  • “I’m just speechless and thankful,” employee Angelica Soto said about the award during the ceremony.
  • $10,000 for drug testing for about 100 indigent youth to help prevent drug relapses.

Castleford schools:

  • $8,891 to fund a Classrooms in Motion program. That includes providing four classrooms and all employees with exercise balls and mobile chairs, and initiatives to help students and employees develop healthier habits.

Kids Count Too:

  • $10,550 to help children grieving due to the death of a loved one.
  • $8,952 to improve medical services for low-income and homeless residents.
  • $10,000 to help elderly people who have mental or physical impairments, and no family members who can provide guardianship.
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