Receiving a Bigger Grant Than You Requested

Very rarely does a foundation grant more money than a nonprofit has requested. But that has happened – TWICE in the last year – to the Monument Senior Citizens Association.

On the surface, the Monument Senior Center project was similar to many others.

The kitchen appliances bought used 25 years ago were wearing out and getting harder and harder to MacGyver together. The building needed some renovation to make the entrance and bathrooms ADA compliant. And on the “wouldn’t it be nice” list was a cement floor, electricity and shelving in the storage building.

Jan Ensign with new convection oven, range and griddle

So what made the difference to funders?

Passionate volunteers was one factor. Judy Harris loves fundraising and tirelessly organized rummage sales, auctions, and established an annual Buckaroo Harvest Festival. Elaine Eisenbraun researched foundations and wrote grants. The entire board was on hand to prepare three meals a day for four days for hundreds of visitors during the 2017 Eclipse to raise money for the project.

Jan Ensign and Judy Harris

Strong local support also made a difference. Alongside the volunteers was a community who stepped up and offered whatever they could: salmon, elk and potatoes for the Harvest Festival dinner, donations and bidders for the auctions, personal contacts with out-of-town funders and donors.

Good planning and budgeting was important, too. Jan Ensign set up a solid accounting system and diligently tracked every dollar contributed and spent. Projects often were completed under budget because of unexpected inkind donations of labor and material from local electricians, plumbers and contractors. Whenever money from a grant was left over, she contacted the foundation. Each time, the response was, “What else do you need? Put the extra money toward that.”

Foundations love to support a community working together for the greater good. The Monument Senior Center not only hosts senior meals. It is also home to the local library and provides meeting space for 4-H clubs and sewing groups, city council and soil and water committees, EMT trainings, monthly medical and foot clinics, birthday parties, weddings, funerals, class reunions, bingo and bunco. Thanks to a lot of people, the center will still be there when the kids coming now for 4-H meetings will be socializing there at senior meals.

Annual Christmas Tree Auction Sets the Mood for the Holiday Season

For 27 years people have been decorating trees, sewing quilts, and donating silent auction items for the Hospice Christmas Auction and Dinner. And then buying them back — sometimes paying thousands of dollars for a Christmas tree.

Of course these are not ordinary Christmas trees. The top seller this year, at a bid of $6700, also included a generous travel voucher for when winter thoughts wander to warmer climes.

Rosendin tree edit

Another was decorated in memory of loved one and his favorite movie.


In true Prineville spirit, the auction and dinner is held in the Crook County Fairgrounds indoor arena, which on other weekends hosts rodeos, the 4-H fair and high school graduation.


There are no limits to what people in rural communities will do to help each other. More than 700 attended this year’s event raising more than $90,000.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Everyone from the Shelk Foundation!











For the Kids

By next summer Crook County kids (and grown-up kids) will have new places to play. A splash pad for the littles, an awesome skate park for the teenagers, and four pickleball courts for everyone.

Imagine a skatepark from this
old skatepark
to this
new skatepark sign

pickleball courts here…..                               and kids splashing in water fountains here
old tennis court[1]  fundraising sign

A combined effort including businesses,service organizations, local government, volunteers and grants, along with tenacity and perseverance, made it possible. There are no limits to what a community can do when people work together!


                                                       photo courtesy of Jason Chaney, Central Oregonian

IMG_1765 cropped (1)

  photo courtesy of Jason Chaney, Central Oregonian

Asking for Donations

Asking for donations is hard. Especially in a small community where you know most everyone and see each other at meetings, school activities, or shopping for groceries.

How do you get comfortable enough to ask your friends to contribute to a nonprofit project or organization that you are passionate about?

I don’t know, but I have realized that at some point the cause becomes more important than you. You know this is vital to your community, your kids, your neighbors. It’s important! And somehow that makes it easier to ask for support.

Most of the time your cause is also important to the people you are asking. They just weren’t aware of it or know how to get involved. They were there waiting to be asked to contribute, to be invited to join your mission.

We see that playing out right now with a community project we have long supported. Someone stepped out of their comfort zone, picked up the phone, dialed a name on the list, and asked for a donation. The answer was YES!  The second phone call was also a yes. And it gets easier, I can promise you that.

Bringing Funders and Trainings to John Day

Recently more than 50 people from nonprofits in six counties gathered in John Day for a workshop on strategic planning. It was a great turn out and from all accounts the time was well-spent. Everyone learned something and valuable contacts were made.

Big thanks to Adrienne Graham and the Nonprofit Association of Oregon (NAO) for bringing practical and useful training to us way out here in Eastern Oregon. And thank you to the Oregon Community Foundation for funding the workshop so there was no charge to the people attending. Special thanks to Yvette Rhoades from The Ford Family Foundation who drove over 300 miles and 6+ hours to be with us in John Day!

Time and distance are big factors out here, something we accept without thinking much about it. But we do appreciate greatly when funders and nonprofit trainers make the sacrifice to come to us and our communities. Our shops, restaurants and motels also appreciate the visitors. And when you visit you get to see some beautiful scenery and meet some friendly and creative people.

You’re welcome to come see us anytime!

Good People Doing Good Things in Grant County

Teresa Aasness and her staff at Families First are doing an outstanding job helping children and families in Grant and Harney counties, beginning with prenatal counseling and installing car seats to parenting classes and home visits; and providing trauma-informed training to everyone who interacts with vulnerable children and families.

Rick Minster, Heart of Grant County board member, is spending most of his retirement hours finding property and funding to build a safe place for women and children who are victims of domestic abuse.

Derek Daly, CEO of the Blue Mountain Hospital, is traveling to Monument and other outlying communities to support local EMTs and emergency vehicles that will save time, and potentially lives, across Grant County.

John Day city manager Nick Green is working on a vision of making the John Day River accessible to the community and visitors with a connection of trails, parks, and innovative development that will attract new businesses and jobs to the area.

And the Grant County Library Foundation board is in the midst of a capital campaign asking friends and neighbors in Grant County to support a new county library. If everyone chips in, they could be breaking ground for a modern new county library within the next year!

Monument School Receives Trail Blazers Foundation Grant

Congratulations to Monument School for receiving a “Take it to the Court” grant from the Trail Blazers Foundation. The $2000 award will help fund the Missoula Children’s Theater, a week-long arts residency program that results in the production of a play involving every student in the K-12 school.

The Trail Blazer Foundation partners with Wells Fargo to award $110,000 annually to Oregon schools for a wide variety of academic, art, athletic and community programs. It is one of few grant programs that focuses specifically on local schools. More than 300 apply and Monument School was one of only 24 who were selected.

Monument’s proposal was compelling, but had a hitch with a technicality. Fortunately school superintendent Mickey Lane let us know he was applying for the grant. And when the Trail Blazer Foundation contacted the Shelk Foundation during their due diligence process, we were able to explain the idiosyncrasies of rural Eastern Oregon schools and communities.

Thank you to the Trail Blazers Foundation for recognizing and supporting rural Oregon!