Thursday, July 10, 2008

Financial relief in place for charities

Community Forklift, Port Towns regatta projects funded

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The Bladensburg Town Council showed its support for local charity organizations by distributing discretionary funds at Monday’s council meeting.

Jim Schulman asked the council to expedite the $65,000 Maryland Community Legacy Grant funds his nonprofit, Community Forklift, is scheduled to receive later this month.

Community Forklift’s current location, in an Edmonston warehouse, needs to be renovated to include restrooms and handicap accessibility for the front entrance to meet ADA requirements. The council acts as a manager for the state grant and unanimously voted in favor of assisting the organization.

Community Forklift works to provide low-cost building materials by reusing donated materials and raising support from the local community through events such as the ‘‘Tropical Treat Dance and Silent Auction” held last month.

Schulman a Washington, D.C., resident, created the Forklift, which is owned and operated by Sustainable Community Initiatives. Proceeds from the forklift support job training, small business incubation, and public education about green design and construction.

‘‘There have been some changes to the Maryland State grant process and Mr. Schulman wanted our support for his organization to receive its grant sooner rather than later,” Bladensburg Mayor Walter James said. ‘‘Community Forklift has been good to our town.”

The money may not be available until September but Schulman said the store would remain open while the ramps and bathrooms are added.

The council was not done allocating funding for various organizations as council members made donations to the Anacostia Watershed Society’s Annual Anacostia Port Towns Paddlesport Regatta. The regatta, which will be held July 19 at the Bladensburg Waterfront Park, consists of a series of friendly canoe, kayak, and dragon boat races as well as an eco-fair with exhibits and games by local eco-friendly businesses and organizations.

While the council was in favor of financially supporting the event, it could not due to a change in the town’s organizational funding policy. James said organizations are required to submit a written application requesting funds beforehand.

‘‘We changed the process in order to be more fiscally responsible and provide more accountability,” James said. ‘‘A few months ago we thought up the application process to give accountability to these kinds of allocations.”

While the council could not repeat last year’s $500 donation, council members Cris Mendoza (Ward 1) and Walter George (Ward 2) each gave $100 from their discretionary funds.