Six area programs are moving toward serving people and facing challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to some help from the Anacortes Women’s Giving Circle.

The group, in its second year of giving, recently handed out more than $25,000 to six different groups.

The group’s 77 members each donated to a pot of money, then looked over grant applications and voted, co-founder Marta McClintock said. The grant with the most votes (by far), The Anacortes Family Center, was completely funded. Moving down the list, each of the six finalists received at least part of their request, McClintock said.

Every member gets the same vote, no matter how much money she contributes, McClintock said. The membership also included nine junior members between ages 16 and 25, McClintock said. All giving is managed through the Skagit Community Foundation, so no group member knows how much any other donated.

In October, the group will reset and reopen membership. Then the group will meet, put out a call for grant applications and vote on grants the following April. This year, things were sped up because of COVID-19 needs.

The group sets its priority in giving and this year focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. Sixteen groups applied for grants. A grant committee chose six finalists, which each presented virtually to the women’s group.

Membership and giving were both up this year, McClintock said. In its first year, the Anacortes Women’s Giving Circle had 71 members and gave away roughly $18,000.

The Anacortes Family Center’s grant this year was $15,000. The money will help pay for increased cleaning at the shelter and aid rent relief and other assistance to families experiencing layoffs or cutbacks in light of the pandemic. About 70% of the Family Center’s clients lost their jobs when the pandemic started, according to the grant application.

The center’s life skills went online, community spaces had to be sanitized more often, and more people needed help with food and other essentials, McClintock said. The mission at the Family Center really spoke to the giving circle, she said.

Another $5,000 went to Skagit Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services for its Safe and Healthy Anacortes Families Program. Domestic violence calls have gone up sharply over the past few months in result to everyone staying at home during the pandemic, McClintock said. The program works through support groups and parenting classes at the Anacortes Family Center; youth prevention programs at the Family Center, the Boys and Girls Club and at Anacortes High School; and participation in the Anacortes Health Council.

The Women’s Giving Circle also gave $1,800 to Youth Dynamics, to help that organization set up a safe place for students to do homework while still staying distant from each other.

“These are kids who want to get out of their homes and work somewhere else, but need a safe place to do that,” she said.

The Brigid Collins Family Support Center and the Friends of the Anacortes Community Forest Lands each received $1,681.50.

Brigid Collins is using the money to provide scholarships to families who would like to go through its parenting academy but can’t afford the classes.

The Friends of the Anacortes Community Forest Lands is running its seasonal discovery program during the school year to get kids away from their screens and out into nature.

The Salish Sea School is also receiving $500 for its new Shoreline Exploration Adventures.

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