Avedis Foundation announces grants; funds to benefit non-profits, community.

The board of directors of the Avedis Foundation is awarding grants in excess of $1.3 million to several nonprofit organizations in Pottawatomie County.

The foundation board approved nine grants to benefit organizations in Shawnee and its neighboring communities.


“It is an honor to assist these organizations in providing great services to the people of Pottawatomie County,” said Michelle Briggs, President and CEO of Avedis Foundation.


Those organizations, “from The Salvation Army, the Volunteer Health

Center to the public school teachers and students with the STEM program through the Gordon Cooper Technology Center, there are so many people working so hard to make life better for all of us. It is incredible to witness the many selfless acts of so many,” she added.


“Avedis is also very excited to expand the Shawnee and Bethel communities walking and biking trails projects and to provide (along with the support of City of Shawnee) the much-needed additional lighting to the present Shawnee Airport trail,” said Briggs. “The Avedis Foundation is committed to improving the health and wellness of the people of Pottawatomie County and these trails and improvements are just the beginning of our commitment to wellness.”


A grant totaling $220,023 to the Salvation Army of Shawnee will allow the organization to provide educational programming and training opportunities to address poverty, including a 16-week class for disadvantaged participants to identify key resources to overcome poverty and to learn skills that lead to self-sufficiency. The program, called Bridges Out of Poverty, was developed in 2013 as a community initiative to educate all sectors about the impact of poverty on a community where approximately18 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.


Salvation Army Corps Officer Lt. Philip Canning said the community has long recognized that collaboration is necessary to address the issues surrounding poverty.


“However, what had been lacking was the ‘how-to.’ The Bridges Out of Poverty initiative brings a framework for collective efforts to the community,” he said. “Thanks to the support of the Avedis Foundation and others in the community, we can now move from talking about the need for collaboration to building collaboration.”


With the help of several doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others who donate their time and professional expertise every Thursday evening, the Volunteer Health Center provides free medical care for the uninsured of Pottawatomie County.


The Shawnee-based clinic will receive $32,000 to help fund pharmaceuticals and clinic supplies, as well as the acquisition of a county-required security guard and recent changes in the Affordable Care Act have made it more difficult for clinics such as the Volunteer Health Center to receive complementary medications from the pharmaceutical companies that once supplied them. As a result, the Volunteer Health Center directs the majority of its budget to the purchase of medications for its patients, of which about 90 percent do not qualify for subsidized healthcare.


“The clinic finds itself in an increasingly difficult environment in relation to the donation and procurement of low-cost or free medication,” said Dr. Greg Grant from the Volunteer Health Center. “Realistically, this situation will not reverse itself and the needs of the patients persist and are immediate. The grant from Avedis Foundation will serve as a critical stopgap measure to continue to provide necessary medications to our patients as we learn to navigate this new environment,” he added.


Additional grants announced

• $15,000 to the Boy Scouts for a Pottawatomie County Outreach and Leadership Initiative, a career education program for underserved youth.

• $641,472 to the City of Shawnee for the Central Shawnee Sidewalk and Trail Extension and Airport Track Lighting to connect an existing airport track to a new walking trail on the east side of Shawnee, which would establish a continuous, 13-mile route; and to complete lighting on the airport track.


• $107,180 to Gordon Cooper Technology Center for teacher and student STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) training, which includes upper elementary and middle school teacher STEM training, as well as summer STEM camps for students.


• $14,200.00 to Meeker Friends of the Library, Inc., for a community computer system which would include the purchase of computers for the community’s only public location for student research, job applicants and services.


• $30,000 to the town of Bethel Acres, for the development of a community walking trail and fitness stations.


• $77,896 to Youth and Family Services for the renovations of nine bathrooms at the emergency youth shelter and to increase shelter capacity;

• $200,000 to Tecumseh Public Schools for “Tecumseh at Play,” to create four ADA-accessible playgrounds.


Since it began awarding grants in 2013, Avedis Foundation has awarded more than $3.4 million to benefit Pottawatomie County and its surrounding communities through worthwhile projects that improve the health, wellness and quality of life for those communities.


Paula Waters, Avedis Foundation Program Director commented on the latest round of grants.


“It's a great privilege to see these well-deserving organizations receive much needed financial support. The real credit goes to them. Every day, they are on the front lines of service in education, the nonprofit sector and local government. Credit also goes to the volunteers,” she said. “They are the unspoken heroes, people of all ages who willingly give their time and personal resources for the good of the community as a whole.”


Avedis Foundation is a private foundation with 501(c)3, nonprofit status, established in June, 2012 from the sale of Unity Health Center to St. Anthony Hospital. With assets in excess of $100 million, Avedis Foundation is one of Oklahoma’s larger foundations, established to invest in the county through grants that support projects and benefit nonprofit organizations within the foundation’s granting area.


The name “Avedis” means “one who brings glad tidings,” or “the bearer of good news,” a significance intrinsic to the foundation's mission of improving the health, wellness and quality of life for the people of Pottawatomie County and its surrounding communities. Avedis Foundation is located at 3903 N. Harrison in Shawnee.


For additional information about Avedis Foundation and the process for applying for grants, visit the foundation’s website at www.avedisfoundation.org.