The City of Lacey is currently accepting applications for its Work Involvement Now! (WIN!) Program grants. The Lacey City Council initiated the program in 1994 to encourage youth to participate in projects that foster community pride by enhancing Lacey area parks, trails, neighborhoods, and business districts. The WIN! Program awards up to $300 to Lacey-area youth groups for completing qualified service projects.

Lacey youth grants
Youth groups may find that the cooperation involved in the service projects helps build fellowship within the youth group. Photo Credit: City of Lacey

Jenny Bauersfeld, Community Relations Specialist for the City of Lacey, says the city receives applications from a variety of youth organizations such as the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and 4-H clubs, every year. She encourages groups that haven’t applied before to give it a try as it is a wonderful opportunity for youth groups to get involved with their community and receive funds to support their mission. The City awards up to 25 grants, randomly selected from the pool of eligible applicants.

Youth organizations can participate in a number of volunteer activities that help make their community better, safer, and more ecologically healthy. They can spread bark or gravel, remove invasive plants, paint fire hydrants, or even help at the Lacey Spring Fun Fair. The service project requirement is a total of 40 hours of volunteer time. Many groups are able to get their project done in one day.

South Bay Horse 4-H Club, part of the Thurston County 4-H club, has participated in the WIN! Program for the past eight years. The group shows and rides horses throughout the area, as well as participates in many community service projects throughout Lacey. They also participate in fundraisers to support their group, and the WIN! Program is one of the biggest.

Billie Dorsey, South Bay Horse 4-H Club leader, says the group has completed a variety

City of Lacey
The outdoor service activities provide an opportunity for the young volunteers to get out and enjoy the parks and trails. Photo Credit: City of Lacey

of projects, including spreading bark one year and painting fire hydrants the next. One year, they pulled invasive ivy. Every year the group gets together to vote on what service project they want to apply for. Dorsey says, “They really like spreading bark because they get to go out on the local trails, go for a walk, and usually make a day of it.”

The South Bay Horse 4-H Club uses the money raised through the WIN! Program to help purchase club t-shirts and tickets for the Thurston County Fair where they show their horses.

In addition to the organization receiving grant money, each youth volunteer gets a certificate of participation from the City of Lacey. Dorsey says the kids take pride in the work they do and look forward to receiving the certificates showing the number of hours they participated in the service project that year.

City of Lacey grants
Working together, a group of 10 volunteers can complete the service component of the grant requirement in just 4 hours. Photo credit: City of Lacey

To qualify for the grant, groups (i.e. school clubs, sports teams, or youth groups) must:

  • Be based in the Lacey area with most of the participants living in the City of Lacey or the North Thurston Public School’s district boundaries.
  • Have a minimum of 8 and maximum of 25 youth participants.
  • Include youth (ages 10 -18) as their primary membership.
  • Contribute a minimum of 40 hours of community service to qualify
    for a maximum grant award of $300 (one project per group).

Adult volunteers are invited to help, but the maximum adult-to-student volunteer ratio may not exceed one adult for every two youths. Bauersfeld says the emphasis of the program is really about encouraging kids to be involved with their community.

The group must appoint one adult volunteer as a safety representative who will oversee the volunteers during the project. They must attend a safety training with the City of Lacey Public Affairs Department prior to the start of the project.

City of Lacey grants
The youth are inspired by the work they put into their community. Seeing trees grow that they planted or seeing other benefits of their volunteer service helps instill pride in ownership within their community. Photo credit: City of Lacey

Youth organizations are not the only ones that benefit from the grant program. It is a win/win for both the kids and the community. Removing invasive plants like ivy and scotch broom and planting and caring for native plants benefits the local ecosystem. Spreading gravel and painting fire hydrants helps improve safety. Spreading wood chips and caring for plants helps beautify the community. So, if you’re out and about in the City of Lacey and you notice a newly painted fire hydrant or some freshly applied wood chips, take a moment to appreciate the hard work of the area youth who are getting out there making the community better for everyone.

Applications are open this year from now through April 13. If your organization or someone you know could benefit from one of these grants, visit the City of Lacey website to submit an application today.

If you have questions about the program, contact Kelsey Williams, Department Assistant for the City of Lacey Public Affairs Department at 360-491-3214 or kwilliam@ci.lacey.wa.us.

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