It’s time to reconnect with friends, family and – yes – our neighbours. And did you know that you can apply for a grant of up to $500 to host an activity within your community?
This could be to contribute toward a block party, community garden, scavenger hunt, talent show, film night, book club or another type of activity that brings people together.
The City of Penticton and Community Foundation of the South Okanagan | Similkameen have partnered to launch Neighbourhood Small Grants to provide funding of $50 to $500 for residents to make their neighbourhoods greater places to live, work and play. They’re taking applications right now, with grants provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
How about a block party?
For Barb Sheppard, who moved into a new home in Penticton five years ago, it was the perfect opportunity to get to know her neighbours better. Just two months after moving, she hosted a block party – and it has since become a much-anticipated event.
“For our block, it has made such a difference. There have been some people who have lived on Toronto Avenue all their lives and they had not met their neighbours,” she said. “This is an opportunity to get to know each other and connect. Also, as neighbours, to find out what everyone’s passions are – things you wouldn’t know by just walking by.”
Their block parties have included activities that included painting, a live band and home-baked apple pies. Neighbours roll out the BBQ, they order a big cake from the local IGA and they have an annual theme as a topic for discussion.
This year’s block party, following a hiatus due to the pandemic, was an opportunity to “re-engage and reconnect,” said Sheppard.
About the grant
Neighbourhood Small Grants can range from $50 to $500, with $10,000 in total available in Penticton. Already, five project grants have been awarded, leaving $7,500 remaining.
So, what’s eligible, you may wonder? Perhaps you would like to create care hampers for seniors, build a little library or share cupboard, hold workshops or yoga classes, or start up a hiking or walking club? Get creative! The point is about getting people together.
“It’s very resident-citizen focused, inspiring people at the grassroots level to build those relationships with our neighbours and deepen those connections within conversations over time,” said Community Development Coordinator for the Community Foundation, Kim English.
“The goal is to gather and share skills and knowledge, to build a sense of pride and community where you live, and to be welcoming and inclusive.”
Tips for hosting
Barb Sheppard has some tried-and-true tips for others who may want to host their own community activity or event.
- Hand out flyers to each household. While the Toronto Avenue neighbourhood now has a Facebook group page (created as a result of the block parties), not everyone is on Facebook. Handing out flyers is an opportunity to invite people face-to-face.
- Keep the event consistent each year. This way, people will know what to expect and it will feel familiar and build a sense of community. For example, by creating a special graphic for your event, it creates a visible identity to reuse each year.
- Don’t try to do everything yourself. Start small and engage your neighbours to help. For example, you can invite three people and encourage them to reach out to their closest neighbours. It will grow from there.
How to apply
The final deadline to submit a grant application, if funds are still available, is Aug. 31, 2021. Activities must meet the current COVID-19 health orders, and must be focused on supporting neighbours reconnecting socially, and/or sharing skills and talents.
The South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services, Neighbourhood Small Grants, and Vancouver Foundation are also supporting this initiative. For more information about the grants or to apply, please visit our Great Neighbourhoods page or call 250-490-2512.