Nine organizations serving Sandwich/west Windsor and Delray/Southwest Detroit are the benefactors of the first round of funding through the Community Organization Investment initiative – a component of the Gordie Howe International Bridge Community Benefits Plan.
The $100,000 (CDN) in funding will be provided in July and will support the exciting and versatile projects announced on June 10, 2020. In all, the projects will benefit local children and seniors, support businesspeople and honour the area’s rich history.
Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority CEO Bryce Phillips says the funding is part of their commitment to help the residents of the host communities prosper.
“The Gordie Howe International Bridge project will create jobs and economic opportunities for the Windsor/Detroit region,” says Phillips. “Beyond that, the project team is working closely with our neighbouring community members, involving them in the project and delivering meaningful benefits that will positively impact their quality of life. We are listening. We are partnering. We are connecting communities.”
The Community Organization Investment, an initiative under the Community Benefits Plan, is a five-year annual investment allowance with $50,000 allocated to registered non-profit or charitable organizations located in or serving residents in Sandwich/west Windsor and Delray/Southwest Detroit respectively. The funds support events, programming and infrastructure improvements that will benefit the communities and align with one of the community investment priorities, including community partnerships, community safety and connections, economic benefits, and/or aesthetics and landscaping.
“This is yet another milestone in the delivery of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project, adds Aaron Epstein, the CEO of Bridging North America, the private-sector partner that will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the bridge. “This Community Organization Investment is an extension of our Community Benefits Plan and the result of continued collaboration with our many stakeholders and will provide positive outcomes for the communities in west Windsor and Southwest Detroit.”
Three of this year’s nine recipients serve the residents of Southwest Detroit.
Bridging Communities will receive $15,000 to increase the social interactions of seniors in Delray. The organization will use the funds to enhance supportive services such as monthly wellbeing checks. Officials also plan to host more community events such as cooking classes, dinner dances, trivia nights and other special events to allow seniors to make connections with their peers.
Ste. Anne de Detroit Catholic Church, founded in 1701, will also receive $15,000 for its food pantry. Alicia Rodriguez, the manager of the food pantry, says the money will help meet the increased demand for food as well as household and personal care items.
“The funding provided by the Gordie Howe International Bridge Community Benefits Plan will allow us to purchase equipment to expand our storage and handling capabilities to better serve the growing number of individuals and families seeking assistance,” says Rodriguez.
The West Vernor & Springwells Business Improvement District (BID) is the recipient of $20,000. The organization will use the funding to design and implement a social media campaign to promote local businesses at specific times of the year including Cinco De Mayo, Dia de Los Muertos, holiday shopping and Southwest Restaurant Week. The campaign aims to attract more customers to businesses operating near the construction sites.
The other half of the funding from the Community Organization Investment initiative will be shared among six groups serving west Windsor.
The Sandwich First Baptist Church is the recipient of $20,000. The money will be used to help construct a large heritage museum in a modified shipping container that will honour the Sandwich area’s role with the Underground Railroad and celebrate the contributions of African Canadians.
“This museum is going to bridge the past with the future,” says Historian Lana Talbot. “We’re going to take you on tours of the Underground Railroad and it’s going to bring a lot of people from the United States into Canada. Of all the things that are going on now, we hope this is going to be one of the positive things that will reach millions of people.”
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Windsor Essex Central Council will receive $11,000 to fund activities and attract more members at the Helping Hands Friendship Centre. The centre provides no-cost, fun activities for diverse residents of the west-end such as a family fun day barbeque, tours and picnics, educational programs, arts and crafts as well as communal celebrations of special holidays such as Christmas.
The Friends of the Court organization is getting $8,000 to improve the outdoor space at Mackenzie Hall in Sandwich. The money will be used to purchase and replace large stock native trees, reposition a heritage pear tree, replace deteriorated or missing perennial plant material and install a support rail for existing wisteria shrubs.
Funding will also support environment initiatives at the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA). $4,100 will fund a binational Detroit River Canadian Cleanup with several community organizations. The event will include two cleanup locations in Sandwich, Windsor including Black Oaks Heritage Park/Ojibway Shores and the area between Queen’s Dock Park and McKee Park.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windsor-Essex will receive $4,500 to create a targeted outreach campaign to find in-school mentors for 75 more children and youth in the Sandwich area. The campaign will include four outreach and recruitment events held in the community to allow potential volunteers to better understand the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and the need for mentors in the neighbourhood.
The organization behind the Les Amis Duff-Bâby Mansion will also receive $2,400. First opened in 1798, it is known as Windsor’s oldest house and one of oldest buildings in Canada west of Toronto. Vice President David Garlick says they will use the funds to host a grand opening event to commemorate the partnership that was recently established with the City of Windsor and the Ontario Heritage Trust.
Garlick says the partnership will permit regular public access to the historically significant structure and site for the first time in 222 years.
“The grand opening will feature reenactments, events for children, tours of the house and walking tours of the Sandwich community,” says Garlick. “We are grateful to the Gordie Howe International Bridge for this grant.”
The recipients were selected following an application process that ran from November 2019 through January 2020 and resulted in 50 eligible submissions. The project’s Local Community Group, comprised of stakeholders from the host communities on both sides of the border, played a significant role in reviewing the applications and providing recommendations to the project team.
The application process for the 2021 funding cycle is anticipated to begin in November 2020.
For more information about the Community Organization Investment, please see the materials prepared for the January 2020 open house.