Faith groups, service organizations receive $78K in 1st round of Nederland COVID grant program

Published 12:34 am Friday, July 29, 2022

NEDERLAND — Team members with First United Methodist Church Nederland routinely give back to the community by helping bridge the gap for those suffering through food insecurity.

That means gift cards from H-E-B are provided to those in need.

Church members also give back through scholarships awarded to local high school graduates.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

But what happens when those who help are in need of help?

That is where church members found themselves in 2020 and 2021 during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. First United Methodist’s chief fundraising tools are the food booth volunteers operate annually at the Nederland Heritage Festival and through gifts and tithing to the church from its members.

The church also incurred extra costs in providing services through streaming during the pandemic, when lockdowns prevented large-group gatherings.

Thankfully, according to administrative supervisor Jeana Evans, the church was able to apply for and receive a grant from the City of Nederland for $11,171.

The money should be delivered by Friday, city officials said.

“It was very exciting to go through all the requirements, fill out the necessary information and actually getting the grant was great,” Evans said.

Nederland City Manager Chris Duque and City Clerk Gay Ferguson began outlining the program framework in late 2021 with city council support.

The guidelines were officially established in February as the City of Nederland Non-Profit Partnership Grant Program, with $500,000 allocated and a cap of $25,000 per non-profit organization.

The money was allocated from $4.3 million received by the city in Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery funds.

Groups serving Nederland residents that could document loss in revenue due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, experienced greater expenditures in providing services or are providing specific services to the community through a program or project were asked to submit their requests for reimbursement.

The process, which is tedious in nature, began to bear fruit this week with the announcements of the first awardees.

In addition to First United Methodist Church, other awards include:

  • $25,000 to The Rotary Club of Nederland,
  • $21,082.75 to Knights of Columbus, Council 5145,
  • $6,408 to Mid-County Noon Optimist, and
  • $15,066.40 to Nederland/Port Neches Evening Optimist Club.

Duque said city leaders anticipate having another round of applications at the next City Council meeting.

“They do get more complex as we move forward,” he told the City Council this week.

“The next ones are much more challenging to process. They are programs that over the next several years we are going to have to monitor the money to make sure it is being done correctly.”

Officials with The Rotary Club of Nederland said they lost $9,908 due to the cancellation of the 2021 Nederland Heritage Festival.

In regard to a project/program aspect of the grant, the club requested $15,091 for three additional scholarships for Nederland High seniors to be distributed over the next two years.

Kay DeCuir, Rotary club president, said the pandemic canceled numerous school-based fundraising events.

“To be able to have the blessing of recouping the year that we lost and being able to expand our program to add additional scholarships is a boost,” DeCuir said. “It all goes to senior Nederland High School graduates. We’ll spread them out over the years. We can award more students, and they are usually $2,000 scholarships apiece.”

The funding also allows the Rotary club to provide an “I Like Me” specialized book, which inside has the name of every Nederland kindergarten student and two of their friends.

“We have to have matching funds,” DeCuir said. “With this grant coming in, then with what we have in our budget, we will be able to match this additional grant that we are writing for right now. Every one of our kindergarten kids will be able to get an ‘I Like Me’ book again in the 2023 year. The book is all about the student.”