The cancer support group at Circle of Hope started with about three people in a Santa Clarita living room 16 years ago. Today, it has more than tripled at its Newhall center, with many sitting on the floor.
But the challenge of not having a place to sit, among others, now has a solution, said Executive Director Laura Kirchhoff. The nonprofit organization that focuses on supporting the fight against cancer, is one of 35 local recipients who will receive a piece of the $180,000 in arts and community services grant funding by the city of Santa Clarita.
The City Council approved the annual grant funding for the 2020 cycle on Tuesday.
“We are so thankful for the city and that they, along with so many contributors and donors, know the importance of helping those with cancer in our community,” said Kirchhoff. “To be able to have this funding opportunity means the world to us.”
The organization was granted $5,000 to renovate and modernize its cancer support room, where the support group meets every other Tuesday. The locale is currently set up to mimic a living room space but lacks “enough seating to handle a group of this size, has mismatched furniture and no windows for natural lighting.”
“Whether you’re going through cancer or treatment, people don’t open up easily and have a hard time expressing their feelings but if you’re in an environment where you feel familiar to the environment, you’ll benefit more from not only hearing from others but you might be more into opening up,” said Kirchhoff.
More specifically, she said funds would cover additional and upgraded seating, natural-like lighting, a music/sound system and supplies for therapies.
Grant funding will also help enhance the Child and Family Center’s crisis intervention services, some of which were used at Saugus High School following the deadly school shooting in November, said CEO Joan Aschoff. The agency was designated $5,000 to cover mobile computers to be able to reach more clients out on the field, she said.
“Sometimes we get so many clients and we don’t have enough office space so our team of therapists who work with these children go out to the community and do assessments and forms are able to get signed with Surface Pros,” Aschoff added. “As we get the funds, we try to replace the desktops with those that make us more flexible since about 45% of our services are provided outside of the office.”
The Grants Committee, which is composed of council members, city staff and Parks and Arts commissioners, received 82 applications for community services and arts programs, with grant requests totaling nearly $410,000. Last year, the City Council also granted $180,000 in funding for nearly 60 agencies.
Other recipients of this year include Bridge to Home for shelter outdoor furniture, Carousel Ranch for program equipment, the Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers for access to psychiatric services. Under the arts category, the Canyon Theatre Guild, Santa Clarita Ballet Company and Major Impact Theater were among those who received anywhere between $5,000-$7,5000.