Grant will help local seniors outside recreation

The Oxford senior center, located at Seymour Lake Township Park will soon see some additions to its outdoor space thanks to a grant provided by the Almont-based Four County Community Foundation (4CCF).
Oxford Township received word on Jan. 23 that Oxford Township Parks and Recreation was awarded $5,000 of a $10,568 grant proposal that was submitted on Dec. 18 by Oxford Township Communications and Grants Manager, C.J. Carnacchio.
“While I was still working at The (Oxford) Leader, one of the last stories I did was how the Four County Community Foundation was giving a grant to the Addison public library to help them build a new facility,” Carnacchio said.
While he was working on that story, Carnacchio spoke with a representative from 4CCF who mentioned the foundation wanted to expand their exposure to the Oxford community. “They wanted to start handing out more grant money in this area to create more awareness about the Four County Community Foundation and what they do. So with that in mind…I knew when I started this job that they would be the first one I would reach out to, but I didn’t exactly know what (for),” he said. That’s where parks and recreation senior coordinator and recreation specialist, Dawn Medici, came in.
The senior center, which opened in May 2019 hosts approximately 15 different programs a month as well as a travel program. While items have been purchased or donated to use inside the senior center, Medici and parks and recreation director Ron Davis thought it was time to focus on the outside. With the installation of horseshoe pits, shuffleboard courts and the eventual installation of a bocce ball court, some needs were found.
“Where are people going to sit? What could be used outside to help create a comfortable and warm environment outside? So we thought about benches, picnic tables, a barbeque grill and trash cans, so we went with that route,” Medici said.
“I don’t ever want anyone at the senior center to feel like they’re excluded and think, ‘well, I can’t play that game because I can’t stand that long,’” Carnacchio said. “We want to make the area accessible to everyone, so whether you’re watching or participating, we wanted to make the area more comfortable.”
Along with the outdoor furniture, equipment and grill, the idea of a podium with a microphone attached was added to the list. Medici said items such as the podium and grill could be utilized for special events, cook-outs, guest speakers as well as for some of the classes the center already offers. “For example, we have Connie’s KitchenZ and this will give instructors like her an opportunity to also use the grill in her program,” she said. Currently, the kitchen located inside the senior center acts as a warming kitchen and does not have a stove or oven.
Once the list of items was narrowed down, Carnacchio and Medici began crafting the proposal with Medici providing all of the necessary information, including multiple bids for each item, to Carnacchio so he could write the grant.
“Anytime I had a question or needed information supplied to me or statistics about the center, Dawn was great,” Carnacchio said. “I put the grant together, but Dawn got me the information to put it together, so Dawn was very instrumental in helping parks and rec get the grant.”
While the grant awarded was for only half of the amount they were initially seeking, Carnacchio is happy with the outcome and said everyone should be, too.
“(The grant) brought money into the community, helped save the taxpayers money because it’s money they didn’t have to spend and it’s money that is going to benefit our senior citizens who we value in Oxford,” he said. “They gave us half and I think that’s pretty good because half a loaf of bread is better than no loaf of bread.”
Now that parks and recreation has secured the grant, it’s up to Medici and Davis to determine which items on the list should be a priority to purchase with the money that was awarded. “Thank you to the 4CCF for giving us the funds to enhance our facility,” she said.
Carnacchio expressed the same gratitude in a Jan. 24 press release.
“On behalf of Oxford Township and its senior citizens, I wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to the Four County Community Foundation for selecting our project. We truly appreciate your support and we promise to put this money to good use,” he said. “We value our seniors in Oxford and we want to ensure that they have the highest quality of life possible. This grant will help us do that.”
Four County Community Foundation is a non-profit organization that was “created by and for the people of the corners of Lapeer, Macomb, Oakland and St. Clair counties.” 4CCF serves the cities and villages of Almont, Armada, Capac, Dryden, Imlay City, Metamora, Oxford, Richmond and Romeo. Since its establishment in 1987, approximately $9 million has been awarded in grants and scholarships.

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