Elks Lodge awards $3,500 in grants to Connecting for Kids

Pictured at the check presentation are: Bryan Kahanca, Elks trustee; Sarah Rintamaki, Executive Director of Connecting for Kids; Brian Gartland, Elks Exalted Ruler; Tish Henry, board vice president of Connecting for Kids; Marty Mooney, Elks trustee-elect and Mike Vasey, Elks trustee.

Lakewood Elks Lodge #1350 located at 24350 Center Ridge Road in Westlake recently awarded a $3,500 Elks National Foundation Inc. Beacon Grant to Connecting for Kids. These funds were used to create 250 resource bags containing information on area therapists, summer camps and adapted programs for children who have disabilities, mental health and other concerns.

The resource bags were provided free of charge to families who attended the Connecting for Kids Lorain County Resource Fair in Elyria and the Meet and Greet Resource Fair in Rocky River. In total, 298 local families (or 641 individuals) attended these events to find help for a struggling child.

“The Lakewood Elks Lodge #1350 is proud to partner with Connecting for Kids to help local families,” said Exalted Ruler Mike Sheehan. “Not only were we able to provide the funds for the resource fair materials, but 26 Elks members volunteered at the events or helped assemble materials prior to the fairs. Now that the pandemic restrictions are easing, we are glad to get back to our in-person work in the community.”

“We had record attendance at our resource fairs this year,” said Sarah Rintamaki, Executive Director of Connecting for Kids. “With so many of the providers going out of business during COVID, parents really needed these events to know what resources are available to them. And, we would not have been able to host these fairs without the Elks funding and volunteer help.”

Some of the top concerns of local families have included:

Academic issues: Many students were either all virtual and/or in a hybrid set-up for at least a few months if not more during COVID. Learning online was difficult especially for those students that may already lag behind their peers. Many parents and caregivers are looking for local tutors and other academic supports.

Mental health issues: As we start to emerge from the pandemic, parents and caregivers are seeing signs of depression, anxiety and other issues in their children and are in search of mental health providers.

Parent/caregiver loneliness: During COVID, families have lost social networks and ties and are not sure where to turn when their children are having issues. Connecting for Kids has programs and resources to help ease these issues.

Difficulty finding resources: According to our research, almost 40% of local therapists, programs and camps closed during the pandemic. The ones that are still open have long wait lists. This is very frustrating for parents and caregivers. The resource fairs provide additional options for parents and caregivers. At the fairs, they are able to talk one-on-one with providers to find a good fit.

Lorilynn Wolf

Lorilynn Wolf serves as the Communications Director for Connecting for Kids.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 9:50 AM, 05.17.2022