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Health Foundation of Kershaw County hands out first grants

Posted: May 23, 2016 5:25 p.m.
Updated: May 24, 2016 1:00 a.m.
Martin L. Cahn/C-I

Members of the Health Foundation of Kershaw County (HFKC) recently presented grant funds to representatives of five organizations at Sam Kendall’s restaurant in downtown Camden. Those assembled included (front row, from left) HFKC Board Chair Kathy Comer; HFKC Board Member Karen Eckford; FRC Director Rosalyn Moses; CMCOKC Director Susan Witkowski; HFKC Board members Donna Fryer and Bill Denton; (back row) Chris Jones, B-MPFD; HFKC Board Member Robert Brooks; LF-R Chief Dennis Ray; HFKC Secretary/Treasurer Victor Jowers; and Health Services District Board Chair Derial Ogburn.

In late April, the Health Foundation of Kershaw County (HFKC) handed out its first five grants under its new program to award grants to 501(c)(3) corporations which demonstrate a positive impact on the overall health of Kershaw County residents. The foundation previously advanced healthcare quality through the funding of capital improvements projects at KershawHealth. The foundation changed its name -- and the way it met its mission -- after KershawHealth became part of Capella Healthcare in collaboration with MUSC Health.

As 2015 came to a close, the foundation found it still had approximately $2 million remaining in its accounts. HFKC’s Kathy Comer and Victor Jowers said the foundation’s board decided to solicit grant applications in January for this year and will do so again this and each September thereafter for awards to be granted the following January.

“We are not dissolving, but we are no longer fundraising,” Comer said during a joint interview with Jowers on April 19. “The board voted to set up this procedure, and in this initial cycle, we received 13 applications for more than $1.3 million worth of grants.”

Knowing they did not want the $2 million to last for only a few years, Comer said board members used a vetting process to narrow the applications to five grants totaling nearly $104,000.

“Each individual team was interviewed and had to make a presentation to the board,” Jowers said. “The applicants had to give them projections, financials and specific plans.”

He and Comer said the board evaluated the applicants based on how much benefit there would be to the public in terms of the number of people impacted.

“We hope, each year for years to come, we’ll be able to fund similar projects. As needs come up, we want to help,” Comer said.

Jowers pointed out the board has not set a limit on exactly the number of grants which will be awarded each year.

“One year, there could be two awards; another year, eight; and another year, just one,” he said.

The first five Health Foundation grantees and the amount of money the foundation is providing are:

• Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County - $30,000

• Buffalo-Mt. Pisgah Fire Department - $10,968

• Lugoff Fire-Rescue - $20,800

• The Health Services District of Kershaw County (Karesh Wing) - $45,174

• Family Resource Center - $27,000

On April 26, representatives from these organizations met with Comer and Jowers for a very special lunch at Sam Kendall’s where they officially received their grants and could talk with each other about their plans for the money.

Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County Director Susan Witkowski said the clinic plans to use its grant to purchase more medications.

“We want to expand to the top five medications,” Witkowski said. “They’ve become so expensive.”

She said the clinic does and will continue to use generics when it can.

Chris Jones of the Buffalo-Mt. Pisgah Fire Department, said firefighters there are looking forward to adding more automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to their gear.

Comer and Jowers said Jones told them adding the AEDs would cut down on response times, therefore saving lives.

Lugoff Fire-Rescue (LF-R) plans to purchase a fire gear extractor and drying cabinet. LF-R Chief Dennis Ray says the extractor cleans carcinogens off protective fear gear worn by firefighters.

“It’s a complete decontamination,” Ray said, “so firefighters can re-wear their gear more quickly.”

Jowers said Ray’s grant application was the first the foundation received.

“Firefighters have 10 times the chance of getting cancer due to the carcinogens that get in their gear,” Jowers said. “If it’s not cleaned properly, the carcinogens stay on their clothes. Chief Ray told us this would be available to all firefighters, predominately in the West Wateree area.”

Health Services District of Kershaw County Board of Trustees Chair Derial Ogburn said the district will use its grant to purchase special air mattresses for the Karesh Long Term Care Center.

“They’re used to help get patient on and off their beds more safety,” Ogburn said. “This money is going to help people.”

Family Resource Center (FRC) Director Rosalyn Moses said the grant the FRC received from the foundation will allow it to hire an additional counselor who will be available after the center’s regular hours.

“We already have clients lined up. We’re already making progress,” Moses said.

In addition to Comer and Jowers, the Health Foundation of Kershaw County’s board includes Robert Brooks, Bill Denton, Karen Eckford, Donna Fryer, Carl Kearse and Don Terrell.

Comer and Jowers said while applications for the next round of applications won’t be accepted until September 1, organizations wishing to seek funding can contact the foundation by sending an email to healthfoundationofkershawco@gmail.com.

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