The Scott County Regional Authority announced $1,577,243 in grants to 65 projects and organizations during a news conference Tuesday in Davenport.
And individually, each group, each project, each recipient has a story about why funds are needed. And understandably, each is grateful.
“Unbelievable,” Gloria Cypret of Davenport said. “When we first started, we had no experience at raising funds to this extent. This always makes me cry that they are as passionate as we are.”
She is the grandmother of Gabe, a young boy who uses a wheelchair. Four years ago, she began an effort to have a playground built in Davenport that could accommodate her grandson and others with disabilities.
She calls the new facility Gabe's All-Inclusive Play Village that will replace the existing playground area at Vander Veer Botanical Park in Davenport.
“We were frustrated that we were not able to go to a playground he could use,” she said.
The $37,500 grant will go toward the project estimated to cost $500,000. She said $338,500 has been raised. Cypret said by being all-inclusive, the playground will be built not just for those with disabilities but is adaptable so all children can use it at the same time.
Barry Anderson, president of the SCRA board of directors, said the grants come from gaming receipts from the Isle Casino Hotel Bettendorf.
He said tgat since 1991, the SCRA has awarded almost $80 million grants. In all, 122 requests were made this grant cycle, totaling $3,270,507 in requests.
“All of this benefits residents of Scott County,” he said.
Nancy Ballenger, vice president and general manager of the Isle Casino Hotel, applauded all of the recipients.
“I want to congratulate all of you for the brave work that you do,” she said. “Go forth and conquer. Congratulations.”
Among others, grants were awarded to schools, libraries, cities, parks departments and organizations that work with the disabled, parolees, families and the Red Cross.
Nikki DeFauw, director of grants for St. Ambrose University, Davenport, said her school received a $50,000 grant, the third installment in a total of $250,000 in grants from SCRA for its new Wellness and Recreation Center that currently is under construction.
"The total cost of the project is $21.5 million,” she said. “We just reached $17 million in funds raised. In all, the fundraising goal is $18.5 million.
“We know that students, when looking for a college to attend, feel that wellness and recreation are a must-have. Sixty percent of students say it is a factor to have a wellness and recreation facility and is a motivation to attend that school. And it is grants like this that makes that difference in a community.”
Dave Emerick, treasurer of the New Kingdom Trail Riders, an organization that teaches persons with disabilities how to ride horses, said their $20,000 grant will help expand the area for more services.
“We are so appreciative of this grant,” he said. “We are so excited about what we are able to do now.”