When representatives from more than 100 of the 117 charities receiving Nashville Predators Foundation grants in 2014 gathered together at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, May 7, it was a great reminder of the countless hours that the organizations are pouring back into the youth and families of Nashville.
The process of distributing $410,652 – the largest grant donation in Predators history – began in the fall of 2013 when more than 250 organizations completed grant applications. In their applications, organizations must request a specific amount of money (no more than $10,000) and specify the program or project that the money will help fund.
In many cases, the programs or projects that the grants help fund would not be possible without the grant. Throughout the year, the Predators Foundation remains in contact with the recipients and often visit the organization for a chance to see the “grant in action.”
From teaching kids about science to teaching them how to play hockey, or caring for a child’s dental health to providing parents and families a place to stay while a child is receiving treatment – the Nashville Predators Foundation’s 2014 Grant Recipients take care of all these needs and countless more.
“It’s so powerful to see that this many charities are in one community supporting the kids and the families,” Beads of Courage Director of Communications and Encouragement Services Ashley Ethridge said. “It’s unbelievable.”
While many of the 117 charities receiving a Foundation grant this year are first time recipients, some organizations, like Youth Villages of Middle Tennessee, have been involved with the Predators Foundation for many years.
As an organization whose mission is to help both children and families “live successfully,” Youth Villages provides residential programs, in-home treatments, mentoring and adoption services in Middle Tennessee. This year, Youth Villages plans to use the grant money received to supply beds, mattresses and other critical items for children who come into their care in emergency circumstances.
Youth Villages is one of many examples of how the Predators Foundation does more for a grant recipient than simply cutting a check; the Foundation does its best to get involved in furthering the organization’s mission.
“We have been fortunate enough to be friends with the Predators for almost 15 years,” Youth Villages Development Director Patti Bryan said. “They have done so many things for our young people; from holding hockey clinics to providing ice skating opportunities, and coming out and doing all kinds of things at our group homes.”
Over the last few years, Interfaith Dental Clinic, an organization that provides quality and affordable dental care, has been involved with the Predators Foundation in many different ways, including receiving grants in the past and being a part of the DEX Score and Win program during the 2013-14 season.
Interfaith, who will use their grant money to facilitate a partnership between the organization and Wright Middle School that provides students with oral hygiene instruction, was selected from the grant recipients as one of the four feature charities for the 2014-15 season. In addition to the financial grants, the Predators Foundation provides these featured charities with added exposure, awareness and visibility.
“We’re really excited about being a community partner this year and all of what that will bring to Interfaith,” Interfaith Development Director Amy Carver said. “There are so many great things we’ll be able to share with the community through the Predators Foundation.”
Some organizations receiving grants in 2014, like Beads of Courage, are relatively new to both the Predators Foundation and the Nashville area.
Beads of Courage, which first began in Tucson, Arizona, is an organization that works to transform treatment experiences for children suffering from life-threatening illnesses through arts-in-medicine programs.
“When Vanderbilt [Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital] became interested in the program and their child life staff really wanted to bring us in, we asked them who they worked with as a great community partner,” Ethridge said. “They then recommended the Nashville Predators.”
The first Predators Foundation grant Beads of Courage received in 2012 was integral in helping the organization start their program in the Children’s Hospital oncology department. With another grant this year, Beads of Courage is working to provide their program to the siblings of children coping with cancer.
From organizations like Youth Villages that have been involved with the Predators Foundation from the very beginning to those newer to Nashville like Beads of Courage, the charities involved with this year’s grants make up a strong network of people who strive to serve their community.
“We’re one very tiny piece of the puzzle that makes up the core network for the families here,” Ethridge said. “Whether the families have kids that are coping with a serious illness or whether they have kids that need extra homework help, whatever their situation is, we feel honored to be a part of it.”