R. R. Sisters’ currently taking grant applications
This is an update of a post which appeared approximately one year ago and is as relevant now as it was then.
The Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence 12th Anniversary Grants Cycle is now open. Applications are due by 5 p.m. March 8. Grant funding requests are accepted only in writing via an application form on the Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence www.rrsisters.org/
The Russian River Sisters appear at events for many other groups raising money for specific causes, but they also host their own events to benefit a Grants Fund used for under-funded smaller organizations and projects providing direct services to the members of their community.
Says Grants Chairnun, Sr. Nova Nilla “We do encourage anyone who is interested in receiving one of our grants, to look at our webpage for an application. ”
“We also invite ALL of the community to attend our grant giveaway/anniversary party on the 29th of March and the selected organizations will be notified approximately ten days prior to the event.” This year’s ceremony will be taking place at R3 Hotel and Resort on Fourth and Mill Streets in Guerneville.
“You will get to hear about some amazing organizations that are this year’s recipients,” says Nova, “Plus you will also be in a room full of like-minded individuals from incredible non-profits. The perfect opportunity for networking.”
Regarding the size of the awards, Sr. Nova explains, “We never tell how much we give out, we never know how much is available until a few days before the event….some funds arrive at the last minute.”
Furthermore, he says, “And we also don’t reveal how much each recipient gets. We always keep it a surprise. We try to accommodate all of the requests for grants but some fall outside of our parameters. Over the years we’ve had requests anywhere from $50 to $70,000. We wish we could fund them all, but unfortunately, it’s not possible, for many reasons. So we do the best we can.”
In evaluating an application, the Sisters consider the nature of the request and how relevant it is to the needs of the Guerneville and lower River community. They do not approve grant requests for salaries, honorariums, personal or travel expenses, or requests from organizations outside of their sphere of influence.
At last year’s awards ceremony/anniversary party, there were also a few community members (including Margaret Kennett and Kayte Guglielmino) honored with “Sainthood” for their outstanding service to the community.
The winners of The Russian River Sisters most recent grants, awarded in 2012, include:
West County Health Centers – Forestville, Teen Clinic- Russian River Senior Resource Center – Guerneville , West County Health Centers – Forestville, Wellness Center KGGV radio – Guerneville, Piner High School Project Grad – Santa Rosa , Food for Thought – Forestville, Sadie’s Horse Rescue – Sebastopol, Becoming Independent – Santa Rosa, PALS (Pets Are Loving Support) – Russian River area, El Molino High School Music Program – Forestville , KOWS Community radio – Occidental, Russian River Firefighter’s Association – Guerneville, Elsie Allen High School Music Program – Santa Rosa, Community Clean Water Institute – Russian River area, Sonoma County Hepatitis AIDS Risk Reduction Program ( SHARP), Turning Deserts into Forests – Sebastopol , Face to Face – AIDS Emergency Fund – Santa Rosa, Martial Arts Youth Institute (MAYI – Santa Rosa, Community Action Partnership – Youthbuild – Santa Rosa , Friends Outside – Sonoma County West County Community Services Adventures for Kids – Guerneville
Sister Nova Nilla, who has long headed the Grants Committee, said the group received more than 30 requests for their limited grant funding last year and more than two-thirds of the applicants received awards.
Sister Sparkle Plenty, a founder of the local order, said, “We Sisters began (in this community) by building ‘bridges’ with the seniors, local schools sheriffs and
firefighters’ associations and advocacy groups. By attending and creating events, we were able to accomplish several goals. Primarily we were able to raise our community’s awareness of the struggles that were going on all around them.”
Since its inception, the Russian River Sisters has found ways of accumulating and disbursing monies to needy groups and individuals, and The Russian River Sisters Grants Program is just one means of channeling financial help. Some of the money comes from donations, and the rest comes from the Sisters’ vigorous fund raising efforts.
The Sisters kicked off the Grant program in 2003 because, says Sr. Nova, “The public entrusts us with donations.” They have raised additional funds through monthly bingo games at Odd Fellows Hall (now at the Vets Hall) , Give-Back Tuesdays at the Rainbow Cattle Company, a Mardi Gras, a Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament at Main Street Station and selling home-baked pastries at events, to name a few. They’ve also co-hosted events with the Russian River Rotary and other like-minded institutions.
Srs. Sparkle and Nova remind the public that “we are a non-profit all volunteer organization, and 100% of every donation is given back out into our
community. If the Sisters have a financial need, we hold a fundraiser specifically for that need. Our Grant program is only one way we offer support .”
Sr Nova advises, “The grant committee receives 20 to 40 applications for funds in each grant cycle (usually one in Spring and one in Autumn), and we are extremely careful that the awards recipients are doing work that benefits the ENTIRE community. Making the decisions of which group receives an award is an agonizing process because our funds are limited and the needs of the community are huge.”
Says Sr. Nova, “Because the economy has been so rough on our community, we have had to work harder and more creatively to bring in funds to distribute.” He would also like to make it clear that the money doesn’t come from the Sisters themselves but from the community.
Along with the Sisters’ 12th anniversary celebration, refreshments and entertainment will be aboard, and there will also be recognition awards to local community benefactors.The Sisters feel its important that “the public gets to see the faces of the people behind the organization, and hear first hand what they do.”
We asked Srs. Nova and Sparkle to name their favorite grant recipient and why it touched their hearts or stuck in their memories.
“We have had many memorable grants situations over the years. One that was particularly memorable happened several years ago. A local science teacher asked for a grant for two microscopes for her middle school class. The school did not have the funds for them. In addition to sending her grant application to us she attached a copy of the page from the catalog showing a picture of the microscope she would like to order. It was a nice middle school level of microscope. Well, on that same page, was a picture of the high school/collegiate level microscope. Hmmm.
We notified her that we had a grant for her science program, but did not tell her how much. We never tell the recipient how much they will receive. When the day of the Grant giveaway came, all of the recipients-to-be and hundreds of folks from the area attended. The teacher was called on stage to receive her grant. We told her we really appreciate all she does for the local kids and that we had money to give her for the microscope. I then told her that because we love our kids and what she does for them, we were giving her program enough money for 10 of the high school/collegiate level microscopes. She burst into tears, as did most of the people in the room…including me!”
Sr. Nova also adds, “Every one of our grantees brings a warmth to our hearts. The folks who give so much of their love and time and energy to something they believe in wholeheartedly, it gets overwhelming sometimes for us to see…in a good way. You can definitely see the passion in their eyes and faces when they come up on stage to receive their grant at the give-away party. And while they are up on that stage, they get to say a few words about what their organization does and what the grant is used for. It is pretty powerful.”
Is the Guerneville Order’s grant program unique, or do all chapters have similar programs?
As far as I know, all the Sisters around the world raise funds and awareness for local issues. Back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Sisters focused primarily on HIV/AIDS issues. Most Orders of Sisters are in large cities, with large Lesbian,
Gay, Bi and Transgender/Transsexual populations.
When we first started in 2001, we assumed most of our work would be with the local LGBT community, but we quickly realized that our entire community was suffering. Budgets and services were being slashed or eliminated, children were going hungry, seniors were suffering, homelessness and despair was growing.
We started working with school groups, senior groups, even the fire fighters. Over the last 10 years, the Russian River Sisters have been privileged to work with close to 200 local groups on an ongoing basis. Other Orders of Sisters have asked us for guidance in expanding their programs to benefit members of the entire community, not just the LGBT needs.