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Solana Beach doles out community grant funds

SOLANA BEACH — With a budget of only $25,000 for the 2008 Community Grant Program, City Council was tasked with narrowing down the list of recipients after receiving 20 requests from 18 applicants seeking nearly $80,000.
“This is never an easy thing for any of us up here to do,” Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said. “If I had my way, I’d give it all to everybody.”
The job was made slightly easier when three groups were deemed either noncompliant or ineligible. In the end, eight groups received funding (see chart).
Prior to the meeting, each council member divided the $25,000 among the groups they felt were most deserving. Several said they would have allocated funds to more organizations, but more often than not, they simply ran out of money before they reached the end of the list.
Their choices were assembled into a chart that was presented during the Dec. 10 meeting.
For the most part, organizations supported by three or more members received funding. Nearly all council members unanimously supported the Solana Beach Soccer Club, Solana Beach PTA and Kids Korps USA.
Council members discussed the criteria they used when deciding which groups should or shouldn’t receive funding. For Joe Kellejian, one choice was personal.
Describing himself as an “inner city kid … from just a concrete jungle,” Kellejian sought to fund a request from the Boys & Girls Clubs for a healthy eating garden. “When I was young, the school that I attended … had a garden,” he said, calling the project “my saving grace.”
“I loved it. It ended up being my escape from the reality of what was happening around me in the community — the violence.”
Although Councilman Dave Roberts said he supports the group, he felt the request was redundant since a healthy eating garden already exists at a neighboring school. Roberts said he favored organizations that hadn’t received funding in the past — as the Boys & Girls Clubs had — while Tom Campbell focused primarily on financial need.
In supporting requests from soccer and Little League, council members said the field improvements for which they sought funding would benefit the schools and not just the youngsters who participate in the athletic groups.
Roberts said he supported the Community Resource Center because it is attempting to restock its shelves after donating many of its supplies to victims of the 2007 fires. He also said funding the Virginia Ann Scheunemann Memorial Fund would show support for that “hidden resource” on South Cedros Avenue, which has limited resources.
Scheunemann, who worked for years at the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce information booth, passed away from breast cancer in 2003. Her foundation provides mastectomy products, wigs and head coverings to uninsured and low-income women.
The Community Grant Program was established in 2004. Coast Waste Management and EDCO Waste and Recycling Services, the city’s two waste haulers, each contribute $5,000 to the program.