When Holly Garcia was younger and cheered for Everett Pop Warner, the yearly task of getting money to go to national competitions always involved going to businesses for donations or going ‘canning’ around the city.
It was hard work, and sometimes overwhelming to a young kid.
Now, as president of the new Everett Citizens Foundation, Garcia said she hopes that no organizations in the City will ever have to send kids out to ask for money to compete or travel for school. That’s because the Foundation – funded by a yearly payment of $250,000 from Encore Boston Harbor – can likely cover all of those needs and then some.
From youth sports to food pantries to non-profits of all sorts, the new Foundation has money to help fill the gaps in Everett like never before.
“It’s just going to be something that will help all over the city,” she said. “I cheered in Pop Warner as a kid and they would have us canning for donations to nationals. That’s how we were going to get there. There are so many youth programs in Everett so it’s good to get this influx. That’s especially true in sports because they can access college scholarships. If they can’t continue with sports because of funding problems, they can access those scholarships. Many times sports are a foot in the door for kids.”
She said the Foundation is open to any organization that is looking to conduct a program that will benefit Everett residents. It’s a loose guideline, but leaves room for organizations and non-profits to be creative in their applications to the Foundation. More than anything, though, it will help organizations in Everett stay afloat in a difficult environment.
“When I was asked to serve, I knew I wanted to be involved,” said Garcia. “I see all these volunteer organizations at the events I go to and it takes a lot of effort to run these organizations, but it takes money too. This could really help those organizations.”
Garcia was chosen as president of the fledgling Foundation, which formed on paper in January and began meeting in April and May. Since that time, they have come up with some guidelines and meeting perameters – as well as the first applications for funding.
Those applications will be accepted until Sept. 17, Garcia said, and the Foundation will review each application and dole out awards to organizations by early October. The maximum award is capped at $10,000, but not every project submitted for funding will get the maximum award. There will also be another grant round in the spring, with applications due in March 2020. However, each organization is only allowed funding once per annual cycle.
“With the highly successful opening of Encore Boston Harbor, community groups and programs will now receive $250,000 each year as part of the Host Community Agreement that I negotiated in 2013,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria. “I am pleased that this funding will support the great work of so many right here in Everett, and I urge all who are interested to apply.”
There are seven members of the Foundation, with four being appointed by the mayor, one by State Rep. Joe McGonagle (which is Garcia), one by State Sen. Sal DiDomenico and one by City Council.
Garcia was chosen as the president, and Thomas Fiorentino is the vice president. The Treasurer is Cynthia Sarnie and the Secretary is Viola Torra.
Other members include Raquel Duverge, Georgia Wright-Easy and Aicha Bendagna.
Garcia graduated from Everett High in 2009, moving to Everett when she was 12, and having perfect attendance throughout her high school career. She did cheerleading, dance, and attended Southern New Hampshire University. She graduated there with a Criminal Justice degree and a masters in Child Psychology. She is currently working on her doctorate in law, and pays for her education through her life-long pastime of competing in pageants. Right now, she is the reigning Ms. Massachusetts Role Model.
However, she also teaches at the Webster School Extension as a behavioral therapist – coaching the hockey cheerleaders in her spare time.
She said the Foundation is just another way that her cheerleaders and other young people in sports could benefit.
“My cheerleaders, they have to buy their body suits and warm up suits and sneakers,” she said. “That’s their money. Some of their parents don’t have the money. Many of these kids work and they spend their hard-earned money on these things. Anything we can do to take the pressure off the kids and parents would be tremendous help.”
The deadline for application submission is Tuesday, September 17. Applications are linked to via the City of Everett’s website at www.cityofeverett.com/, may be requested via email at [email protected], or may be picked up in hard copy c/o the Office of the Mayor, 484 Broadway, Everett, MA 02149. Any questions from applicants may be submitted to [email protected].