Cumberland County ARPA grants are game-changers for organizations providing health services

Without the grant, Tomorrow’s Neighbors would have a harder time taking on the challenge of helping people reenter society following incarceration.

“It’s a blessing,” said Kurt Danysh, founder and executive director of the Carlisle based organization. “It’s the difference between whether or not we could provide housing.”

A rendering of Sadler’s future West Shore Center in Mechanicsburg

Cumberland County commissioners last month awarded 17 organizations $7.1 million in grants from the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The county targeted the grants for programs that improve the physical and mental health of county residents directly or indirectly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tomorrow’s Neighbors will receive $1 million to support a program of reentry housing for people transitioning from prison to the community.

“The grant is going to be solely for the operation of the housing solution, which we are calling the Cumberland House,” Danysh said. “It’s going to pay the lease, salaries [of staff members] and utilities. It’s going to keep it operational for five years.”

Located at an undisclosed address in Carlisle, the Cumberland House will have 10 to 15 beds for men lodged in a facility within walking distance to a variety of services, including a laundromat, grocery stores, restaurants and employment opportunities.

Each resident will receive two months of free rent, giving them a chance to find a job, Danysh said.

“We want to be a hub of services that exist in the county,” he added. “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel or duplicate services. All the providers trying to serve this population can come to this one location.”

Sadler support

A $2 million grant will make it easier for Sadler Health Center to afford a $6.3 million project to renovate the former Lift Inc. building in Hampden Township into a 21,000-square-foot health center serving the West Shore and Mechanicsburg area.

“Prior to receiving the ARPA grant, we were sitting on almost $2 million in commitments,” said Laurel Spagnolo, director of development and community engagement. “This brings us very close to reaching our campaign goal.”

She said the grant also provides a cushion from the escalating costs brought on by supply chain issues and other factors.

“We’ve been holding our breath waiting to receive information,” Spagnolo said of the grant program. “This grant makes all the difference to us. We’re still continuing fundraising to complete the project. We have received grants from local foundations, businesses and individuals.

The hope is that renovations could begin in November on a facility that could be ready early next summer to provide a range of services to individuals who are under-served, uninsured or low-income, Spagnolo said. “We offer comprehensive care. We serve the whole person.” The new center will offer medical, dental and vision care along with behavioral support services and a pharmacy.

Like Sadler, Tomorrow’s Neighbors experienced anxious moments while the county worked through its grant process.

“There was some urgency from the landlord,” Danysh said. “He wanted to know what to do with the property because it was option of doing this [the Cumberland House] or just dividing the building into three apartments and renting it that way.

“I would never complain about the wait for such an important blessing,” he said. “It’s government. That’s how government works. We’re pleased that the county worked so expeditiously to release such a sum of money. We appreciate that they really took the time and prioritized this.”

The county is making grants available to support health initiatives, infrastructure projects and business/nonprofit COVID-19 recovery efforts.

Grant applications under each category have been screened for eligibility and scored based on criteria developed by teams of subject matter experts set up by the county. Each team, which includes county staff members, was then tasked with recommending awards for the commissioners to review prior to any vote being taken.

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