St. Patrick Catholic School

122 West Street, Portland, MI   (517) 647-7551

Reflections by Randy Hodge

St. Patrick School Supports Students and Community with Healthy Kids Grant

Posted on October 9, 2017 at 9:20 AM

In recent years writing and applying for grants has become a new source of revenue funding in the non-profit world. Many businesses seek to support their community and projects occurring at non-profits by funding grants in areas specific to their business or a cause that reflects the businesses’ values and ideals. To help our school and parish in this process Mrs. Cortney Smith, assisted by Mrs. Heather Hendges-Davis are working with the administration to oversee the writing of grants and their implementation when awarded.

I am pleased to announce that one of the first grants we applied for was awarded to our school and in turn to our community. Last year our elementary principal, Mrs. Sarah Townsend applied for and received a Healthy Kids grant for $2,125. The school administration and grant writing team identified that the funding would best be spent on equipment for students to use at recess, especially when recess takes place on the parking lot between the church and school.

The funds allowed us to purchase new, interactive and multiplayer playground equipment. We purchased materials for two Ga Ga Ball pits to be installed in the parking lot as well as extra-large checkers, mega-chess (pieces are over two feet tall), tic tac toe and two Shamrock themed corn hole sets. These items are available for the students to use daily during all recesses.

As a thank you for the support the community has shown to St. Patrick over the years we wanted to share our blessings in turn. Our committee asked for and was granted permission to install and gift a third Ga Ga Ball pit to the City of Portland which was installed on Saturday, September 30 by generous volunteers in Alton Park. Now, during lunch recess at the park, students can use this third Ga Ga Ball pit as well any community members who patronize the park.

For those who may not be familiar with it, the game of Ga Ga Ball is a variant of dodgeball allowing for the entire class to remain active. Physical education at all grade levels can take advantage of the new pits. Various curriculum ideas can also provide for unique classroom teaching experiences with both the pits and the giant outdoor games.

All the activities that have been provided from these grants are getting a lot of use by our students since they have arrived. Second grade student Olivia Martin echoes the sentiments of many students when she says "I like everything about it (Ga Ga Ball)! It's so fun. Almost everybody plays it for the whole recess. I play with kids I've never played with before."

We would like to thank volunteers Chris Pung, Doug Smith, the father and son team of Jeff and Alex Fedewa, Cortney & Troy Smith along with sons Ben & Henry, and Mark Davis & Heather Hendges-Davis for their time and talent launching this exciting project. A special thank you goes out to park patrons, brothers Robert and Mason Doty, who saw the crew last Saturday morning and pitched in to help!

We hope these additions to St. Patrick School will lead to even more active and critical thinking play for the students and add to the enjoyment of Alton Park visitors.

If you are aware of any grant opportunities that may benefit St. Patrick Parish/School or the greater Portland community, please contact Mrs. Cortney Smith at


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