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Kindness rocks: Fifth Third Bank Foundation awarding four $25K grants

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    Attendees dance at the Fourth Annual Senior Prom at Start High School in April, an event organized by Toledo Public Schools and the Area Office on Aging. The Area Office on Aging will use a grant from the Fifth Third Bank Foundation to repair homes occupied by seniors.

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    Lisa McDuffie speaks during the YWCA Stand Against Racism Summit at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library in April. YWCA Northwest Ohio is one recipient of the Strengthening Our Community Awards from the Fifth Third Bank Foundation, and plans to use the grant to help survivors of domestic abuse.

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    Toledoan Karen Ryan, left, needs help from her daughter, Kim Castillo, to get down the steps of her Reynolds Senior Village home on S. Reynolds Rd. The Area Office on Aging will use a $25,000 grant from Fifth Third Bank Foundation to make needed improvements to several area seniors' homes, including a new lift to help her navigate those steps.

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    Toledoan Karen Ryan's Reynolds Senior Village home on S. Reynolds Rd. The Area Office on Aging will use a $25,000 grant from Fifth Third Bank Foundation to make needed improvements to several area seniors' homes, including a new lift to help Ryan navigate her steps. THE BLADE/LORI KING

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The Fifth Third Bank Foundation is giving out $100,000 in grants aimed at building strong communities.

The Strengthening Our Community Awards will give $25,000 each to four area organizations who applied for the competitive grants. A ceremony is slated for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Fifth Third Center, 1 Seagate, Toledo.

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Toledoan Karen Ryan, left, needs help from her daughter, Kim Castillo, to get down the steps of her Reynolds Senior Village home on S. Reynolds Rd. The Area Office on Aging will use a $25,000 grant from Fifth Third Bank Foundation to make needed improvements to several area seniors' homes, including a new lift to help her navigate those steps.

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Teresa Bauer Shaffer, regional vice president of public relations for Fifth Third, said the foundation has given similar awards for the past three years, but the program has been restructured, renamed, and given more funds for its fourth year.

“They are built to provide funding for organizations that impact the community by supporting programs and initiatives that promote strong communities,” she said of the grants. “Each one of these [four recipients] is definitely striving for a greater and stronger community. Each one has a program that’s going to impact creating that vibrant community.”

Ms. Shaffer said the grants focus on three primary categories: affordable housing, small business, and financial stability. The Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio, the YMCA of Greater Toledo, YWCA Northwest Ohio, and the Toledo Local Initiatives Support Corp. are this year’s recipients.

Justin Moore, spokesman for the Area Office on Aging, said the organization will use its $25,000 to make repairs to at least nine area homes owned a occupied by seniors. Possible repairs include heating systems, roof work, and accessibility improvements.

“These are older adults who have this need for repairs for health and safety reasons so they can stay in their homes,” Mr. Moore said. “It’s really going to make a huge impact in their lives.”

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Toledoan Karen Ryan's Reynolds Senior Village home on S. Reynolds Rd. The Area Office on Aging will use a $25,000 grant from Fifth Third Bank Foundation to make needed improvements to several area seniors' homes, including a new lift to help Ryan navigate her steps. THE BLADE/LORI KING

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The YMCA of Greater Toledo will use its funds for financial literacy education in the Youth Opportunities Program that works with young people ages 14 to 21.

“For some of our young people, they have no idea how it works,” program director Crystal Harris Darnell said. “The sooner we can begin to teach them these things, they will make better decisions in the long run.”

The YWCA will similarly use the funding to provide financial education for domestic abuse survivors in its program. Shelly Ulrich, associate executive director, said many abusers use finances as a form of control, leaving survivors with limited options or knowledge.

“We want them to walk away with a little more knowledge and skills, and ability to breathe a little easier,” she said.

The YWCA will also use portions of its grant for matching funds to open bank accounts for survivors and to support assistance programs related to housing and general needs.

Toledo LISC plans to work with its partners and launch a new home-ownership initiative, acknowleging home-ownership as a key to overall neighborhood stability.

Grant dollars “are going to be used to help launch the First Steps to Home-ownership program that supports the LISC Twin Accounts, a credit-builder program that helps low and moderate-income individuals build credit,” Executive Director Kim Cutcher said.

Ms. Shaffer said this year’s grants are notably well spread out among people at various life stages.

“They’re all going to make an impact in a different way,” she said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to be able to affect people at all different stages of their lives.”

Contact Alexandra Mester amester@theblade.com419-724-6066, or on Twitter @AlexMesterBlade.

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