Making something happen in a community takes many people and many steps over a long period of time. When expanding a project, grant writing may be a small step, but in many cases, an essential part of the project’s overall success, said Shauna Hesse, a grant writer in Fort St. James.
“It is important for organizations to collaborate on community projects to open up funding opportunities. Fort St. James organizations are outstanding in this aspect,” said Ms. Hesse.
Employed by the District of Fort St. James and Northern Development Initiative Trust, Shauna Hesse spends approximately 15 hours a week helping non-profit organizations write proposals for grants. A congratulations from the city’s economic developing officer, Emily Colombo, was extended to Ms. Hesse at the July council meeting for her outstanding work exceeding her position’s minimum requirement of $250,000 in submitted grant applications for the year. As of last week she reached $356,332 and shows no signs of slowing down, said Ms. Colombo.
“She has done an excellent job working with the community. She has an excellent batting average when it comes to approvals on grant applications she writes but she also works with organizations on making sure they are grant ready. There is a lot more than just writing the project, you need to report on it and that comes from a place of organizational management,” said Ms. Colombo, whose job is to work with organizations on strategic planning which allows them to focus their efforts.
Since starting in October 2012, Ms. Hesse has worked with 19 organizations that have submitted grant applications for projects, 14 of which have received funding thus far. Her total confirmed funding brought into Fort St. James for 2014 is $138,495. Some of her projects include the Court House Renovation project, Sports Equipment funding for Murray Ridge and the Curling Club, and the Trails Study and Housing Needs assessment.
According to Ms. Hesse, the key to having a strong proposal is a clear mission and mandate. To be able to write constructively, she must not only have a great understanding of the groups background and vision of what they want, but why they way to accomplish it. It’s also important that all the members of the group are on the same page, said Ms. Hesse.
“Specifically the organizations board of directors. They are the ones responsible for allocating the money and reporting back once it’s used,” said Ms. Hesse.
Since organizations typically look for funding to put into a project months or years later, sometimes there are no immediate results because there is so much involved. That’s why an organizationally led application is generally more successful then an individually led one, said Ms. Hesse.
“When people have numbers they are an united body and you feel a sense of their energy. Their enthusiastic and how they express themselves transpires into me. I become more personally invested as a part of their team for a time and their energy translates into my writing,” said Ms. Hesse.
Peter Valk, chair of the Fort St. James co-op housing project, is currently working with Ms. Hesse.
“She’s very enthusiastic and recognizes the need that people are trying to accomplish. Iv’e dealt with her through the Seniors Association as well and she is quite capable,” said Mr. Valk.
Ms. Hesse is a stay-at-home mom during the other 153 hours a week but the love for her work is obvious and shows through her dedication to community support.
“I love working with people for the community and when you work with volunteers they are there because they care, not for the pay check. We all need to make a living but when you choose to do something above and beyond, that’s why I enjoy what I do, working for the people I do,” said Ms. Hesse.