The $10,000 grant will support wages for new and current staff at the Drexel H. Foundation. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

VALE – The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has awarded $10,000 to the nonprofit Drexel H. Foundation in Vale, according to a recent press release.

The foundation was one of 13 businesses and nonprofits in the state to be awarded a portion of $125,000 from the department on July 17. The grants in the Workforce Development Repair and Reuse program “support projects that help protect Oregon’s environment, public health and economy,” the agency said.

In support of its Formal Wear, Sports Equipment and Bike Sustainability project, the foundation applied for the grant to pay for more staff hours and hiring a part-time employee.

Foundation officials didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The award is the second grant the Vale foundation has received in recent weeks.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation department recently gave a $90,000 grant to Sandijean Fuson, Drexel H. Foundation president, and Mike McLaughlin, Vale mayor, to make upgrades to the historic Rex Theater in Vale.

The project’s total cost was estimated at $111,991 – with Fuson and McLaughlin contributing $23,000 – and a new heating and air conditioning system, new furnace and repairs to the building are among the planned developments for the 107-year-old theater.

The application for the DEQ grant requested $9,200 in grant funds for personnel costs – $3,100 for a current staff member and $6,100 for a new position – as well as $800 for equipment and supplies.

The employee would expand the foundation’s free formal closet program and outreach, broaden its sustainability programs to include repair and use of sports equipment, and repair bikes for all ages.

The foundation has been gathering gently used prom dresses and other formal attire since 2004, according to the formal closet program’s website. Through the program, treasure valley area students can earn a dress for homecoming or prom, or formal evening wear, for free “in exchange for pledging to volunteer their time and skills to any Drexel events,” the website states.

The extra staff time would “find earned income opportunities with a ‘repair [and] reuse’ program,” the application stated.

The foundation listed as examples repairing and offering sports equipment and bikes “to the local citizens of all ages in exchange for community service.”

Its strategic plan “to increase diversity of participates has brought increased need for staff to assist with bilingual outreach & marketing,” according to the application. “Your grant will build our capacity with this staff.”

The application stated that the grant’s main purpose is having wages for new and current staff “to expand our services of this sustainability program, marketing and to train the new employee.”

“No grant funds shall be used for training,” according to the application.

Training for the new employee will cover child protection practices “and Drexel’s inclusion-equity policies,” using a sewing machine if needed, basic bicycle repair, restringing a tennis racket and interpersonal skills, the application stated.

“This project will result in our rural area citizens avoiding unnecessary purchases, bring textiles back into the economy for use and giving bicycles another useful life,” it said.

The foundation said in the application that it would charge a nominal fee for bike tune-ups and racket restringing to produce income to sustain the new position “and earn income for our free cultural programs.”

The application proposed a one-year timeline for the project beginning Sept. 15.

“The new staff may continue employment or be trained sufficiently to start their own small business in bike repair or tennis restraining or sewing textile repair business.”

News tip? Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian by email at [email protected] or call 503-929-3053.

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