SHIRLEY -- Selectmen agreed Monday night to reallocate unexpended money from last year's Winslow Trust Fund grants to the Community Assistance Collaborative, which other than a small amount granted to the Council on Aging, has been the only applicant and the only recipient of Winslow grant funds so far.
The $1,000 total included $400 the Council on Aging applied for in 2013 but didn't use.
Established in the 1950s with a donation of $500, the Grace Winslow Trust Fund was originally intended to help elderly residents in town nursing homes. But the town has no such facilities and thus the account sat idle, accruing interest until the selectmen a few years ago asked treasurer Kevin Johnston to look into repurposing the fund.
Johnston applied to the state. At first, the request was rejected but eventually he argued successfully for the cause and the fund was freed up for other charitable uses under the selectmen's oversight.
But the board wasn't comfortable with getting into the grant business. The board welcomed an offer from the Shirley Charitable Foundation, a well-established nonprofit organization in town, to act as a "pass through agent" for grant requests and handle the paperwork. Timely reports to selectmen are part of the process.
SCF President Al Collins reported at the recent meeting that all the money granted to the CAC for fiscal 2013 had been used in accordance with the application and was spent "as it was supposed to be," helping "poor and needy" town residents.
The group provided fuel assistance to seniors and others, food deliveries to homebound elderly and disabled residents and some housing assistance, Collins said. "They've done a fabulous job."
Collins said the SCF would continue in its current role if the selectmen want them to do so. But he said the current funding schedule is "awkward," with the application process launching in the winter, when the need is greatest.
"We suggest opening the cycle now for the current year, with another round this summer, when charity organizations begin to build their budgets, Collins said. After the initial change, the annual cycle could continue on a summer schedule.
Selectman David Swain said he wouldn't want to change a thing in terms of the SCF acting as the board's agent. "The organization has done a fantastic job," he said. "We appreciate it."
Selectmen also agreed with the SCF recommendation to change its grant application cycle, voting unanimously to open the window for new requests Monday night, with an application deadline in two weeks.
The board also voted unanimously to grant the unexpended $1,000 from the Winslow Trust to the CAC, which had already submitted an emergency grant application for fuel assistance to help a needy family in town.