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SELMA – Seven nonprofits went away with $105,068.79 in grants from the Selma Health Care District after its board approved the majority of the funds requested at its latest quarterly meeting May 8.

The grants will pay for showers for the homeless, animal shelter washing equipment, cancer patients’ needs, swimming lessons, Boys & Girls Club programs, burn-prevention lessons and replace corroded band instruments at Selma High.

The local groups receiving monies included:

  • The Selma Community Outreach Ministry: $7,000
  • Second Chance Animal Shelter: $9,826.79
  • American Cancer Society: $15,000
  • Selma Recreational Swim Program: $7,100
  • Boys & Girls Club of Selma: $22,900
  • Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation: $16,142
  • Selma High School Band: $25,000

The SHCD board oversees monies generated from taxes assessed on property owners living within the district. The District previously oversaw the operations of the local hospital that has since been sold to a private health care provider. Now, nonprofits apply for grants and it’s up to the Board to determine which are approved.

SHCD Board President Rose Robertson said $163,525.61 in tax revenues have been deposited. Treasurer Leticia Gallardo reported that the current account balance was $231,231.68. Of that, $100,000 would remain in reserve.

During this round, the majority of the grants were approved. The board had changed its policy to limit grants to $25,000, thus not all the dollars requested were granted.

Delfina Vazquez represented Selma Community Outreach Ministry in requesting funds to build showers for the homeless. The showers are under construction at Valley Life Church and the homeless are even helping dig trenches, she said, but funds have run out.

“[The homeless] wind up taking showers in public places like Burger King, McDonald’s and the grocery stores. Where you go to wash your hands is where they take their birdbaths.”

Vazquez said once the showers are built, her nonprofit will bring social service agencies to the facility to help get the growing number of homeless on the road to recovery.

“We get calls from women with children who are homeless and on the street. If I didn’t take that call, the police or fire department would. So we take [the homeless] by the hand and we connect the dots to the resources that they need.”

Another agency requesting funds was Second Chance Animal Shelter. Volunteer Janice Baker said they wash so many loads of dirtied towels that the current residential-sized washing machine and dryer cannot keep up. They also requested funds for a dishwasher to clean dog bowls.

“When I go in on Fridays, you’ve got dirty kennels. [The dogs] have been there 24 hours and I’m going to be blunt, you’ve got a lot of poop and pee, vomit and blood sometimes because sometimes they’re injured or in heat. For 20 to 40 dogs, you can imagine the piles of towels. We get them washed as fast as we can [but] it’s not big enough to carry the load.”

President Rose Robertson said her husband Scott Robertson sits on Second Chance's board and they are well-known for volunteering there.

“Everybody knows we’re huge volunteers for the shelter. We like to clean but we don’t ever get paid any money so I just wanted to be transparent about myself before we continue.”

The board voted 3-2 with members Stan Louie and Linda Esquivel dissenting.

“I didn’t see any justification on any health-related issue to vote for it so my vote’s ‘no,’” Esquivel said.

American Cancer Society volunteer Jane Ono said they would use their grant to pay for transportation needs, wigs and hotel stays for cancer patients who are either traveling locally or out-of-state for treatment, have lost their hair because of treatment or need to stay at a hotel if care is needed out of the area.

“To keep it local, I broke it down into three different things that would benefit the people of Selma,” Ono said. “We’re fundraising all the time and we’re doing a big gala this year on Sept. 15. We’re always looking for funds to raise as much money as we can so we can help people.” The grant will pay for 165 rides, 25 nights of lodging and 50 wigs.

Recreation Director Mikhal Kirchner said the swim program grant will defer costs so children can attend lessons through Swim USA at Selma High. He often sees children swimming in canals during the summer and there’s a high risk of drowning in those circumstances. Children will also learn what to do in case someone else is drowning.

“Traditionally, if someone’s drowning, you jump in to save them and then you’ve got two people drowning. Students will learn how to use poles, life vests or even milk cartons to help save the drown victim instead.”

Boys & Girls Club Unit Director Mark Armenta made a plea for his organization touting their increased enrollment of 303 students and efforts to teach leadership, character building, healthy lifestyles, sports and education programs to at-risk youth.

“It’s not just about fun,” Armenta said. “Prior to our two-year anniversary, we went out in the area and picked up trash. That was part of the deal I’d made with the children. We have to start giving back to the community because we’re here for them also.”

The Board declined the travel and conference expenses requested by the Club. Esquivel and Louie voted against this grant as well. Esquivel questioned whether they had a policy about paying for staff since the Club’s grant included staff members’ salaries.

Board counsel Kenneth Price said part of the Recreation Department’s grant is paying for lifeguard salaries and thus staff funding has been an acceptable expense.

Selma firefighter/paramedic Gerald Reeser spoke for their Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation’s Firefighters in Safety Education program. This teaches elementary students fire-prevention techniques at home.

“Our burn-prevention educator gives the kids a pre- and post-test to indicate the knowledge gained through the information,” Reeser said.

Selma High School Band Director Alexander Lima requested $56,943 to help replace instruments that have corroded and become a health hazard to the music students. The board approved granting $25,000 as they changed their policy to limit grants to range from $2,500 to $25,000.

“This red rot exists inside the instrument and is a breeding ground for bacteria, fungus and things that cause upper respiratory infections, trigger tonsil issues and even stomach ulcers,” Lima said.

The instruments deteriorated after budget cuts at the school district in the past left the program with no funds for cleaning, repairs or replacement, Lima said. Selma Unified will spend $300,000 to replace instruments and will invest in new uniforms as well.

“We need to get these replaced so students can all have access to music and be able to safely participate. We know music has a lot of mental benefits for the students and in marching, a lot of physical benefits.”

The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or

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