COLUMBUS — Funding is available to help shovel-ready community projects in Ohio get going in 2022, but there is not much time left to apply.

The AARP Community Challenge provides grants ranging in size from several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the project size.

Gary Goosman, mayor of the Village of Amesville, said his community was one of the 10 in Ohio awarded a grant in 2021, which was used to install a half-acre pollinator garden in an area destroyed by a flood.

“The work was all done by volunteers, but the funds paid for the seed, the compost, the mulch and various other things, paid for the rental of the equipment,” Goosman outlined. “It just did really well. Everything came up; it flowered in the first year. So it was a big success.”

Projects to improve public spaces, housing, transportation and civic engagement, and support equity and inclusion and improve the lives of people age 50 and older, are encouraged. Applications are due by the end of business today.

Jackie Haight, age-friendly coordinator for the aging services provider Source Point in Delaware County, which received a grant to build an accessible community garden with raised beds and benches at a federally subsidized apartment building, said the project is part of a strategic plan to address food insecurity, and the lack of interaction residents experienced during the pandemic.

“It really helps with the depression and the isolation that older adults can experience when they’re not able to get out and do things,” Haight explained. “It’s in their own community, right out the back door, and so it has brought a good group of residents together. They’re very, very excited.”

Since the start of the AARP Community Challenge in 2017, more than $285,000 in grants have been awarded in Ohio.

Goosman pointed out funding is especially helpful for smaller communities such as Amesville, which lack discretionary funds.

“We’re always struggling to get monies to do projects, but we have a lot of people that have a lot of great ideas,” Goosman noted. “If you’re a community like that, this is really going to help you get something off the ground.”

Other projects funded in Ohio include an outdoor art gallery in New Philadelphia, a shelter and ramp for a mobility hub in Dublin and a farmers-market pavilion in an Akron neighborhood known for its immigrant and refugee community.

Awards will be announced in mid-May and projects must be completed by Nov. 30.

By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman,

Public News Service