Monday February 25, 2013

BELLOWS FALLS -- TransCanada Corp. recently gifted a six-figure grant to a local organization that prides itself on connecting people with life-changing services.

Parks Place Community Resource Center received a $20,000 general operating grant from TransCanada -- a North American energy company based in Calgary, Alberta -- in order to help provide comprehensive, coordinated and accessible human services to the individuals and families of the Greater Falls Region.

Parks Place exists as an outpost for roughly 35 providers from across state agencies and non-profit organizations that address issues such as substance abuse, housing, lead poisoning prevention and healthy homes, income assistance, parenting classes and adult learning. Development Director Margaret Grisczenkow said the grant money will be used on anything that helps keep the doors open, from supplies to payroll.

She said Parks Place serves as a "one-stop shop" for personal services.

Director Barbara Ternes said the grant is just a sampling of TransCanada's generosity toward Parks Place, as the corporation has provided $50,000 since 2007 for general operations and for the agency's Lead Safe and Healthy Homes program, which addresses indoor environmental and safety hazards.

"It's just a beautiful, beautiful donation," she said. "I'm amazed by the amount of this gift and grateful that TransCanada has put their trust in Parks Place."

The gift, Ternes said, ensures accessibility of services for families in Parks Place's entire service delivery area -- which consists of Rockingham (including the villages of Bellows Falls, Saxtons River, Bartonsville, Brockway Mills and Cambridgeport), Athens, Westminster and Grafton. The agency also serves a number of clients in and around the Brattleboro area to the south and Springfield area to the north, as well as some New Hampshire residents from Walpole, North Walpole and Alstead.

Grisczenko, who has been with Parks Place for almost two years, said she thinks TransCanada really believes in what Parks Place provides.

"It really lifted our spirits," she said, adding that the agency was initially seeking a smaller grant. "They've been a great partner."

Matthew Cole, a community relations representative for TransCanada, said giving back has been a part of the corporation's culture for more than 60 years.

"TransCanada stands committed to investing in worthwhile agencies that can achieve meaningful results," he said in a statement.

Parks Place embraces the "patch" model of community-based service delivery, meaning it attempts to increase access to services on a neighborhood level by housing numerous providers under one roof.

According to a statement from Parks Place, concentrated pockets of poverty in the region dictate a high need for health and human services like the ones it offers.

The added stress that poverty puts on individuals also contributes to increased family dysfunction and higher rates of unemployment, teen pregnancy and child abuse and neglect.

"By coming to Parks Place, people make a better life for themselves," said Ternes, who has been there 18 years. "And TransCanda is helping to make that happen."