Six women from around Utah and Idaho were recently recognized by Zions Bank for their efforts to bring value to their communities. Though their organizations may have different goals, one ties them all together: to serve and help others.
Each woman received $3,000 from Zions Bank to help propel their efforts forward and to assist them as they serve their communities. Zions Bank’s Women’s Financial Group provides Smart Women Grants as part of its ongoing commitment to support women in achieving financial independence.
The microgrants are awarded to those who promote the empowerment of women or directly benefit women of low-income and underserved populations in Utah and Idaho. Since 2004, Zions Bank has awarded 82 microgrants totaling more than $235,000 for talented individuals and their organizations. This year, Zions Bank received 56 applications from women in Utah and Idaho, six of whom were ultimately awarded grants.
Animal-Assisted Healing Center
The Animal-Assisted Healing Center was created by a group of women to provide animal-assisted therapy to children, adolescents and families seeking physical and mental balance during their health treatment.
Through programs such as Canine-Assisted Therapy and Therapy Riding using horses, the center hopes to build awareness of the benefits and success of animal-assisted therapy. “We love providing people another option in health care,” says Janelle Nimer, one of the founders of Animal-Assisted Healing Center and a recipient of the grant. “We are looking forward to helping more individuals and families access this type of therapy as it’s proving to be very successful for patients.”
Community Clothing Closet
A $3,000 grant was given to Community Clothing Closet, which serves both Carbon and Emery Counties. This organization helps families access free clothing and small home accessories in an area of Utah experiencing some economic decline and higher rates of unemployment.
“Our main goal is to free up some cash for our community members, to provide a resource that helps them focus on affording food, rent or mortgage rather than clothing, blankets or other home accessories,” says Vicki Kulow, chair of the Community Clothing Closet.
One grant winner in Utah is splitting her award with the organization that is helping her pursue her passion for teaching. Laura Santos of Logan is working on her master’s degree and has recently worked with Kairos Academy, an institution helping teen moms finish their education.
“All of my motivation to give back to Kairos Academy is because of the dedication of the students,” Santos says. “They inspire me to be my best self, and I want to do what I can to help them, and others, overcome challenges,” she says.
Santos will be using half of her grant for her education, and the other half will be given to Kairos Academy to further develop their dropout prevention program.
In the small rural area of Swan Valley in eastern Idaho, Wendy Swope is dedicating her energy and time to a one-bedroom health clinic called Southfork Healthcare. She is a registered nurse and nurse practitioner who has been serving the community for years and is planning to update her facility with the grant money from Zions Bank.
“Making others feel strong and healthy makes me feel good, and I’m honored to bring better health services to the valley with the grant money,” Swope says.
Valda Evening-Smith, who lives in the Pocatello area, is carrying on Shoshone-Bannock tribe traditions and history by teaching community members how to make traditional regalia and jewelry. Many art pieces are brought to life using beading techniques.
“More than 40 years ago, my aunt was the one who taught me how to bead and make jewelry, and it makes me happy to continue the legacy today teaching my family and community,” Evening-Smith says.
The Kristin Armstrong Story
In Boise, film director Karen Day was awarded a grant for working diligently to tell the story of three-time gold medal Olympian cyclist Kristin Armstrong. Her production team is producing a feature-length documentary to serve and inspire audiences, especially girls and women. “This film will make real the power of believing in seemingly impossible dreams,” Day says.