SANTA CRUZ >> In two years, local youth have cooked 20,000 healthy meals for families with illness at Soquel's Teen Kitchen Project — a journey that began with a gift of pots and pans.
A $1,000 grant from the Santa Cruz chapter of Bread for the Journey, a grant-giving nonprofit kick-starting local ideas, allowed the project to equip its kitchen, said Angela Farley, Teen Kitchen Project's founder.
Unlike other grant applications, which take hours to complete, Farley said she wrote a simple proposal, which was approved in one meeting.
"For a new organization who's really wanting to focus their energy on their programs, (it's) a really simple process to get the money they need," Farley said.
Since the volunteer-led chapter was founded in 2009, Bread for the Journey has granted more than $20,000 to around 20 community projects, with gifts ranging from $500 to $1,500. Saturday, the group will host its "Harvest Party" — its largest fundraiser of the year.
The idea, said Aptos resident Harriet Wrye, the chapter's founder and board president, is to plant a seed and hope it sprouts.
"We're also light on bureaucracy and basically focused on practicing generosity," Wrye said.
Recent grantees include the Santa Cruz Volunteer Center's Reading Buddies program, a Pajaro Valley school district program pairing high school volunteers with elementary students, and Santa Cruz Junior Cycling Development, a mountain biking team for local youth.
According to David Giannini, the cycling team's director, the Bread for the Journey grant in May given the team credibility, allowing it to attract around $5,000 in other grant funding. Now the team has a sliding scale for membership, allowing more low-income youth to join.
Saturday, Bread for the Journey will present a $1,500 check to PAPAS, a county program supporting father involvement.
The grant supports a pilot support group for teen dads in Watsonville and Santa Cruz. The funds provide a facilitator and gifts of diapers, infant formula and books for dads in exchange for attending sessions.
Since 2003, PAPAS has served fathers of all ages, and this program represents a narrowing of focus, said Deutron Kebebew, project director.
Teen fathers have different obstacles, such as immaturity and volatile relationships, he said.
"When you're working with teens, the strategies for outreach, recruitment and retention have to change," said Kebebew. "We didn't have the capacity to serve teens. Basically this grant gives us the capacity to at least start."
Santa Cruz resident Kate Roberts, Bread for the Journey board member, said she became involved after reading a book about generosity by the program's national founder.
She's energized by providing seed money for local grass-roots projects, she said.
"I like to think of it as supporting local heroes," Roberts said.
Bread for the Journey Harvest Party
What: Fundraiser to benefit local grant-providing volunteer group
When: 2:30-5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Private home in Aptos. For exact location, RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or 831-684-9993.
Details: Visit santacruz.breadforthejourney.org