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AARP Grants Support Oregon Community Projects

Milton-Freewater, a town of more than 7,000, is known for its agricultural industry and outdoor recreation opportunities. (City of Milton-Freewater)
Milton-Freewater, a town of more than 7,000, is known for its agricultural industry and outdoor recreation opportunities. (City of Milton-Freewater)
August 24, 2020

MILTON-FREEWATER, Ore. -- Three Oregon projects have been chosen to receive grants from AARP's Community Challenge program.

The grants go to proposals that make communities more livable for people of all ages, and that can be turned around quickly.

One of those projects will bring folks together in Milton-Freewater, a small eastern Oregon town at the base of the Blue Mountains.

Julie Culjak, executive director for the Milton-Freewater Downtown Alliance, said grant funds will be used to develop a town activity plaza.

"Our focus is family, any age, coming into the lot, playing together," Culjak said. "Board games, corn hole, foosball, ping pong, watching a movie together, having a popcorn movie family night; everybody together."

Nationwide, AARP chose 184 projects and is distributing $2.4 million. Winning projects must be completed by December 18.

The Asian Health and Service Center has served Portland's diverse Asian communities since 1983.

Holden Leung, CEO of the Center, said the pandemic has changed the way they support folks.

He said they've created a COVID-19 Asian response team, which answers calls from anxious community members and gets food to people in need. He added the response team will be more important than ever in the coming months.

"As the fall is coming soon, with the change of the weather, the flu season is coming, so I can tell we need to sustain our efforts," Leung said.

The Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and Metro HomeShare Program also received a grant to maintain outreach to low-income homeowners or renters during the pandemic.

The Community Challenge program has awarded more than $6 million through 560 grants since it debuted in 2017.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR