Emergency Response Grants
Supporting Our Community 
Elbow bump. New novel greeting to avoid the spread of coronavirus. Two women friends meet in a British street with bare hands. Instead of greeting with a hug or handshake_ they bump elbows instead.
In response to COVID-19, over the last few months the Greater Watertown Community Foundation (GWCHF) has been committed to providing resources to meet the needs of our community's most vulnerable residents. Emergency Response Grants totaling $71,000 to date have supported the organizations listed below.

  • Community Action Coalition For South Central Wisconsin, Inc., serving Jefferson County, received support to temporarily house community members experiencing homelessness.
  • The Salvation Army of Jefferson County received support to meet an increase in the number of families calling upon them for help with emergency rent, utilities and lodging.
  • Crossroads of Watertown received funds to assist families with children with rent costs and housing placement to prevent homelessness. 
  • The Dodge County Food Pantry, Waterloo Food Pantry, and Sacred Heart Food Pantry (serving Juneau, Burnette and Iron Ridge) each received funds to purchase food and necessities for families in need. 
  • Green Valley Enterprises in Dodge County received support to develop a comprehensive plan to guide service to adults with special needs during a pandemic. 
  • Adoration Abode in Watertown received funds to purchase a freezer to aid in the distribution of food to families.  
  • PAVE, which operates an outreach office in Watertown, received funds to provide safe shelter for an increased number of domestic violence victims.
  • Jefferson County Human Services received support to help residential facilities support the social-emotional needs of residents unable to leave their homes or have guests due to COVID-19 risks. They used funds to offer a weekly virtual bingo program reaching more than 250 residents.
  • Five GWCHF partner childcare agencies received grants to cover costs of supplies, equipment and staff training needed to ensure safety for children and staff as they transition through the recovery phase. Recipients, who regularly partner with GWCHF on early childhood education initiatives, include Community Care and Preschool in Beaver Dam, Future All Stars Academy in Juneau, Gingerbread Preschool and Child Care Center in Watertown, Kiddie Kampus in Watertown, and Willows Christian Child Care Center in Iron Ridge.

GWCHF's initial emergency response grants focused on supporting agencies that were seeing a surge in need due to the pandemic. As we move from initial response into a recovery period, future grants will be used to help agencies adapt operations to serve our community safely in the new environment. The health, economic, social and emotional impacts of this pandemic are far reaching, and we are eager to support community partners in innovating to lead our community’s recovery.

Join us for a Virtual Lunch Hour
Safe Families for Children - Chapter Interest Discussion

A program called Safe Families for Children is looking to open a chapter in Jefferson County. Safe Families is a volunteer-driven nonprofit that surrounds families in crisis with caring, compassionate community members. Working primarily through faith communities, chapters across the country host vulnerable children and create extended family-like supports through a network of devoted volunteers who are motivated by compassion to keep children safe and families intact.

A couple parishes in Jefferson County have established Safe Families ministries. As GWCHF considers supporting the development of a Safe Families chapter in Jefferson County, we would like feedback from our local faith and service communities to determine if interest exists.
Join us for a virtual lunch hour discussion!

Wednesday, June 17, Noon to 1 p.m.

The agenda will include:
  • Introduction
  • Safe Families for Children Overview by Nicole Zorn of Safe Families
  • Local Child Welfare Perspective by Brent Ruehlow of Jefferson County Human Services
  • Reflections from a local parish by Dave Zimmerman and Amee Mertens, River Valley Alliance Church (Watertown)
  • Feedback and Discussion

Collaboration Grant Announcement
Now Available! Kayak Rentals on the Rock River

Residents of the greater Watertown area now have the opportunity to kayak on the Rock River, thanks to a collaboration between the Watertown Park and Recreation Department, Watertown Tourism, and the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation.

Following initial in-kind and financial commitments from the Park and Recreation Department and Watertown Tourism, GWCHF awarded a $3,300 Community Collaboration Grant to support the kayak rental program. Community Collaboration Grants support collaborative efforts that build a sense of connectedness between people or enhance community spaces where individuals can be active together.

Randy Wojtasiak, Director of Recreation, said that the concept for the rental program was developed last year after the Parks, Recreation & Forestry Commission challenged the Department to find more ways to utilize the Rock River.

“We have this tremendous recreational resource running through our city, and we have not been doing enough to utilize it,” he said.

The department came up with the idea of offering kayak rentals as a fun, affordable and healthy activity that community members could enjoy. Kayaking is good for physical and mental health because it reduces stress, builds upper body strength, and allows a way for people to be one with nature’s beauty.

The Department has three adult and three child kayaks for rent at their office located at 514 S. First Street, Watertown. To reserve kayaks, visit watertownwi.recdesk.com and click Facilities, or contact the office at 920-262-8080.

GWCHF’s Community Collaboration Grants support coordinated efforts between multiple community organizations, up to 33% of a proposed project budget with a maximum grant value of $10,000. Click here for more information.

Stronger Together
Every Child Thrives is an effort facilitated by the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation, involving partners from multiple sectors working together to ensure all children thrive in health, learning and life.

Partners have really stepped up and adapted the way they work to continue serving children and families during these challenging times. Enjoy a video of photos that show what life has looked like over the last few months! Photos are courtesy of partner facebook pages.

Struggling with information overload?

There is an overwhelming amount of information available on the Internet for your organization and family to turn to in order to cope with COVID-19. It takes a lot of time to sort through all the digital resources available, so GWCHF has done some of that for you!

Here are a few resources we recommend for our partners to use with their organizations, the families they serve, and themselves.

from the Center for the Study of Social Policy

from the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health

from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services

The Foundation and Every Child Thrives effort will not be holding any in-person meetings or events until further notice. We will conduct meetings virtually whenever possible. We look forward to the day we can all get together in the same room again!

600 East Main Street, Suite 200, Watertown WI 53094
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