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Transitions-MHA Receives Grant from Women’s Fund to Help Launch New Social Enterprise

Transitions-Mental Health Association has received a $25,000 grant from the Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County to help launch a new social enterprise, Growing Grounds Gallery & Gifts in Santa Maria.

The grant opportunity was specifically intentioned for mental wellness, substance abuse and job training.

Grant funding will allow the new Growing Grounds Gallery & Gifts retail store to employ mental-health services consumers for the positions in retail store management and coordination, and retail sales. Grant funds will provide wages for these positions. The grant is also responsible for our ability to launch the store, making it a reality.

In addition, the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation donated $40,000 in November to the Growing Grounds Vocational Advocates Program in Northern Santa Barbara County. Of those funds, $2,500 will be devoted to the Growing Grounds Gallery & Gifts store’s operations budget in 2014-2015, leveraging the Women’s Fund donation.

“This grant opens up a wonderful opportunity for head of household women to do healing craftwork at a time that suits their family needs and can bring in some additional income,” said Frank Ricceri, TMHA’s associate director for Northern Santa Barbara County. “The Women’s Fund has made a leap of faith in funding TMHA’s fourth social enterprise. We are all so grateful for their generosity and trust.”

Growing Grounds Gallery & Gifts is a project conceived of by mental health consumers from TMHA's Recovery Learning Communities (RLCs) in Lompoc and Santa Maria. The gallery and gift store occupies a small retail space in Rancho Hermosa, a mixed-use development in Santa Maria, where the Santa Maria RLC is housed. The gallery and gift store is run entirely by TMHA client-employees and displays and sells artwork and handcrafted items produced exclusively by members of the Recovery Learning Communities. Items are sold on consignment from the maker.

Growing Grounds Gallery & Gifts provides traditional employment opportunities to staff members who have the opportunity to develop retail experience and a consistent source of income. Members also educate the public about contributions of persons with mental illness by interacting and engaging with community members through the gallery. Work has long been recognized as beneficial to mental health and is seen as an important element in recovery. The gallery provides a source of empowerment and a means towards self-determination and increased self-esteem so essential to the recovery process.

For handcrafted jewelry, soaps, books and fine art, visit the gallery and gift store at 225 E. Inger Drive, Suite 101B in Santa Maria. It is open from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and noon to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, call the store at 805.623.5027.

The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara County has awarded 64 grants totaling $4.7 million to local nonprofit agencies, since 2004. The grants benefit thousands of women, children and families within the greater Santa Barbara area. To learn more about the organization, call 805.963.1873 or click here.

— Shannon McOuat is the community outreach manager for the Transitions-Mental Health Association.

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