Buhl Health Foundation Awards $130,000 in Grants

SHARPSVILLE, Pa. — This spring, the Buhl Regional Health Foundation awarded $130,000 in grants to nine local nonprofit organizations. Grants will be used to fund health-related programs in Buhl Regional’s service area.

The largest grant of $45,000 will fund the third phase of Connecting Mercer County, a collaborative community transportation project between the Primary Health Network Charitable Foundation and the Mercer County Regional Council of Governments.

Connecting Mercer County identifies gaps in existing transportation options for underserved populations in the service footprint of Buhl Regional Health Foundation, which includes Mercer County, as well as Trumbull County in Ohio, says Cheryl Goldstone, director of programs for the Primary Health Network Charitable Foundation. The idea is to connect residents with transportation services they need for health care and other social determinants of health, such as food accessibility.

“During COVID, we saw a huge increase in transportation needs,” Goldstone says. “The local transit was only running certain hours, so we were able to assist with some other transportation programs.”

Throughout five months of the pandemic, Connecting Mercer County fulfilled 50 round-trip transportations, says Olivia Brown, mobility manager for Primary Health Network Charitable Foundation.

From January to October 2020, the organization distributed 685 of its Big 40 passes, each providing 40 trips via the Shenango Valley Shuttle Service. Since then, riders have redeemed more than 2,000 of those trips for medical, grocery and food pantry visits, Brown says.

Such services are critical to individuals who need health care services in cities like Pittsburgh or Cleveland and can’t otherwise afford to get there, Goldstone says. Transportation to Pittsburgh, for example, can cost $100 to $150.

“It’s a huge barrier for patients that really need that special service they can’t get in Mercer County, she says.

Through its research, the foundation has found the greatest need to be in rural areas, particularly those surrounding the Grove City outlets, Jamestown, Greenville and Sheakleyville, she says. The $45,000 grant will be used to continue educating residents on the services that are available to them, coordinating with its 70 partner agencies to help streamline those services and mitigate duplication, as well as working with other transportation experts throughout the U.S. to identify other barriers.

For residents interested in transportation services, click HERE for a transportation request form, or call 1-855-RIDE-4-U-2

Other grants awarded by Buhl Regional include:

Letter of inquiry submission for the next grant cycle open June 7. CLICK HERE for more information on grants and check the website for updated information on fall funding priorities.

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