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Tobacco funds awarded to local groups

Jill Lufrano

Nevada’s share of tobacco settlement money, while less than expected, will be enough to pay for several local programs to help low-income children and adults with prescriptions, healthy lifestyle education, homelessness and food.

The Task Force for the Fund for a Healthy Nevada awarded $2 million to state groups last week to pay for programs that prevent, reduce or treat the use of tobacco and improve health services for children and disabled people.

Although many new programs will not be funded, the task force was able to partially or fully fund requests that will directly aid children and adults in Carson, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties.

Community Chest Inc., a nonprofit organization in Virginia City, was granted $41,000 to pay for a community nurse and an ongoing program for homeless youth training and technical assistance.

“We’re just real grateful we received any funds at all,” said Executive Director Shaun Griffin. “It was real right, for everybody.”

A request to fund the community nurse was cut by at least 20 percent, but will still allow the nurse to work in Storey and western Lyon county five days a month. The nurse administers immunizations and flu shots to children and adults, visits senior centers, helps with prevention work at the middle school and assists at the high school. She also makes home visits in Storey County to homebound residents who need special care.

The organization was awarded $22,750 to continue a program that addresses hunger and poverty needs in five Nevada communities, including Carson City, Winnemucca, Las Vegas and two communities in Reno. Representatives in the communities meet four times a year to identify barriers, local resources and strategies to address hunger and poverty.

Nevada Urban Indians received $36,800 from the settlement funds to pay for a new program to educate parents and children living on reservations in Washoe and Carson City counties, said executive director Janet Reeves.

“We’re really thrilled and so excited to be receiving it,” Reeves said.

The group will start the program this summer, tutoring children who attend summer camp, ages 7 to 18, about the dangers of smoking.

Another organization, Care Chest of Sierra Nevada, received $41,500 in grant funding to boost a program that pays the deductible or the entire cost of emergency prescriptions for low-income children and disabled adults in Northern Nevada.

The funding will allow the group to pay up to $100 a year for each child or adult who needs emergency medicine, like antibiotics, anti-seizure medication, asthma prescriptions and cardiac medicine.

“It helps local families get more services and prescriptions, especially when there’s an emergency,” said Executive Director Patti Meals. “Giving them the correct treatment right away can keep kids in school and keep parents working. It’s a direct tangible result.”

Other local organizations that received funds include:

n Boys and Girls Club of Nevada was granted $26,967 to pay for a SMART Moves and SMART online program to introduce youth to the value of choosing a healthy lifestyle and teach about the health risks of tobacco use.

n Food Bank of Northern Nevada will get $136,500 to implement a federal child nutrition program in low-income communities throughout the state.

Nevada received a $38 million payment – $5 million less than projected – from the tobacco industry this year to cover its share of a settlement that ended cigarette litigation by states in 1998.

Contact Jill Lufrano at jlufrano@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.