Large grant helps Maxtivity navigate post-pandemic waters while expanding programming

During the dark days of the COVID pandemic, many businesses and nonprofit organizations had to dig deep into the playbook while taking advantage of financial opportunities to try to survive.

Maxtivity Creative Space, a Philomath-based nonprofit that focuses on providing a working venue for participants to engage in arts and crafts activities, had been fighting through those types of challenges. Owner Lori Paul’s operation received a major boost last month with news that Maxtivity had received an Oregon Community Foundation grant of $75,000 through the Oregon Community Recovery Fund.

“I’m so excited, this is kind of a rejuvenation, it’s that after-COVID restart fund,” Paul said. “This grant and some other money and outside support that has come in has just really reinforced that Maxtivity should keep going and these are programs that really serve families well.”

The Oregon Community Recovery Fund was established in March to support the local response to COVID-19. Philanthropic partners, businesses and individuals across the state contributed. OCF said that in all, it distributes more than $100 million in grants and scholarships annually.

Paul said she learned about the grant opportunity by receiving messages from friends, the community and her business adviser. Local resident Sophie Grow stepped in to help write the grant proposal.

“We worked really hard to align the program with their wishes and I feel strongly confident that by the end of the summer, we’ll be able to accomplish that and be able to report back to them that we spent the money well,” Paul said.

A significant component of the grant application involved the organization’s willingness to offer financial support to prospective participants in need.

“We told them that we absolutely wanted to provide scholarships because a lot of the people that we’ll be serving can’t normally afford to come to camp for financial reasons, or they’re rural and have trouble getting into town,” said Paul, adding that they can even offer things like gas cards and meal vouchers.

During Maxtivity’s first camp this summer, 50% of participants were able to attend because of scholarships, Paul said.

“Our programs really are nothing without kids and families being served and being involved,” she said. “An empty camp — that is not what we want, or an empty open studio.”

At the same time, Paul said the effort continues to offer safe activities and environments amid the pandemic.

“Our nonprofit isn’t doing anyone any good if we don’t have people in the door using our art supplies and getting in there and getting creative,” she said.

The community is just starting to open back up again with the state eliminating restrictions.

“We want people to feel like we’re reaching out to them and loving on them the best that we can,” Paul said. “We understand that this has been a rough year and we all kind of need that reconnection to one another and that comes through doing some things together and doing creative things together.”

Paul said that because of the grant, Maxtivity was able to add more programming toward the end of the summer, plus offer Family Fun days, such as “Candy Camp” and “Slime Day.” Paul said those events will be part of the organization’s presence at Music in the Park and Maxtivity also can get out into rural areas such as Blodgett.

“I think we just really need to think outside the box of how we can draw each other back into relationships with one another,” Paul said. “Family Fun days is one of the ways we can do that.”

Maxtivity opened in November 2018 and offered summer camps in 2019 and even last summer at an outside venue with small numbers, social distancing and face coverings.

“We’re still growing and building and listening to what people want,” Paul said, adding that the $75,000 grant was important toward the goal of keeping doors open. “I know for other organizations it’s not really anything, but for us, it’s a huge deal.”

A few days after receiving news of the OCF grant, Paul got a phone call about more money that would be coming in. The Unitus Community Credit Union’s “Here for Good” giveaway notified Maxtivity that it had received a nomination from the community and was awarded a $1,000 grant.

Unitus and Oregon State Athletics teamed up to create the campaign to help businesses that may have been impacted by COVID-19.

Despite the OCF grant and other revenue that’s been secured, Paul knows that it will be gone soon and that it’s important to establish consistent avenues of financial support.

“We still need that continued support and membership of supporters that will keep us going next year and the year after that … I’m just extending an invitation to the community to partner with us to keep us around for the long haul,” she said.

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