Amazon is sowing seeds of success in the community with a special fund

From a sensory garden for autism-focused youth clubs, to community integration projects for expatriates, the AWS InCommunities Fund will help launch or expand 38 local projects in Drogheda, benefiting more than 3,500 people.

mazon Web Services (AWS) launched the AWS InCommunities Fund to help local groups, schools and organizations in Drogheda with new projects or expand existing ones that will benefit their local community. Applicants bid for funding for projects that support the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM), sustainability, or health and wellbeing.

The AWS InCommunities Fund is managed and administered by ChangeX, a non-profit organization headquartered in Dublin, with a community engagement platform designed to get money and resources directly into the hands of citizens So that they can lead influential projects in their neighbourhood.

Upon launch, the AWS InCommunities Fund received such high interest that AWS increased the funding amount to support 50% more projects than the initial plan. To date, AWS has provided funding for 38 projects in Drogheda and surrounding areas to help them make a lasting and positive impact in the community.

A not-for-profit service is The Red Door Project, an addiction support service in Drogheda that has received funding to renovate and upgrade its facilities.

“The project is a rehabilitation day program that will support 21 people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction,” said Joan O’Dwyer, community employment supervisor for The Red Door Project. “These individuals have to come somewhere daily to address issues of homelessness, domestic violence, trauma and addiction.”

Presently, the service is run from a school with dated facilities. The AWS InCommunities Fund has helped spearhead a plan to convert the disused wooden room into a venue for music, drama, training, upskilling, and entertainment. The space will also be used for group therapy to allow the Red Door Project to meet the growing demand for its services.

With the funding, Joan and her team will be able to furnish the new space and even upgrade their canteen at The Red Door Project, formerly a donated kitchen.

“The funding is going to help us enhance the recovery experience of those who use our service by providing appropriate, expanded locations and services to meet their needs. Importantly, it will also allow us to increase the number of individuals we work with.”

The St Oliver’s Community College ‘Grow at School’ project was also funded and is the highest-grossing of the three sustainability projects.

One of the projects the school received funding for was the Grow at School project, which is based on the school’s existing horticulture programme. The school had a small vegetable patch with some raised beds in it as part of its existing Garden Club. The funding has allowed them to expand the garden, install more raised beds, and plant more food that students and staff can grow, care for, and harvest in an environmentally friendly way.

“Our students are preparing the beds for sowing, building and weeding!” said Amanda Duggan, one of the teachers involved in the project. “We have sown broccoli, cauliflower and garlic so far and the seeds sown in our little propagator. This will be followed by cabbage, lettuce, beet, rhubarb, onion and carrot. For students, being able to physically produce something as a result of hard work gives them a real sense of accomplishment. ,

The school has also started work on a pollinator garden and a tree plantation project in collaboration with the AWS Communities Fund.

Basement Sounds at Boomerang Youth Cafe was given a financial boost from the fund and has flourished ever since.

The Basement Sounds music and arts initiative at Boomerang Youth Cafe was first established in 2021 to offer music workshops and rehearsal space to local youth aged 12 to 18. The team had always wanted to install an additional soundproof recording booth, but they weren’t sure it would be financially feasible.

“We didn’t think we’d be able to do it, but with funding from the AWS Communities Fund, it’s become a reality,” said Sean McCluskey, lead youth activist for Basement Sounds.

With the funds, Sean and his team were able to purchase more musical equipment, software, and materials for the soundproofing booth. They also plan to use some of the money for field trips, including a visit to the National Concert Hall.

“It’s a dream project and we’re so grateful to have the opportunity to do it. It’s changed our schedule and allowed us to reach more people.”

Since the facility’s opening, 150 local youth have used it from several school groups, local bands and members of the Boomerang Cafe youth club.

“This project has already had a huge impact on our youth at Boomerang Cafe. It will have a hugely beneficial impact on the mental health of our members, giving them a creative way to process the pandemic of the past two years and the worries that have come with it. Outlet will be found.”

Recording Booth Basement Sounds is just beginning to expand, with initiatives to secure additional funding from other sources since growing with the AWS InCommunities Fund.

Hands4Unity was also awarded funding and is expanding its services from its base in the Barbican Center, Drogheda.

Since inception in 2019, Hands4Unity has been working with Drogheda-based women from diverse backgrounds to improve their community experience and facilitate better community integration. The charity’s mission is to make it easier for people arriving in Drogheda from other countries to feel at home and equipped to deal with the various challenges they face, such as language barriers and culture.

This year, funds were provided to the charity to expand and develop their vital upskilling and community networking services.

With this additional resource, Hands4Unity plans to create a multi-use space that will serve as an outreach center to provide a physical space that encourages community inclusion and genuine integration between different community groups. does.

The funding will also support a range of community events and workshops, allowing Hands4Unity to rent a venue and allow artists from a variety of backgrounds to share their music, dance and culture with the wider community. It will also include training material, snacks for the participants and safety essentials like hand sanitizer.

Ejiro O’ Stratton, founder of Hands4Unity, said, “Having a place where these women and their children can participate and share in each other’s cultures is a first in the way of breaking down barriers and opening them up to sharing in Irish culture.” step.”

“With the help of AWS Communities Fund, this can be achieved through music, dance, arts and crafts workshops, cooking workshops, job search workshops, etc.”

Junk Percussion is making very cohesive use of the Sensory Garden Orchestra funding!

The Orchestra Autism Support is a joint project between the Louth and Meath Youth Club and the Drogheda Abacas Special School for Children with Autism.

The project received funding to develop a sensory garden to host music-based workshops for autistic children, adolescents and adults in the area. Once launched, the workshop will feature a combination of percussion and samba drumming, along with music, storytelling and play.

Work on the project began this year and project lead, Jacinta Walsh, says they aim to help local youth discover their individuality through musical expression, music from their own ensemble and elements of performance. is to experience.

“Our goal is to create an environment where youth with autism and intellectual disabilities can engage in the creative process to the best of their ability. Participants will listen, learn and make decisions about what sound effects or rhythmic patterns to use in their own sensory storytelling Will take

“The pandemic has had an impact on many autistic people and their mental well-being, leading to increased levels of anxiety and stress. This project will provide an outlet not only for creating and expressing creativity but also for de-stressing, joining a group and participating in a fun and interactive activity.

The funding will help the newly established Boyne Netball Club purchase team kits, equipment and cover the cost of the match. The club was established in 2021, and club representative Lynsey Ryder says it has been transformative for the local women who have joined so far.

“Awareness and promotion of women’s sport is growing in Ireland and this is a great opportunity to join in on that momentum, empowering girls and women in the local area through sport,” Lynsey says.

“We’re a fun, friendly club that caters to all ages and abilities, from social and fitness to competitive levels!”

The funding will support the development of the club, allowing it to continue to grow. Since its first season in September 2021, the club trains every Monday night at Drogheda Grammar School. Already 50 players strong, the club had two teams (an under-18 team and a senior team) that competed in the Winter League of Netball Ireland.

Culture Connect is a non-profit social enterprise; Made up of a network of professionals, volunteers and groups in the Northeast of Ireland; which promote the integration of people from different countries living locally. It aims to empower ethnic groups and communities by providing information and support regarding housing, social welfare eligibility, immigration and legal services, and also offers a range of training such as conversational English classes, intercultural mediation and cultural awareness.

Culture Connect plans to use the funds to provide mentorship for recently trained cultural ambassadors who will facilitate communication and engagement between people from minority ethnic, refugee and migrant backgrounds and service providers. The program was launched in February 2022 with ambassadors from 15 different countries including Romania, Pakistan, Kenya, Albania and Syria.

Flora Okobi, Founder of Culture Connect, said, “This project will consolidate the skills and knowledge that ambassadors learned in their initial training program and will also provide professional mentoring as they build their niche as cultural barrier breakers within their respective communities. Let the work begin.”

Following the program, cultural ambassadors will support their communities by engaging with organizations that provide housing, social welfare entitlement, immigration and legal services, and simplify and translate essential information, helping to reduce communication barriers. , some minorities encounter ethnic people.

Culture Connect estimates that each ambassador will support at least four families with cases in the first year of the project, meaning the program will support at least 60 local people.

“The project aims to promote equality by facilitating access to critical information. It is a voluntary, community and public initiative to address the cultural barriers faced by people coming from other countries while attempting to integrate into our local communities. A range of services can be achieved through working together.

Empowering local organizations to make a lasting impact

AWS InCommunities was founded to create and deliver long-term, innovative support that will have a lasting impact on the communities where AWS builds and operates global infrastructure.

AWS InCommunities also supports local communities through their work with local charities and employee volunteering. One example is Thomas Carroll, an AWS InCommunities volunteer on a mission to support Dublin’s classrooms, hospitals and homeless shelters. Other AWS events offered in local communities include AWS Tech Week, Girls Tech Days, AWS Family Tech Series, and AWS Think Big Spaces.

Find out more about AWS InCommunities. Read the full blog here.