Darlington Ice Lounge Proposal Wins AARP Small Dollar, Big Impact Grant

Posted on 02/09/21

A proposal by the Darlington Chamber/Main Street Program to provide a fun, inviting, recreational space that will allow families and residents of all ages to spend quality time outdoors together while remaining socially distant has been selected to receive AARP Wisconsin’s first “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant of 2021.

These grants will be awarded once a month throughout the year to projects across Wisconsin that are designed to improve communities and make them better places for everyone to live, work and play as they age.

Judges selected this project for a $1,000 grant after reviewing dozens of proposals submitted from all over the state. Jason Funkhouser, Director of the Darlington Chamber/Main Street Program, said the funds will help cover the cost of supplies and lighting from year to year to operate an Ice Lounge at the festival grounds for the entire community to enjoy.

“This is a great opportunity to bring our Darlington community together at a safe yet sociable distance while enjoying our Wisconsin winters for seasons to come,” Funkhouser said. “I'm excited to get this project moving forward with this generous grant. Our volunteers, as well as myself, look forward to creating our outdoor ice lounge this season, and expanding upon it for seasons to come.”

The grant money will help cover some of the costs associated with lighting, deck chairs, signage, and a firepit at the lounge. It will “allow us to do the project in a proper and timely manner with additional funding provided by locals, businesses, and anonymous donors,” Funkhouser said.

The addition of a food stand and ample electrical supply will provide a space for local groups and organizations to come together and supply COVID-friendly food and drink options to ice skaters and families.

The project is unique, Funkhouser said, because it offers night-and-day options for outdoor recreation, which is new for Darlington. He thanked AARP for the opportunity to give “this small rural town’s winter pastime a chance to come to life.”

Judges agreed this is a great opportunity to bring people together, and they were impressed that so many volunteers and members of the community are being utilized to make it happen. They called the project “inspired” and said they liked its potential longevity from year to year.

AARP Wisconsin’s launched its “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant program in 2020 and is now in its second year of helping proposed projects move forward in rural and urban parts of the state. All projects must be completed within 60 days from winner announcement.

“These grants are exactly what the name describes – short-term, low-cost solutions that could have remarkable impacts on the shaping of neighborhoods and cities,” said Darrin Wasniewski, Associate State Director of Community Outreach for AARP Wisconsin.

“There are so many great ideas and proposals for making life better in communities across Wisconsin. We know how impactful $1,000 can be. This is our way of extending some seed money to get these projects off the ground.”

The grant program is open to some nonprofits and government entities. For more information on the program, click here.

This story is provided by AARP Wisconsin. Visit the AARP Wisconsin page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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