During a virtual awards ceremony on ZOOM last week, three Winthrop nonprofits received grant money totaling $11,500 to support free summer beach events as part of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) annual Better Beaches grant program In the past grant money allowed organizations like theFriends of Winthrop Beach, Winthrop Chamber of Commerce, and Friends of Belle Isle Marsh to hold larger events that drew many to the country’s first public beach during the summer months.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the brakes on larger gatherings as people continue to practice social distancing.
Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Executive Director Chris Mancini said this year’s grants will support efforts to keep the region’s public beaches safe and open this summer. The Friends of Winthrop Beach and Friends of Belle Isle Marsh both received $5,000.00 while the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce received $1,500.00 in grant money.
The funds will go towards supporting free, re-imagined, beach events and programs when the Covid-19 pandemic has passed and public programming can safely resume. “As the nation continues to wrestle with the challenges of both the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequences of systemic racism, safe and accessible blue and green spaces like the region’s public beaches from Nahant to Nantasket are more important than ever” said Mancini.
“In these uncertain times, you can be sure that Save the Harbor/Save the Bay will continue to support our partners in the region’s waterfront neighborhoods and beachfront communities, as we work together to keep these spectacular urban natural resources safe, open and welcoming to all.” According to Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Director of Strategy & Communications Bruce Berman, in the coming weeks his group will host a “virtual charette” to begin to “re-imagine beach programs” in light of the public health crises we are all facing together.
Each year Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Better Beaches grant program funds a host of activities along Winthrop’s shoreline during the summer months. In total, more than $200,000 was awarded in Better Beaches Program grants.
These grants will allow 39 organizations in nine communities to fund free events on the region’s public beaches from Nahant to Nantasket in 2020. DCR Commissioner Jim Montgomery took part in the ZOOM ceremony and applauded the power of the Better Beaches Program partnership with DCR, which has invested more than $1 million dollars in free beach programs since it began in 2007.
“The Baker/Polito Administration has made it a priority to support great partnerships like this, that encourage people to get and enjoy the outdoors in a safe and responsible way” said Montgomery.
“With Covid-19, our beaches and parks are even more important for people’s mental and physical health. It is a great partnership. I look forward to seeing you all on your beach, hopefully very soon.” Funds to support the Better Beaches Program come from DCR, JetBlue and the proceeds of the Harpoon Shamrock Splash fundraiser.