Each year Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Better Beaches grant program funds free kayaking, beach parties and a host of other activities along East Boston’s shoreline during the summer months.
Last week four Eastie nonprofits received a total of $21,500 in grant money to support free summer beach events throughout the neighborhood as part of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) annual Better Beaches Program.
The grant money will allow organizations like Piers Park Sailing Center, East Boston YMCA, NOAH, and the Harborkeepers to host events such as Kayaks to Go, Sunset Family Fitness, Kayaking on Constitution Beach, and the Second Annual East Boston Marine and Maritime Festival.
Save the Harbor President Tani Marinovich said this year’s grants will see the return of many well-attended events from previous years, along with some newly funded events. Grants support concerts, kayaking, family beach festivals, youth beach parties, songs and stories by the sea and art on the shore along with several other beach related activities. All events funded by these grants are free to the public and are hosted in the region’s beachfront communities like Eastie.
“Each year we look forward to these great events that get people excited about going to the region’s public beaches,” said Marinovich. “The beaches are our most important natural resources, but also serve as a cultural resource that helps connect communities and bond neighborhoods.”
The grant will enable the YMCA to again hold its annual “Beach Kick-off Day” on Constitution Beach to raise awareness about their summer food service program. The event will feature face painting, sand castle contests, sports, games, arts and crafts, music, and an opportunity for community members to meet with organizations that will be offering programs on Constitution Beach during the summer.
The grant award will also support the ‘Y’ late season movie night, campfire night, and beach activities for local youth in late August. The ‘Y’ will also use the events to highlight the Ashley Street Youth Center near the beach, which will give children the opportunity to continue their activities indoors and also provide the summer food service program when the beach is closed due to weather.
Over at NOAH, Executive Director Phil Giffee said the grant money will be used again for free kayaking at Constitution Beach all summer long.
Last summer, the free kayaking program at the beach run by NOAH’s Youth Crew had more than 3,000 participants. That number coupled with the kayaking regatta and other waterfront boating events showed that over 3,300 boaters were on the water last summer in Eastie.
The Harborkeepers will use the money to host the second annual Maritime Festival at Constitution Beach that drew over 1,000 people last summer while Piers Park will again run the Kayaks To Go at the Sailing Center.
In total, more than $210,000 was awarded in Better Beaches Program grants. These grants will allow 37 organizations in nine communities to fund nearly 150 free events on the region’s public beaches from Nahant to Nantasket in 2019.
Funds to support the Better Beaches Program come from DCR, JetBlue and the proceeds of the Harpoon Shamrock Splash fundraiser. Since Save the Harbor/Save the Bay began the Better Beaches Program partnership with the Department of Conservation & Recreation in 2008, they have awarded almost $900,000 in small grants to support nearly 500 events on the region’s public beaches for kids and families in Eastie Lynn, Nahant, Revere, Winthrop, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull.
“Contained within the state parks system are incredible ‘close to home’ beaches that provide excellent recreational opportunities for visitors and their families to enjoy,” said Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy. “The Baker-Polito Administration works incredibly hard at fostering strong partnerships with stakeholders like Save the Harbor/Save the Bay in an effort to increase access and provide unique programming at state beaches and other natural resources.”
With the support of The Boston Circus Guild and JetBlue, this year’s line-up also includes 10 free Life’s A Beach Festivals, featuring trapeze artists, acrobats and jugglers, as well costumed storytellers, performing pirates, a community art project by Save the Harbor’s artist in residence Robin Reed and mandalas in the sand by intertidal artists Andres Amador.
“At JetBlue, we are committed to our community and fun is one of our core values,” said Donnie Todd, Corporate Social Responsibility Liaison for JetBlue, who led a team of over 30 participants in this year’s Shamrock Splash. “More than 3,000 JetBlue crewmembers call Boston home, we cherish our harbor and proudly support Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and the work they do on the region’s public beaches. Service and giving back are in our DNA at JetBlue and our mission to inspire humanity is what guides us as a company. Between the Corporate Social Responsibility team’s work and our Crewmembers’ passions, the common theme is good – JetBlue For Good.”