Tuesday night, the Town Council Chambers were filled with groups serving those in Watertown who need some extra help, and who the town cannot serve.
The Town Council honored more than 20 community organizations and non-profit groups, and handed out more than $50,000 in grants from the Harvard/O'Neil Community Enrichment Funds.
"Thank you for what you do," Town Council President Mark Sideris said to the representatives of the grant recipients. "I think I speak for the whole council when I say all of you provide services we can't provide as a community and reach a lot of people we can't serve."
This is the 11th year that the funds have been handed out. They come from a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement the town made with Harvard University when the university bought the Watertown Arsenal property.
Each year Harvard provides $100,000 for local groups and will continue for a total of 52 years, Sideris said.
In past years, the entire $100,000 went to local groups, Sideris said, but this year the Town Council saved about half for the town to "do something the town would not normally be able to do." Exactly what the money will be used for has not been decided yet, Sideris said, who added that it may still go to local groups.
A variety groups received money, from school PTOs to arts and theater groups to youth sports organizations.
Judy Cannon from the Perkins School for the Blind said the grant will be used to allow more seniors to used the school's Braille & Talking Book Library.
"A lot of people do not know what the library does," Cannon said. "Anyone who cannot read printed material can use it, and we particularly want to reach out to seniors in Watertown and other communities."
The grant will help start a new program, called the Watertown Village Planning Group, which seeks to create a network of neighbors helping neighbors to allow people to stay in their homes as they age.
The Arsenal Center for the Arts, the New Repertory Theatre and the Improbable Players all received money to bring theater to Watertown residents.
Improbable Players teach about substance abuse through drama workshops, the New Rep will bring productions of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Romeo and Juliet" to schools and the Arsenal Center brings 300 seniors in to attend productions and classes each year with the funds.
The Harvard/O'Neil Funds provide a big help for the Watertown Family Network, said director Arlene Smith. They will pay for the Halloween Happening - an event where young children dress up and visit seniors at the Brigham House - and the Get a Start on Art program.
"When we started 12 years ago, the state provided $150,000, and this year we got under $50,000," Smith said. "I fell very lucky to be in a town like Watertown that funds the Watertown Family Network."
2012 Harvard/O'Neil Community Enrichment Funds RecipientsOrganization Amount Details Watertown Village Planning Group $1,500 Consultant to assist in development of business plan Hosmer School PTO $2,900 Education presentation & after school enrichment Lowell School PTO $2,900 Arts & sciences programs Middle School PTO $2,900 Arts & sciences programs Watertown High School PTSO $2,900 All night party and Education Opportunity Focusing on life and social experiences Friends of Project Literacy $2,800 Instruction and supplies for a class Advocates Inc. $1,120 Jail Diversion Program for Watertown - iPad for clinical responder Metro West Collaborative Development $2,800 Tenant Training Program & Landlord Assistance Program Watertown Family Network $2,000 Programs: Halloween Happenings & Get a Start on Art Miller/Tracy Children's Foundation $2,800 Back to School Backpack Program Watertown Boys & Girls Club $2,800 Youth programs New Repertory Theatre $2,500 Performances of New Rep on Tour at WHS & Perkins Arsenal Center for the Arts $2,000 Open Door Project Improbable Players $2,100 Substance abuse prevention performance Watertown Art Association $1,750 Artist demonstrators Perkins School for the Blind $2,000 Assist elderly in the use of the Braille & Talking Book Library Parent Child Home Program $2,800 Home visitors for literacy program Watertown Lady Raiders $1,750 Assist in associated expenses for learn to skate program Watertown Babe Ruth Baseball League $1,750 Equipment, umpiring Fees and league expenses Historical Society of Watertown $2,800 Outreach/Education Wayside Multi-Service Center $2,800 Enrichment program for under-served youth Watertown National Little League $1,750 Softball safety equipment