JOSEPH — As winter settled into Eastern Oregon, and a year that has brought challenges like no other ended, the arts and humanities programs that continue to provide needed connection and healing received assistance from the PacifiCorp Foundation, according to a press release.

At least two local organizations that deliver art, music and connection to local history and places have had to pivot during 2020 in ways never imagined are being assisted by grants from the foundation, a nonprofit arm of Pacific Power.

The Josephy Center for Arts and Culture and the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center, both in Joseph, each have received $1,500 grants, a portion of more than $200,000 PacifiCorp is donating across the six states it serves to support the arts and humanities. These grants come along with continued needs by organizations on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.

Cheryl Coughlan, executive director of the Josephy Center, said the $1,500 grant will fit right in with the needs of making virtual presentations at the center.

“We wanted to have some interactive museum video or push-button ways so people can learn through technology,” she said.

Coughlan said it will come in particularly handy with the displays on the Nez Perce people at the center.

“We’re going to use it for our Native American displays so people can get a better idea how to pronounce the Nez Perce language,” she said. “If you’re able to have a way to pronounce it, understanding it would be a lot easier. I get people asking how to pronounce and I don’t know how to respond.”

She said learning that pronunciation will aid the tribe’s ongoing efforts to keep its native language alive.

“That’s definitely one of the focuses,” she said.

“It’s good for kids,” she said of the interactive displays. “It’s kind of an educational tool, too.”

The Maxville center received the $1,500 as part of its creative writing, music and album project for matching funds, Gwen Trice said in an email.

“This grant will assist as a matching fund to support our project to work with students, and adult writers from different experiences and cultures encourages inspired participants to create poetry, storytelling, spoken word ... to be developed with our professional recording artists for a CD,” she said. “This grant is in conjunction with our Creative Heights grant through Oregon Community Foundation.”

Other Eastern Oregon organizations receiving grants included:

• The Arts Council of Pendleton to support their pivot to innovative, creative programming during the pandemic, including organizing fiber artists into mask makers, distributing art kits to young people in their homes and producing short make-it videos to share with those wishing to learn a new art or craft while in isolation;

• Made to Thrive to support its community-based, COVID-19 responsive youth programming for vulnerable young people in Umatilla and Morrow counties who are involved in the justice system, foster care or whose families are struggling with poverty;

“Local programs like these are the heartbeat of Eastern Oregon, providing connection, education and tradition and helping to heal and strengthen our communities,” said Lori Wyman, Pacific Power’s regional business manager for Eastern Oregon. “Pacific Power is honored to continue our support of these vital organizations, and we encourage others who have the means to support them as well, so their programming can continue long into the future.”

A total of 44 foundation grants were given to nonprofit organizations across Pacific Power’s service area, ranging between $1,000 and $5,500. The grants reflect the diversity of the communities Pacific Power serves, and the diverse needs of these communities during this time, according to the release.

In all, more than $2.3 million has been prioritized in 2020 for organizations across the six states PacifiCorp serves, dedicated to helping communities with the greatest needs. Prioritization will continue through 2021 for grants that support needs around the COVID-19 pandemic.

The next grant cycle is now open through March 15; organizations may apply online at

Coughlan and Trice both were highly appreciative of the support from PacifiCorp.

“We really appreciate the support from Pacific Power,” Coughlan said. “They fund great programs.”

Trice agreed.

“We’re grateful to the PacifiCorp Foundation for their continued generous support,” she said.

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