The Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama gave out big money last week for big ideas. 

The foundation celebrated its 20th anniversary by handing out more than $42,000 Friday in grants and gifts for a “Big Idea Grant,” and a Jacksonville State University nursing program initiative and Hobson City documentary project both received some of the money. 

The grant is designed to help make the community-changing big ideas of nonprofit groups possible.

“We asked ‘How do we want to celebrate 20 years of philanthropy?’” said Jennifer Maddox, president of the foundation. “We decided to give back.”

Applicants submitted a short video showcasing their big idea, competing for a single $20,000 grant to fund their goal. 

JSU nursing’s big idea, submitted through the JSU Foundation, was to create a program to help people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, while a nonprofit with local ties aimed to help Hobson City preserve its history in a documentary film. 

At a showcase Friday night, the foundation announced a surprise second $20,000 grant with the help of funding from the Daniel Foundation of Alabama and the Caring Foundation of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama.

“I’ve been excited and waiting for that moment to announce that we had a second first prize,” Maddox said.

JSU’s nursing initiative, called “Breathe Easier,” took home the second, surprise grant, while a project to renovate walking trails in Mentone also received $20,000. The Hobson City documentary, created by Hiztorical Vision Productions, was awarded a $2,000 gift from the foundation as a second-place award.

“It was definitely a wonderful experience,” said Theo Moore, an Anniston native and executive director of the nonprofit production company. “Our name kept not getting called, and I thought we were going to win for a minute. Everybody had great ways of serving the community.”

Moore graduated from Anniston High School in 2007 and worked as a history teacher before founding the production company.

“As a teacher, I noticed that students didn’t get the chance to learn a lot about the local history of African Americans,” Moore said. “Our primary goal is to highlight success stories about African Americans in the community.”

Moore’s first film was on African American history in Lowndes County, but his personal connection to Hobson City led him back to his roots.

“My family background is Hobson City. I had to come back home and do this project,” Moore said. “To see that this community was entirely governed by African Americans and persevered through so many obstacles to stand to this day is amazing.” 

The completed 27-minute documentary, titled “Hobson City: From Peril to Promise,” was posted to Hiztorical Visions Productions’ YouTube channel on Sunday.

JSU’s big idea, according to the video application, aims to help teach people with COPD how to take medication, better exercise with their condition and seek aid resources. After the program begins, medical professionals and JSU nursing students are set to meet with participating patients in person at JSU facilities and with remote sessions via live streaming, while Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center will refer participants.

According to the COPD Foundation, symptoms of the set of diseases include shortness of breath, frequent coughing and tightness in the chest.

“This four-to-six week exercise and education program is a collaborative effort to reduce the impact of COPD on community residents whose lives are significantly affected by chronic disabling lung disease,” Allison Crabtree, a member of JSU’s nursing faculty, said in the video application. 

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