BIDDEFORD — The  Friends of Clifford Park is one of ten $10,000 Giving While Living grant recipients, awarded by the Woodard & Curran Foundation. This all-volunteer group, which operates under the fiscal sponsorship of Heart of Biddeford, supports, maintains, and promotes recreational activities in the 140-acre park just a mile from the city’s bustling downtown.

To mark the Foundation’s 10th anniversary, employees of Woodard & Curran, Inc. were asked to nominate nonprofit organizations across the country that work to protect valuable water and environment resources. Emma Bouthillette, Woodard & Curran Content Marketing Specialist and Biddeford native, chose Friends of Clifford Park to vie for one of the grants. Employees nominated nearly 30 organizations and voted to identify the top 10 to be awarded a total of $100,000 in grant funds.

“This year has taught us just how valuable outdoor recreation is,” Bouthillette said. “Living across the street from the park for nine years gave me the chance to explore the trails and witness how widely used the various amenities are — from the tennis and basketball courts to the playground and skatepark. I also got to see firsthand the hard work Friends of Clifford Park does to maintain this expansive property for all to enjoy. I know this grant will make a huge difference in preserving the natural asset so close to Biddeford’s downtown.”

“There have been incredible improvements to the park and a great increase in usage,” said Delilah Poupore, Heart of Biddeford executive director. “You will be amazed to see what a group of local people committed to accessible outdoor space will catalyze with a gift like this.”

This grant award comes on the heels of a land swap and property gift proposal approved by the Biddeford City Council that will add about 100 acres to the park. This would include transferring 4.2 acres of land in the park to Mike Eon, of E&R Development Corp., in exchange for 60 acres of abutting land he owns and a gift of 42 acres of additional abutting land from Gervais Dube.

“Clifford Park is a true gem in our community,” said Joe McKenney, Biddeford Recreation Commission chair. “The park has seen a renaissance since Friends of Clifford Park was formed and this grant will enable us to continue the progress that has been made in the park by our amazing group of volunteers. We look forward to more community members discovering and enjoying this amazing natural resource we have in our backyard.”

In 1985, the Clifford Family gifted approximately 86 acres of undeveloped land to the city, requesting to preserve the open space in the family’s name. The public park sits between Pool, Granite, and West streets and Parkside Drive. Friends of Clifford Park was formed in 2014 under Heart of Biddeford’s Adopt-a-Park program to continue to care for the land, including maintenance of 22-miles of trails, annual cleanup days, perennial gardens, a story walk for children, and other community events. efforts to install a stately gate between the 6-foot stone pillars marking the formal entrance.

The Woodard & Curran Foundation was founded as a 501(c)3 in 2010 by employees of Woodard & Curran, Inc. as a giving entity to support other like-minded nonprofits across the country. The foundation is supported by donations from employees, the engineering firm itself, corporations, and individuals. The nine other Giving While Living grant recipients include Techbridge Girls, X-Cel Conservation Corps, DIGDEEP, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Sebago Clean Waters, New England Water Environment Association-Water Warriors, League to Save Lake Tahoe, Water Education for Latino Leaders, and Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance. In addition to the Giving While Living Grants, Woodard & Curran Foundation awards an annual impact grant of $100,000 distributed over three years.