At this time, when our world is turned upside down, I thought: Who is stepping-up and helping, when some can’t help themselves? The answer is, of course, the Northern New York Community Foundation known as NNYCF.
Since COVID-19 hit the North Country, nearly 50 community food pantries and school-based backpack and snack programs in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties were able to secure critical food supplies - all because Watertown’s 90-year-old Foundation can make a difference.
It was back in May that I spoke to a gentleman about a comment he submitted on TI Life, and it took me all of three seconds to realize that I had a new TI Life article right before my eyes… His name, Rande Richardson, I recognized as the Executive Director of the NNYCF.
It was Rande who wrote the Foundation’s published history for Jefferson County Historical Society Bulletin. In it, I learned just how important they are and how so many individuals living across the North Country, have put their hearts and souls into helping provide badly needed financial support. The Foundation's programs affect human services, health and wellness, arts and culture, education, families and youth, community development recreation, and more.
“The first community foundation in the United States was established in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio,” wrote Rande, “Fourteen years later, Bernard A. Gray, then chairman of the board of Northern New York Trust Company, travelled by train to Ohio to find out about the Cleveland Foundation. From that trip came the impetus by which Jefferson County became home to one of fewer than 50 community foundations in the country (today there are 700+).”
So precisely what is a community foundation?
The concept is simple – The goal: to create a pool of charitable resources and permanent endowment funds that, once invested, will provide ongoing support forever! Also, donors get to decide what they want to support. Once they set up a fund - say in their family name - the Foundation will make investment decisions, but the donor can determine whom, or what projects they want to support.
Who is eligible?
Calls for grant applications are made four times a year to tax-exempt and/or non-profit organizations. A description of what projects are eligible is clearly described on the NNYCF website, and members of the staff are on hand to assist.
Back to the beginning
And this brings me back to the beginning. When I asked what is the NNY Community Foundation doing to help right now in - June 2020 - in the middle of the pandemic - I can tell you. The new Covid-19 Community Support Fund is accepting donations. Names are added to the donor list and published on the NNYCF website – These individuals and sponsoring businesses are stopping to give a financial donation so that those who are indeed in need can get help.
Is this a worthy cause? Can you help make a difference? You betcha!
By Susan W. Smith, Editor, TI Life, [email@example.com]