The Essex Community Fund (ECF) has announced the availability of grants with a May 15, 2015 application deadline for nonprofit (501.c.3) organizations, schools and churches operating in the Town of Essex or serving its residents. The grants of up to $2,000 support education, arts, culture, historic preservation, community beautification, and programs for youth and senior citizens. The Fund gives precedence to capacity building and small capital projects rather than routine operating expenses. In the past thirteen years ECF has made over $150,000 in grants.
How It Began
Stimulated by the Adirondack Foundation, in 2003 a group of nine Essex residents formed the Essex Community Fund as a component fund of the Adirondack Foundation. Led by Suzanne Perley, they formed themselves into a Council that worked within Operating Guidelines (bylaws). With small matching grants from the Adirondack Foundation they began to raise funds. In 2004, for the first time, ECF made grants of about $3,000. With the leadership of Francisca (Frisky) Irwin, who served as Chair from 2003 to 2014, Charlie Cammack as Vice Chair and Nick Muller as Secretary and Treasurer, the Fund worked to build its endowment and expand its services to the community. In the effort to build an endowment that will help the quality of life in Essex well into the future, ECF has begun a planned giving program.
The grants program has expanded and has provided annual awards that in recent years total about $17,000. These have supported programs at Lakeside School, Willsboro Central School, and a program for autistic children, the Essex Community and St. John’s Episcopal Churches, some of the initial funding for ReNew, the Belden Noble Memorial and Paine Memorial Libraries, Essex Initiatives, Champlain Area Trails, the North Country SPCA, the Adirondack Art Association, the Whallonsburg Grange, the Essex Farm Institute, the Champlain Valley Film Society, and others.
Almost at the Fund’s inception, the Charlie Goff Memorial Fund was organized within ECF, and it makes annual grants in Charlie’s and Joe Ecclesine’s honor. Other additions to Fund’s general endowment have underwritten annual grants in the honor and memory of Bruce Klink, Baird Voorhis, Colon Fink, and Mr. and Mrs. Gordon McBride. These grants help keep alive and vital the legacy of individuals who have made lasting contributions to Essex.
The Essex Community Fund has also facilitated important capital projects and community services. When the Whallonsburg Civic Association began the remarkable effort to restore the facility and programming of the Grange Hall, the Fund provided a way to make the first nearly $100,000 of donations until the WCA achieved its own tax exempt status. The Fund has played a similar role for the current fund-raising effort for renovations to the Belden Noble Memorial Library that has raised $20,000 and has the opportunity to secure a 3-1 matching grant.
With gifts in the memory of Barbara Jackson it secured the funds to create the children’s play area at Beggs Park. In 2011 when tropical Irene destroyed homes and displaced residents in Whallonsburg, ECF raised relief funds. In 2005 with the price of fuels for heating creating problems for some Essex residents, the Fund with the leadership of some members of its Council joined by a few others created and raised the funds for the Essex Heating Project. This project continues to provide help though the Essex County Office for the Aging to supplement funding for fuel and some heating equipment when public assistance runs out. Working through the county protects the identities of the recipients.
ECF also helps build the capacity of area nonprofit organizations. It has co-sponsored with the Adirondack Foundation several very well attended day-long, free workshops at the Whallonsburg Grange on board development and fundraising. It will co-sponsor a third this June.
In 2012, after discussions with Clint and Lawson Allen, the Essex Community Fund initiated a scholarship to assist a resident of Essex to attend college. Lawson Allen’s family has maintained a seasonal presence in Essex for over a century, and she and her husband decided to give something to the community and to “empower the life goals of deserving Essex students” at two or four year colleges. They have the “expectation that they will ‘pay it forward’ through their contributions to their community and the nation.” The Lawson and Clint Allen Leadership and Academic Scholarship in 2015-16 will provide a stipend of $3,000 for up to four students. The Allen’s continue to build the scholarship’s endowment with the intention to increase the annual stipend to $5,000.
From a small beginning in 2003, the Essex Community Fund has grown to an organization working under the umbrella of the Adirondack Foundation that expects to make $30,000 in grants and scholarships in 2015 and to see the Belden Noble Memorial Library renovations continue spearheaded with the funds it raised through ECF. It has accomplished all of this without any administrative overhead, as the members of the Council donate their time and provide the funds for all of operating costs like stationery, postage, and printing. ECF works to become important to the lives of the residents of Essex.
Essex Community Fund Council
- Norma Goff, Chair
- Karen Dalton, Vice Chair
- Nicholas Muller III, Secretary
- Thomas M. Stransky, Treasurer
- Mary-Nell Bockman
- Maureen Ecclesine
- Ronald E. Jackson
- Kristin Kimball
- Shirley LaForest
- Lauren Murphy
- David Reuther
- Colleen Van Hoven
- Charles W. Cammack III, emeritus
- Francisca P. Irwin, emeritus