A sense of area pride was cultivated inside the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator Thursday as the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation (NCCF) held a celebratory open house.
Held in honor of Community Foundation Week, the free public event featured a live broadcast by KIX County 96.5 and 100.3 FM, refreshments, giveaways and a chance to learn how the NCCF is contributing to community efforts.
An ever-changing photo gallery featuring NCCF-assisted projects played on a table as members, donors, representatives of beneficiaries and other visitors mingled. According to NCCF Executive Director Diane Hannum, the finances that are added to the foundation's funds and dispersed in the forms of grants all come from those with direct involvement in the area.
OBSERVER Photo by Tim Latshaw
Fredonia Opera House Executive Director Rick Davis, left, speaks with NCCF Board of Directors member Blair Koss Thursday at the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator at an open event celebrating community involvement.
"All the money that we hold has come from the community," she said. "It's not the government; it's all private individuals, businesses, families that set up endowment funds with the community foundation."
Grants from the NCCF are rarely the kinds that can erect buildings such as the technology incubator, but they help fill niches of need throughout community organizations and NCCF Board of Directors member Blair Koss said the organization has one of the lowest overhead costs among similar foundations across the country, some of whom have hundreds of millions of dollars with which to work.
"We really work hard to do a lot with a little," Koss said.
The awarding of seven new grants totaling $17,963 was revealed Thursday, including $2,000 to the Ripley Free Library to purchase two work stations and barcode wands for their ongoing automation project.
Library treasurer Jeanette Almekinder said the idea of automation, which would streamline cataloging and circulation as well as increase patrons' access to materials that may be located among libraries in other states or countries, had been under consideration for about a decade.
"It's going to increase any of the resources that you can get at a library," she said. "The books, movies, research materials, genealogy - anything like that you will be able to come and get all that in one stop."
Almekinder said the library has already committed itself toward building an automated system and that the grant from the NCCF will provide an integral portion. The rest of the funding needed will likely come through other grants and fundraising efforts.
The other six grants awarded were: $1,368 to Chautauqua Striders to support its tutoring program at the Boys and Girls Club; $4,500 to Camp Gross to provide needed improvements and roofing to cabins; $1,435 to the Fredonia Opera House to provide ASR equipment for its Cinema Series program; $2,000 to the Learning Disabilities Association of WNY for transportation assistance; $3,660 to the Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse and Veterans Park Museum to provide window replacement and gutter and downspout installations at the maritime building and $3,000 to the New York Avenue Playground in Dunkirk to provide upgrades.
Hannum said the NCCF's funds have been recovering well after a couple years of decrease and hopes to reach $1 million. She added, however, that financial support is not all the foundation is concerned with.
"What's equally important is the sense of community that citizens hold or don't hold, and that's where our AmazingCounty.com project comes in," Hannum said. "We're really trying to get people to learn about Chautauqua County so that they have more pride in the county and tell others so that people stay and bring more people here."
AmazingCounty.com is an online game where participants accumulate points by answering questions about various county attractions and events. Players are linked to other sites where this information can be found and where they can hopefully learn more about the goings-on inside the county. Points translate into drawings, with prizes provided by area businesses and organizations.
The current AmazingCounty.com game updates every day through November. According to Hannum, more than 1,000 people are registered, and based on research from previous games, many players report an increased knowledge and pride in Chautauqua County after playing. Anyone can register and participate anytime through the month by visiting www.amazingcounty.com.