Foundation fund

The VanNess Family Fund supports three non-profit organizations in Potsdam | St. Lawrence County

POTSDAM — More than a decade after their deaths, John and Dorotha VanNess continue to strengthen the Potsdam community they generously served during their lifetime.

Thanks to a trio of new grants impacting the Potsdam area, John and Dorotha’s commitment to the community continues. The John and Dorotha VanNess Family Fund of the Northern New York Community Foundation recently approved $11,000 to support three nonprofit organizations that provide arts, culture and youth programs.

The Family Legacy Fund is an ongoing grant fund that supports programs, activities, and initiatives that improve the quality of life in the Potsdam area. Mr. and Mrs. VanNess’ daughter, Susan J. Sewall, established the fund at the Community Foundation as a lasting tribute to her parents’ service.

“What Mrs. Sewall created to honor her parents while making a meaningful difference in a community they loved together is an inspiring example,” said Max DelSignore, Deputy Director of the Community Foundation. “The VanNess Family Fund strives to ensure that the Potsdam region is forever strengthened. The grants recently awarded are a great reflection of how the legacy of two caring individuals will enrich the quality of life in a community.

This year’s winners are:

North Country Children’s Museum — $6,000 to support a collaboration with the St. Lawrence County Arts Council to create permanent outdoor interactive musical exhibits accessible to all ages in Potsdam’s Garner Park.

St. Lawrence County Arts Council – $2,500 to help build on the success of its first North Country Arts Festival, which includes the Ives Park Concert Series, an art market and a ‘Porchfest in Potsdam, the funding will support artist fees for performances in the concert series and shows held in the Potsdam area on opening day.

North Country Public Radio — $2,500 will expand the “Underscore Project” which features local musicians spanning multiple genres. This digital initiative combines songs, interviews, podcasts and stories that showcase local music from across the region at a time when access to local musicians is limited. Funding will help launch an event or a series of pilot shows.

Ms Sewall set up the family fund as part of her charitable inheritance plans. Following his sudden passing in 2017, the VanNess Family Fund was established to recognize the family’s longstanding commitment to improving the quality of life in the greater Potsdam area. Ms. Sewall believed that strong and healthy communities help provide the backdrop from which many other aspects of community vitality and development can occur.

Nonprofits serving the Potsdam area are encouraged to review the grant application requirements for the Community Foundation’s VanNess Family Fund. Areas of focus include, but are not limited to: health and wellness, arts and culture, economic development, education, recreation programs, community revitalization and beautification, strategic planning and research, other quality of life projects and opportunities.

The Community Foundation will announce the next round of applications later this year. Contact Kraig Everard, director of stewardship and programs, 315-782-7110, or [email protected], to learn more.

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