End of Summer Greetings & Happy Labor Day to All!
It's been a busy summer, and we're so excited to share some of our activity from the past months (and what's upcoming on our agenda).
I (Director Nick) attended Community Partners For The Common Good, an inaugural symposium at Bard, sponsored by the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) on August 15th. A range of community leaders & stakeholders met for a few hours to discuss aspirations for the broader region surrounding Red Hook and the challenges faced in reaching those goals. We were all assured that the “think tank” assembled on the 15th would continue and expand in partnership with culturally and politically diverse groups throughout the fall. My take on this Bard-focused study group is that the CCE is casting its net upon a wider community to accelerate communication, if not substantive change, for the benefit of all. As you are aware, in any progressive community there are underlying threads among public institutions, private enterprise, educational leaders, and non-profits. While at the time there may be no financial partnering that comes from this group, I suspect there will be action resolutions that the community will benefit from.
You will all fondly remember the Recreation Park - there is a movement to secure a $250,000 bond and like kind funding for the Town to update the playground facilities. We are active in that effort, awaiting a grant application from the group Red Hook Plays to assist in that funding.
Our Food Drive this year, titled Nourish Your Neighbor, is being chaired by two local ambassadors, Brenna Dolen & Emma Donahue, members of our Ambassador Class of 2018. A more nutritional and healthier campaign is being designed in collecting foodstuffs with assistance from Bard's CCE, the Rotary Club, and the Red Hook Faculty Association (RHFA). Like last year, we have set a goal of 10,000 items, and we will donate $1 per item & hopefully raise $10,000. The collectibles will be used in stocking local pantries and the funding money raised will go toward food vouchers for food insecure families during the Holiday Season. To kick off the campaign we will be sponsoring a no cost Farmer's Market for targeted families in need, to be held on November 10th. We're requesting from farm managers in the area donations of any surplus harvest from late October, early November. One manager has already been generous enough in pledging 70 free range turkeys! We're excited to be part of the planning and staging for both the nutritional collectible drive component and the non-perishable market component - endeavors that can only bear fruit (sorry, I couldn't resist) through the combined efforts of many community members.
Our 25 Grant Initiative for this year is coming along with 6 applications already approved and 4 local requests coming up this month. Whether ambassadors have sought funding in any of our previous 3 grant cycles or have simply engaged through volunteerism in their own ways, we're excited to extend to them the grant opportunity. We've had an incredible run of good financial fortune - fully endowed in 2017 and presently maintaining a balance of about $1.22 million. We're encouraging our networked partners to request funding that meets our mission goals. Last year the average ambassador grants was for $5000, with some topping out at $7500. Now, with over 30 ambassadors in our network, there is every reason to believe that our 25 Grant Initiative will be attained.
Finally, a note to our ambassadors: the complimentary closing "Thinking of You" used in much of my correspondence with others is a conscious reality from day to day as I consider your ambassadorship, but more importantly your health and well being. To those of you whose personal or foundation contact has been frequent or even sporadic during the year you are each indeed more than a passing impulse to me - your drumbeat of daily routine, the push and pull of professional duties, the relationships and families you embrace, and even the downtime of chillin' are all part of life's stuff that I know you're experiencing. The calculus of personal growth is steeped in many tones - May yours be rich!
Thinking of you (all of you!),
Nick A., Ali, Brittany, Sophie, and Nick F.