WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — A pair of grant awards from The Community Fund for Theresa totaling $5,340 will support a new outdoor recreation challenge and provide scholarships for local youths to attend 4-H Camp Wabasso this summer.

The Community Fund for Theresa is a permanent grantmaking fund of the Northern New York Community Foundation that will forever support programs, activities and initiatives to advance the general welfare of the Theresa community. Lifelong Theresa residents Russell I. and Mary Wilcox established the family legacy fund at the Community Foundation in 2020 to help strengthen the quality of life in their community. 

Indian River Lakes Conservancy is partnering with local businesses, including Jezi’s Cafe, to create “The Theresa Beast Challenge” to promote community pride in local natural resources while strengthening regional businesses and tourism. The year-long initiative asks participants to complete a series of recreational activities that include kayaking eight local lakes, hiking and biking several local trails and bridges, overnight camping and four-wheeling. 

The challenge is designed to take several weekends to complete, encouraging visitors to return to the greater Theresa and Indian River Lakes region multiple times throughout the year. A $3,465 grant will help create a Theresa-area map and brochures to strengthen the image of the community and promote local businesses.

“Having geographic-specific funds available create special opportunities for organizations serving that region. In its first year, these grants make a difference in a hyper-local and personal way that reflects the affection of the donors for their hometown,” said Rande Richardson, Community Foundation executive director. “Both of these make investments in the Theresa community in meaningful ways, and the fund will endure to support other programs, projects and initiatives in the future.”

A $1,925 grant to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County will support full scholarships for up to five youths from Jefferson County’s Indian River Lakes Region to attend 4-H Camp Wabasso in the Town of Theresa. Cornell Cooperative Extension owns and operates the youth residential camp, which is the only one of its kind in Jefferson County. Its mission is to provide educational opportunities and hands-on activities using 4-H research-based curricula in a safe and fun camp setting in the natural environment.

The two grants are the first the Community Fund for Theresa has awarded. A three-person citizen review committee representing the greater Theresa community evaluated grant proposals and recommended them for approval to the Community Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Applications for 2023 funding from the Community Fund for Theresa will be accepted this fall with award decisions made next spring. Grant support is available to qualified organizations whose missions and efforts align with the fund’s charitable purposes.