POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWTI) – Five nonprofit organizations serving residents of the greater Potsdam area will share more than $13,000 in grant support thanks to the generosity of the late John S. and Dorotha T. VanNess, who continue to strengthen the community they selflessly served in their lifetimes

Through a series of new grant awards that impact the Potsdam area, John and Dorotha’s commitment to the community endures. The John and Dorotha VanNess Family Fund of the Northern New York Community Foundation recently approved $13,500 in support for five nonprofits that deliver arts, culture, history and wellness-based programs.

The family legacy fund is a permanent grantmaking fund that supports programs, activities and initiatives that improve the quality of life in the Potsdam area. Mr. and Mrs. VanNess’s daughter, Susan J. Sewall, established the fund at the Community Foundation in 2018 as a lasting tribute to her parents’ service.

This year’s grant recipients are:

  • Potsdam Public Museum — $5,000 to help refresh and modernize its facility through a series of upgrades. Grant funding will support purchase of a new exhibit display case and a scanner to digitize larger artifacts to preserve them and make them available in a searchable online database.
  • Bayside Cemetery Association — $2,500 to support a new phase of work to restore the structural integrity of the historic and locally quarried sandstone gates and towers at its property, which also serves as a popular community park connected to downtown Potsdam via a walking trail. Grant funding will help restore a plaque-bearing tower.
  • St. Lawrence County Arts Council — $2,500 to help execute the 36th annual Studio Tour, which enhances community engagement and creative placemaking in the North Country community, with a particular focus on the Village of Potsdam. Funding will support marketing efforts, planning and program development.
  • Potsdam Chamber of Commerce — $2,500 to support its bike rack sculptures project, which aims to promote community revitalization and beautification. The artistic and functional pieces encourage healthy lifestyles and environmentally friendly activities while creating a unique sense of place. Grant funding will support installation of two additional bike racks.
  • North Country Center for Yoga and Health — $1,000 to help develop a yoga program for fourth and fifth graders at St. Lawrence Elementary and AA Kingston Middle schools that will promote mindfulness, strength, flexibility, balance and self-confidence in a non-competitive group setting. Funding will support 12 yoga classes for each grade level and necessary equipment.

Mrs. Sewall created the family fund as part of her charitable legacy plans. Following her sudden
passing in 2017, the VanNess Family Fund was established to recognize the family’s long-standing commitment to improve the quality of life in the greater Potsdam area.

The Community Foundation will announce the next application round next spring. Contact Kraig
Everard, director of stewardship and programs, 315-782-7110, or kraig@nnycf.org, to learn more