St. Lawrence County Historical Association kicks-off Capital Campaign

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CANTON – In an effort to improve the financial well-being of the St. Lawrence County Historical Association and ensure its long-term survivability, the Board of Trustees has launched a three-year, $500,000 capital campaign, its first major fund drive in twenty years.

A kick-off event for the Campaign For The People of St. Lawrence County was held Friday, October 4 from 4 – 6 p.m. at the Silas Wright House Museum, 3 East Main Street, Canton.  A brief ceremony recognizing major donors took place at 5 p.m.

The fund drive has been quietly underway since February, with funding proposals and appeal letters sent to foundations, major corporations, small businesses, individuals including SLCHA members, civic/service/fraternal organizations, and county government. To date, $209,095 or 42% of its goal has been received in pledges and gifts. Cash gifts in the first eight months of the three-year effort total $72,001 which is 120% of the $60,000 cash goal set by the board in February.

SLCHA board president Lance W. Rudiger said, ‘The Campaign for The People of St. Lawrence County is a bold endeavor to ensure that the goals of SLCHA are met. We wish to better serve the region with more exhibits, exciting educational and informative programs, interesting presentations like the Brown Bag Series, and quality publications like the Quarterly and Silas Wright House Newsletter. Our archives are easily accessible. New projects such as our church tours and county-wide ‘talk and walk series,” which are being well received, will be expanded.”

The first major contributor to the fund drive was the Northern New York Community Foundation, Watertown. It pledged a matching grant of $25,000 when the campaign reaches the $250,000 milestone, which SLCHA hopes to do before year-end. All funds will be deposited in the SLCHA endowment held by NNYCF.

Rande Richardson, NNYCF executive director, said: “We are pleased to support a campaign for an organization that has an impact across St. Lawrence County in a way that helps bring our two organizations closer together to strengthen the awareness, appreciation and preservation of the region’s history for this generation and the next.”

NuMed for Children, Hopkinton, the world’s leading manufacturer of angioplasty and valvuloplasty catheters for children, has donated $25,000. The Children’s Attic has been named the NuMed for Children’s Attic. It is an area on the second floor of SLCHA that includes old-fashioned clothes in which children can dress-up, play with the dollhouse, or make crafts.

Founded in Hopkinton in 1984 by Allen Tower, Sr., NuMed’s products help children around the world with congenital heart defects.  Today, NuMed for Children is under the leadership of the founder’s son, CEO Allen Tower, Jr., who is in Florida and could not attend the event.

Mr. Tower wrote in an email: “On behalf of all past and present NuMed employees, we have been fortunate enough to help children around the world with the work we do, so it’s nice to have a chance to help the children of the North Country by working with your organization and helping kids understand the history of the area.  We hope this will last for many generations and are happy to have been a part of the great work you’re doing.”

The Sweetgrass Foundation, Canton, also pledged $25,000 to the fund drive on the condition that 100% of SLCHA board members participate in the effort. This challenge has been met with 18 board members contributing $72,125. These funds will increase the endowment held by NNYCF.

Allan Newell and Kate Newell, trustees of the Sweetgrass Foundation, said: “The Sweetgrass Foundation’s gift to the St. Lawrence County Historical Association’s Endowment Campaign is an investment in its future, and we believe will help ensure the important work of preserving the remarkable history of St. Lawrence County for generations to come.” 

St. Lawrence Health System made its first year gift of $5,000 toward a three-year $15,000 pledge in June. Executive Director of SLHS Foundation, April Grant, was in attendance.

To date, other corporate donors in the county include: SeaComm Federal Credit Union, North Country Savings Bank, Wal-Mart in Potsdam, ACCO, Atlantic Testing Laboratories, Strader Ferris International, Griffith Energy, Save A Lot, and St. Lawrence Federal Credit Union.

SeaComm President & Chief Executive Officer, Scott A. Wilson, pledged $5,000. “History is rich in the North Country.  We are extremely privileged to be living in an area that appreciates the value our past provides to us,” he said. “We are pleased to provide this contribution in assisting the St. Lawrence Historical Association on capitalizing on that point.  We are partnering with the Historical Association by heightening their ability to attract new members to the Museum and the robust programs it offers.”

Part-time campaign coordinator, Kathryn M. Del Guidice, Potsdam, says there is much work to be done, following up on funding proposals and appeals that have been sent. Personal visits and phone calls have been well-received by potential donors and have yielded positive results.

“Support to date has been very encouraging. People understand the need to protect the only nonprofit organization in the county dedicated to collecting, preserving, interpreting and exhibiting the history of St. Lawrence County. It is an important resource for residents, tourists, and community groups, whether for viewing exhibits, attending educational programs, doing genealogical research, or for groups seeking meeting space,” she added.

Donations to the campaign in any amount are welcome. For more information, contact Kathy Del Guidice at kathdg@slcha.org or 315-386-8133.

The St Lawrence County Historical Association is a membership organization open to anyone interested in St Lawrence County history. For more information, or to become a member, call the SLCHA at 315-386-8133 or e-mail at info@slcha.org. Exhibits and programs are made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The St Lawrence County Historical Association at the Silas Wright House is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm and Friday, 10 am to 6 pm. Admission to the museum is free; admission to the archives is free for members and children, $2.50 for college students, and $5 for the general public. The St Lawrence County Historical Association is located at 3 East Main Street, Canton. Parking is available in the back of the SLCHA, next to the museum’s main entrance.

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