Grant Awards Totaling $11,000 Assist Efforts Focused on Arts, Culture, and Youth
POTSDAM — More than a decade after they passed, John and Dorotha VanNess continue to strengthen the Potsdam community they generously served in their lifetimes.
Through a trio 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 $11,000 in support for three nonprofits that deliver arts, culture, and youth-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 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, Community Foundation assistant director. “The VanNess Family Fund is working to ensure the Potsdam area 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 grant recipients are:
- North Country Children’s Museum — $6,000 to support a collaboration with the St. Lawrence County Arts Council to create permanent, outdoor interactive music exhibits accessible to all ages in Potsdam’s Garner Park.
- St. Lawrence County Arts Council — $2,500 to help build upon the success of its inaugural North Country Arts Festival, which includes the Ives Park Concert Series, an art market and a “Porchfest” in Potsdam, Funding will support artist fees for concert series performances and shows held in the Potsdam area on opening day.
- North Country Public Radio — $2,500 will develop the “Underscore Project” that features local musicians covering several genres. This digital initiative combines songs, interviews, podcasts, and stories that highlight local music from across the region at time when access to local musicians is limited. Funding will help launch a pilot performance event or series.
Mrs. Sewall created the family fund as part of her charitable legacy plans. Following her sudden passing in 2017, the VanNess Family Fund was created to recognize the family’s long-standing commitment to improve the quality of life in the greater Potsdam area. Mrs. Sewall believed that strong and healthy communities help provide the backdrop from which many other aspects of community vibrancy and development can occur.
Nonprofits serving the Potsdam area are encouraged to review grant application requirements for the VanNess Family Fund of the Community Foundation. Focus areas include, but are not limited to: Health and wellness, arts and culture, economic development, education, recreational programs, community revitalization and beautification, strategic planning and research, other quality-of-life projects, and opportunities.
The Community Foundation will announce the next application round later this year. Contact Kraig Everard, director of stewardship and programs, 315-782-7110, or firstname.lastname@example.org, to learn more.
About the John and Dorotha VanNess Family Fund
John S. VanNess was active in Potsdam government and served as village mayor from 1955 to 1961. He also held leadership positions with the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce, Potsdam Rotary Club and was
a trustee at Paul Smith’s College.
Dorotha (Ticknor) VanNess began teaching at Potsdam High School in 1939 and later joined her husband in the management of Sunshine Stores. She served as president of the Canton-Potsdam Hospital Guild and was an active member of Potsdam United Methodist Church.
Their daughter, Susan J. Sewall, admired her parents’ public service and commitment to improving the place they loved. Before her untimely passing in 2017, she made plans to establish this fund as a way to forever honor them.
About the Northern New York Community Foundation
Since 1929, the Northern New York Community Foundation has invested in improving and enriching the quality of life for all in communities across Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
Through partnerships with businesses and organizations, charitable foundations, and generous families and individual donors, the Community Foundation awards grants and scholarships from an endowment and collection of funds that benefit the region. Its commitment to donors helps individuals achieve their charitable objectives now and for generations to come by preserving and honoring legacies of community philanthropy while inspiring others.
The Community Foundation is a resource for local charitable organizations, donors, professional advisors and nonprofit organizations. It also works to bring people together at its permanent home in the Northern New York Philanthropy Center to discuss challenges our communities face and find creative solutions that strengthen the region and make it a great place to live, work, and play.