The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation is turning 35, but there’s no suggestion of a mid-life crisis anytime soon.
Fifteen organizations that are supported in part by the CRCF were on display at the renovated Jamestown Gateway Train Station on Wednesday, during the foundation’s annual meeting.
The meeting was a celebration for 35 years of helping local organizations sustain themselves and grow.
“There’s a little bit of everything here,” said Randy Sweeney, CRCF executive director. “We wanted to show that there’s a (diverse group of organizations) which the community foundation helps. There’s even a teddy bear clinic for young people through WCA Hospital here.”
According to Sweeney, there are more than 100 organizations in the area which are supported by the community foundation, and the CRCF will give several hundred grants to those organizations over the course of a year.
“The organizations that are here today are ones that we support, feel very strongly about their mission, and the reason we want to support them is because they make our community complete,” said Sweeney. “To create a place where people want to live, work and play, you need a variety of different elements. We all have different interests, we all have different things that we think are important. These organizations help to give Jamestown everything it needs to be a place where people want to live.”
While many of the organizations that were represented at the event were easy to identify, such as the several 4-H groups which filled a section of the train station with livestock and other barnyard animals, some were not so obvious. One such exhibit featured several young men and women standing motionless on a platform in leotards and formal gowns.
“The people standing on the stage is the Drama Enrichment Program,” said Sweeney. “It’s a theatrical performing program that helps young people to develop self esteem and confidence. When you look at those young people, I think (that confidence) speaks for itself.”
The Drama Enrichment Program, as well as nearly every other organization present at the event would have a much more difficult time sustaining themselves were it not for the CRCF. While displaying an exhibit at the CRCF annual meeting served as a way for each organization to spread its message, it also served as an opportunity to say thank you to the CRCF for everything it has done.
“I didn’t know Randy Sweeney or anything about the Community Foundation,” said John Patterson, mayor of the village of Sherman. “I ran into him in Sherman by chance and asked him if he had ever seen the Yorker Museum. When he said no, I asked him if he would like to. He told me he had 10 minutes to spare, so I took him down to the museum for a quick tour. Three hours later, he was still there. I explained to him that we needed help keeping the Yorker running, and he recommended I write a grant request to the CRCF. The community foundation opened up its pockets and came to our rescue. Because of their gracious efforts, our 10-year plan is now a two-year plan. To be frank, the Community Foundation saved our museum. The Yorker wouldn’t exist today without them.”
“The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation truly deserves the honor of being able to celebrate 35 years in our community,” said Sue Seamans, Falconer Public Library director. “It has touched our library to be in the presence of such giving.”
“The CRCF helps us with community support as well as with funding,” said Kim Witherow, representative of the 4-H rabbit program. “So much of our program materials made possible because of the funding we receive from the CRCF.”