Philanthropy Spurs Shift in Clifton-Fine
The following is a guest post from Annette Craig. An active Clifton-Fine community member, Annette is a part of the Clifton-Fine Economic Development Corporation and serves on the grants committee for the Damoth Fund at Adirondack Foundation.
For many small Adirondack communities, philanthropy is still something that “other communities do.” Clifton-Fine used to be just like that. Twenty years ago philanthropy was limited to a few small projects and an occasional effort for the hospital or arena. There was no “culture of philanthropy.” There is now!
Due in large part to the Adirondack Foundation’s Damoth Fund, we grew our own culture; and we believe set an example that can work anywhere in the Adirondack Park.
The seeds for this culture came in the form of two events. One was a fire that destroyed our hospital’s clinic. A campaign was launched by a dynamic steering committee to build a new state-of-the-art clinic. Most people said it could not be done... raise $750,000 in our community. They were wrong. The hospital met the goal right about the same time that Mr. Robert Damoth passed away, leaving his entire estate to the Adirondack Foundation to benefit the Clifton-Fine community forever. Philanthropy took root!
The Adirondack Foundation has carefully stewarded his Fund and followed his directive to give an equal amount each year to the Volunteer Fire Department, the library, the hospital’s foundation, scholarships for the school, and an annual awards process for requests from community groups. The financial support is crucial, but would not have as great an effect without energizing people. The Damoth Fund has done just that.
While the permanent funding for the four established organizations has provided remarkable and unprecedented stability, the most dramatic effect on our region has been the discretionary amount remaining for community projects each year. In the beginning, we needed to recruit groups and help them each step of the way - from envisioning what projects could look like and the application process through implementation. They simply did not know how to take their ideas through to reality. But they learned… and they learned fast! Now, six years later, there is an exciting energy that has fostered volunteerism never before been seen in our rural community. The prevailing psychology has changed from “No one cares about us” to “We are part of an important, vibrant community.” They see possibilities and a means to achieving their dreams.
I could list dozens and dozens of projects that have come to fruition because of the Damoth Fund and the generosity of our neighbors in creating a much-smaller community fund. Clifton-Fine is a special place. We have learned how to invest and believe in ourselves. Mr. Damoth and the Adirondack Foundation helped nurture the seeds. We thank them.