They’re The Future: Why Youth Matter to This Tupper Lake Couple
Amid a national landscape where just 7% of all grantmaking is going to rural communities in the U.S., people like Rena and Joe Sellin stand out as glimmers of hope – shining as brightly as those magical sparkles of light that dance on Adirondack waters during the sunniest summer days. The former Texans, both retired physicians, first started coming to Tupper Lake almost 20 years ago. They’ve been returning ever since and today, have come to call the community home because, as they put it, “It is easy to love this place.”
It’s this love that has inspired them to give back to Tupper Lake, beginning by helping to launch The Wild Center in 2006, and branching out to sustain local community resources and historic mainstays like the State Theatre, when “Go Digital or Go Dark” campaigns were helping to save small-town theatres across the Region. “We quickly realized that our charitable dollars can have a much greater impact in the Adirondacks. It’s why we’ve chosen to focus our giving close to home.”
They not only devote their philanthropic dollars to their community, but their time – more recently, they’ve helped to launch Tupper Arts, Park Street’s newest community space. Take a trip to see the center’s local art and crafts on display, and you might just bump into the Sellins during a volunteer shift.
As they’ve become more embedded in the community, the Sellins have taken note of Tupper’s changing needs, particularly the challenges facing working families and the impacts of those struggles on young people. “When we realized that the school district had been without an after school program for several years, we turned to Adirondack Foundation to help reactivate this fundamentally vital teaching and social supporting scaffold for children.”
It was this realization that led them to establish a fund at the Foundation called Tupper Opportunities for Youth, or TOY, that has helped to relaunch and reinvent the after school program, dubbed ASK US (for After School Kids U Support). Program organizer Carol Lamb noted that the first session, held at LP Quinn Elementary School, has already had an impact on participating students, who not only had time to complete homework and learn new skills like cooking, but the chance to visit local community resources like The Wild Center, Tupper Arts, the Paul Smith’s VIC, and more.
“The Adirondack Foundation has made this possible, as a professional, fiscally responsible and reliable steward of the funds it administers. The staff are dedicated to nurturing the needs of Adirondack communities and demonstrate innovation, flexibility and a healthy measure of good humor and ‘can do’ spirit. They have made TOY, as well as so many other programs, possible.”