Arts Play Role in Community’s Vibrancy

Rande Richardson

During the holiday season we are especially aware of the important role the arts play in the vibrancy of our communities. You surely have a yuletide carol or two that reaches deep within you and touches you in a way nothing else can. While, rightly so, much focus is placed on nonprofits that serve basic human needs, supporting, sustaining and nurturing our arts and cultural nonprofits must remain in our focus. They are an important enhancement to quality of life and bring us closer together within communities and across communities.

    I recently attended two nonprofit-sponsored arts performances over a weekend. Not once did I think about the political affiliation of the performers or the audience. Not once did I care to think in what ways we were different. At both, there was a multi-generational element. This all speaks to the fundamental human enjoyment of the arts and the way they touch, move and inspire us. The arts are a great unifier with a universal language.

    We are fortunate to have opportunities to enjoy varied expressions of the arts. We have second-to-none, live symphonic experiences provided by the Orchestra of Northern New York. We have both participation and performance through local theatre groups. Arts organizations introduce and develop a love and appreciation among children and youth. Stage Notes and Watertown Musicales combine both youth arts engagement and purposeful civic mindedness. 

    Throughout the year, nonprofit organizations and events such as the Thousand Islands Performing Arts Fund at the Clayton Opera House, Thousand Islands Piano Competition, Community Performance Series, Ogdensburg Command Performances, Norwood Village Green Concert Series, Clifton-Fine Summer Arts Series, Disabled Persons Action Organization and Trinity Concert Series and others bring programming that we would be a lesser community without. Volunteer groups such as Northern Choral Society, the Clayton Community Band and the Sackets Harbor Vocal Ensemble offer especially memorable moments. Local schools bring their students together to produce amazing musicals and concerts. There are other arts organizations, including within our north country colleges and universities, venues for all the various expressions of the arts and humanities.

    We recognize the importance of the arts, not only to fulfill something fundamentally human, but also in the way they indirectly support our local economies. Nationally, the arts contribute a large share to the country’s gross domestic product. Locally, there are many who benefit indirectly from arts and cultural opportunities. People being recruited to relocate here often ask what types of entertainment options are offered. Increasingly, arts programs are tied to involving children of all socioeconomic backgrounds, the elderly, the developmentally disabled, at-risk youth, and numerous arts in healthcare programs. Just recently the Community Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Council awarded a grant to launch a music therapy program for those dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

    Many would agree the arts are not an add-on; they are not just nice things to have around. In many ways, they reach into a special place of the heart, soul and mind. They represent the best things of our human existence. We must do all we can to make these opportunities both accessible and appealing. Each year, although the Community Foundation makes substantial investments in the arts, we pay special attention to those that are provided free of charge to people of all ages across the vast geography of our region. The Orchestra of Northern New York this season is offering free admission to  those 17 and under. The annual concert in Thompson Park is fully underwritten, and Sackets Concerts on the Waterfront Series is open to the public.

    I hope you have had the opportunity to be exposed to the arts in ways that have enhanced your life. If you’re able, consider supporting the arts and nonprofit organizations that bring them to our communities. Fill the seats, show your appreciation, bring your children. We never want to live in a community without the special something the arts offer us. Through the will of the people, may they continue to unite us to sustain them and sustain ourselves to better face the many challenges life presents. In this way, it will help make our days, and those of our friends and neighbors, more merry and bright during the holidays and all year long.

 

April 20 Questions: A Rich Life of Giving

AMANDA MORRISON / NNY BUSINESS DPAO founder recalls service to community and lasting impacts

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Watertown Savings Bank president given Founders Award by DPAO

JUSTIN SORENSEN n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES The Disabled Persons Action Organization members left Pauline A. Donato, Joseph L. Rich, and Elva LaComb, right, present Watertown Savings Bank president and CEO Mark R. Lavarnway with the innaugural Founders Award Tuesday at the DPAO.

JUSTIN SORENSEN n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
The Disabled Persons Action Organization members left Pauline A. Donato, Joseph L. Rich, and Elva LaComb, right, present Watertown Savings Bank president and CEO Mark R. Lavarnway with the inaugural Founders Award Tuesday at the DPAO.

By JEN JACKSON
JJACKSON@WDT.NET

Dozens came out to the Disabled Persons Action Organization to remember the organization’s decades of work, and remember those who made it possible.

On Tuesday morning President of Watertown Savings Bank Mark R. Lavarnway was presented with the first ever “Founders Award” by DPAO.

The now-retired founder and executive director Joseph L. Rich, presented Mr. Lavarnway with a plaque honoring him for his support and fundraising over the years. According to Mr. Rich, Mr. Lavarnway and Watertown Savings Bank have given over $100,000 to the organization in the last five years.

“This award is for your untiring dedication and support,” Mr. Rich said. “We could not have done it without (you.)”

The DPAO is a nonprofit organization that works with developmentally disabled children and adults in Jefferson and Lewis counties to provide specialized assistance and services. It was started in 1976, several years after Ronald P. Donato was shot in a hunting accident and left paralyzed and unable to breathe on his own. A community benefit concert was held with the help of Mr. Rich to raise money for the Donato family. DPAO was born out of those efforts and the desires of other families to be able to care for their loved ones in their homes rather than send them away.

Mr. Donato died in 2002 at the age of 41, but his mother, Pauline A. Donato, helped present Mr. Lavarnway with the award.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized by you when I look at your founders and the impact they’ve had,” Mr. Lavarnway said.

Longtime friend of the organization Mel Busler, who opened the ceremony, also closed by addressing the many disabled members of the crowd.

“The DPAO loves you and we know you love DPAO. It’s because of you that we do this. Thank you all,” the TV-7 sports editor said.

DPOA, organizations will have to obtain vendors for arena

Foundation President Joseph L. Rich was surprised to find out Thursday morning that the Disabled Persons Action Organization will have to get its own concession stand vendor for its May 24 Kenny Rogers concert at the renovated Watertown Municipal Arena. [Read more…]

November 2015 Cover Story: Gifts of Giving

Gifts of giving brighten the region

Margot C. Jacoby, with her daughter, Martha Papworth O’Neill. Martha died in 2010 after a fight against renal cell carcinoma, a rare form of kidney cancer. Mrs. Jacoby and her husband, Douglas, have established the Martha Papworth O’Neill Scholarship at the JCC Foundation. The scholarship in Martha’s name is given each year to a non-traditional student enrolled in humanities and social sciences. A scholarship fund was also set up in Martha’s name at Cazenovia College, where she had served on the Alumni Board of Directors.

Margot C. Jacoby, with her daughter, Martha Papworth O’Neill. Martha died in 2010 after a fight against renal cell carcinoma, a rare form of kidney cancer. Mrs. Jacoby and her husband, Douglas, have established the Martha Papworth O’Neill Scholarship at the JCC Foundation. The scholarship in Martha’s name is given each year to a non-traditional student enrolled in humanities and social sciences. A scholarship fund was also set up in Martha’s name at Cazenovia College, where she had served on the Alumni Board of Directors.

Across Northern New York, philanthropy large and small aids causes and honors memories while building legacies that leave the north country a better place

By Norah Machia, NNY Business [Read more…]