Personal Testimonies Show NNY Pride

Rande Richardson

“When we decided to move back we wanted to create the culture that we wanted to live in. If it’s something that we love, then we want to help create it. In many ways, if you live in a small community, where you give helps to decide what becomes important. If you want a certain community and you want it to have a certain feel or if there’s an area that you want to strengthen, then you have to go do that.” -Jeff Ginger

“There are a lot of negative aspects of humanity, but you often find what you look for. If you’re looking for the positives in others, you want to recognize the positive gifts that have been given you and then the best way to say thank you is to give them to someone else. It is important to give back to that community. It’s where we raise our kids. It’s our community. It’s our home. We decided to live here, and we want to see the community flourish.” –Brenna Ginger


In 2016, through this column, the Community Foundation, in partnership with WPBS-TV announced the launch of an oral history initiative: Northern New York Community Podcast- Stories from the Heart of Our Community. The intent was to capture personal testimonials about their life in the region, why they’ve chosen to live here, and the various ways they’ve found to enrich their experiences through their community and the organizations that make it special. Since that time, 23 interviews have been conducted, with more scheduled. The full conversations are available at www.nnycpodcast.com.

    As more interviews have been completed, they have come to provide an interesting, diverse and varied portrait, representing Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Some of the interviews are well-known names, but I’ll bet there are some that you don’t know. The more the project progresses, we’ve been able to uncover some great gems of civic pride. While you can find a common thread in the stories, each one has its own special message. One of the primary goals was to capture the essence of what has driven community involvement and citizenship across the generations. It was hoped that providing insight into how others have seen their role in shaping their community’s quality of life could provide the backdrop for conversations with those who will inherit that same community. We still maintain that this type of inspiration will be an important enduring legacy of this endeavor.

    As we’ve begun to capture stories in a multigenerational way, the podcasts help provide valuable insight into the means through which those who will inherit our community will strive to make a difference. I would recommend taking the time to listen to Jeff and Brenna Ginger’s podcast. This young couple was raised in the north country, went away, and came back start their own family and careers. Their message of proactively helping to create the community they want to live in embodies both the mission of the podcast initiative, but also of the Community Foundation itself. The most transformational leadership within all of our region’s nonprofit organizations carry that theme. It is this type of lead-by-example thinking that distinguishes good from great.

    Other than our Youth Philanthropy program and our Young Professional LEAD program, documenting these stories has become one of the Foundation’s most transformational endeavors. Their example can encourage us all to more deeply explore what makes for a fulfilling life. If that is accomplished, our community and the organizations that help enhance it will be much better positioned to continue the tradition and heritage of what makes Northern New York so special.

    This is an ongoing initiative and we want to continue to broaden their scope and reach. Part of doing good comes not only in the good itself, but as a catalyst to inspire others. The best way to honor our community’s history and heritage is to perpetuate its relevancy through meaningful expressions of care. If there is a story that needs telling, there is no better time to inspire than now. Our community’s future is calling.

               

A historical St. Lawrence Seaway

Scene of an Aug. 10, 1954, groundbreaking ceremony near Cornwall, Ontario, for the St. Lawrence River hydroelectric project. (Watertown Daily Times archives)

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Sailing Smoothly for 50 years: Antique Boat Museum Celebrates Birthday

JUSTIN SORENSEN / NNY BUSINESS
Rebecca Hopfinger, executive director of the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, stands with boating relics in one of the showrooms.

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Morrison Street Warehouse Once Deemed Modern

WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES ARCHIVE

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Social club perseveres: Black River Valley Club a longtime symbol of Watertown’s history

The present Black River Valley Club building, to the far right, as it looked in 1910, approximately five years after its construction.

By Lenka Walldroff
Jefferson County Historical Society

Watertown was an affluent city during the late 1800s. Its citizens included wealthy business owners, industrial barons and bankers, granting it the distinction of having the highest number of millionaires per capita in the United States – fertile ground for a private social club. It is during this period that the Black River Valley Club was born.

However, the club was not always known as such. What was originally the Union Club was organized in Watertown in 1876 and incorporated in 1891. The name was changed to the Kamargo Club for a brief time and finally the Black River Valley Club in January 1905. Although few surviving records having to do with the original Union Club exist, given the socio-economic status of Watertown during the 1880s, one cannot help but speculate that Watertown’s Union Club might have in some way been associated with the prestigious Union Club in New York City – the second oldest private club in the United States dating back to 1836.

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