The CAN DO Community Foundation recently held its Board of Directors meeting at the Freeland YMCA and got a first-hand look at the restoration and improvements that have been made to the building’s façade as a result of the foundation’s involvement. The Freeland community requested the foundation’s assistance and over the past few years, the foundation has worked with the Freeland YMCA, to secure funding for the restoration of the façade and the support of a youth after school program.
The foundation’s model is to “adopt” a project and provide support from a financial and technical perspective.
The present Freeland YMCA building was built in 1930 and through the years, work was done to the façade that impacted the architectural integrity of the building. With an original request to assist in a new entranceway, the foundation expanded the project to restore the façade to its original splendor. The Foundation, working with the YMCA and its Board of Directors, the Borough of Freeland, the Luzerne County Office of Community Development and the State applied for and secured funding to undertake the restoration. Additional façade work on the eastern portion of the front façade is being contemplated.
Freeland Y supporters, Deb Carr, Joe Rudawski and Joe Flanagan, were recognized at the meeting for their involvement. Gary F. Lamont, CAN DO Community Foundation president, thanked the foundation board members for their tireless efforts in making the requests a reality for both the physical structure as well as receiving funding through the AllOne Charities to augment a youth after school program held at the Freeland Y. Kevin O’Donnell, board member and president of CAN DO, Inc., whose wife Maureen is originally from Freeland said “the YMCA is truly a community center that is utilized by all, preschoolers to the 65 + seniors”, he said.
In 1992, the CAN DO Community Foundation was founded as the organization to carry out CAN DO’s community intentions. The organization, initially funded with seed money from CAN DO, has grown through the generosity of donors to its annual fund drive along with donations of real estate and bequeathed endowments. The foundation leverages these funds through the application of funding through other foundations and governmental programs. The CAN DO Community Foundation created a unique model to carry out its mission of “Conservation, Preservation and Reclamation CPR – Breathing New life into the Community.” The foundation partners or “adopts” a project with non-profit organizations to support a focused project that meets its mission. Scholarships have also been endowed. At the meeting, updates were provided on additional current foundation projects.
Another Freeland area project in the Sofia Coxe House. The Sofia Coxe organization’s board members as well as volunteers and staff are expanding the use of this house that is rich in local history. The CAN DO Community Foundation is assisting in securing funding to restore and replace exterior wood trim, siding and the porch as well as prepare and paint, returning the home to its original beauty.
Ferrwood Music Camp was discussed. “Camperships” are being secured for children interested in enrolling for musical instruction but may not have the means to attend. Last year benefactors supported over 60 camperships. The volunteers, instructors and counselors are in the planning stage for another year of providing a musical education and activities that expand the student’s skills and provide memories that last a lifetime. Many of the volunteers were students of Father Joe Ferrara’s music camp that has been inspiring area youth for over 50 years. The camp’s building has 116 windows. Projects taking place this season include replacing more than half the windows with period wooden screens and the painting of the camp’s main building.
The Foundation was asked to take a leadership role in the restoration of the little league practice fields at Correale Stadium. The Foundation teamed up with Hazleton Little League, the City of Hazleton and CAN DO to improve the fields needed to meet the increased demand for kids having a desire to learn to play baseball. Funding was received for the completion of a master plan and phase one of the plan. The initial phase was completed in the fall of last year. The goal of the project is to exceed the quality of the fields at the Little League World Series complex in Williamsport.
An update on the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress (DHAP) was heard. The foundation was instrumental in the original concept since it was a resulting action item from a foundation strategic planning meeting it held a few years ago. Despite being less than three years old, DHAP continues to make impressive strides in the revitalization of the downtown.
In 2016 the downtown welcomed 26 new small businesses and the addition of nearly 50 full time equivalent jobs. Planning and fundraising is resulting in two building renovation projects; the former Security Savings “Art Center” building and the “Bingo’ building that will get underway this summer valued at approximately $1.5 million. The former “Bingo” building is being donated by the Hayden and DeAngelo families’ related companies.
The restoration of the former Hazleton National Bank building continues with work valued at approximately $4 million. A status report on the former Altamont building was made. CAN DO purchased the former “Remember When” building and is working to repurpose it. These renovations should begin later this spring or early summer.
DHAP was successful in receiving a grant for $300,000 through the city for the Wyoming Street Streetscape project and is awaiting a $700,000 match to fund renovations between Spruce and Holly streets. The mural behind Hazle Drugs is due to be completed later this month with a second mural being undertaken in a partnership with Luzerne County Community College, DHAP and the Hazleton Integration Project. This “Power City Arts” student program is under the leadership of artist Mary Veronica Sweeney and will design and complete a “Hazleton Way” mural.
DHAP is working with several property owners to assist with façade design improvements. DHAP Executive Director Krista Schneider discussed the continued success of the “First Fridays” and the Farmer’s Market. Foundation members noted the degree of accomplishment and each update is filled with exciting news.
The foundation members were updated on the the Greater Hazleton Historical Society’s efforts to establish a Historic District in the city of Hazleton. The mission is to designate the neighborhood and focus on the restoration of historic homes and secure available incentives to support the preservation. The foundation worked with the Historical Society and was recently notified that a planning grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission was awarded.
The foundation is also working with the Historical Society, to restore its building’s facade, returning it to what it originally looked like in its previous life as the Pioneer Fire House. Work is planned to begin this year.
The foundation has adopted the Saint Gabriel House and is working with the Housing Development Corp. of NEPA, to restore the 80-year-old building which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The former Sisters of Mercy convent was repurposed to residential use over a decade ago. The plan is to restore and preserve the structure to assure its continuing presence. The unique and irreplaceable stone, masonry, woodwork and stained glass require specialized attention.
Scholarships updates were provided at the meeting that include the CAN DO Community Foundation Scholarship, the fully endowed scholarship that makes annual awards to Penn State Hazleton students who reside in the CAN DO service area. The founding father of CAN DO, Dr. Edgar L. Dessen is memorialized with a Community Service Awards named for him is endowed and continues to provide area high school juniors scholarships annually to join the Junior Leadership of Greater Hazleton program in their senior year.
The CAN DO Community Foundation recently held its Board of Directors meeting at the Freeland YMCA and got a first-hand look at the restoration and improvements that have been made to the building’s facade as a result of the foundation’s involvement. Pictured above are before (top picture) and after (bottom picture) photos of the restoration project.