The CAN DO Community Foundation marked its 25th anniversary with a celebration Friday at Ferrwood Music Camp. The Annual Meeting was held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary since the music camp was first held at Ferrwood. The event included a blessing and dedication of the historic marker commemorating the camp as a National Register of Historical Places property. It was followed by an open-air concert that featured performances by the student musicians.
The Foundation has spent many years overseeing the restoration of Ferrwood. Thanks to the support of the community; donated labor and materials; contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations and unions; and various grants, the foundation is successful in its continuing effort of restoring the local landmark located in Drums.
The music camp, named after Father Joe Ferrara, has been a continued venue for students to receive instruction and enjoy outdoor activities since 1967. Originally under the stewardship of Father Joe and the Greater Hazleton Philharmonic Society, the legacy of running the camp has been passed onto the Foundation. Under the leadership of volunteer music camp director Phil Latella and the support of an army of volunteers, some who were taught by Father Joe, they continue the rich tradition of overnight and day campers receiving instruction by accomplished instructors, enjoying outdoor activities, and offering free open-air concerts on Friday nights. “Campership” or scholarship awards continue to grow through the generosity of individuals, businesses and foundations. This year 85 “Camperships” were donated.
An original goal of the CAN DO Planning Committee was the establishment of an affiliate organization to support worthwhile projects that would enhance the quality of life in the Greater Hazleton area. In 1992, the CAN DO Community Foundation was founded as the organization to carry out CAN DO’s intention. This 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 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 nonprofit organizations to support a focused project that meets its mission. Scholarships to Penn State Hazleton have also been endowed.
At the meeting officers were elected, board members were reappointed and accomplishments were highlighted.
Foundation President Gary F. Lamont recognized the members of the board, volunteers, the community and CAN DO for their contributions of time, talent and resources to the foundation during the past year. He thanked Nancy Stasko, foundation secretary, and her committee for organizing the 25th anniversary event.
Treasurer and Investment Committee Chairman Don Pachence was recognized for his commitment to research and his “steady hand’ in the managing of the investment portfolio.
Vice President and Chairman of the Annual Fund Drive Earl Berger shared the results of another successful fund drive, which exceeded its goal. Berger expressed his appreciation for the individuals and businesses in the community for their contributions to the campaign. He, along with the board members and Stasko, were recognized for their efforts in the drive.
Accomplishments during the past year were reviewed included the following:
CORREALE STADIUM LITTLE LEAGUE PRACTICE FIELDS
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. With the plan completed, permitting was approved for the initial phase. This phase, completed this year, will alleviate a drainage problem that erodes the fields during heavy rain storms. Local contractors, the City and Greater Hazleton Sewer Authorities have donated equipment and labor to assist with the project.
The Foundation worked with the Freeland YMCA and the Borough of Freeland on a project to restore the front façade of the building to its original look. Previous work on the front of the facility had diminished the architectural integrity of this well-utilized community center. The façade project is part of a community-wide capital campaign. Applications to fund the facade work were applied for and received with the assistance of the Foundation to augment the capital campaign fund drive. Phase I of the façade work is complete. Additional work is planned.
DOWNTOWN HAZLETON ALLIANCE FOR PROGRESS
Following a Foundation “ideation” meeting in February of 2013, a prospective project was the revitalization of downtown Hazleton. It was decided that the first step would be the development of a plan. The project was energized by a group of volunteers and, in less than a year, the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress was established. With an ambitious goal to revitalize the downtown, DHAP is well-organized, well-led, and well-positioned to carry out its mission. The organization is providing a focus and leadership at this critical time in our city’s history in order to take advantage of the new economic development opportunities that have been presented to us. These include the completion of the Broad Street Corridor Project and the private investment for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of our historic bank buildings to house DBi, Inc. corporate headquarters, bringing 130 employees to the downtown. The former Hazleton National Bank building is having extensive work completed and space is in demand by new tenants. More than 20 net new businesses have been located in the central business district recently. The former Security Savings building is being improved to become a community art center. DHAP Executive Director Krista Schneider noted that plans are underway through a collaborative effort with DHAP, CAN DO, Penn State Hazleton and others to establish a small business incubator in the downtown. Penn State and PPL Foundation have recently announced funding to assist in this project becoming a reality. The Foundation, CAN DO, the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Hazleton, and business, education and professional leaders that include the Latino Community have joined together to achieve this goal. As part of a community fund drive, the Foundation is a benefactor supporting the efforts of DHAP.
HAZLETON HISTORIC DISTRICT
The Foundation offered support to the Greater Hazleton Historical Society in their efforts to establish a Historic District in the city of Hazleton. The mission was 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 awarded a planning grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
GREATER HAZLETON HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The Foundation is working with the Historical Society to secure funding to restore the façade of the museum to its original look using Department of Interior guidelines for the restoration. Increased energy efficiency will also be an outcome.
SAINT GABRIEL HOUSE
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 that 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.
SOFIA COXE HOUSE
The foundation is working to secure funding to replace deteriorated wood trim, siding and the porch on this historic home. Once completed, the exterior will be prepared and painted using the original paint colors.
Other projects that the Foundation was involved include:
THE FORMER HAZLETON HIGH SCHOOL “CASTLE” RESTORATION
The Alice C. Wiltsie Performing Arts Center was a benefactor of foundation funding to restore the former Hazleton High School auditorium that at one time was slated for the wrecking ball. The Foundation worked with the committee and succeeded in accomplishing certain conditions of the donation that included National Register of Historic Places restoration requirements along with the completion of a development and business plan to support the success of the restoration and operations of the center.
TRI AREA RECREATION
The foundation aided the Tri Area Recreation Authority with their reclamation of land for the development of the recreation area named the Louis Schiavo City View Park that includes active and passive recreation activities.
SHEPPTON MINE DISASTER
As part of the 50th anniversary of the Sheppton Mine Disaster, it was learned that the site did not have a marker designating the location. In conjunction with Standard-Speaker staff volunteering their time, an application was submitted to the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission for a marker and received approval. The signage, funded by the foundation, was placed at the site.
In accordance with its mission, the foundation continues to review mission-focused projects in the Greater Hazleton community.
The foundation presented several student awards during the year. The foundation awarded its Penn State Hazleton Scholarship to the following recipients: Aaron Kacyon of Fern Glen, Devon Dercole of Hazleton, Brittany Saccketti of Freeland and Bernardo Becerra of Lancaster County.
This year, the foundation presented the 13th annual Edgar L. Dessen Community Service Award Junior Leadership scholarships to five students from the high schools that serve Greater Hazleton. Incoming Dessen Scholars are: Megan Elaine Fay and Aliyah Morgan Smolinsky of the Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences, Cayce Ann Olander and Ann Marie Stetz of Hazleton Area High School, Courtney Marie Rodick of Marian Catholic High School, Jessica McClellan of MMI Preparatory School and Nikki Ann Polivka of Weatherly Area High School.
The 2016 Dessen Scholar graduates are: Erika Book of Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences, Hayley Fellin of Hazleton Area High School, Sydney Karpowich and Gabriella Kupsho of MMI Preparatory School, Aaron Srinivasan and Tina Capparell of Marian Catholic High School and Joel Hinkle of Weatherly Area High School.
For the seventh year, the Joseph Yenchko Award was made for “Camperships” to area students to attend Ferrwood Music Camp. The awards were named for CAN DO’s first employee.
At the meeting, the following were elected as officers: Gary F. Lamont, president; Earl Berger, vice president; Nancy R. Stasko, secretary; Donald M. Pachence, treasurer; Elaine Judd, assistant secretary; and W. Kevin O’Donnell, assistant treasurer.
The following members were reappointed to three-year terms: Eugene M. Dougherty, George R. Hludzik, Esq., Gary F. Lamont, Robert J. Moisey and E. Thomas Sandrock. They join the following directors: Matthew B. Bayzick, Earl Berger, Dr. Anthony Falvello, Mark Imbriaco, Elaine Judd, E. Richard Moore, Kevin O’Donnell, Donald M. Pachence, John Patton CPA, Lonnie Polli, Krista Schneider, John J. Spevak, Chris Stamatopoulos and Nancy R. Stasko.