Since 1992, the CAN DO Community Foundation has been supporting worthwhile projects through its mission of conservation, preservation and reclamation. The Foundation’s volunteer Board of Directors recently held its annual meeting at Ferrwood Camp in Drums. The board discussed the progress of its many ongoing projects and announced the recipients of several scholarships it awards annually.

The meeting was held on July 8 prior to an open-air concert that featured 120 Ferrwood Music Camp students who treated a crowd of concertgoers to their talents. Before the concert, the Board of Directors joined the students, parents, instructors, volunteers and visitors at a picnic-style smorgasbord prepared and served by volunteers.

Ferrwood43The board elected officers, reappointed board members and highlighted the accomplishments of the past fiscal year. Foundation President Gary F. Lamont recognized board members, volunteers, community members and CAN DO staff for their contributions of time, talent and resources to the Foundation during the past year. Lamont acknowledged the efforts of Nancy Stasko and Chris Stamatopoulos on Ferrwood activities that included coordinating the Youth Health Awareness Day and the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community and securing donated supplies. He also recognized the CAN DO maintenance staff for having the campgrounds in great shape for the season.

Prior to the meeting, Phil Latella, camp director, and a group of students made a presentation to the Foundation board expressing their thanks and offering stories of how Ferrwood favorably impacts them.

Foundation Vice President and Chairman of the Annual Fund Drive Earl Berger announced the fund drive goal for 2018. Berger expressed his appreciation for the individuals and businesses in the community who continue to make contributions to the campaign.

The CAN DO Community Foundation was founded in 1992 to fulfill the CAN DO Planning Committee’s goal of establishing an affiliate organization to support worthwhile projects that would enhance the quality of life in Greater Hazleton. The Foundation, 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 organization leverages these funds through the application of funding from 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.” It partners with other non-profit organizations to adopt a project that meets its mission.

During the meeting, active projects that the Foundation is involved in were reviewed, including the following:

  • Ferrwood Camp – The CAN DO Community Foundation has spent many years overseeing the restoration of Ferrwood Camp in Drums, the site of a historic summer music camp for children that was founded in the 1920s as a fresh air camp for children predisposed to tuberculosis. Thanks to the Foundation and the support of the community and its leaders, restoration is largely complete at the camp. This year, work included the exterior painting of the clapboard and more than 100 windows in the main camp building. An additional parking area was completed this year, allowing for more parking outside of the campground.
  • Sofia Coxe House – The Foundation secured funding for several renovation projects at the Sofia Coxe House in Drifton. An invitation for bids on the work is presently being advertised. Renovations will include exterior wood repair/replacement, porch restoration and exterior painting to the original color scheme.
  • Freeland YMCA – 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.
  • Former Pioneer Firehouse Facade (home of the 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 of the restoration project.
  • St. 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. A CAN DO Community Foundation plaque will be placed inside the building soon.
  • Downtown Hazleton Restoration Projects – Downtown Hazleton Restoration Projects – The Foundation has been assisting the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress with several revitalization projects in the downtown, including: helping to fund completion of Phase II renovations on the former Security Savings building that will become a community art center; contributing funds toward the Launch Box incubator facility, facade renovations that presently include the property at 21-23 W. Broad Street that will become the home of Irish-style pub and eatery Broad and Barrel and, along with CAN DO, provided “naming rights” funding that will complete the proposed landscape development at the park adjoining the art center at the corner of Broad and Laurel streets. 
  • Historic District Preservation Study – The Foundation offered support to the Greater Hazleton Historical Society in its efforts to establish a Historic District in the city of Hazleton. The mission was to designate the neighborhood, 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.

In accordance with its mission, the Foundation continues to review mission-focused projects in the Greater Hazleton community.

In addition to its service projects, the Foundation also utilizes donations to fund several scholarships for high school and college students, as well as the young student musicians who attend Ferrwood Music Camp.

This year, the Foundation presented the 13th annual Edgar L. Dessen Community Service Award Junior Leadership scholarships to 88 students from the high schools that serve Greater Hazleton. Incoming Dessen Scholars are: Megan Fay and Aliyah Smolinsky of the Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences, Cayce Olander and Ann Stetz of Hazleton Area High School, Courtney Rodick of Marian High School, Jessica McClellan of MMI Preparatory School and Nikki Polivka of Weatherly Area High School. The service award is named after CAN DO’s founder, Dr. Edgar L. Dessen.

The eighth annual Joseph Yenchko Award “Camperships” were presented to students attending Ferrwood Music Camp. The “Camperships” are given in honor of Yenchko, who was CAN DO’s first employee, and continue to grow through the generosity of individuals, businesses and foundations. This year there were 76 “Camperships” donated.

The CAN DO Community Foundation Award at Penn State Hazleton is presented annually at the Highacres Society Dinner. This scholarship honors and recognizes outstanding academic achievement by an undergraduate student enrolled in the baccalaureate degree in business at the Hazleton campus of Penn State University.

The scholarship is specifically designated for a student from Greater Hazleton. Full- and part-time students who have attained high academic achievement at the end of their second semester are considered for the award. Continuing education students are given special consideration. This year’s scholarship recipients are Josiel Delgadillo, Arron Kacyon, Lauren Pataki and Victoria Warg.

At the meeting, the following were elected as Foundation officers: Gary F. Lamont, president; Earl Berger, vice president; Nancy R. Stasko, secretary; Donald M. Pachence, treasurer; Chris Stamtopoulos, assistant secretary, and W. Kevin O’Donnell, assistant treasurer.  

Board members nominated for a three- (3) year term are: Matthew B. Bayzick, Berger,
Mark Imbriaco, O’Donnell, Pachence, Lonnie Polli, Stamatopoulos and Stasko.

Remaining members are: Eugene M. Dougherty, George R. Hludzik, Esq. Lamont, Robert Moisey, E. Thomas Sandrock, Dr. Anthony Falvello, E. Richard Moore, Krista Schneider and John J. Spevak.

John H. Wright Jr., Joseph M. DeBias and Jennifer Hopkins are advisory board members.