Since it was founded in 1992, the CAN DO Community Foundation has delivered on its mission of “Conservation, Preservation, Reclamation (CPR) – Breathing New Life Into Our Community” by helping to fund community projects throughout Greater Hazleton.
Through generous contributions from individuals and companies, the Foundation has been able to make positive contributions to support these vital community service projects.
CAN DO Community Foundation President Gary F. Lamont said, “We are proud to have played a role in numerous initiatives to improve the quality of life for the Greater Hazleton community. The Foundation will continue to flourish because of the generosity of individuals, businesses and other foundations who share in the commitment to make a positive difference in creating a healthier community – now and for future generations.”
In addition to monetary donations, the Foundation’s endowment has grown over the years from the donation of real estate, individual and corporate gifts, memorial donations, investment income, and contributions from other foundations.
Ferrwood Camp, Sofia Coxe House, Freeland YMCA, the Greater Hazleton Historical Society, St. Gabriel’s House and the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress are just some of the many organizations the Foundation has assisted with restoration and revitalization projects.
Ferrwood Music Camp director Phil Latella stressed that the Foundation’s many years of restoration work on the Ferrwood Campgrounds has a direct impact on the lives of the many children who attend the music camp as well as the other education programs and events the camp hosts each year.
The 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. Recent restoration work has 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. Most recently, the foundation secured funding to restore the kitchen to bring it up to code and replace antiquated cooking appliances.
“The Foundation has impacted children’s lives,” Latella said. “They made it possible for students of all ages and walks of lives to experience the magic of Ferrwood Music Camp. Unless you come to camp and experience the impact the place has on children, it’s impossible to describe how and what the foundation did for children. Many of our campers find it difficult to fit in at school, many are bullied, many lack self-esteem. These same campers come to camp and find respite, a place where they can thrive. Many campers tell us how the place changed their lives. How can you put words to helping a child thrive? The Foundation, because of its tireless work, saw our mission and made it theirs. Ferrwood and the Foundation want to help children grow and blossom.”
Latella added that the Foundation’s support helps Ferrwood Camp maintain the mission and vision of its founder, Father Joe Ferrara. “Our organization is about helping youth become the best people that they can be. We are not about making money, or about making anyone more profitable. We simply aim to continue on with Father Joe’s mission of making good people. We are non-discriminatory and we teach respect and tolerance.”
At the Freeland YMCA, the CAN DO Community Foundation worked with YMCA officials 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 was 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.
Joe Flanagan, former executive director at the Freeland YMCA, said, “The CAN DO Community Foundation is a great organization to work with. They really guided us with securing funding and had so many good ideas and information on what our next steps should be. All of the revitalization work we were able to do on the building really put us into the 21st century and helped make it a useable building.”
The Foundation has provided funding to the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress (DHAP) to assist the organization with several revitalization projects in the downtown, including: renovations on the former Security Savings Bank building and new home of the Hayden Family Center for the Arts, naming rights funding to complete and maintain the landscape development at CAN DO Community Park at the corner of Broad and Laurel streets, the Hazleton LaunchBox incubator facility, and façade renovations on the Broad and Barrel pub and eatery building.
Additionally, the Foundation offered support to DHAP and 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, 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.
DHAP Executive Director Krista Schneider said the Foundation’s support has been vital in helping to create the organization and assist with the many downtown revitalization projects.
“The Foundation has been instrumental to DHAP, both in our inception six years ago, and through its continued support of our operations through our annual fund drive. Our organization would not be able to complete these projects without the Foundation’s support,” Schneider said. “The Foundation does so much good in our community. It leverages its donations wisely to make sure that each project is both sustainable and well-grounded in partnerships. It looks to enrich our community through its support of arts, music, culture, education, recreation, and preservation of historic resources, all for the purpose of enriching our quality of life and benefiting our youth.”
The Foundation also helped the Greater Hazleton Historical Society, which is located on Wyoming Street at the site of the former Pioneer Firehouse, secure funding to restore the façade of the museum to its original look using Department of Interior guidelines for the restoration, as well as create increased energy efficiency in the building.
“As a nonprofit organization, we need assistance from the community to help us maintain the Greater Hazleton Historical Society building and preserve the history of our great region for future generations. We are grateful to the CAN DO Community Foundation for their assistance in helping us with the renovations to our building,” Tom Gabos, director of the Greater Hazleton Historical Society, said.
At the Sofia Coxe House in Drifton, the Foundation helped to secure funding for the completion of several renovation projects, including exterior wood repair/replacement, porch restoration and exterior painting to the original color scheme.
Jim Facinelli, a consultant for the CAN DO Community Foundation and a board member with the Sophia Coxe Foundation, said he has witnessed several community service projects that were all made possible through the CAN DO Community Foundation’s support. “I have worked with Gary Lamont for many years on numerous great, old Hazleton buildings. We did St. Gabriel’s convent, two buildings next to the old American Auto store, Ferrwood Camp and the Conyngham Library, all with grants from the Foundation. With these accomplishments, we hope other neighbors will follow suit and the area will continue to improve for posterity,” Facinelli said. “Our small foundation would have never been able to raise that amount of money to save that building. Now it will be seen and used for generations thanks to the CAN DO Community Foundation’s generosity.”
As mentioned, the CAN DO Community Foundation adopted the St. Gabriel House and worked 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 plans included restoring and preserving the structure to assure its continuing presence. The unique and irreplaceable stone, masonry, woodwork and stained glass required specialized attention. After the work was completed, a CAN DO Community Foundation plaque was placed inside the building.
Tom Kennedy, who is co-chairman of an ongoing capital campaign to revitalize St. Gabriel’s Church, said restoring the adjoining St. Gabriel’s House was a vital piece of the project. “St. Gabriel House is the magnificently preserved former convent of St. Gabriel’s Church and school. It is a critical component of the designation of the St. Gabriel campus on the National Register of Historic Places. The CAN DO Foundation replaced the original solid wood and ornately carved door with a virtually identical door, thus allowing and enhancing the beauty of our facilities and our place on the National Register of Historic Places.”