Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Springbrook expands to St. Mary's site in Oneonta

The Daily Star reported that Springbrook, a nonprofit agency serving people with disabilities, will pay $2.4 million for the 55,550-square-foot property. The school closed last year because of declining enrollment.

"I am so excited about it," Kennedy said. "It will be a tremendous opportunity."

While providing more space, she said, it will actually save Springbrook money by allowing it to cancel leases and discontinue use of some energy-inefficient locations.

Springbrook is expected to take the title in mid-February to March. The space will be used to centralize many of the agency's operations and community functions from other locations, Kennedy said. It will start about a month after closing by moving the information technology department and continuing through to the preschool program in July.

The move will allow the agency's Kids Unlimited Preschool to be opened to the community, Kennedy said. It will also allow additional adult programs at the site, as well as operations such as evaluation and training of 980 staff.

Springbrook will maintain its headquarters near Portlandville. The recently expanded K-12 residential school program will continue there as well.

Agency representatives looked at the Oneonta facility in June and said they were impressed by how well it was maintained. The purchase was approved by the board of directors in December.

It will make the most of a $22.5 million capital project being completed, which is expected to result in 112 new jobs, Kennedy said.

Read more here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

2012 Program Focus Announced

Leatherstocking AEA Planning Meeting 2012
Steering Committee January 25th

Members Present:
Dan Maskin, Opportunities for Otsego
Debra Marcus, Planned Parenthood Of South Central New York, Inc.
Gina Reeves, The Brookwood School
Liz Callahan, Hanford Mills Museum
Michael Wesolowski, Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States (MHAUS)

Program focus for 2012
Fund Development Assessment
o Look at big picture of fundraising operations
 Approach Mike Stein about presenting program
 April 18 or 25
 Oneonta

Creative Collaborations for Optimizing Resources
o Shared facility, space, staff and resources
 Offer panel discussion
• Possible panelists (Planned Parenthood, Hanford Mills Museum, Otsego Land Trust, United Way of Delaware and Otsego Counties)
 Build in networking opportunity for participants
• Share what needs are and what strengths are and can offer others
 June 13th program date in Oneonta

Programmatic Collaboration
o How to collaborate and maximize on partnerships
 Norwich Location
• SUNY Morrisville (Debra contact)
• September 19th possible date

From Silo'd to Syncro'd: Merging Individual Program Messages & Marching Under Your Organizational Banner
o Tara Collins, Watershed Agricultural Council
 Delhi Location (SUNY Delhi – Debra contact)
• November 14th confirmed

Otsego County Needs Assessment Report
o Presentation to Leatherstocking AEA
 Approach Megan Stanely
• Set date in March/April
o Are there other counties reports we can secure and provide to EDs

Springbrook to announce 'growth' on Monday

Springbrook, a nonprofit agency serving people with development disabilities, has planned a media conference Monday morning at the former St. Mary's School in the town of Oneonta to announce "plans for the growth of the organization."

A press advisory issued by Springbook states: "With the close of the 'Coming Home' campaign, Springbrook is planning for the organization's next chapter."

It adds: The presentation will highlight Springbrook's regional presence and how the agency will be well-positioned to meet the ever-changing needs of individuals with developmental disabilities."

According to the organization's web site, Springbrook initiated its "Coming Home" campaign in 2006 in order to fund its $20 million expansion plan.

There was no indication from the advisory why the event was being held at St. Mary's School. Patricia Kennedy, Springbrook's executive director, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

The closure of St. Mary's School was announced by its school board a year ago.

The board cited declining enrollment at what was believed to be the last operational Roman Catholic parish school between Binghamton and Albany.

Ken Goldfarb, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, said he could not discuss any real estate transactions involving a property owned by the Diocese until a deal was finalized. As for the St. Mary's School real estate, he said, "We're not at closing yet."

William Moon, a former member of the St. Mary's school board, said he had no information on whether the planned announcement at the school involved an effort by Springbrook to acquire the property.

However, he said if Springbrook does take over the building, it would be good news.

"It has always been our goal to have the facility continue to serve the community," Moon said.

Bright Hill Press to celebrate 20 years

The Daily Star related that Bright Hill Literary Center will celebrate 20 years:
Bertha Rogers of Treadwell has hosted readings by more than 2,000 writers and storytellers for 20 years.

But this woman of letters still has ambitious plans for her Bright Hill Literary Center.

"We're having a big year this year" to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Word Thursdays, a Bright Hill biweekly event, which features invited writers and the public reading their works aloud, Rogers said. In store are visits by local authors, a history day and a children's authors day, as well as visits by writers from around the state and country.

"We have a lot of great stuff planned," Rogers said.

Rogers is the founding executive director of Bright Hill. Bright Hill began with seven people at an open mic poetry reading one night in January 1992, in the home of Rogers and Ernest M. Fishman, Rogers said Monday.

This Thursday, Rogers will present a "strictly open mic" reading event in the center's library at 7 p.m., open to the public, "to commemorate that first open mic," Rogers said.

Rogers, who moved to the area from New York City in 1989, said she missed reading poetry out loud and hearing it read. "That was the whole point" of organizing that first open mic in her home.

"People came, and they were interested in coming back," Rogers said. "That was a good sign."

Rogers said the open mic readings, held every second and fourth Thursdays and dubbed "Word Thursdays," have gone on ever since.

"People just kept coming back," Rogers said.

Rogers said she knew many writers and poets from New York City and invited them to be featured readers at Word Thursdays. She would often let them stay in her house when they came upstate.

"It got to the point where we really needed to find another place," Rogers said.

Rogers and Fishman established the Bright Hill Literary Center in 2002, when they moved their operations to its premises at 94 Church St. in Treadwell.

Word Thursdays has featured writers from all over the United States and from around the world, Rogers said.

In 2005, the Bright Hill Community Library opened, according to the literary center's website.

Poet Annie Sauter of Oneonta will host Thursday's event.

Sauter, who was one of Word Thursdays first readers, said Tuesday, "It was really interesting to see all the different people in this area who were actively engaged in writing."

Word Thursdays "is great for writers" who want to hear high quality work, Sauter said.

"We've got some really good writers up here," she said.

Dorothy Bloom of Oneonta, who said Friday she has been a featured writer and open mic reader at Word Thursdays about a half-dozen times, said that as authors read at Word Thursdays, "they get better."

"Bertha provides an incredibly warm atmosphere of welcome to her writer," Bloom said. "There's something about being at Bertha's that makes you happy."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

OCCA Names New Executive Director

Following an extensive nationwide search, the Otsego County Conservation Association has announced that Darla M. Youngs is the organization’s new executive director.

Youngs has served at the OCCA helm as acting executive director since July 1, when former director Erik Miller left for a position with the Southern Tier East Regional Planning Development Board. Her promotion was made official in December.

“The Search Committee conducted a very deliberate and thorough search, and we are confident that we have the best person for the job,” said OCCA Board President Vicky M. Lentz. “Darla’s intimate knowledge of the organization and her extensive supervisory and managerial experience put her at the top of the list. We’re fortunate to have had the perfect candidate so close at hand.

“An added bonus is that the transition was seamless – we haven’t missed a beat,” Lentz said.

OCCA’s administrative director since October of 2008, Youngs originally focused primarily on bookkeeping, organizational and administrative oversight, fundraising, event planning, and newsletter design. Over time her responsibilities expanded to all program areas.

Since late 2009, Youngs has been responsible for public relations generated on behalf of OCCA, including press releases, eco-bulletins and “The Lookout,” OCCA’s quarterly newsletter. She has been a member of the Executive Board of the Otsego County Water Quality Coordinating Committee since 2007 and a member of the Earth Festival and Otsego Lakes Festival steering committees since 2006. For the past two years, Youngs has overseen OCCA’s annual “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” Garage Sale as well as the Annual Meeting and Dinner.

Programmatically, Youngs has been increasingly hands-on in all respects, from water chestnut eradication on Goodyear Lake and trail clean-up at Basswood Pond State Forest to the Circuit Rider Planner Program and preliminary environmental reviews for Otsego Rural Housing Assistance. She has organized OCCA’s popular nature walk series for the past two seasons, and was instrumental in reviving both the OCCA-sponsored DEC campership program and the Natural Resources Survey mapping initiative. Fund-raising appeals, grant writing and website/social media development have also been among her focus areas.

After earning her associate's degree in journalism from Morrisville State College, where she graduated first in her class, Youngs relocated to Long Island to begin her journalism career. Over the next 10 years, her on-the-job training – which she terms “invaluable” – led her to positions as managing editor and editorial design director of two prominent weekly newspaper chains.

In 1994, Youngs left her post as head of the production division of Richner Publications, where she directed a staff of 30-plus, to return to central New York so that she could raise her two sons closer to home, where they could enjoy farmland, rolling hills and forests as they grew up, as she had. At that time, she became production director of "The Freeman's Journal," the third oldest weekly newspaper in the nation. She continued with the Journal through a change of ownership, and was promoted to general manager by Otsego Templeton Publishing Co., Inc., then the parent company. She held that position from 2001-2006.

In 2006, Youngs left the paper to pursue a career that would allow her to spend more time with her family. She was hired by Otsego 2000, another local environmental nonprofit organization. In 2007, she was promoted to associate director there. While at Otsego 2000, Youngs administered the Cooperstown Farmers' Market among other duties.

“Darla is a natural, strong leader. Her ability to efficiently and effectively carry out administrative duties is a huge asset. Since leadership and efficiency are crucial to OCCA’s success, these assets weighed heavily in her favor,” Lentz said.

Youngs said she looks forward to her new role at OCCA.

“I have been very fortunate in that I had the opportunity to train under Martha Frey and Erik Miller, two of Otsego County’s most successful environmental non-profit leaders. I intend to put what they taught me to good use,” Youngs said.

“The next step will be to complete our team. Rima Shamieh, OCCA’s new environmental planner, came on board last month and I’m currently interviewing to fill a newly-created program director position which will allow us to increase our programming in water and air quality, land protection, and livable communities, and will complement Martha Clarvoe’s work as special projects manager.

“This is an exciting time for us,” added Youngs.

Youngs grew up in Pine Woods and graduated from Morrisville-Eaton Central School. She is an award-winning graphic designer and sole proprietor of DM Youngs Design. She and her two sons – Morrison and John Darcy – live in Hartwick.

OCCA is a private, non-profit environmental membership organization dedicated to promoting the appreciation and sustainable use of Otsego County's natural resources through education, advocacy, resource management, research, and planning. For more information on OCCA, or to support programming, call (607) 547-4488 or visit www.occainfo.org.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Free Training Opportunity for Your Nonprofit!

Let's face it, we are all in sales, whether we are offering a service or trying to raise money for our missions. During these challenging times, we all could use some help improving our "sales" approach and techniques. Here's our opportunity! This special training is being offered for free to the Leatherstocking AEA participants by Vibrant Creative, a NY Council of Nonprofits partner. We hope to see you there!



WHEN :: Thursday, February 9, 2012 9am-12pm with lunch included 12pm-1pm
WHERE :: Holiday Inn * Oneonta, NY
RSVP :: by January 27 to chris@vibrantcompany.com
COST :: Totally free.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rural Giving Tied to Economic Development

Article of interest for our region:
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Born and raised in rural Jones County, one of North Carolina's poorest counties, Chris Meadows opted after college to stay rather than join the exodus of young adults moving out of the county.

Now, as principal of Jones Senior High School in Trenton, Meadows wants to inspire other young people to remain, and give them tools to succeed.

In a collaborative initiative that includes the N.C. Rural Center, the Jones County affiliate of the North Carolina Community Foundation is working to raise $10,000 to create an endowment fund to support an entrepreneurship program at the high school.

"If we get our kids to come back and start a business and be successful, they will start a cycle of transferring wealth from one generation to the next and keep the wealth here instead of going out of state or out of the county," Meadows says.

The Jones County initiative is part of a larger effort by the Rural Center and the North Carolina Community Foundation, and their counterparts in states throughout the U.S., to reverse the flow of wealth and residents from rural counties.

"Throughout rural America, kids are leaving because there aren't jobs," says Jason Gray, director of research and innovation at the Rural Center. "Homegrown philanthropy can and should be a resource to plug into targeted community economic-development work that makes these communities a place where their children can stay."

Over the last two decades, while the statewide population under age 18 grew 22 percent and the population age 24 to 30 grew 5 percent, 22 rural counties lost population under age 18, and 54 rural counties lost those age 24 to 30, including 15 counties that lost over 20 percent of that age group.

In Jones County, for example, the number of residents age 24 to 30 fell by 232 from 1990 to 2010, or 23.4 percent.

The Jones County initiative has the goals of inspiring students to launch local businesses, and inspiring donors to invest in endowment funds to boost the local economy while retaining philanthropic assets in the community.

Beth Boney Jenkins, vice president for development at the North Carolina Community Foundation, says a local couple has pledged to give $1,000 to create the new Jones County fund if the foundation's local affiliate can raise $10,000.

"Rural development philanthropy," she says, involves "bringing people in rural communities together to teach them how to use philanthropy to raise local dollars to address their own needs."

Sally Migliore, director of community leadership at the North Carolina Community Foundation, says the Jones County initiative can serve as a model for other rural counties, each of which can identify and address its own needs, "inspiring and promoting philanthropy over the long haul" to address local needs.

Gray says the Jones County initiative is part of a larger effort by the Rural Center to help rural communities retain and support youth and young adults.

Meadows says a key goal of the entrepreneurial fund will be to "showcase the potential" of staying and working in the county.

"That's one of our biggest challenges," he says. "We just have to show kids there's a lot we can do in Jones County if we decide to stay here."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

State of the City: Budget Focus for 2012 Will Impact Nonprofits

Mayor Dick Miller had a stark message in his State of the City address delivered Tuesday night that mentioned possible layoffs for city workers and targeting nonprofits to raise revenue. A summary article in The Daily Star is available here.

The full State of the City speech is available here.

Here is the section of the speech addressing nonprofits:
The Council won’t have many options. It will either have to reduce essential services with related layoffs, or generate additional revenue either through cooperative efforts with the City’s not-for-profit entities or consolidation with the Town and sales tax preemption. There are other ideas: a commuter tax, renegotiation of the City share of County sales tax revenue, or a sales tax increase. These are unpopular concepts, but I would not be acting responsibly if I did not call attention to problems that won’t simply go away, or to potential solutions that must be considered in order to deal with them. With a property tax cap in place, and fees adjusted to rates in comparable communities, the City has virtually no options to generate revenue that don’t involve the cooperation of other entities from the New York State and County legislatures to the local not-for-profit community. We have pushed out the day of reckoning, but it will be upon us nonetheless. The City will face tough choices. Those who care about its condition will have to decide how important it is to them to maintain services in public works, fire, and police at current levels. Our situation is a difficult one, but it is straightforward.