January 20, 2022

Generosity breeds more generosity

Cortland Community Foundation adds $30,000 to $40,000 raised for Philanthropy Day

Yuner Gao/staff reporter

Production Manager Eric Behnke adjusts lights Monday at the Cortland Repertory Theatre in Cortland. The theater won $7,000 from the Cortland Community Foundation for garnering 174 donations for National Philanthropy Day.

The nice part about the $7,000 the Cortland Repertory Theatre received from the Cortland Community Foundation isn’t simply that it will make for a better 50th anniversary celebration, the theater group’s director said. It’s that it was made possible because so many other people contributed, too.

The nonprofit theater was one of eight groups to get money from the foundation as part of National Philanthropy Day Nov. 15. The top gifts were awarded to organizations based either on the amount of money they raised from other sources, or from the number of individual donations made.

The theater group got money from 174 donors.

That comes at a particularly opportune time for the theater. The past couple of years and a pandemic have
been hard on the organization, even as it hopes to mark its 50th anniversary.

“We would build ourselves back up to where we need to be next year,” said Kerby Thompson, the producing artistic director for the theater. The money would be used for anniversary-related events.

The extra contribution comes from the 10th annual philanthropy day, said Thomas Gallagher, president of the community foundation. It was a record-setter.

“We set a record last year,” Gallagher said, despite the pandemic. “We set a record this year. It didn’t have any effect.”

The foundation passed $410,000 onto 41 nonprofit organizations, Gallagher said. The top recipients — either in amount contributed or the number of donations — got bonuses totaling $30,000.

The YWCA of Cortland, which raised more than $85,000 for the challenge, got an additional $10,000, which Executive Director Kelly Tobin said would go toward the organization’s child-care, and mentoring programs, Aid to Victims of Violence, housing and fitness programs.

“We’re overwhelmed by the generosity of the community and donors,” Tobin said.

The Cortland Free Library, which got an extra $1,500 for its 48 donations, will use the money for the Dolly Parton Imagination Program, which gives books to children under 5 in the 13045 ZIP code, said library Director Jen Graney, and Vivian Bosch, president of the library’s board of directors.

“People have been very generous to help us succeed in our mission,” Graney said.

Other programs, including a take-and-make program, craft clubs, teen time, book clubs, story-time program and a summer reading program will also benefit, she said.

Still, Thompson said, much remains on the wish list. The theater completed renovations and installed new air-handling equipment and touchless devices in the restrooms. But next on its list is a marquee for the front of the building to help promote the shows and programs at the theater.

“We’re very appreciative of what they do,” Thompson said. “We’re also very thankful to all of our supporters who donated, too.”

The recipients

Great amount raised
1. YWCA of Cortland — $85,569.66. Bonus: $10,000
2. CNY Living History Center — $57,130. Bonus: $4,500
3. Lime Hollow Nature Center — $34,214.66. Bonus: $2,000
4. YMCA of Cortland County — $25,160. Bonus: $1,000

Most donations
1. Cortland Repertory Theatre — 174. Bonus: $7,000
2. Cortland County Historical Society — 77. Bonus: $3,000
3. Cortland Free Library — 48. Bonus: $1,500
4. Center for the Arts of Homer — 26. Bonus: $1,000