By Madeline Finesmith
Residents of New Castle cannot fail to notice the philanthropic spirit that thrives here. All you have to do is drive through the town of Chappaqua on a typical day and you will see banners across Greeley, signs in stores, or postings on Instagram or Facebook about the current fundraising activities. Have you ever focused upon how much of that fundraising involves the generosity and involvement of our local business community?
Our businesses support our causes in ways big and small, some going to extraordinary lengths to help us make good things happen. Evan’s Team receives not just in-kind donations of signage, but also organizational services for the information that needs to be collected from its sponsors.
Robert Fuhrer, an Evan’s Team Board member, says that when a large fundraising effort is held, people only see the finished product. However there is a lot of organizational work that goes into it, and our businesses help us with that work. It is those incredible types of intangible services that no one knows about, that truly demonstrate the philanthropic nature of our business community.
Some of our largest community events simply could not happen without the support of our business community. The Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival, now in its third year, is a prime example of that. Chappaqua’s businesses provide a majority of the outright cash funding needed to rent the tents, tables and other costs of the festival. Publicity services help draw in thousands of attendees. The stores hold pre-festival events to raise awareness and excitement for the festival. There is now even a permanent mural on the side of a downtown building!
Our businesses have made a huge impact on our children’s education through their support of the Chappaqua School Foundation.
Started in 2011 in a difficult economic environment, CSF’s Spring Madness Program involves both a discount program and silent auction. Hundreds of businesses now participate, directly resulting in grants for educational innovation. David Gefsky, President of CSF, says that the community at large should be aware of the enormous gratitude and appreciation that is owed to our local businesses for their ongoing support.
Their participation helps the CSF to help channel the communities’ generosity into our schools.
Our businesses team up with us to help raise money for our causes. Restaurants allow us to use their facilities at little or no profit to themselves, sometimes setting aside whole areas of their property for weekly events. Stores host events to raise money for specific local organizations.
Sometimes they even come to the charities to suggest events, not the other way around. Sometimes the stores make things happen by strategizing with an organization how to hold their event. The organization, publicity and funding for these events are all time consuming tasks that require serious effort on the part of our businesses.
There are many other examples of how our business community gets involved with our causes. The point is, we are in a symbiotic relationship. They need our patronage, and we rely on their support to help make our community a vibrant and meaningful place to live.
But what is clear is that as a whole, our business community has become our partner in philanthropy. They not only give materially, but also have also become involved on a deeper level by making our causes their own.
Madeline Finesmith lives with her husband, son and two cats in Chappaqua where she has been a resident for 13 years. With a background in tax consulting, Madeline currently serves as the Chair of the Bell Middle School PTA and the Assistant Executive Director of the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival.