VanNess Family Fund supports pair of Potsdam nonprofits
Thursday, February 13, 2020 - 9:23 am

John and Dorotha VanNess. NNYCF | Submitted

POTSDAM — The John and Dorotha VanNess Family Fund of the Northern New York Community Foundation has made its first grant awards to two Potsdam nonprofit organizations, The North Country Children’s Museum and the Potsdam Holiday Fund

The North Country Children’s Museum, Potsdam, received a $2,500 award to purchase kits for its STEAM learning opportunities. A group of educators with a collective vision to create a cultural and educational center for North Country families formed the museum in 2012.

The Potsdam Holiday Fund received $500 to support its “Santa’s Workshop” program. Each year, the fund helps to make the holidays happier for hundreds of local families.

The John and Dorotha VanNess Family Fund of the Northern New York Community Foundation is a permanent grantmaking fund designed to forever support programs, activities and initiatives for general welfare of the Potsdam community. It was established at the Community Foundation in 2018 by Mr. and Mrs. VanNess’ daughter, Susan J. Sewall, as a lasting tribute to her parents’ civic-mindedness.

The fund was established after Mrs. Sewall passed away in 2017 to appropriately honor her parents and their long-standing commitment to the betterment of the Potsdam area..

“The Potsdam area will forever benefit from this fund. The first two grants demonstrate meaningful ways communities can be positively affected by a legacy of caring,” said Rande Richardson, Community Foundation executive director.

The VanNess Family Fund will accept applications this fall with up to $10,000 available. Eligible 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organizations that serve the Potsdam area are encouraged to apply. Areas of focus include but are not limited to health and wellness, arts and culture, economic development, community revitalization, and more.

Contact Max DelSignore, Community Foundation assistant director, 315-782-7110 or [email protected] to obtain a grant application or learn more.

John S. VanNess was active in Potsdam government and served as village mayor from 1955 to 1961. He also held leadership positions with the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce, Potsdam Rotary Club and as a trustee at Paul Smith’s College.

Dorotha (Ticknor) VanNess began teaching at Potsdam High School in 1939 and later joined her husband in the management of Sunshine Stores. She served as president of the Canton-Potsdam Hospital Guild and was an active member of Potsdam United Methodist Church.

Their daughter, Susan J. Sewall, admired her parents’ public service and commitment to improving the place they loved. Before her passing in 2017, she made plans to establish this fund as a way to forever honor them.