Staff Blog

This is a space where Foundation staff share their thoughts and musings on giving and community:

126 Reasons to be Thankful in the Northeast Kingdom

Posted by: Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup on 1/18/2017

(I promise I won’t list them all)

Traveling in the Kingdom in winter can be daunting. It’s dark. It’s icy. The moose just might decide to come after you (I’ve learned that you run away from a moose by traveling in zig-zags because they’re too big to make fast turns)! 

At the same time, the Kingdom is one of the warmest, brightest, and most welcoming regions of Vermont. And so it was when we arrived in Newport on December 7th for the fifth annual Northeast Kingdom Fund grants celebration. We gathered in a room filled with friends and neighbors from across Essex, Caledonia, and Orleans counties to raise a glass in honor of the community building efforts of 76 unique organizations that received grants over the last five years.                                                                                                                              

Collectively, our committee of local volunteers has awarded 126 Northeast Kingdom Fund grants totaling over $300,000 since 2012. Last year’s grants totaled $80,000 and represented the best year yet for giving from the Northeast Kingdom Fund.

Kingdom residents Anne Galloway, founder of VTDigger.org, and her daughter Ceilidh Galloway-Kane, executive director of the Art House in Craftsbury, joined us this year to tell their family’s story of leadership in the Kingdom. We are proud to support their organizations.  VTDigger.org works to tell Kingdom stories as part of their statewide, award-winning investigative journalism. And the Art House helps local people in Craftsbury and surrounding towns to be able to tell their own stories through art and creativity.  

Ceilidh and Anne spoke warmly and with a great sense of fun about what it’s like to be part of a Kingdom family, raised to be self-sufficient yet compassionate towards others, self-aware and also curious about the natural and human world of rural communities. They also shared their thoughts on what it means to be a leader in a small town when so many of the models of leadership seem to come from urban areas.

I said this in Newport at the celebration, but it bears repeating—Northeast Kingdom people help each other, often without thanks or acknowledgement, simply because it’s the right thing to do. When we gather in the Kingdom, we celebrate the people of the region and their commitment to their families, friends, and neighbors. I think I speak for all of us at the Community Foundation when I say that we are proud to help local champions do their work through the Northeast Kingdom Fund; these champions care deeply about their neighbors and work tirelessly make our communities safer, brighter, happier, and more joyful.

Over a dozen donors and Community Foundation fundholders contributed to this year’s Northeast Kingdom Fund grantmaking through our signature Giving Together program, and many attended the celebration in Newport. This high level of participation from donors across Vermont and beyond demonstrates what we’ve always known—the Kingdom is a special place and philanthropists want to support what happens there. The community building work that happens in these rural counties is a model of what thrifty yet compassionate people can do—where a small grant or a modest intervention can help to change the direction of a student, a family, a school, or a community.  

We’re thankful for all of you who participated in the Northeast Kingdom this year and over the past five years, either as a funder, a nonprofit partner, or as a grassroots volunteer. Because of all your work, we have 126 reasons to be excited about the future of rural Vermont. We look forward to continuing to work with you through the Northeast Kingdom Fund for many more years to come.

To learn more or contribute to the Northeast Kingdom Fund, contact Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup, Senior Philanthropic Advisor at 802-388-3355 ext. 295 or cilstrup@vermontcf.org

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