News of Otsego County

Community Foundation of Otsego County

LEVINE: Foundation stresses needs of community


Foundation stresses
needs of community


The Community Foundation of Otsego County is up and running and wants you to join us as one of our Founders.

We are OF the community, FOR the community, and want to do everything in our power to improve the quality of life for all residents of Otsego County. We also want to live by our values which include taking direction from the community we serve.

The concept of forming a philanthropic organization to serve one’s community is not new. There are over 750 community foundations across the nation. Successful foundations exist in New York counties to our north, east, south and west. The essential difference between a community foundation and a more common private foundation is that we are a public enterprise. Our funding is from our public and our responsibility is to our public – our friends and neighbors.

Many of the successful community foundations in our region of New York have taken decades to grow to the level where they are able to make a difference. Small but sure steps. One dollar at a time, invested so that spending was limited to earnings at the rate of 4 or 5% per year. The early emphasis was on asset building.

This is an important strategy and one that we are working on too. But we want to make a difference NOW. How can we do that?

Our approach is to raise seed capital that we are willing to invest in our community instead of in the stock market. Thus, our Founders Campaign is to secure $2 million. These funds will be used over the next five years, while our other strategy (accumulating investment assets) is pursued to secure our future sustainability.

Ours is a modern model. It borrows from the world of venture capital and private equity. It is founded on the bedrock confidence that our community will support our work. It is responsive to today’s needs.

The formation of Community Foundation of Otsego County is a vitally important step in the health of our county. It is an opportunity for neighbors and friends to join together to work smartly to address issues that need addressing.

We hope that many of you decide to join us as Founders. The amount of your support is up to you. We want broad participation. We have made it easy to join us. Send us a check. Make a five-year pledge (to match our five-year business plan). Donate appreciated stock or real estate. Use your credit card or Pay Pal.

Set up a monthly or annual payment program. Go to our website to get more information ( Or simply mail us a check to P.O. Box 55, Springfield Center, NY 13468.

How are we doing so far, you ask? Well, our goal is $2 million. Today, we are 90% of the way to that target. Our entire board has joined as Founders as well as more than 100 others.

And are we making a difference now? Absolutely yes!

Our COVID Emergency Fund disbursed $200,000 in 27 awards. We have helped families put food on their tables, provided shelter to homeless individuals, supported over 100 small businesses and much more.

In 2021, we have allocated another $200,000 to meet challenges facing our community.

Please visit our website for details on our award programs.

Will you join us as a Founder? This is a once only opportunity to be part of a group of like-minded friends and neighbors dedicated to creating a force for good in our community.

We deeply believe that caring together makes us stronger together.

Please join us.

Community Foundation announces $2 million fund, initial campaign success

Community Foundation announces
$2 million fund, initial campaign success

By GREG KLEIN • Special to

The Community Foundation of Otsego County announced Tuesday, May 11, that it is launching a new funding campaign to raise $2 million and has already taken in most of that money in pledges.
The 16-member board was formed about two years ago to help solve issues of business and poverty that are affecting Otsego County. When the coronavirus pandemic hit not long after the board formed, it rededicated its mission to help county residents and businesses survive the pandemic.

Board President Harry Levine said the group gave out more than $225,000 in pandemic funds and has been fundraising behind the scenes to ensure there is a financial base for the next half decade.

“You have got to show that you have gotten some primary support at the beginning and to show people that you are for real,” Levine said in an interview Saturday, May 8. “We are for real.”

STERNBERG: Neighbors Helping Neighbors Get Shots

Neighbors Helping
Neighbors Get Shots

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

This past weekend Bassett performed an amazing feat of vaccinating a large group of people, more than 1,100 over two days. The confirmation of vaccine availability only came though on Wednesday, March 3, leaving but two full days to prepare. Nevertheless, I visited on Sunday and it had the appearance of a military operation (which in a sense it was).

The Bassett community, from Dr. Tommy Ibrahim on down should be proud, as should the staff of the Clark Sports Center, which hosted the event.

I want to especially commend the Bassett Director of Network Pharmacy, Kelly Rudd, Pharm.D., who was in command of the clinic from planning through implementation.

She worked from the list of patients from the state, a list of patients from Bassett’s own scheduling system, and an ad hoc group of volunteers who worked to contact and track down people qualified to be vaccinated, but for whom the computer-driven scheduling system was difficult or even impossible to use.

Also, many thanks are due to the Bassett staff who took the time to make hundreds of calls to help schedule seniors 65+.

There are many reports of computer-savvy individuals signing up friends, family members, and neighbors for vaccine appointments. To see this community spirit and kindness is a great thing.

The clinic was also able to smoothly access the waiting list to make sure no dose went unused. The volunteer group – which went out and identified about 175 people who had difficulty finding appointments on their own – included church members, other faith-based organizations, philanthropic NGOs (non-government organizations) including the Community Foundation of Otsego County, and additional individuals.

Many had been working on an individual basis, but recognized the synergy of working together.

LEVINE: Now’s Time To Invest In County

Now’s Time To Invest In County

Harry Levine is president of the Community Foundation of Otsego County.

We have only one week left in 2020, a remarkable year that hit us with surprises and painful disease. We lost jobs, got sick, and even died due to COVID-19.

But the year had its bright spots too.

One of them was the extraordinary efforts by all the front-line medical professionals and other essential workers who risked their own health to serve us.

Another is the amazing generosity that poured out from members of our community to help those in need.

A third was the extraordinary efforts of our nonprofit sector that rose to meet many challenges with fewer resources.

As the year draws to a close, there are a few days remaining when you might consider gifts to those very nonprofits which performed so well for us all.

Our tax policy rewards those who make charitable donations by allowing donors to reduce their taxable income and save on taxes.

But there is a hard deadline of Dec. 31 for taking advantage of some good ideas for 2020.

Here are a few of those ideas:

• Taxpayers who do not itemize deductions are entitled to reduce their taxable income by up to $300 by simply making gifts before the end of the year to qualified charities.

• If you do itemize your deductions and want to donate at least $10,000 but are not yet ready to decide which organizations you want to support, you can establish a donor-advised fund and benefit from the tax deduction this year, while deciding later how to allocate your gift.

• Those with IRAs who are at least 70½ can make gifts to charities (up to $100,000) directly from an IRA and the distribution comes out tax-free instead of taxable. Be careful, however, as 2020 is a year in which there is no required minimum distribution and the age for starting RMDs has been extended to 72.

• For 2020 only (thanks to the CARES Act), donors are permitted to deduct charitable gifts equal to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income (compared to the usual 60 percent for cash gifts and 30 percent for gifts of appreciated stock).

• Speaking of appreciated stock, this week may be a good time to donate highly appreciated stock (owned for at least one year) and save having to pay capital gains tax. But you will need to get any transfer in motion quickly as the year is running to its end.

• A charitable gift annuity is another way to generate a tax deduction in 2020 while securing a fixed annual income. At death, the funds in the annuity go to your designated charity. The charitable deduction is relatively high right now as interest rates used to calculate the amount of the deduction are very low.

Please consult your own tax advisers for specifics on these ideas.

Regardless of whether tax considerations are important to you, this is a great time to show your appreciation for those nonprofits in our community that work tirelessly to help us and our neighbors.

Donating today and supporting those organizations would be a very nice way to say thanks for being there for us.

The Community Foundation of Otsego County is here to help you invest in your community. For additional information, contact us a

Community Foundation: Apply For 2021 Grants 

Community Foundation:

Apply For 2021 Grants 

COOPERSTOWN – Our COVID Fund has now secured $220,000 to address many needs arising out of the pandemic. We issued 25 awards to date and have about $40,000 remaining to distribute.

Next Up is our plan for 2021. Our board has authorized allocation of $200,000 to the 2021 Awards Round. “We need community input on how to focus our investing these funds,” said Harry Levine, foundation board president.

Twenty-five non-profits have received funding so far, beginning with a $5,000 grant on May 5 to Helios Care, the successor to Catskill Area Hospice, for PPE equipment.

“COVID awards used funds to address issues ranging from rewarding first line health professionals with gift cards to buy food from local restaurants to extending working capital grants (not loans) to small businesses to help them get back on their feet after shuttering this spring,” Levine said.

“…Over 300 donors supported this Fund demonstrating the we live in a caring community.”

Chamber Donates $1,500 To Community Foundation

Chamber Donates $1,500

To Community Foundation

Harry Levine, Community Foundation of Otsego County president, received a $1,500 check a few minutes ago in Cooperstown from Otsego County Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan, left, and Kathryn Dailey, the chamber’s director of special events, proceeds from the chamber’s recent annual golf tournament at the Oneonta Country Club.  “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the foundation and its programs,” said Heegan.   Levine said the money will go into CFOC’s COVID Relief Fund, which recently announced 22 grants to local entities and still has $50,000 – “now, $51,500,” he said – and is considering another round of grants right now.  Anyone looking for assistance should contact CFOC at  (Jim Kevlin/
CV-S 14-Year-One Swims Otsego Lake


CV-S 14-Year-Old

Swims Otsego Lake

Feat Benefits Community Foundation

Mina Aramini swam Otsego Lake this morning with her mother, April, kayaking alongside. (Harry Levine photo)

COOPERSTOWN – A five minutes past noon today, 20 friends and relatives helped Mina Aramini up onto the village docks after she swam the entire 9-mile length of Otsego Lake.

Mina, 14, a Cherry Valley-Springfield High School student,   completed her swim in 4 hours and 39 minutes with her mother April paddling alongside in her kayak.

Mina dedicated her accomplishment to the Community Foundation of Otsego County.  She is leaving open her GoFundMe page for any more contributions, but as of the time of her finish, she had raised $2,190 for the foundation.

According to Mina, “The water conditions were perfect.  For the last two miles, I was completely focused on getting to the finish.”


1st Community Foundation Grant To Helios

1st Community Foundation

Grant Goes To Helios Care

ONEONTA – Just two weeks after going public, the Community Foundation for Otsego County has awarded its first grant: $5,000 to Helios Care for PPE – personal protective equipment.

The money came from the foundation’s newly established COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Fund.

“This award to Helios Care captures the goal of the fund to support first-line health care providers by supplying them with (PPE) they need to safely conduct home visits,” said foundation President Harry Levine. “The Community Foundation of Otsego County is honored to be able to award these funds to Helios Care.”

Additionally, the United Way of Delaware & Otsego Counties awarded $2,500 to Helios.

Helios Care sought the funds for staff to use in caring for palliative and hospice care clients.

“Helios Care providers are serving the most vulnerable members of our community during this national emergency,” said Helios CEO Dan Ayres in thanking the foundation.

Though Helios Care has received the first grant, the Community Foundation is reviewing several more applications from local nonprofits seeking help during the COVID-19 crisis.

Additional recipients are expected to be announced soon.

To apply for a grant or donate to the foundation, go to

Week 1, Donors Give Foundation $127K

Week 1, Donors Give

Foundation $127K

COOPERSTOWN – In less than a week, the fledgling Community Foundation of Otsego County raised $127,000 towards its “COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Fund for Otsego County.”

The original $30,000 challenge grant, announced Tuesday, April 21, was matched in 72 hours. A second $20,000 challenge, announced Friday the 24th, was met over the weekend.

“The community is really coming on like gangbusters to support their neighbors and fellow community members,” said Harry Levine, CFOC board chairman.

Encouraged by public support, several donors gave more than once, according to a press release.

LEVINE: Building A Foundation, Together


A Foundation

– Together

Community Foundation

Takes Aim At COVID-19

By HARRY LEVINE • Special to

COVID-19 has changed our world. Our community faces dire health and economic shocks that have disrupted our way of life and will continue to affect us for the foreseeable future.

The Community Foundation of Otsego County was created in 2019 with the mission of improving the quality of life for all the Otsego County area. We were about to publicly announce our formation when COVID-19 attacked. Rather than wait until the emergency passes, the Board of the Foundation has decided now is the time of greatest need and the Foundation must take a leading role in addressing the challenge.

Harry Levine, former president of the Otsego Land Trust, is now leading the formation of The Community Foundatio of Otsego County.

For those not familiar with CFOC and how we have been building resources to announce our introduction to the Otsego County community, we are an IRS designated nonprofit public charity (501c3).

Our mission is to improve the quality of life for all in the Otsego County area primarily through gathering financial assets to direct to existing nonprofits in our county – to help them solve problems we all recognize and that are common to rural areas. We have an excellent Board of Directors with members dedicated to our mission.

Community foundations across the nation have taken leadership roles in establishing COVID-19 relief funds. Albany, Syracuse, Utica and Rochester all have established their funds through local community foundations. In each city, local governments, businesses, and service organizations have joined as sponsors, making these funds a central point for donations to meet the emergency needs of their communities.

CFOC has now set up a fund for Otsego County. Initially, the Fund will direct its resources to emergency relief. Once the crisis abates, and if resources remain, the Fund will shift its emphasis to recovery efforts.

The Fund will gather money to address immediate needs in Otsego County (the relief part of the Fund). We know that unemployment is rising and we are seeing growing numbers of
Please See NEW FUND, A6potentially fatal illnesses. The service sector of our economy will be faced with overwhelming assistance requests.

The Fund is a general fund. Every $1 donated will be disbursed as awards (CFOC will underwrite the administrative expenses). Awards will be made to existing organizations that have proven abilities to deliver services (CFOC does not currently have the expertise or time to evaluate new organizations).

The Fund will be a major county-wide effort to use private donations to address the COVID-19 emergency. To do this, CFOC must partner with many individuals, businesses, and other community organizations, and private foundations. We are asking you to join us as contributors to the Fund.

To be clear, this fund is an additional resource and cannot replace local, state or federal funding. Nor is it designed to shift funds away from existing nonprofits – in fact, awards by the Fund will go entirely to nonprofits to deliver services. Please do not support our efforts at the expense of your continuing support of existing and productive nonprofit organizations.


Our immediate concern is relief. We will rely upon existing nonprofit organizations that are on the front lines of responding to these needs. Awards will be issued to meet the following priorities:

• Support for medical workers, EMTs, police, firefighters, and others in essential industries who risk their own health to serve the community.
• Prevention measures such as education and sanitary supplies to limit the spread of the virus.
• Support for vulnerable populations, i.e. older adults with compromised immune systems, and people who are unhoused.
• Practical needs, in case of disruption in services to vulnerable populations, such as meal delivery and daily living support for homebound older adults.
• Food access and other practical support for people who have lost wages or are unable to stock up on food, specifically those who fall in the gaps of government-led responses.
• Support for workers, especially low-wage workers, to address lack of access to healthcare and paid sick leave, lack of proper safety equipment, economic impact of lost wages due to quarantines, cancelled activities, reduced hours/layoffs.
• Other emerging, immediate needs.

As we learn more about the impacts of the pandemic, priorities may change, but the overarching purpose of the Fund will remain the same.


The Fund has been organized to work smoothly. See our website at for more details and how to make a contribution. We can accept checks or credit card payments.

We are operating with unpaid volunteers and will underwrite all development and administrative costs. CFOC will not charge any fees to the Fund.

The Board of CFOC has authorized an initial investment of $50,000 to start the Fund, of which $30,000 is a $1 for $1 matching challenge to the community to participate.

Please join us as we work as One Community – One County to rise to the challenges created by this pandemic.

For More Details, See This Week’s
Freeman’s Journal, Hometown Oneonta




Levine, Herzig In Leadership Roles;

Public Asked To Assist Fundraising


COOPERSTOWN – Local citizens face “an emergency need” to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the new Community Foundation of Otsego County.  So at 2 p.m. today, the CFOC announced it has created the COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Fund.

“Otsego County unemployment is rising and we are seeing growing numbers of potentially fatal illnesses,” CFOF announced in a statement.  “The nonprofit service sector of our economy is faced with overwhelming assistance requests, and we are going to help.”

The CFOC is chairman by Harry Levine, Town of Springfield, former president of the Otsego Land Trust.  The vice chair is Gary Herzig, Oneonta’s mayor; treasurer, Sarah Manchester, Oneonta, limited partner in Edward Jones, the financial advisers, and secretary, Bob Schlather, the Cooperstown attorney and accountant.





Posts navigation

21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103