Tidewater Foundation President Amon Dunton, Jr. presented 23 individual grants to various organizations in Northern Neck at their annual ceremony in the Lancaster County Public Library on Thursday, March 2. Some of the recipients included the Kilmarnock Museum, Lancaster Middle and High School Bands and Northern Neck Farm Museum.
This year the foundation asked the grant recipients to do a little homework and provide them with lists of people who might accept a Holly Ball invitation should they receive one. According to Dunton, this past Holly Ball’s attendance was much lower than expected, despite hiring a new decorator and renting a larger tent. Since it is the Tidewater Foundation’s sole fundraising event, the amount of grant money distributed to the applicants was less than their average total amount of $15,000 to $25,000.
The money these different organizations receive assists them in various ways. Cub Scouts Pack 222 plans to use the grant to help recharter their pack, as they are the only Cub Scout Pack left in Lancaster County. The Northern Neck Orchestra explained they use the grant to help hire semi-professionals all over the east coast to join their orchestra and bring music to audiences all over the Northern Neck.
Most of the schools use their grants for scholarships and new technology. Deborah Cook, Head of Chesapeake Academy in Irvington, stated, “We are a dynamic group of folks and also a very diverse school. We have about a 25 percent diversity rate and we’re very proud of that. We want to encourage all students who wish to come to be able to attend. So we also use the gift from the Tidewater foundation for our scholarship funding and we’re very grateful.”
The Tidewater Foundation was founded in the 1950s, according to Dunton, who has served as president of their board for about 20 years. Their main purpose is to help the area’s youth. The two principles they focus on, particularly with selection of grant recipients, is cultural enrichment and education. “Cultural enrichment involves music, museums and historical societies,” said Dunton, “things that preserve our heritage and make life here more enjoyable.”
They partnered with the Holly Ball years ago as a way to help the event thrive and implement a fundraiser for the foundation. “We wanted something to do for our community to keep its history alive and to respect the old families,” stated Dunton, as he explained the birth of the long-term relationship between the foundation and the event.
The Holly Ball is annual, invite-only, black tie affair to present debutantes selected by the Holly Ball Board. The history of this event dates back before the Tidewater Foundation was founded. The Tidewater Foundation foots the bill for the tent, flowers, catering, band, etc. and keeps the proceeds to be distributed as grants each year, therefore the attendance fluctuates the amount they are able to give out.
This year’s recipients were Aylett Country Day School represented by Tara Garner, Chesapeake Academy represented by Deborah Cook, Christchurch School represented by Rebecca Schomburg, Cub Scouts Pack 222, Jacob’s Ladder represented by Garry Clay, Kilmarnock Museum Inc. represented by Augusta Sellew, Lancaster Community Library represented by Tonya Carter and John Pace, Lancaster Middle and High School Bands, Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library Inc., Morattico Waterfront Musuem represented by David Henley, Northern Neck Farm Museum, Northern Neck Montessori School represented by Sheila McGuill, Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society, Northern Neck Orchestra represented by Eric Jacobson, Northumberland Elementary School Music represented by Dawn Seta, Northumberland County Historical Society represented by Margaret Forrester, Rappahannock Community College represented by Sharon Drotleff, Rappahannock Foundation for the Arts represented by Margaret Stalnaker, Reedville Fishermen’s Museum represented by Lee Langston-Harris, Richmond County Museum, St. Margaret’s School represented by Cathy Sgroi and the Steamboat Era Museum represented by Barbara Brecher.
Taylor O’Bier is a Northern Neck News correspondent.