The Cavendish Community Fund inspires art and town unity one grant at a time

community fund
Cavendish Community Fund brings together community with grant funding. Photo provided.

CAVENDISH, Vt. – The Cavendish Community Fund has been quietly supporting culture, education, beautification, and town pride in Cavendish for the last 11 years. Since 2007, this nonprofit group has awarded 50 grants to individuals or groups with one purpose: to benefit the town of Cavendish and its people as a whole.

Peter LaBelle and Barbara Dickey began the Cavendish Community Fund in 2007 as a way to help bring together a community that was intensely divided after several years of strife over a proposed, and eventually rejected, quarry. “We were very aware about how divided that made the town…and wondered what could we do to help bridge that divide,” said Dickey.

According to LaBelle, they began slowly giving out small grants, none larger than $1,000 for projects that would help bring the town together. From the beginning, the focus was on educational and cultural programs. Looking through the list of 50 grants awarded over their 11 years, the fund has supported concerts, community theater, dance, fiber arts, historical society projects, nature projects, school projects, CPR training, quilts for soldiers, and more. Recently, there have been several town beautification projects as well. “Culture includes a lot of things including making the town beautiful,” said Dickey.

Grants are given out twice a year, in the spring and fall. What they award and how much they award “is dependent on what we have and what people ask for,” said LaBelle. Grant application period is open all the time, but the deadline dates are firm.

The Cavendish Community Fund, itself a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is undergoing a makeover of sorts that began with a new logo last year. Their eight-member team is also currently working on an official mission statement and making plans to launch its own website and Facebook page. Both LaBelle and Dickey are hoping these efforts will help distinguish the Community Fund from another nonprofit in town, the Cavendish Community & Conservation Association, most commonly referred to as the CCCA. The two entities are very separate but the confusion is understandable, given that information about the Cavendish Community Fund can be found on the CCCA website. With the new addition of a separate website and more social media presence for the Community Fund, LaBelle and Dickey both feel that the distinction between the two groups will improve.

The Community Fund has expanded the financial vision for their future as well. Several years ago, they opened an endowment account through the Vermont Community Foundation. According to LaBelle, “Our big fundraising goal isn’t so much about getting our annual money to give out but also trying to build something for the future.” The fund will continue to give out grants every year but will also continue to add to the endowment account to build something that can sustain the fund years down the road.

The Cavendish Community Fund makes an annual appeal at the end of the year, which is their primary source of donations. A mix of locals and secondary homeowners make up their supporters. Letters are being prepared now and will go out in a few weeks.

As the Cavendish Community Fund continues to thrive, so will the music, theater, educational, and artistic opportunities for Cavendish residents.

For information about the fund, including details on submitting a grant application, contact Barbara Dickey at 802-226-7187 or Peter LaBelle at 802-226-7250.

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