Back in the late 1990s, Bill Baines’ aunt and uncle Mary and Bob Zimmer established a scholarship fund – in memory of Baines’ grandparents Benjamin and Gladys Duddleston – dedicated to Trumansburg students who wish to attain a college degree in agriculture.
Over the years, though, not only were there few students interested in getting degree in agriculture, but there were also very few students who deserved the money from the fund. Thus, the simply sat and grew exponentially over time with some annual contributions from family members. The initial amount put into the fund of about five or six thousand dollars increased more than four times itself to over $23,000. Realizing the amount resting in the fund, a search began to find the best place to donate the sum to.
After exploring multiple potential destinations, Baines was eventually introduced to the Trumansburg Education Foundation (TEF), which, according to the organization’s website, is [an] independent non-profit founded in 2006 that raises funds to run programs and give grants and awards to enrich education in the Trumansburg Schools.” Baines realize soon enough that TEF was the proper organization to not only donate the money to, but to also honor his grandparents.
“I felt that with the wellness program that the foundation is running and with the farm-to-school [program] that … this is as close as we were going to get to something that my grandparents could also say, ‘Yeah, let’s get behind this,’” Baines said. “My grandparents were educators. They believed in education. They were farmers. They believed in hard work. They were community-minded people. We all had fond memories of our grandparents, and we wanted to do something on their behalf.”
On Dec. 17, 2019, Baines penned a letter to Molly Buck, President of TEF, with a donation of $23,677.12 to be used towards “wellness initiatives.” Buck said she and the foundation were honored to receive such a donation.
“First of all, we were so pleased that the Baines family put that trust in us, that they have this family trust they’ve had for quite some time, and they were looking for the right place to put it,” Buck said. “It just means a lot to us that they trust us to do right and to make sure this money goes to the community to support wellness initiatives.”
Since receiving the donation, TEF has already utilized some of the funds towards programs and initiatives it defines as wellness-oriented. The foundation established “Snacktivity,” which is a program where Trumansburg students can grow produce in gardens on the school’s campus to have as a snack for them to eat during the school day. TEF has also used some of the money to send teachers and staff to a farm-to-school conference as well as create another program called “Girls on the Run.”
“It’s for girls from grades three through six,” Buck said. “Part of it is a running program; they end up doing a 5K at the end. But it has a lot to do with the whole self and all the different areas of well-being, and just helping girls at that really, really formative stage gain confidence and have a sense of community with each other.”
Unfortunately, programs like “Girls on the Run” have been postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19. When the outbreak eventually subsides, though, Buck said the foundation will be in good financial shape to expand upon its wellness programs and initiatives.
“Our grant cycle is usually we can spend five to six thousand dollars,” she said. “Now that we have additional funds … any proposals that come in that are focused on wellness we can pull from these funds from the Baines family. It’s going to help us sustain our overall funding, and especially in a time like this.”
She said TEF would like to look into forming programs that address mental health in the future.
“Given what’s been happening – the fact that kids have been at home, and they’ve lost their usual routine and local community within their school – we have talked about how … we really can start expanding what [wellness] means,” Buck said. “There’s a lot of mental health [aspects] that would fall under wellness, and if there are things we can do it that area, whether it’s just helping students re-enter the school community, programs related to community building and things like that, we will be open to as well.”