03 Nov October 2023 Newsletter
October 2023 Newsletter
Welcome to the October 2023 edition of the Daniels Foundation Newsletter. In this issue, we explore the following topics. Click on the links to read the articles!
Program Spotlight: The Regional Environmental Council (REC)! The Regional Environmental Council (REC) of Worcester helps tremendously in combatting food insecurity in Worcester… Click here to read more…
Generation 2: Janet Beach Daniels! Janet was the fourth daughter of five children born in Minneapolis to a Congregational Minister (David Nelson Beach) and his wife. During most of his career they were at the Center Church on the Green in New Haven… Click here to read more…
Program Spotlight: Mechanics Hall! One local icon known for its cultural and historic stronghold in the community is Mechanics Hall. Built in 1855, its founders and dedicated stewards have faced many tests of strength and resourcefulness over the years… Click here to read more…
Program Spotlight: Regional Environmental Council (REC)
The Regional Environmental Council (REC) of Worcester helps tremendously in combatting food insecurity in Worcester. REC serves 33% of the Worcester children that live with families that are unable to meet their basic food needs. Their UGROW program, which started in 1995 with 1 gardener & 1 volunteer gardener, now in 2023 has over 60 community gardens throughout Worcester and over 500 volunteer gardeners. As you can see their programs have been successful. More than half of their revenue comes from contributions, grants, government grants and contracts. Their expenses in 2021 were $1,235,895 and their income was $1,601,337. The local communities participate in plant sales, garden workshops, and Earth Day clean ups, which generates some income, but most importantly engages the local community in a positive manner.
REC’s 3 core programs are (1) UGROW, which supports community gardens and individual gardeners; (2) Farmers’ Markets, which provide fresh local produce to those that need it most. They even have a mobile unit, which can serve the most desperate parts of Worcester; and (3) YOUTHGROW, which provides children with the opportunity to learn about growing their own healthy food in their immediate area.
The Daniels Foundation recently awarded REC $15,000 and has done so for several years to help REC’s successful and vital work. When one has healthy food options they will have better health, and that in turn helps to eliminate expensive medical bills and health issues. We all need nutritious health food for healthier, happy lives.
G2 Profile: Janet Beach Daniels 1924-2015
The Daniels Foundation today functions to the best practices of a family foundation. Applications for funding by agencies and others are submitted via the internet at the foundation’s website. The Board members review each application and make a ranking based on submitted information and taking into account any direction the board feels is warranted at the time. As a good example was recent emergency funding for Covid stressed organizations.
But it wasn’t always this way. During the first thirty or so years, the foundation was run almost solely by board President Harold Daniels and followed by his son Bruce G Daniels. It seems what they wanted to fund, they funded. The board was comprised of a varying number of descendants of the 3 sons of Fred Harris Daniels, Harold, Clarence and Dwight. Sometimes spouses sat as well. Dwight’s son in law, William O Pettit, Jr. sat on the board for decades. There is some evidence that in the very early days it was solely the 3 sons.
During those middle years Bruce’s wife Janet sat solidly on the board, next to her husband (if not literally, but figuratively).
Janet was the fourth daughter of five children born in Minneapolis to a Congregational Minister (David Nelson Beach) and his wife. During most of his career they were at the Center Church on the Green in New Haven.
Bruce’s roommate at Yale was David Beach. Bruce met David’s sister Janet and the rest fell into place.
Janet went to Carlton College and then UCONN. She spent time studying at the MBL (Marine Biological Labs) in Woods Hole before meeting Bruce, not knowing that she would spend the rest of her life firmly connected to Woods Hole. She always had an interest in science and later she got the opportunity to support that interest through Foundation funding to the MBL and the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology. Janet was active on the board of the Higgins Armory and the DeCordova Museum as well.
Bruce and Janet’s children are Sarah, Judy, Ellie, Fred and Martha.
Daughter Sarah said of her mom : “Janet was opinionated, strong and competent”. Continuing “Mom taught me to sew and could pull together a meal rapidly.”
Janet and Bruce must have done something right because it was Sarah and Fred with their cousin Meridith Wesby who transitioned the foundation to the best practices driven funder that serves Worcester today.
Program Spotlight: Worcester County Mechanics Association, Benefiting Mechanics Hall
One of the cornerstones of a solid program of any kind is intelligent diversity. How do you go about doing all the things you’re supposed to accomplish while also finding ways to stretch funds, needs and strengths a bit more to improve the greater whole? During the COVID pandemic, the Daniels foundation worked hard to encourage and help many various groups, organizations and regular people who were affected most directly, to find and utilize many diverse ways to secure the basic needs of the many. Food stocks, shelters, medical care and assistance outside of the many government programs were the immediate goal and with help from the foundation, Worcester and its people were able to start to stabilize in the face of an uncertain future.
One local icon known for its cultural and historic stronghold in the community is Mechanics Hall. Built in 1857, its founders and dedicated stewards have faced many tests of strength and resourcefulness over the years, but as we all know, the Covid pandemic was a horse of a different color. The distanced solitude and sheltered lifestyles that ensnared the populous of the world rendered the finest concert halls and theaters useless and vacant of their devoted followers. Worcester’s grand dame was no exception to this reality and the business behind the hall had to furlough all but 2 employees to tighten their belts for the lean and unknown times ahead.
With the passing of time, changes in vaccines, acceptable practices and eventually mask mandates relinquishing, the business of getting back in business needed to push ahead. Mechanics Hall then used their creativity and intelligent diversity to find new ways to reach their beloved audience. Their free concerts returned and in spaces large enough to turn anti-social distancing back into an embrace with the acoustics of a wide variety of musical genres. For their part, the artists dove willingly back into performing for audiences of many instead of the private concerts of an occasional household pet.
Mechanics Hall has applied for Daniels Foundations grants as far back as 2011 but in fall of ’21 and ’22, their eyes were on the resurgence of living life to the fullest and inventing new and different ways to bring the live music back to the people and returning the audience to the hall itself. They have hosted free weekday concerts for a while, but the crowds of home-schooled students and their families, senior citizens and downtown workers would bring a boost as “Free” meant something different in the aftermath of Covid. Their youth choir, Many Voices: Mechanics Hall Youth Singers, was on an upturn, and they are still pushing that wave to crest with even more involvement beyond the current 100 strong children between 5th and 6th grades who rehearse three times before they perform their concert. They hope to expand to 4th grade through 8th grade and have more reach with even more voices.
They requested and were funded in the amount of $10,000 in the fall of 2021 and $10,000 in the fall of 2022. The statistics for 2022 and part of 2023 show that their plan to revive the cultural activities in Worcester is working. They had 69 performances last year and 54 non-profit organizations have had fund raisers, meetings or educational opportunities at the hall. A whopping 11,000 children have either attended a concert or performed as a part of one during this concert season, and their goals are to reach a bit higher. The crowds are not quite up to pre-Covid levels, but you wouldn’t know that if you head over for one of the Military Concerts and find yourself elbow to elbow with 800 devoted fans of the highly decorated and superb brass bands and their accompanying musicians. Not to mention the robust turnout during their Founder’s Day celebration and events that honor the influential people who have used the hall to promote themselves, their positions, or social agenda during the Hall’s one hundred and sixty-six-year existence.
It’s encouraging to think that the ancestors who guide our present course, could have found themselves lulled by the melodious chords of the Hook Organ while spending a moment away from their own challenges to surround themselves with the music of their time. This very simply resonates with the goals of Executive Director, Kathleen Gagne, “Mechanics Hall offers a space of beauty and inspiration, and we want everyone in the community to know that they belong, and that’s why we are here.”