Secretary’s Report Minutes of the Annual Meeting, September 24, 2023
Vice President Maryann Levesque opened the 2023 Annual Meeting at 1:10 pm in the lower level of the Red Barn. She thanked everyone for coming out on this rainy day. A motion was made to accept the minutes of the 2022 annual meeting and attendees unanimously approved them.
Treasurer, Bob Letendre reported that the Friends ended the fiscal year in a strong position, with combined assets of nearly $700,000. Referring to page 11 of the 2023 Annual Report, he noted that this year the Friends received $14,000 in direct donations, which is $3,000 above the previous year. Special donations, increased membership efforts, grant income, and a positive gain in the Vanguard Index Funds all contributed to this healthy financial report. Bob noted that pages 9-12 of the 2022-23 Annual Report contain a summary of the major financial highlights as well as listings of our assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023. He thanked the audit committee for their review and accord, and thanked members for their continued support.
Maryann asked for Committee Reports, beginning with “Community Outreach”. Nancy Steffens noted that in addition to promoting the new Heritage Center through Facebook, website, newsletters, Meetup and posters, the community has done a great job of spreading the word about the museum. She noted that over 400 people have visited the Heritage Center since it opened in June. The three walks in Valley Falls Park (bird walk, wildflower walk, and tree walk) were also very well attended, using similar outreach strategies. The committee plans to reach out to community groups, such as the Senior Center and schools, to arrange special tours of the Heritage Center. A recent tour with home-school students through Vernon Youth Services was a great success and showed us that all ages have interest in a farm and history museum.
In her “Business Development” Committee report, Ann Letendre noted that the Friends had several large donors this year, including several Lifetime memberships. The Friends will work to get more Lifetime memberships, and promote the idea of putting FVF in wills or adding FVF to a person’s list of charity donations (QCDs). The Friends hope to build a patio near the Stable that will connect to the Root Cellar. Since the cost will be $30,000-$40,000, we will apply for grants. It will provide an ADA path to the Root Cellar, making the Heritage Center more accessible to persons with disabilities. As part of our Capacity Building goals we have been succession planning, which this year included the transition to QuickBooks. Working with Laurie Bajorek, Bob Letendre has used this software to put most of the financials into this program. We hired Jen Smith for a six month period during the fiscal year to assist with projects related to opening the Heritage Center. We continue to explore online donation methods, mindful that we must insure the protection of donors. Lynn Lusardi has set up a computerized inventory of museum artifacts, using methods suggested by museum consultant Rick Malley.
The “Buildings and Grounds” Committee reported that the Piggery and Stable underwent repairs, with portions of the sills and siding replaced. As part of a project to revitalize the Bluebird houses, each box was evaluated and repaired if possible, or replaced. New poles and in some cases, new locations, were part of the project. As part of a Girl Scout project, two scouts helped with a display in the heritage Center. They used the old oak tree slice or “cookie” to determine its age and noted important local and world events using the rings as a timeline.
A volunteer clean-up crew met at the Farm in the Spring. Since that time, Ron Levesque and Bruce Dinnie have been doing tree trimming, clipping hedges, and weedwacking fields and pathways.
Allen Valli and Mark Bell, beekeepers at the farm, gave an overview of their efforts in tending to their combined five hives. Allen noted that it had been a rough season with all the rain, and the challenge will now be to get the bees through the winter months. He brought jars of spring honey for purchase.
Jean Merz, representing the “Nominating Committee” noted that they met in September. With an open position on the Board of Directors, the following slate was offered to members for voting: Maryann Levesque, President; Bob Letendre, Treasurer; Nancy Steffens, Secretary. Additional Board Members: Ann Letendre, Jean Merz, Bruce Dinnie, Jane Darico, and Lynn Lusardi. Jean called for any additional nominations. No additional names were offered and a motion was made by Michael Ringbloom, seconded by Ann Bonney, to accept the nominations; unanimously approved.
Maryann announced that Artists’ Day will be held on October 1 from 12-3 pm. The meeting was adjourned at 1:35 pm.
Respectfully submitted, Nancy Steffens, Secretary
Following the meeting Jean Merz introduced speaker Bev York who spoke about scientist, author and environmentalist Rachel Carson. Bev provided an overview of Ms Carson’s younger years, and her studies of DDT and other harmful chemicals. Her book, Silent Spring, was a major reason why Congress began to take a serious look at the dangerous chemicals we were using. She noted that these chemicals never go away, and every time we use a chemical, it has far-reaching effects on our waters, food and health. As part of her presentation, she had several volunteers help sort through various items to determine what should be recycled, what was trash, and what should go to the hazardous waste collection site. The results were an eye-opener for many of us.