We are heartened by the many inquiries like this that we’ve received — Chautauquans truly do look out for one another, and we know how much you care about those who dedicate their summers to delivering your Chautauqua experience. Since many in our traditional seasonal workforce are our Chautauqua County neighbors, living in a region economically dependent on destination tourism, we took this question to Tory Irgang, executive director of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, who provided this response:

It does not surprise me that Chautauquans are so thoughtful, but it warms my heart just the same. As you may know, the Community Foundation and United Way are working together with many of the local foundations (including those who also support your Annual Fund) to pool resources and grant dollars for COVID response. This fund has supported immediate needs like food security and flexible funding to help families overcome barriers. Food security is a complex issue and our funding has supported Feed More WNY (regional food bank) which in turn distributes food to 49 different locations throughout the County. The flexible funding is intended to wrap around structured government programs and is administered by specific agencies and faith-based organizations with whom United Way and Community Foundation have a close relationship. These agencies evaluate a need and provide small supports. …

One way for Chautauquans to assist seasonal workers is by making a contribution to the Chautauqua County Crisis Response Fund: COVID-19. This can be done online at uwayscc.org or by mailing a check to 208 Pine Street, Jamestown NY 14701. The decisions about how this funding is awarded are made by a committee that includes representatives of funders and community members alike. It is a countywide effort that has raised $948,000 to date. We are very proud of what we’ve done to bring resources together quickly to help families in real time.

Having said all of this, I encourage Chautauquans to support causes they have historically supported as well: Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Audubon Community Nature Center, Mayville Library, and Westfield Memorial Hospital will likely see reduced local support from donors and foundations as basic human needs increase and local foundation capacity is stretched. If I had the ear of Chautauquans, I would encourage them to continue supporting causes they care about in addition to increased support to your Annual Fund and a donation to the Crisis Response Fund. This is a big request, but our community’s future ability to welcome Chautauquans back relies on all of us doing as much as we can.

We are working, through efforts of our year-round team and led by Human Resources, to maintain contact and relationships with those who make up our usual seasonal staff, in order to understand their needs and ensure they are aware of these resources, and of course with the hope we can provide them future employment.


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