Dear friends, neighbors, and outdoors lovers,
Happy new year! I hope 2021 brought improvement to your life. There is no doubt that many folks are struggling as we continue to wade through the wake of our pandemic, but one thing that most people seem to agree on is that time spent outdoors has been a godsend. The past 24 months have enabled us all to reconnect with nature, and that is a good thing.
Our properties, as well as the Lehigh Valley Trail Linear Park — continue to enjoy increased use by the communities we serve. Our 100% volunteer organization remains incredibly busy…mowing, cleaning, and removing debris throughout every month of the year. Our new website and Facebook page continue to drive interaction and traffic. It’s been great to get to know more of you through these connections.
Here’s an update on what we were up to in 2021:
In early 2021, we launched an all-new mobile-friendly website at https://mendonfoundation.org, which has:
• At long last, information and maps for all of our public spaces, including entry point indicators;
• More in-depth information and brochures about the Lehigh Valley Trail and all the projects going on along its length;
• A complete archive of all of our old Pathways newsletters;
• A 100% secure platform, with a brand new way to donate to us;
• An incredible photo gallery showing the Lehigh Valley Railroad before it became the Trail.
The Old Oak
The largest and most important wood has been carefully set aside to dry out a bit. We did start talking to some folks at a mill, and our plan remains to process the wood into useful form for community projects. But COVID has slowed down folks’ ability to collaborate on a reliable and regular basis. Additionally, the remains are both very large and very old. On the matter of large: While the idea of processing the wood into smaller pieces seems like an option, it also limits some of the more remarkable things that we could do with the remains — and if we cut too soon, we know we might regret it later, so it’s safer to leave things large for the time being. On the matter of old: a tree’s age implies history…a history of people nailing items to the tree, which means embedded metal that can damage expensive lumber saws. We still have many ideas on the table, all of which require money. So many folks in our community wish to have a piece of the Old Oak as a memento, and we want to make that happen. Please be patient — we truly appreciate it — and expect more to be announced on our website and Facebook in 2022.
Our Rochester Junction volunteer team, led by Rod Ham and John Farrell, has made significant progress on restoring our Lehigh Valley boxcar at Rochester Junction. We made long-term repairs to the boxcar’s roof, and are working on getting the doors in better working order. Much more work remains, and we have recently completed a multi-phase project plan and budget that we will use as the basis for some dedicated fundraisers in 2022. You will be able to find out more about these fundraisers on our website, so please bookmark us!
Cindy Lau, Susan Pritchard, Kathie Balentine and Dora Baker continued to work diligently throughout the year to plant (and water!) several new flowerbeds at both Rochester Junction and Mendon Station Park.
A second Bike Repair Station was installed in Mendon Station Park on the Trail by Troop 10 Scout Matthew Dobner.
Black Diamond Express Races
This year, our primary source of funding — the Black Diamond Express Half Marathon & 5K — resumed as an in-person event, with the largest attendance we’ve ever had, producing a significant net income of a little over $8,000, which was a record. Registration for the 2022 races is now open!
Rochester Junction Book
In September, we published our first book: Rails to Trails: Rochester Junction Then and Now. The $20 book, by Diane Ham & Charles Woolever, is available for purchase online and around town, and all proceeds benefit the Foundation. It’s a beautiful 182-page softcover book with 127 photos, 51 color pages, 7 informative maps, and a full index. In the works for almost a year, and with contributions from many people in our community, this is the first book about the history of Rochester Junction ever published. The book chronicles the Junction’s days as a key stop on the Lehigh Valley Railroad, through its conversion to a rail-trail by the Mendon Foundation and Monroe County Parks in the present day. Visit the “Lehigh Valley Trail” menu of our website for more information.
2022 Trail Improvements
We have been planning some key trail surface improvements with Monroe County Parks; please stay tuned for more information as the year develops!
We set out to raise $30,000 for 2021, and through a combination of end of year donations (about $13,000), race revenue (about $14,000) and book sales (about $5400), we exceeded that goal (approx. $32,400). But subtract $6,500 in race expenses, $3,000 of book production expenses, $4,500 in insurance, approximately $7,300 in equipment maintenance, fuel and other operating expenses, and you will find that we spent over $21,000 in support of our mission along the way. Nonetheless, this is the first time in recent memory where we have been able to begin building a reserve that can help sustain us through future unforeseen pressures, and we have YOU to thank for that.
That said, your donations still mean everything to us. Given the increased popularity of our properties and the Lehigh Valley Trail, you might suppose that we have seen donations from many hundreds or even thousands of individuals over our 28-year history, especially this year. But if you are reading this letter, you are one of only 207 families who have contributed to us over the years, and only 70 of those families donated once again in 2020-2021 campaign season.
We need your support to stay in good shape in 2022! Will you once again help us by making a tax deductible charitable contribution? We are an IRS registered 501c(3) tax-exempt organization, so your donations are 100% tax-deductible. We are dependent upon community support, as we receive no funds from the towns or county.
Please visit our website at https://mendonfoundation.org/support-us/ for EIGHT different ways to donate.
Please know that your generosity and the timely sharing of your treasure helps enrich the lives of children, adults and families who are fortunate to call this place home. Please contact me personally at 585-281-0014 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to join our corps of volunteers. We are in need of marketing, legal services, and additions to our fresh air team!
Together, we appreciate you, and we thank you.
Happy Trails 2022!
Drew D. Saur
Mendon Foundation President & Race Director
Fran Celona, Bonnie Coddington, Arlene Cluff, John Farrell, Blaine Grindle, Diane Ham, Rodney Ham, Charles Woolever