People from every corner of the globe visit Chautauqua Institution to enrich their lives through programs that focus on education, recreation, religion and the arts. Some Chautauquans visit the Institution to explore a particular topic while others, like Larry and Luann Cohen, discover interests during their stay.
“Since we’ve been coming here, we’ve fallen in love with ballet,” Luann Cohen said. “We were never exposed to ballet, so when we started coming here and seeing the Charlotte Ballet, we really fell in love with it.”
The Cohens are from San Antonio, Texas, and have been coming to the Institution for 20 years. After hearing about Chautauqua from a friend, they decided to visit for a week, which then turned into two weeks. Over the years, they find themselves dedicating more time to Chautauqua. The couple bought a house seven years ago and have stayed for the whole season ever since, bringing friends and family with them to submerge in the “inquiring” community.
In just two decades, the first-generation Chautauquans have become rooted in the community. The Cohens hope to see the Institution continue into the future, and for that reason they decided to join the Eleanor B. Daugherty Society. Individuals in the society “have included Chautauqua Foundation in their will or other estate plans” to ensure Chautauqua’s future, according to the Daugherty Society website.
Daugherty was a music teacher from Buffalo, New York, who made a significant bequest to the Institution. To honor her legacy, the society was created in her name to honor the many other Chautauquans who have made their own bequests or planned gifts.
“I gave because I thought it was the right thing to do,” Larry Cohen said. “We need to support this place where we spend almost a fourth of our year now so that it will be here for my children and grandchildren.”
Luann Cohen reiterated the desire to continue the Chautauqua experience for generations to come, noting the changing dynamics of the Institution in the 21st century and stressing the importance of community involvement.
“When you’re here just for one week, you’re rushing from lecture to class to evening performance,” she said, reflecting on her initial introduction to Chautauqua and how she and her husband have deepened their involvement in recent years.
The couple recognize the significant role donations play in Chautauqua’s survival. In addition to contributing a percentage of their will to the Chautauqua Foundation through their commitment as members of the Daugherty Society, the couple are both members of the Bestor Society, made up of Chautauquans who donate a minimum of $3,500 a year to the annual Chautauqua Fund.
For the 2018 season, the Cohens are looking forward to delving into all of Chautauqua’s programs that are made possible by donors of all levels.
“I used to tell my kids, ‘You have to go to all the parties because you don’t know which ones are going to be good.’ I think that’s the way Chautauqua is,” Luann Cohen said. “You have to go to all the lectures because you never know when you’re going to be blown away.”
For information on how you can become a member of the Eleanor B. Daugherty Society or help advance Chautauqua’s mission, please contact Dusty Nelson, director of gift planning, at 716-357-6409 or firstname.lastname@example.org.