Promise Campaign Volunteers Prepare for Final Stretch

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Promise Campaign volunteers had their final assembly at McKnight Hall June 24, preparing for the last leg of the campaign’s six-year run, ending this December.

Whereas the initial three years of the campaign were considered private, the last three have included avid support from numerous volunteers from the Chautauqua community, most of whom were present that Friday.

“We are in the straightaway toward the finish line to a very successful campaign,” said Steve Percy, co-chair of the Promise Campaign.

Citing the initial goal of $98.2 million, Percy was proud to announce that the committed funds currently stand at a steady $96.1 million.

“This is the most impactful and successful campaign at this Institution,” said Geof Follansbee, vice president and CEO of the Chautauqua Foundation. “It’ll ensure the sustainability of the Institution for years to come.”

Given all the excitement and progress achieved, Follansbee directed the room’s attention to the reality that time is no longer a friend, insisting volunteers get their signed pledge agreements as early as possible.

Local speakers and Institution community members spoke that afternoon, discussing the momentous impact that the volunteers’ forfeited time and effort has had for them.

One of the speakers, Addie Hamilton, a soprano in the Chautauqua Opera Company and second-year Chautauquan, relayed to the room her lifelong intrigue for opera and how Chautauqua played a significant role in fueling its success.

“Passion is only half the battle,” Hamilton said.

She explained how the process and rigor of developing into an opera singer can be like that of a professional athlete, in respect to physical and temporal sacrifice. But she also said none of it would be supportable or possible without the volunteers’ help.

“It might sound corny, but you’re making our dreams come true,” Hamilton said.

Also present was President Tom Becker, who thanked the volunteers for their invested time and thoughtfulness in the campaign, emphasizing the value of philanthropy and how their aided effort helps in making the best possible experiences for Chautauqua’s patrons. He also noted the brilliance of McKnight Hall as an example, pointing out how places like that in the Institution couldn’t shine without considerable investment and generous gifts.

Becker also recognized how Chautauqua Institution continues to exist, engage and challenge issues both domestic and abroad, thanks to efforts made on behalf of its volunteers. He said the Institution may not be a perfect system, but when contrasted to the rest of the world, it’s surely “flat-out unusual and singular.”

Joshua Gurian

The author Joshua Gurian

Joshua Gurian is a graduate of Binghamton University Class of 2015, with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. He currently lives as a freelance writer in Chicago.