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Mysterious fund gives NPOs a lift

WESTPORT Several local organizations received a welcome reward for their service earlier this month when the Honeybee Community Fund distributed grants for its fall 2008 cycle. The Westport-based fund gave away various amounts to the Arts Council of the Northern Adirondacks (ACNA), Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), Elizabethtown's Church of the Good Shepherd, North Country SPCA, Pok-o-MacCready Outdoor Education Center, and Westports Shakespeare-in-the-Park Festival. Run by an anonymous group of benefactors, the Honeybee Fund offers grants within Essex County twice yearly of up to $1,500 to assist small businesses, farmers, not-for-profits, environmental projects, the arts, and scholarships. It began in 1995 with an inheritance, as a way to both honor the deceased and increase opportunities for residents of Essex County, said an anonymous representative of the fund in an e-mail. Applications for grants are mailed to a Westport post office box and then processed by an enigmatic review board. With no overhead costs, all generated funds go directly into grants. All recipients must operate and be located in Essex County. They do wonderful things for the community, said Caroline Thompson, director of ACNA, which received $250 from the fund to help defray the cost of its upcoming winter concert series. Every little bit helps, she said, noting that Honeybee has awarded grants regularly to ACNA for the past several years. Its nice to have something so community-based We are profoundly grateful to the Honeybee Fund for providing us with this opportunity, said Margaret Reuther, director of the North Country SPCA in Westport. The NCSPCA received $500 from the fund, which Reuther said they will put towards new database software. It will allow us to maintain our connection with donors more efficiently, she said. The anonymity of the fund adds a unique element to the process. Thompson noted that some organizations would like to have more direct communication with the Honeybee fund to find out how to enhance their applications. Others, however, see no need to know more about their mysterious benefactor. I think its their choice, said Reuther. They do extraordinary things, and I would be the last one to question how they operate.

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