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Somerset organizations receive $19K

August 10, 2018

The Modern Musketeering program, a collaborative effort to introduce new residents to Somerset Borough and encourage greater participation in community events, was awarded a $19,500 grant Thursday evening.

The program was one of three that received a combined $50,000 from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies’ youth philanthropy interns. The interns, 2018 graduates of local high schools led by returning interns, were organized into two groups, each with $25,000 to award.

The “Forging Unity” team awarded its grant to two programs: the Mary S. Biesecker Public Library’s Modern Musketeering ($19,500) and Johnstown Neighborhood Boosters’ Block Parties Exploding ($5,500).

Morgan Simmons, Biesecker library IT and facilities coordinator, said the program also involves Laurel Arts and Somerset Inc. Simmons said there is a lot of overlap in the work of the three nonprofit organizations, all of which try to make life better for borough residents.

“We’re kind of putting together the strength of our three organizations as opposed to each doing its own thing,” he said.

Simmons said the program takes its name from “The Three Musketeers.”

All “for one and one for all,” he said with a laugh.

The program will encourage the community to take part in live concerts by local musicians and enjoy outdoor movie nights. Simmons said there has been talk of holding events at the library, the Dressler Center for the Arts and Trinity Park in Uptown Somerset. The events would be promoted by all three organizations.

“All of the events are going to be all of our events,” he said.

The group also plans to form a welcoming committee for new borough residents, in part to make them more aware of local resources. He gave the example of a couple who moved to the borough from another country and didn’t know that public swimming was offered at the Somerset Area School District pool.

“Sometimes there is a disconnect and a misunderstanding of how things work here,” he said.

Simmons said the group was recently approved for an AmeriCorps position. The individual, called a community outreach and programming specialist, will work on behalf of all three organizations, creating and managing programming, and marketing events. The library is accepting applications for the position through the end of August.

Simmons said the group hopes to use the grant money to sustain the program for three years.

The other team of interns, “Arts for the Alleghenies,” awarded its entire grant to Cresson Lake Playhouse in Loretto. The playhouse plans to construct an outdoor performance facility to house youth programs, as well as utilize as an arts hub.

The Forging Unity team consists of senior intern Adeline Mishler, Penn State University; Morgan Bailey, Richland High School; Ethan Dabbs, Richland High School; Cooper Tretter, North Star High School; and Maggie Blaisdell, Bishop Carroll Catholic High School.

Art for the Alleghenies team members are senior intern Ethan Wingard, Robert Morris University; Shay Roth, Richland High School; Rory Bretz, Somerset Area High School; Jonathan Guaetta, Windber Area High School; and Alex Kiepert, Central Cambria High School.

The grant recipients were announced at the foundation’s Founders’ Day Celebration Thursday evening at the Somerset Historical Center.

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