Philanthropy center opens; airport gifted $1M

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Frank Pellegrino, left, chairman of the board of directors for the First Community Foundation Partnership, lights candles on birthday cake for former foundation board chairmen Tim Crotty, second left; Harold Hershberger Jr., second right; and William Nichols Sr. during the partnership’s 100th anniversary and grand opening of the philanthropy center Sunday.

The First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania celebrated its 100th anniversary by opening its new philanthropy center and giving away over $1 million in grants on Sunday.

The Williamsport Municipal Airport Authority was the recipient of the Once in a Century $1 million grant to help complete the necessary funding to build a new $16 million terminal. The grant was made available for Lycoming County non-profit organizations.

“We had a funding shortfall so this will close the gap,” Chris Logue, chairman of the airport authority, said.

The new terminal will strengthen the economic vitality of the area, he said.

Now that the project has been funded, the authority is looking to begin construction in the spring. Construction could last from 14 to 16 months, Logue said.

SUNCOM Industries, of Northumberland, received the $40,000 Centennial Grant for non-profits in Northumberland, Snyder, Union and Montour counties. It plans to use the money to purchase a handicap-accessible van to transport its 100 clients.

“This will allow our people to become a part of the community,” Peggy Vitale, SUNCOM executive director, said.

Dozens of people came to see the remodeled 201 W. Fourth St. building that housed the Ross Club since the late 1940s.

The foundation looked at 15 other locations before settling on the former Ross Club, Jennifer Wilson, foundation president and CEO, said.

When Wilson and others from the foundation toured the building, they realized that they could make it amazing, she said.

It was purchased in December 2014 and construction began the same time the following year. There were 18 donors who contributed to the $1.3 million cost of the building.

“This is a great gift to the community,” Wilson said. “It is a dream that has become a reality.”

The three-floor structure is complete with staff offices, a large event space that holds 100 people and numerous areas for non-profits to use.

Next year, organizations will be able to reserve space inside to host seminars and use as a temporary office, said Erin Ruhl, foundation director of community relations. Smaller organizations that do not have an office will be able to use the non-profit center to store files, use the fax machine and meet.

Frank Pellegrino, the foundation board of directors chairman, said the foundation has come from beginning with $33 100 years ago to becoming a $75-million foundation.

“The foundation has done great things and has a great future in front of it,” state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, said.

County Commissioner Jack McKernan said the foundation has been a vital part of the community by assisting in big projects over the years and that its work has helped the quality of life for people in the Susquehanna Valley.