$75K bequest a welcome windfall for Westmoreland Cultural Trust
“Good enough” is a mantra of sorts for Nancy Anderson, Westmoreland Cultural Trust interim CEO.
It’s a philosophy many nonprofit directors share as they try to stretch dollars to best accommodate a mission.
So when Anderson, who assumed her current position in late December, and the board learned of a surprise bequest, she began considering how best to spread the wealth.
The arrival of a $75,000 gift from the estate of North Huntingdon resident Linda M. Whitehead, who died in 2016, came with no strings attached, Anderson says.
Stretching the dollars where most needed, she says, decisions were made to use the lion’s share of the money to upgrade the Union Trust Building, constructed in 1921. The 102 N. Main St. site is used by Cultural Trust administrative staff and for the Incubator for the Arts program, which offers short leases, internet and unlimited hours to artists.
Before and after
“Before” photos show holes in walls, mismatched paint colors and aged carpeting, prior to the recent on-site repair work.
In addition, a new picture hanging system allows better display of the artists’ work to visitors passing by.
“The artists are thrilled,” Anderson says.
Those upgrades, and a planned spring roof repair at the building, account for about $56,000 of the gift, she says.
Enhanced security measures at The Palace Theatre also are planned.
“There is nothing fancy — it’s ‘good enough,’ ” Anderson says more than once.
“We made it go as far as we could. We kept it very simple,” she says.
The difference a few dollars makes
“Every bit counts, even if you’re leaving behind $500,” says Rick Cohen, National Council of Nonprofits spokesman.
“It can make a big difference for a nonprofit, especially if it enables a nonprofit to take care of some general maintenance, something they have been putting off for years,” Cohen says.
“It’s the reality of so many nonprofits to keep overhead low,” he says.
Roof repairs, he notes, fall under “overhead,” yet can be essential in continuing to provide services.
“So many nonprofits are focused on helping people, helping animals, (supporting) the arts — basic infrastructural needs can go unfilled,” Cohen says.
For instance, he says, nonprofit dollars make necessary stretching out the life of a delivery van as far as it can go, rather than replacing it.
Computers can be used for 10 or 15 years, he adds.
First impressions count
As a volunteer and officer with several nonprofits over the last few decades, Anderson says she is keenly aware of how important any extra dollars can be.
“You don’t spend money on yourself. The mission is the message. … All of the money goes to the wonderful things we do,” she says.
That said, Anderson notes, threadbare carpeting, crumbled linoleum and holes in the walls do not present a pleasing welcome to visitors.
“You never have a second chance to make a first impression,” she says.
The repairs began in February.
“This (Union Trust Building) is a showplace. We just had a very successful capital campaign for The Palace (Theatre). … This is where the leaking roof was, the broken linoleum,” Anderson says.
The cosmetic upgrades are “bare bones,” with nothing done in the administrative offices, “just the public places,” she says.
While renovations were going on, staff and volunteers took the opportunity to reorganize.
“We spent $57 to have the Westmoreland County Blind Association shred 500 pounds of duplicate paperwork. We are supporting another nonprofit while we do it. That was another no-brainer,” Anderson says.
The trust invites others to consider similar gifts in their estate planning, adding, “In your will there’s a way.”
“Every penny counts and is greatly appreciated by the nonprofits, and indirectly by the people they are supporting every day. It’s not about the organization. It’s about the people they help,” Cohen says.
“We encourage people to do what they can for a cause they care about,” he says.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .