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The Morrison kicks off $1.5 million capital campaign

Dalton couple lead off with $250,000 donation

Elaine and David Dana of Dalton made the lead donation to the $1.5 million Capital Campaign Fund to improve the quality of life for residents at The Morrison, ensuring greater privacy and space for its nursing home residents. The two assisted living floors were improved previously. (Photo by Edith Tucker) (click for larger version)
July 01, 2009
WHITEFIELD — A festive champagne reception to celebrate the official kickoff of a $1.5 million Capital Campaign Fund drive to raise monies for renovating and expanding The Morrison was highlighted on Thursday evening at the Mountain View Grand by the remarks by David Dana of Dalton, who with his wife Elaine, was introduced as the lead donor in this ambitious effort.

Board of trustees chairman Robert "Bob" Freund not only introduced Mr. Dana to the 50 donors, trustees, and community members on hand, but also described some of the challenges of bringing the 1929 first-floor section of the former hospital up to the privacy and efficiency standards of today's skilled nursing care.

Mr. Freund explained that Mr. and Mrs. Dana, after taking their first tour of the building during a community-wide effort to raise everyone's awareness of the services that The Morrison provides followed up with a second visit at which they requested detailed financial information, including financial audit reports. Then the philanthropically-minded couple invited him to come to their house with executive director Roxie Severance on a Sunday afternoon and gave them the good news that they would like to pledge $250,000 as a challenge grant to inspire and motivate others who could do so to also reach deep into their pockets.

This generosity, indicating that they found the project's goals worthy, inspired a number of additional donors, who gave $5,000 or more, including: the Robert and Claire Beckler Foundation, Joan Devillafane, Roger and Lorraine Martin, Sharon Bush, Edward "Ted" Grout, George and June Jones, Dave and Tanya Tellman, Sam and Aggy Chase, Bob and Joyce Freund, John and Roxie Severance, the N. H. Charitable Foundation, and the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund.

These quick and enthusiastic responses in meeting the challenge helped The Morrison secure a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant, backed by the Whitefield selectmen. To date about 66 percent of the total funds needed have been raised.

"It's not at all bad to be the lead investor," Mr. Dana said with a grin. "We're very pleased and look forward to fulfilling our pledge, notwithstanding the problems presented by the general economy." He acknowledged that the findings of the consulting firm that The Morrison retained — Richard R. Blain & Associates of North Andover, Mass. — were true.

The nursing home and assisted living facility was hidden away, out of sight and out of mind for most people.

"I didn't know that much about it for years, making it easier to engage with national and regional institutions that provide state-of-the-art medicine, physicians, and scientists," Mr. Dana said, naming the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and Johns Hopkins in Maryland as examples. Mr. Dana's oldest of five children, all raised in Toledo, Ohio, where he was in the automotive industry, died five years ago of esophageal cancer.

He praised the regional and local institutions in Cos and Grafton counties with which he has become familiar: Littleton Regional Hospital, Weeks Medical Center in Lancaster, the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Lebanon, as well as those which become home to the aging, including Riverglen House in Littleton, Lafayette Genesis in Franconia, and Country Village Genesis in Lancaster.

"Notwithstanding problems of its design as a hospital, The Morrison has done very well; we can all be very proud of it," Mr. Dana said, noting that it compares very favorably to its counterparts. All these facilities play an important role, allowing area residents to receive the care they need near family and friends, he said.

A successful Capital Campaign will provide residents with more privacy and more space, including a hospice suite with family space, a dedicated Alzheimer's Unit, and more adult day care, Mr. Dana explained.

"Currently we are teetering on the edge of the $1 million mark," Mr. Freund said. The Campaign is now entering its "grass-roots" phase, in which it seeks to raise the remaining $500,000 that is needed.

Serving on the Capital Campaign Committee are three board members — Bruce McLaren, Marion Rexford and Don Ducharme — and five community members — Aggy Chase, Marion Dunham, Nancy Colborn, Maryclare Quigley and Joan DeVillafane, plus Morrison staff member Patti Roy.

"We're encouraged with the community's front-end support for the facility's renovations and truly believe it's going to make a big difference in lives today and for lives tomorrow," said Mrs. Severance in a prepared statement. "The Morrison, now more than ever, is opening its doors for members of the community to either stop by or telephone 837-2541 to make an appointment to view the poster-board-mounted plans for significant improvements."

Ground for the addition will soon be broken and plans are already afoot for an Open House next summer.

Ms. Severance particularly thanked the Mountain View Grand general manager Chris Diego for contributing part of the cost of Thursday evening's Presidential Hall reception, which featured roast beef, hors d'oeuvres, and flutes of champagne.

Donations can be mailed to 6 Terrace Street, Whitefield, NH 03598. The Morrison maintains a website at www.morrisonnh.org.

Martin Lord Osman
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