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Volunteers Ready to Hit the Dirt and Plant Flowers

April 25, 2015

[FERNDALE] – Community volunteers received grants checks and Flower Dollars, and networked with their neighbors at the Sullivan Renaissance Spring Forum on April 25.  They also learned how to plant containers, make videos, leverage grant money and prepare for the Sullivan Renaissance competition.

The event marked the beginning of Sullivan County’s annual push to clean up and beautify villages and neighborhoods by planting gardens and improving public spaces.

Sullivan Renaissance announced almost $150,000 in funding to support 54 community projects as part of the four-month beautification contest.  The funding includes the hiring of 18 paid interns to help in the communities.  The list of participating organizations and projects is attached. 

Sullivan Renaissance is a beautification and community development program principally funded by the Gerry Foundation.  Sponsorships are provided by WSUL/WVOS for Category A projects; Bold Gold Media Group/Thunder 102 for Category B projects; and Thompson Sanitation for seasonal projects.  FisherMears Associates, Kristt Company, Robert Green Dealerships, the Sullivan County Democrat and The River Reporter are also major sponsors.

Saturday’s program featured four workshops: “How to Tell Your Story through Video” by Zac Stuart-Pontier, editor of the recent hit HBO mini-series The Jinx; “Baskets, Boxes, Containers – The Choices are Endless” bilingual workshop by Diana K. Weiner, Sullivan Renaissance Horticulture Coordinator, and Ari Mir-Pontier, Sullivan Renaissance Liaison to the Spanish Speaking Community; “The Ins and Outs of Leveraging Grants” by Freda Eisenberg, AICP, Sullivan County Planning Commissioner, and Ridge Harris, Director of Special Projects with Congressman Gibson’s Office; and “Grant Orientation” by Helen Budrock, Sullivan Renaissance Community Planner

The forum also included exhibits by several of Sullivan County’s local organizations and businesses, and an indoor market where participants and guests could purchase local and organic goods.  Translators were available to answer questions from individuals who speak Spanish.

Grants for the Community Mitzvah Award, seasonal demonstration projects, community development, environmental initiatives, business facade improvements, technical assistance and mini-grants will be awarded over the next several weeks. 


The grants include:

Category A – ten single element projects – $1000 grants and $100 in flower dollars;

Category B – nine multiple element projects – $1500 grants and $250 in flower dollars;

Category C – five community-wide projects – $5000 grants and $500 in flower dollars;

Maintenance – 30 support grants meeting specific needs in each community – up to $1500 in grants, $250 in flower dollars, bulb dollars and additional kinds of assistance.

Eighteen paid interns will provide gardening support to almost 28 community projects in partnership with Sullivan County Workforce Development:

Hannah Bisland – Lumberland Parks & Recreation

Gisselle Caballero – Woodridge

Ember Cemelli – Narrowsburg Beautification Group

Shashona Conlon – Hurleyville

Nicholas Consolo – Mamakating/Wurtsboro Renaissance

Collin Frost – Phillipsport Community Center

Mark Garigliano – Neversink Renaissance

Collin Gibson – Jeffersonville JEMS

Jane Hyman – Swan Lake Renaissance

Victoria Kerendian – Rock Hill

Jiron Kevii – Callicoon

Jeremey Nevin-Gales – Fremont

Steven Whitman – Woodbourne

Adam Wilcox – Roscoe

Four additional interns will be hired for the communities of Bethel, Liberty, Livingston Manor and Monticello.

Sullivan Renaissance Flower Dollars are a resource that allows groups to purchase additional annual plants before June 30.  The flower dollars can only be used at local participating nurseries, greenhouses or garden centers; and they must be matched with plantings of an equal or greater value.

Beautification and maintenance efforts must be completed by August 3 and will be judged between August 6 and 8.  A second round of Phase II grants will be announced at the Sullivan Renaissance Awards Ceremony on Monday, August 10 at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel. 

Phase II awards range between $1000 and $10,000 – with the Golden Feather Grant of $25,000 going to a Category C project.  There are also four $1000 Special Judges Choice Awards in each category addressing issues like: historic preservation, youth engagement and environmental stewardship.  A Silver Feather Award of $10,000 is given in Category C, as well as a $5000 award for planning.  All projects that finish will receive completion grants.

A special Showing of Flowers award up to $5000 will be given to the Category A, B or C community that has the best showing of flowers, along with four $1000 judge’s choice flower awards.  In the Maintenance Category, an additional showing of flowers award up to $5000 will be given to the community with the best multiple gardens; an award of $3000 for the best single garden; along with four $1000 judge’s choice flower awards.

In partnership with the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan, a limited number of scholarships to the undergraduate college of one’s choice will be offered to volunteers who make a significant contribution to a Renaissance project.  The SUNY Sullivan Foundation also offers full and part-time scholarships to Renaissance volunteers.  

Sullivan Renaissance collaborates with many organizations and agencies, including the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the merchant discount program with almost 75 businesses offering discounts for community projects. 

Several organizations help local groups supplement their projects by providing some level of volunteer help such as general clean-up, site preparation, planting and painting.  Other assistance may also be available.  Some of these agencies include: Alternatives to Incarceration; Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners; Delaware Valley Job Corps Center; New Hope Community; Retired Senior Volunteer Program; Sullivan County BOCES; and Workforce Development Board of Sullivan County, Inc. 

For information about how to get involved with the Renaissance Volunteers Corps, contact Cara Kowalski at 845-295-2405 or

For individuals unsure how to garden, Sullivan Renaissance is sponsoring a series of free Gardening Trainings taught by Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners.  The next hands-on class is May 6 at Cornell Cooperative Extension on Ferndale-Loomis Road in Liberty. 

Since 2001 Sullivan Renaissance has funded hundreds of projects throughout Sullivan County.  For more information about programs, call Sullivan Renaissance at 845-295-2445 or visit the website at



Eldred, Sunshine Hall Free Library, Façade Improvements

Lake Huntington, Lake Huntington Fire Department, Historical Garden

Liberty, Youth Economic Group (YEG), Spark Beautification

Livingston Manor, Congregation Agudas Achim, Sign Garden

Mileses, Mileses Cemetery, Cemetery Sign and Landscaping

Monticello, Hudson River Healthcare, Duane Stoner Memorial Garden

Monticello, Literacy Volunteers, Building Landscaping

Monticello, Rural Sullivan Housing, Sign and Landscaping

Monticello, Sleepy Hollow Development, Sign Garden

Monticello, Sullivan County Head Start, Butterfly Teaching Garden

CATEGORY B:  MULTI-ELEMENT PROJECTS (9) (With Support from Thunder 102)

Callicoon Center, Town of Callicoon, Veteran’s Memorial

Eldred, Eldred Central School, Gardens for Learning Project

Forestburgh, Forestburgh Playhouse, Playhouse Patio and Gardens

Fremont Center, Fremont Park, Ballfield Enhancements

Liberty, Community Action Committee (CACHE), Façade Improvements

Long Eddy, St. Patrick’s Mission Church, Church and Post Office Landscaping

Rock Hill, Rock Hill United Methodist Church, Church Landscaping

Wurtsboro, Mamakating Library, Library Landscaping

Wurtsboro, Town of Mamakating, Town Hall Gardens


Jeffersonville, Jeffersonville JEMS, Events Stage and Welcome Center

Narrowsburg, Narrowsburg Beautification Group, Narrowsburg Trail Project

Phillipsport, Phillipsport Community Center, Phillipsport Area Beautification

Rock Hill, Rock Hill Business Association, Rock Hill Public Art Project

Woodridge, Village of Woodridge, Parks and Aesthetic Enhancements

MAINTENANCE SUPPORT PROGRAM (30) (Maintenance of Previous Gardens)

Bloomingburg, Town of Mamakating Park

Callicoon, Callicoon Business Association

Callicoon, St. James Episcopal Church

Glen Spey, Lumberland Parks & Recreation

Liberty, CCE Master Gardeners

Hurleyville, Hurleyville-Sullivan First

Hurleyville, Sullivan County Historical Society

Kenoza Lake, Kenoza Lake United Methodist Church

Liberty, St. Peter’s Regional School

Livingston Manor, Livingston Manor Renaissance

Livingston Manor, Livingston Manor Rotary

Livingston Manor, Livingston Manor United Methodist Church

Long Eddy, Long Eddy Renaissance

Luxton Lake, Luxton Lake Property Owners Association

Monticello, Federation for the Homeless

Monticello, Landfield Avenue Synagogue

Monticello, Monticello United Methodist Church

Monticello, St. John’s Episcopal Church

Monticello, St. Peter’s Catholic Church

Monticello, Temple Sholom

Monticello, Town of Thompson Park

Mountaindale, Mountaindale Action Committee

Neversink,  Neversink Renaissance

Rock Hill, Rock Hill Fire Department

Roscoe, Roscoe Presbyterian Church

Roscoe, Roscoe-Rockland Chamber of Commerce

Swan Lake, Swan Lake Renaissance

White Sulphur Springs, White Sulphur Springs Sullivan First

Woodbourne, Woodbourne Action Committee

Wurtsboro, Wurtsboro Renaissance