Like most area nonprofits, West Bloomfield Historical Society closed its doors for the 2020 season and cancelled its primary fundraiser, a community yard sale with a large regional following. But a pressing need for an accessibility ramp and related site work remained. Spurred on by a challenge from Vice President Scott Storke, the group is inviting contributions to a “History for All 2020” fund drive. Storke will match the first $1500 in gifts.
Others are also stepping up to meet current needs. President Mike Borgeest is providing a replacement for deteriorating signage, and Historian Patricia Talley is funding water system improvements. “Our members and friends are really stretching their giving this year,” says Borgeest.
Ann Sackett Stonewell looks forward to the addition of the ramp. A volunteer and member of the society since its establishment in 1983, her West Bloomfield roots run deep. She grew up in the historic Ainsley Peck house and attended the old Union School on Rt. 65. But these days a few steps at the building’s entrance make it challenging for Stonewell and others to take part in historical society programs.
In 2019 a dozen on-site public programs and events drew nearly 600 attendees from the community and surrounding towns and counties. As the nation celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the society is committed to making its 186-year-old building accessible to all, including seniors, persons with disabilities, and those recovering from surgery or injuries. “It was important to find an alternative way to raise funds for these needs and ensure we serve the entire community,” says Storke.
There is urgency to complete the ramp in the coming months. The volunteer society operates under a New York State Regents charter, due to expire in 2021. Accessibility improvements are critical to renewal and the society’s next step, a permanent “absolute” charter.
To donate to the History for All fund drive, send checks by September 30 to WBHS, PO Box 173, West Bloomfield, NY 14585. For more information call 585-624-7796 or see the society website, wbhsny.org. Visit on Facebook at West Bloomfield Historical Society, New York.