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Despite being in the red, Renfrew to continue summer programs

June 25, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The Renfrew Institute for Cultural and Environmental Studies said it will continue to offer its full schedule of programs this summer, even if it closes the current fiscal year in the red.

The nationwide economic decline has reduced revenue for the 19-year-old nonprofit, which provides year-round educational programs for area children and adults.

Executive Director Melodie Anderson-Smith said many of the institute's sponsors have limited donations.

"Yes, we are more challenged to raise funds this year, but that is what we will do, what we have to do, to do all these programs next year," she said. "We will find the money somewhere."

About 35 percent of the institute's fiscal year 2008 funding came from the generosity of individuals, corporations, civic organizations and grants.

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Giving is down across the board for the institute, as are ticket sales for its annual fundraising banquet scheduled for tonight at 7 p.m. at the Waynesboro Country Club.

Enrollment in the institute's summer programs also appears to be slacking this year, Anderson-Smith said.

With another 23 percent of the institute's $180,000 budget fed by program fees, she said it is possible that, all things considered, the institute could end its year with a deficit on June 30.

Regardless of the numbers, the Renfrew Institute will continue to work toward its mission of "guiding the people of the Cumberland Valley region to become stewards of their natural and cultural worlds," Anderson-Smith said.

The small staff of the institute has approached the coming fiscal year as a glass half full.

"In a down economy, even though the programs are costly for us, sponsors may be retracting and we may be a little in the red," she said. "It's still important for us to keep those programs coming for the public because they need them even more during this time."

The institute kicked off its summer programming this week with its first "Summer Stories" and "Nose to Nose with Nature" programs.

Most of the events scheduled for this summer have been underwritten, Anderson-Smith said.

However, not all of the programs have a guaranteed source of funding, including the "Bugs & Blossoms: Into the Garden" program scheduled for Tuesday, July 14, at 9 a.m.

The institute also is about $7,000 short of what it needs to fund expanding its 4-Square garden in August, Anderson-Smith said.

While budget numbers might be turning red, Anderson-Smith still views the future through rose-colored glasses. She said she hopes pulling through to the institute's 20th anniversary celebration in 2010 will encourage more people to give.

"We need to be here for them, so then when things improve, we can go back to them and say, 'All right folks, we kept going for you when times were tough. Will you help us by giving us an extra gift now that things are better?' and they will," she said. "I have all the confidence that the public will continue to support us."

Anyone interested in donating to the Renfrew Institute or obtaining more information on its summer programming may call Anderson-Smith at 717-762-0373 or send an e-mail to renfrewinst@innernet.net.

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