Foundation’s Rock Charitable Fund supports projects at eight St. Lawrence County organizations

Posted 2/25/24

Eight nonprofit organizations serving St. Lawrence County residents will share $138,000 in grant funding from the Rock Charitable Fund of the Northern New York Community Foundation to preserve local …

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Foundation’s Rock Charitable Fund supports projects at eight St. Lawrence County organizations


Eight nonprofit organizations serving St. Lawrence County residents will share $138,000 in grant funding from the Rock Charitable Fund of the Northern New York Community Foundation to preserve local history and maintain churches and cemeteries in the region.

The legacy fund was established at the Community Foundation in 2019 through a bequest from St. Lawrence County resident and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Marjorie J. Rock, who passed away in February 2017 at age 96. Thanks to her foresight and thoughtful generosity, Rock’s desire to support St. Lawrence County will be perpetuated for generations to come.

“This fund continues to be a testimony to the power of endowment and its ability to make a significant difference over time,” said Rande S. Richardson, executive director of the Northern New York Community Foundation. “It is powerful to witness Marjorie’s legacy providing needed support for meaningful and varied projects that enhance the historical landscape across St. Lawrence County.”     

The following St. Lawrence County organizations will share $138,000 in grant support:

  • Zion Episcopal Church, Colton — $26,000 to repoint stones on three sides of the church by grooving out old mortar, applying new epoxy grout, colored to match the stone, and address buttresses and cornerstones. The church holds architectural significance as a well-preserved example of late 19th-century ecclesiastical architecture.
  • Congregation Beth El, Potsdam — $25,000 to complete critical maintenance and repairs, including masonry work, facade repair, and exterior painting. Established in 1955, it is the only remaining synagogue serving St. Lawrence County residents.
  • First Presbyterian Church, Canton — $25,000 to rehabilitate the steeple, ensure its structural integrity, and preserve its historical significance. The project includes roof membrane replacement, metal wall and flashing replacement, and restoration of slate roofing tiles. The church is a notable and highly visible historic landmark in the village.
  • St. John’s Episcopal Church, Massena — $25,000 to address water infiltration issues on the south side of the church building. Grant funding will support repairs to damaged buttresses to prevent water penetration, covering a well to prevent rainwater entry, and installing a drain system for water management.
  • Hale Cemetery Association, Norfolk — A $10,000 funding commitment to help protect and restore the most public facing focal point of the property, a cobblestone arch erected in the 1920s. The Association is working to secure additional funding needed to complete this vital project.
  • Lisbon Cemetery Association — $10,000 to replace two irreparable stones in the White Church Cemetery, which the Association maintains. Funding will also help to address broken or felled monuments and straighten those that are tilting, and, in some cases, construct new foundations.
  • Town of Morristown — $10,000 to help restore the Morristown Stone Windmill, a significant historic structure that dates to 1825. The Town has also budgeted $10,000 for the project and is pursuing additional historic preservation grant opportunities.
  • Edwards Arts Council — $7,000 to help preserve the historical integrity of the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Grant funding will help replace a door and develop a master plan for future window restorations and a potential elevator.

Since the Rock Charitable Fund began grantmaking efforts in 2019, it has awarded nearly $567,000 in grant funding to support 34 projects at 32 St. Lawrence County organizations, including churches, cemeteries, places of historical significance and those supporting United States military veterans.

The Community Foundation administers this permanent charitable legacy fund in collaboration with a seven-member St. Lawrence County-based board of advisors that reviews applications and makes funding recommendations. Advisors include Ruth McWilliams, South Colton; Erik Backus, Potsdam; Fred Hanss, Hannawa Falls; Colin Hostetter, Lisbon; Chris Rediehs, Canton; Mark Thompson, Watertown; and Keith Zimmerman, Canton.

Applications for 2024 grant funding from the Rock Charitable Fund will be accepted this fall through the Community Foundation’s online grant portal at nnycf.org/grants. Approximately $100,000 in competitive funding is available this year.

Grant support is available to qualified organizations whose missions and efforts align with the fund’s charitable purposes, which are: for the maintenance and preservation of churches and other houses of worship and cemeteries in St. Lawrence County; for the preservation and maintenance of places of legitimate historical significance in the county; and to benefit and/or assist veterans of the United States military who reside in St. Lawrence County for their medical and/or recreational needs. Grants in support of veterans cannot be made directly to individuals.

Contact Kraig Everard, Community Foundation director of stewardship and programs, kraig@nnycf.org, or 315-782-7110, to learn more about this opportunity.

Second Lieutenant Marjorie J. Rock, U.S. Army Nurse Corps, 1942. Rock retired from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1970 and made St. Lawrence County her home.

Rock grew up in St. Lawrence County and graduated from Heuvelton High School in 1937. In 1941, she graduated from the three-year nursing program at Flower Fifth Avenue School in New York City. The following year, she joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, serving in North Africa and Italy during World War II. After the war, she attended Teachers College at Columbia University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1948 and a Master of Arts in 1950.

She spent six years teaching in nursing programs, first as an instructor for Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and later at New York City’s Lennox Hill Hospital. She returned to active Army service in 1954 to assist with medical courses for enlisted personnel and helped to establish a medical education system, particularly in the United States, Japan, and Germany. She served as a supervisor, chief nurse, instructor, and director of an advanced medical technician school. Her last overseas duty was in Vietnam.

In 1970, she retired from the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant Colonel and returned to St. Lawrence County, joining her mother in Ogdensburg to help with her care. She earned many honors during her Army service, including the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal. Her only sibling, a brother, was killed in action in 1944 while piloting a P-47 Thunderbolt plane over Normandy. For the rest of her life, Ms. Rock made St. Lawrence County her home while traveling with friends, caring for others, and assisting her church and other organizations, including the Army Nurse Corps Association and other veterans’ groups. She maintained a keen interest in documenting local history and furthering the education of others in the county.