Griffin family legacy works to strengthens community

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The Griffin Charitable Foundation ushers the Griffin family legacy forward by providing funding for local not-for-profit organizations through the pandemic and into the future.

Almost 20 entities serving the greater Rome community have benefited from foundation grants since January 2019 alone — carrying on family’s efforts of community building and support.

Dorothy and Bill Griffin, siblings and former owners of Varflex Corporation, 512 W. Court St., left a lasting impression on Rome and the region through their many acts of philanthropy. Since the passing of Dorothy in 2015 and Bill in 2019, their work has been carried out through their individual charitable foundations and now the merged Griffin Charitable Foundation.

Dorothy lived to be 100; Bill to 94. And many members of the Varflex family knew them well, including the types of causes they felt strongly about and the projects they championed.

Chuck Schoff, Varflex CFO, worked closely with Dorothy for close to 40 years. “She was very frank about the things she was interested in or not interested in funding. Educational endeavors meant a lot to her because she was a teacher after college and before joining the family business.”

“She was also very concerned about health care and the needy. Dorothy’s biggest priority was always the Rome community,” Schoff said.

Despite distributing the amount of charitable dollars required by the IRS in 2020, the Griffin Charitable Foundation board voted to extend beyond this required disbursement amount to help put food on tables during the pandemic and the support first responders. While the foundation ordinarily gives to local food pantries and meal services, more than $100,000 was given to food banks and meal programs due to the increased needs. These organizations included:

Bill Gavin Food Pantry at St. Joseph’s Church

Clear Path for Veterans

Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties Covid Relief Fund

Connected Community Schools

Mission of the Christ Child, St. Peter’s Church

Rome Rescue Mission

Rome Wesleyan Church

The Salvation Army

As things begin to rebound from the pandemic, the most recent foundation grant was a $50,000 gift to the Leatherstocking Council of the Boy Scouts to assist in the construction of the Robert G. Barnes, Sr. Welcome Center at Camp Kingsley in Ava. The Welcome Center will provide a comfortable hub for families dropping off their children, checking in and finishing up paperwork. It will also serve as a multi-use space with restrooms and a lounge area.

Griffin Charitable Foundation has also helped with needed repairs to the original pipe organ at the Capitol Theater Civic Center last year as well as contributed toward roof repairs at Cinema Capitol. Once the roof is fixed, the Cinema Capitol building can offer more useable space for programs, meetings and events on the property.

In addition, Copper City Community Connection will be replacing some of the original, broken cabinetry in the senior center’s kitchen and an updated computer space is being created at the Western Town Library with Griffin Charitable Foundation funds.

The foundation board continues to monitor happenings in the community and keeps an eye on the future as it considers submitted requests on an on-going basis. For more information, contact Community Liaison Dyann Nashton at 315-795-2904 or email: nashton@griffincf.org. Applications may be submitted online at: tinyurl.com/GriffinCharitableFoundation.

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