For three generations, Claremonters helped the Satzow family by supporting their business — the humble butcher shop that Abraham Satzow opened on North Street in 1912 that would grow, over three generations, into the North Country Smokehouse.
Mike and Sheila Satzow helped to seed the Fund for Greater Claremont at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation to pay that community support forward. Since the fund launched in 2012, another 18 individuals and families have embraced the idea, contributing to the field-of-interest fund that makes grants for a wide variety of needs in the community.
“It’s showing that Claremonters are helping Claremonters,” Mike Satzow said of the fund.
Grants have been made to connect kids with reading mentors at school; to provide wraparound services for struggling families through the local family resource center; to get kids free dental care; to prevent domestic violence; to support a local community center — and more.
“One thing that has always impressed me about the Charitable Foundation is the professional evaluation of the grants,” Mike Satzow said. “I think it’s also important to note that it’s not Mike and Sheila Satzow making these donations, it’s strictly a professionally oriented fund that is executed by the Charitable Foundation for the betterment of Claremont.”
The Fund for Greater Claremont has grown — and will continue to grow — over time. A portion of the fund’s endowment is invested by the Charitable Foundation so that it will be a source of philanthropic capital for the community forever. The fund started with $60,000 from multiple donors. A combination of additional donations and investment returns mean that the fund has more than doubled its initial seed money — granting out more than $21,000 in less than 10 years while growing its balance for future grantmaking to more than $103,000.
And the fund has inspired other, aligned efforts — including another recent fund created that is dedicated to improving the quality of life in Claremont.
Claremont is a river valley community of spectacular brick architecture with a rich immigrant history and community ties that run deep. It has weathered hard times — its fortunes largely tied to that of local manufacturing. The need here is acute: Sullivan County has the second-lowest median household income among New Hampshire counties. Nearly half the children in Claremont, the county’s largest population center, are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch.
“We have a lot of challenged charitable enterprises within the community that really deserve to be supported more than they have been,” Satzow said. The Fund for Greater Claremont is one way to help them.
The community has also seen some recent new development, increasingly becoming a bedroom community for people who work in Hanover, Lebanon and Keene.
Harvey Hill, who has worn many hats in Claremont — from mill owner to publisher of the Claremont Eagle Times to interim president of the River Valley Community College — is a contributor to the Fund for Greater Claremont.
“It is nice to give back, and we hope this might be an impetus to encourage other people to do the same thing,” Hill said.
A variety of people have given to the fund, about a quarter of all contributions coming as memorials for longtime residents.
“It’s a nice way to be recognized for living in the community all your life,” Mike Satzow said.
Hill said that it is gratifying to see the things already being built and supported for the community with help from the fund.
“There is a satisfaction,” Hill said, “in knowing that maybe we have left the community a little better than we found it.”