Mike Satzow’s grandfather, Abraham Satzow, came to Claremont from Russia in 1912. He set up a butcher shop on North Street and bought from local farms. Customers came to him for choice cuts of pork, lamb and beef. Abraham’s sons eventually took over the shop. Abraham’s grandson Mike went off to Middlebury College — and then came back to the family business. Each generation built on the success of the last, and in 1984 Mike Satzow turned the family meat business into the North Country Smokehouse.
“Claremont has been exceptionally good to my family for 100 years,” Mike Satzow said.
Satzow has long supported his community in turn — donating, volunteering, sponsoring events. But he wanted to do something more, something big. So he and his wife, Sheila, established the Fund for Greater Claremont at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, which, as the fund grows, will provide a substantial and sustainable source of support for community projects.
The Satzows have also started a donor advised fund through the Foundation, and will involve their grandchildren in the decision-making for its grants — when they are old enough.
“I’ve always appreciated the hard-working ethic the community has,” Satzow said. He said he wanted to be part of creating something that gives funders a vehicle to give where the money would stay in the community.
“I’m too young to have appreciated Claremont’s heyday,” Satzow said. “So I work hard to bring it back so I can appreciate it again.”
Claremont and neighboring Newport are communities of spectacular brick architecture, rich immigrant cultures and deep community ties. The communities have weathered hard times — their fortunes largely tied to that of local manufacturing. The need in Sullivan County is acute: The 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.
New charitable funds specifically designated for the communities — and long-standing ones that are thriving — are poised to give important community organizations in Newport and Claremont a boost.
“The Foundation has done a really nice job managing the funds that they were given ... an extraordinary job."- Margot Estabrook, who chairs the Newport Charitable Fund’s local advisory committeeTweet This
The Fund for Greater Claremont has precedence in Sullivan County — in Newport, the Newport Charitable Fund was established at the Foundation in 1976 with an initial $500,000 from an existing charitable organization. Under the Foundation’s management, the assets of the Newport Charitable Fund have grown to $2.36 million. That fund has made about $2.8 million in grants in Sullivan County since its inception, including more than 50 grants in the past five years totaling more than a half-million dollars. It is poised to continue in perpetuity.
“The Foundation has done a really nice job managing the funds that they were given … an extraordinary job,” said Margot Estabrook, who chairs the Newport Charitable Fund’s local advisory committee, which guides the fund’s grant making. The fund supports a host of organizations — from the food pantry to a domestic violence crisis center to family support programs. The fund, Estabrook said, represents “a lot of money to be able to put into a community to help those in need.”
Roy Malool of Newport recently added another source of support for community endeavors. Malool, who served in World War II and then founded his own company, established a donor advised fund — the Roy M. Malool Family Foundation — at the Charitable Foundation to direct grants to the Newport area.
“In Claremont, Newport, these old factory towns, there are people who want to do something,” to help their neighbors, said Malool. His fund was created by converting the assets of his previously held private foundation, and combining those with additional assets.
He wanted a simple way to create ongoing support for the community as his family legacy. “I went to the Foundation and said ‘here’s a lot of stuff I want to get rid of and turn it over to you guys in cash,’” Malool said. “‘But you guys have got to do it.’ And they did it!”
New Hampshire Sen. Bob Odell has long represented Newport in the state legislature and represented Claremont until a recent redistricting.
Pictured: Roy Malool
“I’m very optimistic about both these communities,” Odell said. “These funds are very important … they’re just one more reason to be hopeful about the future.”
“The Newport Charitable Fund has been productive and a very important source of funds for targeted purposes, so there is a proven track record I hope [the Fund for Greater Claremont] will be able to emulate,” Odell said.
The Fund for Greater Claremont is working toward a goal of $250,000.
Bob and Marcie Landry of Claremont contributed to the Fund for Greater Claremont and have also established the Robert O. and Marcellene Landry Family Fund at the Foundation.
It was “our way of giving back to the area that supported us in our 35 years of business,” Bob Landry said.
“There has been a lot of positive activity in Claremont over the last five years,” Landry said, “and I think that’s going to continue.”
Claremont has a popular new community center, the construction of which was funded by the Claremont Savings Bank Foundation, city funds and other private and foundation support — including the first-ever grant from the Fund for Claremont. The Red River IT company and the Common Man Inn and Restaurant have moved into a refurbished section of the Millyard. Stevens High School is being renovated. People who work in Hanover, Lebanon and Keene are finding that the housing stock in Claremont and Newport area is more plentiful and affordable, Landry said.
For Satzow, the Foundation’s track record and community knowledge is important. He points to the “the trust that people have” in the Foundation.
“I think the sophisticated investors and the business people and the public servants in New Hampshire realize the Foundation has done a fabulous job in maximizing their investment and making targeted investments in community organizations,” Satzow said.
People who have lived in this corner of Sullivan County through the hard times are seeing some new momentum for their communities.
“There’s a lot more positive attitude in the area than there was 10 or 12 years ago,” said 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.
“We’ve been downtrodden for a number of years,” Satzow said. But “there are people who are getting more committed.”
“I wanted to create something that made it very easy to leave or give money to the community,” Satzow said. “You raise one ship, you raise everything in a community like this.”
This story originally appeared in our Winter 2013/Spring 2014 Purpose Newsletter.