Wiawaka Facebook

A Letter from the Director

"Greetings Everybody, We are anticipating a wonderful summer 2007 at Wiawaka, and are so delighted that so many of you have already made your reservations for the season to come. Thanks you and we can't wait to see you all. The great spirit in women is alive and well as a diverse group of compassionate, fun loving, fabulous women of all ages are preparing to gather at our beautiful meeting ground on Lake George.

As I write this, I am in the midst of work on programming - there will be writers, photographers, jewelers, yoga and NIA instructors, holistic healing practitioners, local history authorities, native plant specialists and more coming to share their talents with us. Descriptions will be found on the calendar. Our magnificent caretaker, Joe Wylie, general factotum extraordinaire, Veronica Powers and super duper house manager, Melissa Salmon will be returning. Melissa has recruited a close friend from California -who in addition to being a talented chef is also a master gardener and has a PhD in gerontology. We look forward to introducing you to Michelle Elliot.

The spirits of Katrina Trask and Mary Wiltsie Fuller must surely be watching over us. Wiawaka received grants totaling $170,000 in the course of the last few months. The New York State Department of Parks selected the Wakonda Restoration project as the only site for historic preservation funding in Warren County. We are in the contract administration process (no small thing) which board chair, Cris Hine is masterminding beautifully and hope to begin engineering work this summer. A generous grant has come through from The William Gundry Broughton Foundation (thanks to board member Peg Mackey for help on this) for roof work. The New York State Council on the Arts awarded us grant monies for an existing condition report to be conducted by the noted historic preservation architect, Marilyn Kaplan. This will allow us to prioritize future work on our historic buildings.

To strengthen Wiawaka's financial position, we are moving into major fundraising mode. We will be holding a fashion show fundraiser at The Hall of Springs in Saratoga on Monday, June 25th from 11AM to 3PM. We anticipate some 400-500 I attendance for the show, lunch and silent auction. Ticket prices are $75 per person. We invite you to come and to help spread the word. If you would like to attend the event, please e-mail Board Vice President, Katie Haviland at khaviland@nycap.rr.com.

We do not expect room rates to fund the architectural work that lies ahead which is why we are beginning to develop large scale events like this. We have enlisted the support of a veteran development and special event organizer to help us pull this off with aplomb. We are anticipating distinguished dignitaries to be in attendance to lend their support to our mission and to enjoy the show which will both tap into our textile heritage and celebrate home grown New York women designers producing exceptional clothes right here in New York. We recognize that not everyone is in a position to join us on that day - we welcome and appreciate what you have done and continue to do make Wiawaka sound. If you would like to make a contribution to the Wakonda project, or to scholarships, we request that you to send it to PO Box 564 Troy, NY 12181.

To meet the increasing workload we have been growing the board. Susan Darrin, William Hazelton, Wanda Hord, Sue Kilgallon, Glenda Lewis, Sharon Robinson, Marcia Smith, Linda Stanczik and Barbara Todd bring new talents and commitments and join Cris, Carol, Kristin, Katie, Kathy, Judy, Debbie, Carolyn, Peg and Sue in support of Wiawaka.

Just before the new year I had a remarkable conversation with a lovely lady named Diane Spinelli who had been a close friend of Wiawaka benefactor, Mary V Walsh. Mary left several hundred thousand dollars in her will to Wiawaka few years back- but until this conversation with Diane...nobody really knew why. It turns out that Mary's mother, Preston Nicklin Walsh has been a guest at Wiawaka a number of times and had been a box maker from Watervliet who worked in Troy around the time that Wiawaka was founded. She loved Wiawaka and spoke to her daughters of it often. We are not sure yet if Mary V Wlsh had occasion to come herself. Mary was struck with polio at an early age. In fact she was not expected to live to adulthood. She defied these predictions and lived into her 80's. Despite her handicap she attended Sage College, worked in state government, and became an exceptionally shrewd investor in the stock market. Though she lived modestly in a house on 6th Avenue in Troy, she amassed a fortune. Her estate was worth almost $4 million dollars. Mary left everything to causes close to her and her mother's heart, and to friends who had helped her in her dotage. We owe so much to Mary V Walsh. Her remarkable generosity made a crucial difference to Wiawaka at a critical time. We thought you would be interested in her story and that it is a reminder that again and again remarkable, benificent women have protected and preserved Wiawaka so that its rich history, beautiful legacy and tranquil atmosphere could be there for us all. If any of you knew Mary, we'd be so interested in having you share your recollections with us.

Here's sending you every good wish until we meet at Wiawaka again. Thanks you all for your support and encouragement.

Wendy Littlefield
© 2007 Wiawaka Center for Women on Historic Lake George, NY