Library receives capital campaign contribution

MANCHESTER - The Manchester Community Library's capital campaign has gotten a major boost. On Wednesday, April 9, the library announced a $1 million donation from the James and Irene Hunter Charitable Fund. Betsy Bleakie, executive director of the library said the donation will feature a $500,000 matching challenge, where donations will be matched dollar for dollar.

Overall, the total donation could amount to $1.5 million, if other donors are found to make matching donations.

The first $500,000 of the Hunter grant is a straight donation. The next $500,000 is the segment that will match other donations, resulting in a possible total maximum yield of $1.5 million.

In a press statement released last week, Susie Hun ter, a daughter of James and Irene Hunter, said her family chose to support the library because of the tre mendous amount of planning involved in the new building.

"The new Manchester Com munity Library has precisely the broad community benefit that our parents always supported," she said. "We hope that our fund's challenge will bring the remaining donors to the table in a meaningful way."

Bleakie said this donation is a huge vote of confidence in the library. The community meeting room will be named after the family.

"It is a multi-use room that will be used for both library programs and also for use by the community," she said. "We will be able to host business conferences, mix ers, events, even a small, intimate wedding."

Christine Miles, chair of the capital campaign said a challenge like this one will help spark interest in giving to the library. Because gifts will be matched dollar for dollar, Miles said to think of gifts as double; $5,000 becomes $10,000.

"For the library, this is terrific, it shows we have the donor support," she said. "This is an opportunity for the community to make a meaningful difference."

Library officials are anticipating the building will ready for its official opening sometime this fall, perhaps by September.

The Hunter Challenge revenue will help boost a $6.6 million capital campaign which will go towards the construction of the new library and an endowment fund. About 90 percent of the capital campaign has now been realized, according to library officials.

Earlier this year, during March town meeting, voters authorized an appropriation of $198,000 for the operating budget of the library, which will help finance salaries and day-to-day operations of the new facility.

The community aspect of the new library has been stressed all along and Linda McKeever, president of the library board said this new building will be a transformational project for the community.

"The new Manchester Community Library is being funded through private dollars from individuals, families, and foundations which is why the Hunter Family Challenge is such a tremendous boost for our project," she said.


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