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United Way, NNYCF establishing fund to honor late Lewis planner

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LOWVILLE — United Way of Northern New York plans to honor late Lewis County senior planner Renee J. Beyer by establishing a fund in her memory to assist county nonprofit organizations.

“Her death caused a great void, not only in Lowville, but throughout the north country,” United Way CEO Robert D. Gorman said.

The “Renee Beyer-United Way Fund,” an endowment administered through the Northern New York Community Foundation, is to generate money that the United Way’s Community Review team in Lewis County may direct to county nonprofit organizations.

A news conference has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the second-floor legislative chambers at the Lewis County office building, North State Street, to introduce the new memorial fund.

Donations to the endowment likely will have to reach the $100,000 mark before interest dividends can be given out, Mr. Gorman said.

Already there has been interest in contributing to the new fund and, once that goal has been reached, the fund will allow the United Way to “make a bigger impact” on Lewis County organizations, he said.

Mrs. Beyer died of injuries suffered in a two-vehicle crash in April in the town of Harrisburg.

Along with her work with the county Economic Development and Planning Department since 2005, Mrs. Beyer and her husband, Dean, operated Aspen Knoll Cabins on Swernicki Road in Lowville. She was a graduate of the inaugural class of the Lewis County Leadership Academy in 2012, a member of the Double Play Sports board, a former member of the Hand In Hand Early Childcare Center board and a team sponsor and coach for youth soccer.

“In my travels through Lewis County, Renee Beyer’s name kept coming up,” Mr. Gorman said.

Mrs. Beyer had spearheaded the effort to add Double Play to the list of United Way partner organizations, and she was seen as an emerging community leader, he said.

When looking for a way to honor her memory, “we realized we could do something through the United Way that would help nonprofits in Lewis County,” Mr. Gorman said.

“The Northern New York Community Foundation and the United Way of Northern New York are continually looking for more ways to collaborate, and this is a perfect example,” said Rande S. Richardson, the foundation’s executive director. “We both have interests in the health of nonprofits in Lewis County, and we both have supported organizations that Renee was involved with. The Community Foundation has the tools to provide management of this fund that, in partnership with the United Way, will allow grants to be awarded, in Renee’s name, to Lewis County organizations in perpetuity.”

The Community Foundation, through its memorial funds, puts a special emphasis on ensuring that people are not forgotten, he said.

“We are especially honored when someone who cared so passionately about her region and was so deeply involved in helping nonprofit organizations can be remembered forever for that work,” Mr. Richardson said. “It is an honor for us to be associated with that and the United Way’s efforts to perpetuate it and inspire others to do the same.”

For information on the Renee Beyer-United Way Fund, contact Mr. Gorman at 788-5631 or by email at bgorman@unitedway-nny.org.

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