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Help to pay the bills: Southold Historical Society receives $2K grant

During times like these, paying basic bills can be a challenge, but the Southold Historical Society has received a helping hand to do just that.

The society announced it’s received the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation’s COVID-19 General Operating Support Grant. The $2,000 grant, offered to Long Island history mission organizations to counter the financial impact of the pandemic, was the maximum award. It is meant to cover expenses related to general operations, including technology support, database functions, building monitoring and security, landscape maintenance, utilities, etc. Applications were accepted through June 30 and funding notifications and reimbursement awards were disbursed July 15.

Society executive director Deanna Witte-Walker said in a statement that the award “comes at the perfect time. It has been a difficult few months, but this grant award supports the Society as we discover different ways to grow as an organization.”

The nonprofit historical society, which depends almost entirely on private donations, has been closed to the public since mid-March, although its five-person staff is currently working on site and at home, said Ms. Witte-Walker.

 In a phone interview Tuesday, she said the shutdown has been “extremely difficult, mainly because we’re a volunteer organization, so most of our functions are possible due to the kindness and generosity of our volunteers who come in and give their time. We really rely on the generosity of our community.”

The historical society, whose mission is to educate, collect and preserve Southold’s history, has adapted to conditions by continuing to operate virtually during the pandemic. Among the new initiatives offered are virtual exhibits, a “collections corner” program that features artifacts from the collection as well as other virtual programming.

“So, we’ve been able to do a lot more virtually that we never even thought we would do and also just to share our collection in a bigger way,” Ms. Witte-Walker said. “One of the things that comes up often, a sentiment that we hear, is we have such a large, rich collection, and people don’t get to see enough of it. And now with using, you know, virtual exhibits and … more social media, we’re sharing highlights from our collection much more broadly, so that’s been a great plus.”