When local organizations step up to support local initiatives, communities experience success.
“Communities that organize and work with a goal in mind benefit and prosper far more than those that don’t,” said Pat Postma, co-chair of a group leading a fund drive for a new Peace Pavilion for the Oak Ridge International Friendship Bell.
Postma is pleased that many local organizations have contributed to the Friendship Bell drive, seeing it as a sign of strong community support when organizations that raise funds for their own causes contribute to other community initiatives, as well. They join contractors, businesses, local governments, and individuals that are supporting the effort, a press release said.
Among the first organization to contribute to the drive was the Girl Scouts Oak Ridge Service Unit, which observes the United Nations International Day of Peace annually at the Friendship Bell and has established friendships with Girl Scouts from Oak Ridge’s sister city in Japan, the press release said.
“The Girl Scouts of Oak Ridge made a donation of $1,000 when we had a visit from our sister Girl Scout Troop 37 in Naka, Japan, in 2014,” said Jerry Luckmann, community service coordinator for the Oak Ridge Service Unit, which covers about 30 troops in the Oak Ridge area.
The bell was placed on a concrete pad in Alvin K. Bissell Park in 2014 after the roof beams in the wooden structure housing the bell had deteriorated. Luckmann said the Girl Scouts were sad that the bell was on the ground when they gathered for photos with their Naka visitors, and look forward to ringing it again.
The most recent community donor is the Altrusa International of Oak Ridge Foundation, which presented $1,000 to the Peace Pavilion fund, the press release said. That foundation donation came after individual members of Altrusa International of Oak Ridge contributed a total of $20,920 to the fund. The contributions were made following a program on the Friendship Bell presented by Pat Postma and Shigeko Uppuluri, who with her husband Ram, who has since passed away, first proposed the Friendship Bell.
“Altrusa decided to contribute to the bell because of the strong commitment of the group to literacy,” said Naomi Asher, president of the Altrusa Foundation when the contribution was made earlier this year. “While it might not immediately seem like a fit, the bell has helped encourage literacy when so many of the kids in our community became excited about the history of our city, and thus the world at the time of World War II, through a field trip to the bell. There, they could stand inside the bell while a friend hit the outside, letting out the distinctive ring.
“Not only for children, but also for adults, the history and education of the role our city plays in the world is brought to life by this monument of peace and friendship.”
The three Oak Ridge Rotary Clubs—the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge, Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club, and Oak Ridge Sunset Rotary Club—jointly contributed $10,000 for the new Peace Pavilion. Individual members of the Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club have contributed more than $50,000, the press release said.
The Roane Alliance also contributed $10,000, viewing the bell project as a tourism attraction relating to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park that will bring economic benefit to the county. Adventure Anderson County, the county’s tourism agency, also supported the Bell’s Peace Pavilion with a $5,000 contribution, based on projections that the bell will be among major attractions for the 50,000 visitors expected annually at the national park.
The Women’s Interfaith Dialogue of Oak Ridge, which brings together women of diverse faiths, colors, and cultures, also contributed to the Peace Pavilion fund, collecting donations at a spring meeting when Shigeko Uppuluri was among the speakers.
“The April meeting focused on the peace teachings of different faith traditions. Shigeko introduced the program and spoke to us about the purpose of the Peace Bell. It was our way of honoring her, by taking a special collection to give to the fund,” said Reverend Carolyn Dipboye, pastor of Grace Covenant Church and an organizer of the group.
Writing in a column last May, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said he observed during a recent car trip from Austin, Indiana, to Oak Ridge that communities thrive when coalitions form to nurture unique local assets. He found Oak Ridge to be a thriving community, and Postma sees the community support for the bell as a sign of a city that is united and thriving.
The International Friendship Bell will soon move to a new location in the heart of Bissell Park, with a striking new cantilever design by Washington, D.C., architect Ziad Demian for the Peace Pavilion that will house the bell. Gardens and open space will surround the bell.
About $700,000 has been raised for the $755,000 project, which includes the new Peace Pavilion and gardens. In the press release, Postma pointed out that contributions are needed for the gardens and lighting, the final parts of the project, and that fundraising must be completed soon.
Postma, Uppuluri, and Alan Tatum, co-chair of the citizens committee raising funds for the bell, have visited a number of local organizations to present plans and talk about aspects of the project. They would welcome the opportunity to visit local organizations and make them a part of this community project, the release said.
Donations to the Bell and Peace Pavilion are tax deductible. Donations may be made online on the website http://friendshipbell.com, or by sending a check to the Oak Ridge Rotary Community Fund, with “For the Bell” on the memo line, to: International Friendship Bell, C/O David Carr, Oak Ridge Rotary Community Fund, P.O. Box 6331, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6331.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
This press release and photos were submitted by Kay Brookshire.
Note: There is a groundbreaking for the new International Friendship Bell Peace Pavilion at 5 p.m. Thursday, September 21, at the bell’s new location in Alvin K. Bissell Park, west of the Oak Ridge Civic Center. Learn more here.
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