WESTFIELD—The city’s 350th anniversary now has an organization that will be able to officially lead the celebration planning.
The 350th anniversary celebration is being headed by the newly-created Friends of the Westfield 350, Inc., according to Harry Rock, president of the organization. The Friends have been starting the planning for the celebration and organizing, but they were not recognized by the state as a nonprofit organization, Rock said.
That all changed last Friday, according to Rock.
“It’s exciting to me because it gives us validity and a presence and says that we are an official organization,” Rock said. “We also got our EIN [employer identification number] so we can establish a bank account and start fundraising.”
According to Rock, the creation of the Friends of the Westfield 350 was done with assistance from local attorney Tom Keenan.
Rock said that the organization hopes to start fundraising soon. He also said that the finances of the organization will be transparent, both for those concerned and for those who donate.
“I’m a big believer in donor intent,” he said. “Making sure funds are used in the way that the person intended with those monies.”
Now that the group has an official organizational status, Rock said that their next step is to gain 501(c)3 status, so donations made to the organizations can be tax-deductible.
Currently, Rock said that the organization is developed to feature five committees, with two co-chairs within each committee. In addition, Peter Miller, community development director, and Amber Danahey, community outreach coordinator, are representatives for the city in the organization.
“We are working in partnership with the city but we are a private organization tasked with planning,” Rock said. “The biggest thing we are doing, we’re really setting the stage.”
In addition to the announcement of being a nonprofit organization, Rock said that planning for the 2019 celebration is underway. Some ideas that have been floated in their first ever board meeting last week included having a First Night on Dec. 31, 2018, which includes family-friendly activities and possible overnight activities, as well ideas for fireworks, parades and possible use of the Columbia Greenway in a celebration throughout the year.
“Our role is to really celebrate the history and the heritage of the city and to create activities and events,” he said.
According to Rock, this will be done with three tenets in mind.
“One—they have to be fun because why else would we do it? Two—they need to be educational, so we can talk about what made this city so great. And three—each thing we do needs to be memorable, so everything is well thought-out and it is significant,” he said.
Rock said that if anyone has any ideas for possible celebrations, want to volunteer or would like to donate, they can currently contact Danahey at city hall at (413) 572-6244, or via email at [email protected]