STS takes 3rd place in Ulster Savings funding contest

By Jay Braman Jr.
The people at the Shandaken Theatrical Society in Phoenicia have something to clap about this week, and it’s not about something on the non-profit group’s stage, but in its bank account.
The group, known locally as STS and based inside an old Oddfellows Hall turned theater, has taken third prize in a unique Internet based contest mounted by the Ulster Savings Bank.
The bank, with branches not only in Phoenicia but as far south as Newburgh and north over to Greene County’s Windham, picked out 180 non-profit group deemed worthy of donation and asked Facebook users to vote for the ones they wanted to see funded.

Support is strong
With a first place prize of $3,000, second place $1,500 and third place $500, voting over the two-week period was heavy.
The rules were simple; vote for as many of the groups as you want, but only vote once a day.
When the dust settled on February 13, The Sparrows Nest, a Hopewell Junction-based group that supports families of mothers with cancer, took first place with 3,274 votes.
Mid-Hudson Animal Aid, a no-kill cat sanctuary in Beacon, came in second place 2,403 votes. STS was right behind them and took third place with 2,378 votes.
STS Artistic Director Michael Koegel said there’s no shortage of ideas for how to use the prize.
“The $500 could be spent in a hundred different ways,” he said. “Towards some of our production costs for “Sylvia,” towards our heating bill, towards paying musicians for our upcoming musical “The Robber Bridegroom,” or to the guys who shovel us out from under the mountain of snow we’re under. There are so many expenses to running an all volunteer, non-profit, and the money will likely go towards a little of all of those things.”
STS Board President Amy Wallace said the contest showed the organization’s popularity.
“STS has been a part of the Hamlet of Phoenicia and the Catskills’ art scene for over 30 years. During the contest we got so many emails of support from members of the community who told us about how much STS Playhouse means to them,” she said. “Thanks to everyone who supported us and thanks to Ulster Savings for creating a contest that was not only generous but raised some awareness about all the great organizations doing amazing things around here.”

Rewarding to see
The group’s treasurer, Barbara Mansfield, said that winning was not only a financial benefit.
“While $500 is significant contribution for us, the greater boost is the show of support,” she said. “The huge number of people who voted for the playhouse is a pretty clear indication that this is an important community resource.”
And as great as that prize is, the contest yielded a financial encore. Someone that prefers to remain anonymous was disappointed that STS didn’t finish higher so they donated $1,000 to make up the difference.