by Winnie Blackwood
Even though both Frances and George Allen are gone, their generosity and legacy still live on at FM.
Announced during a press conference on April 29, FM is the beneficiary of a $2 million dollar donation by the late couple, the largest unrestricted gift given to the college, which will fund the construction of a Foundation House.
The Foundation House or known as the Allen House, will make the FM Foundation more accessible and visible, allowing the college to entertain, welcome and step up their fundraising efforts. The structure will be built on the Route 67 side of campus. The Administrative offices will also be moved into the proposed structure.
Del B. Salmon, the chairman of FM’s Foundation Board, said he discussed with Frances the idea of the Allen House before her passing on Dec. 12, at the age of 96.
“Over the years, Frances Allen wrote numerous checks to the Fulton Montgomery Community College on behalf of hundreds of scholarship recipients,” Salmon said. “This began her long association and respect for Fulton Montgomery Community College, and is the underlying motivation for Frances Allen’s significant bequest to FM.”
The Depression Era survivors lived a humble lifestyle, allowing FM to be one of the many charitable donations benefiting from the couple’s generosity.
Frances, a graduate of the Mildred Elley School in Albany, immediately went to work after receiving her degree in Secretarial Science. For 40 years she served as the office manager to Amsterdam Attorney Floyd J. Reinhart and then became the director of the Floyd J. Reinhart Memorial Scholarship foundation after his death until 2009.
George, who passed away at the age of 80 in 1989, worked in the construction field, as well as assisting his brother at Louie Allen’s Pool Hall, located on Market Street in Amsterdam.
“It really is the millionaires next door,” FM’s President Dustin Swanger said. “These were folks who lived relatively modestly yet amassed a vast amount of wealth, and upon their passing are sharing it with the community and the college.”
The Allen house will allow FM to step up their fundraising efforts and will facilitate a vision Swanger has had for the past five years.
“Public money keeps our doors open, but it doesn’t allow us to excel. In order to excel, we have to do more fundraising,” Swanger said.
Along with the construction of the Allen house, the donation will go towards the renovations of FM’s locker room. The renovations will cost an additional $2 million.
Swanger said because of these private donated dollars, FM can approach the state for a matching amount after approval from the two counties.
The Allen’s donation is the second largest gift given to the college, the first coming from the estate of the late Donald and Violet O’Connell with a $2.7 million donation in October.
Swanger hopes to break ground for the project in 2017.