Union City Community Foundation celebrates 2023 successes

June 12, 2024

On June 10th, over 100 people gathered at the Union City American Legion to hear about advancements associated with the UCCF, including the creation of two new funds within the foundation by longtime UCCF board member and retired physician Dr. Rogelio “Roger” Allanigue, and one new fund established by the adult children of the late Robert and Donna Ferringer.

Allanigue’s two new funds include a scholarship fund that will permanently continue his practice of providing college scholarships to graduating Union City Area High School students, and a “community impact fund” called the Allanigue Family Fund.

The four Ferringer siblings – Susan, Robert Jr., Jeffrey and Steven – established a family fund in honor of their parents for which they will collectively decide which community organizations will receive future distributions. Jeff Ferringer told the assembled crowd he was inspired to suggest the fund’s creation to his sister and brothers because of UCCF Chairman Steve Jones’ relentless support for investing in the community, and after hearing at last year’s annual meeting about another local family having created a family fund to do the same.

Ferringer said the ability to grow the fund over time with additional contributions, knowing that all of the proceeds go to the community, and the ability to direct the fund’s distributions to “wherever we feel the money will help enrich our community and help the community flourish” were important factors in creating the fund. His brother Steve said, “Although we grew up in a very middle class home we learned that we were responsible to share what we were given. It was expected that any talents, wealth, knowledge, or time we were blessed with should be shared with others. This is something my siblings and I have strived to instill in our children and grandchildren.”

The Union City Historical Society, which operates the Union City Historical Museum, was honored with the foundation’s annual “I Believe” award in recognition of the society’s efforts in recent years to reinvigorate the museum through physical improvements to its space and a reorganization of its exhibits. The society board will receive a $2,000 award from the foundation as part of the recognition.

Erie County Executive Brenton Davis surprised the crowd with an announcement that the county is stepping in to fund a shortfall Union City Borough was experiencing for a project in one of its parks. Davis said the county is awarding the borough $73,114 toward a project in Devereaux Park, which will allow the borough to complete its original scope of work for the project. Davis joked that not even Borough Manager Cindy Wells, who applied for the funding and typically knows grant results before anyone else, was aware it was being awarded. The county’s funding will be added to a $50,000 grant Wells earlier acquired from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR), and $75,000 from two grants she successfully applied for from the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA), for a total project pool of $198,114.

Devereaux Park is where the tennis and basketball courts are located, at the intersection of Willow and Bridge streets and adjacent to French Creek. The proposed project scope includes an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible trail around the park, ADA access to the basketball and tennis courts, an ADA-accessible observation area adjacent to the creek, and benches and trash receptacles. The borough must advertise for bids, hopes to select a contractor by the end of July, and perhaps start the project in August or September. “I’m glad that the work being completed in Union City is noticed at the county level and that they recognize the need for the additional funding and the benefits it has to our community,” Wells later said of the surprise funding.

The three new funds created within the UCCF in 2023 increases the number of funds under its umbrella to 33. The foundation’s assets at the end of 2023 totaled just over $6.5 million, and grants and scholarships awarded last year totaled $129,259. Those awards included support for the alumni parade, the high school’s prom to dawn, matching funds for a major upcoming sidewalk restoration project along Bridge and Willow streets tied to safe walking routes for students, matching funds for continued downtown revitalization efforts, a grant to the Union City Volunteer Fire Department for rescue power tools, and support for the French Creek Festival.

The Foundation also acknowledged outgoing UCCF board member Darrell Cooper for his contributions to the organization, and urged those in attendance to support Union City’s nonprofit organizations during the upcoming “Erie Gives” event sponsored by the Erie Community Foundation, which is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 13.