From Maine Preservation, November 21, 2019:
Tackling preservation funding can produce watershed moments; and an innovative approach can be the key to channeling donations. This year, two young fundraisers took the plunge for preservation.
Molly Siegel, an Island fellow, and Alison Richardson, who works on the island, came up with a creative idea to shine a light on the plight of the Isle au Haut lighthouse, a still operating 1907 treasure that’s an icon of the island and the Maine Coast. The lighthouse is in dire need of restoration estimated at $500,000. Isle au Haut has just 60 full time residents, so funds need to come from a wider geographic area.
A lightning bolt of an idea from Alison served as the final push for their summer’s fundraising efforts: “Why don’t we swim around the island?,” led to a snap campaign to raise $1,000 per mile of shoreline. Over the course of August and September, in one- to two-mile legs, they became the first people to swim around Isle au Haut, starting and ending at the lighthouse. They swam 18 miles in all, in water temperature in the low to mid 50s and to date they’ve raised more than the sought $18,000 for the cause.
Their efforts generated awareness and enthusiasm throughout the state for the lighthouse and its preservation. Molly and Alison are a terrific example of how passion and creative thinking can lead to preservation results and they are this year’s winners of the Spirit of Preservation Award.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.”