Saying Goodbye to a Dream

    By on November 25, 2015

    To the Editor,

    The Education Through Involvement Program was developed for the Oswego Maritime Foundation in 1985 and construction of the Schooner OMF Ontario began in 1988. The Schooner was to be used as a floating classroom for educational programs about the history, heritage, resources and ecology of the Great Lakes and made available to organized groups from schools and community organizations. This unique educational mission was KEY to attracting the hundreds of volunteers, donors, service providers, and grant agencies. In 2012-14, the OMF Ontario was rigged and sailing the waters of Oswego harbor and Lake Ontario. We were within two years of completeing a USCG license as an Inspected Passenger Vessel. We were entirely debt-free.

    Recently, the three non-profit maritime organizations in Oswego merged into a single unit. The H. Lee White Marine Museum emerged as the leader and decided to change the mission of the OMF Ontario to include commercial/part-commercial uses. This was a major change in direction and not in keeping with the commitment of volunteer crew, donors, service providers and grant agencies. While many have suggested that WE finish the schooner construction first then talk about how it will be used, after 30 years of volunteer effort I cannot abandon my commitment to the original intent or its loyal supporters. With no other recourse, I resigned as Program Director in January 2015, with a dream unfulfilled but personal pride and intergrity intact. A dream unfulfilled — yes, but with many happy memories of what can be accomplished with a sound plan and volunteer effort.

    — Henry Spang, Former Director, Education Through Involvement Program

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