Donor boosts Bath’s Japanese relief fund

Times Record Staff
Originally published in the Times Record, April 4 2011 page A2

Hoping to build — and sustain — momentum for local fundraising efforts to benefit Japanese communities ravaged in recent weeks by earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear plant breakdowns, an anonymous donor pledged to match donations made to the Bath-based Cheseborough Program Relief Fund.

Many Bath area residents have kept a particularly close watch on the efforts to rebuild in Japan in the wake of a March 11 earthquake, which triggered tsunamis and trouble with the island nation’s nuclear energy infrastructure. Bath has a two-decade-old sister-city program with the Japanese city of Tsugaru — and the relationship between the two communities dates to 1889, when the Bath-built ship Cheseborough wrecked off the shore of Shariki village, spurring villagers to stage a harrowing rescue effort in the stormy surf.

In the aftermath of last month’s disasters and in the midst of ongoing concern about radiation levels in Japan, leaders of the Bath-Tsugaru Sister City program launched a relief fund.

This weekend will feature a number of activities aimed to raise money for the fund, including a silent auction, swim-athon and antiques sale.

Carolyn Lockwood, a member of the sister-city program’s board and Cheseborough Program Relief Fund organizer, said a local donor hopes to build enthusiasm for the weekend with a generous kickoff gift.

The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, matched the $1,000 organizers have already raised and promises to respond to each additional $1,000 donation made by others by adding $100.

“She’s hoping to inspire other individuals or other groups to donate,” Lockwood said of the donor. “She wants to inspire people to give for good, and also to keep this going for a while, because she knows they’ll need help for a long time.”

Events planned, in part, to raise money this weekend include:

— A Saturday swim-athon at the Bath Area Family YMCA, kicking off what organizers are calling “A Day of Courage and Love Across the Sea.” Swimmers will gather pledges for laps they swim from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the miles racked up during the Saturday event will contribute to a years-long effort to tally a total equal to the distance from Bath to Shariki. Pledge sheets are available at, and more information can
be obtained by calling 443-4112.

— A silent auction, with hors d’oeuvres, will take place at Grace Episcopal Church at 1100 Washington St. from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. The suggested donation for entry is $5 per person. According to an event announcement, items up for auction will “include a wide variety of goods and services from area families and businesses.” For more information, visit, or call the church at 443-3792, or Lockwood at 443-8330.

— An antiques show at Bath Middle School will round out the weekend of events, taking place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Event promoter Polly Thibodeau said $1 from each admission charge of $4 (or $3.50 with a cut-out advertisement or article about the show) will be donated to the Cheseborough Program Relief Fund. Sunday’s show is the final show of Thibodeau’s 21st winter season series, and promises to include 50 dealers bringing “jewelry, furniture, paintings, porcelain, pottery, rugs, textiles and much more.” Lunch food will be available for purchase during the event. For more information, call 443-8983.