History and Accomplishments
The Mark Seven Deaf Foundation (M7DF) was established in 1979 by Fr. Thomas Coughlin and a group of friends who were also lay people. Their intent was to establish a leadership and recreational camp in the Adirondack Mountains of New York for deaf children. Over several years, many deaf Catholics and friends in the community made contributions to a fund for the eventual purchase of a Camp property.
In 1981, a 7.20-acre lakefront property, formerly the exclusive Mohawk Hotel at the turn of the century, was purchased for $75,000 at a bankruptcy sale. It is located on the pristine Fourth Lake in the Adirondack Mountains, seven miles north of Old Forge.
Extensive renovations were conducted by deaf and hearing volunteers, and in June 1982, Camp Mark Seven (CM7) opened its doors. Much use is made of the Camp during the late spring and summer months as the lodge was not built to handle late fall and winter usage. To date, it continues to serve deaf and KODA (hearing kids of deaf adults) children/youth, and adults of all ages.
Since 1982, we averaged between 50 to 130 deaf campers per year, and since 1997, we averaged between 147 to 298 KODA campers per year. Other annual programs are Silent Week (sign language participants), Elder Camp (deaf senior citizens), and the Bible Institute. We also held certain programs such as Family Week if the facility is not booked by another organization for their retreat or program.
Friends of CM7 have been exceptionally responsive over the last quarter century in regard to donating supplies, money, in-kind gifts, and volunteering for many tasks. The century-old lodge continues to need extensive work, and renovations are always an ongoing task. This is costly and our supporters always want to help. Since using an accounting program in 1996, our general contributions totaled $471,410.00, which averaged to $31,427.00 per year. This does not include funds earned from our Capital Campaign, the Metamorphosis Gala or other fundraisers. Furthermore, many of our contributors fundraise for us without our knowledge; for example, a Silent Week participant raised $700.00 for CM7 in April of 2010.
One of CM7’s greatest assets is the contribution of in-kind services; many people offer to volunteer over the years, be it a college fraternity/sorority group, an Architect to a groundskeeper. Since CM7’s inception, thousands of hours have been donated, and it continues to this day. Furthermore, each member of the M7DF Board not only contributes to CM7 financially, but is also a working board where they fundraise or contribute their skills. Diverse organizations also contribute their time in a variety of ways—for instance, Dennis Baszynski, a former M7DF board member, worked diligently in collaboration with his company, SWBR Architects of Rochester, NY, to renovate the lodge and beautify the camp grounds. With a great team of volunteers, they have been able to accomplish the following:
- Renovation of the bathrooms on the girls’ and boys’ floors;
- Replacement of the warped walkway leading from the lodge to the lake, with the physical assistance of NTID's Delta Sigma Pi fraternity. Deep appreciation went to Mr. and Mrs. Adam Maldonado from Connecticut who donated $5,000.00 for this project;
- Removal of the warped, red linoleum in the dining hall (it was the original floor from the Mohawk Hotel). The new tiles are specifically designed to handle all types of weather, and the new colors (tan, green and red) make you feel like you're truly in the Adirondacks!;
- Replacement of all linoleum with tiles in the kitchen; and
- A "CM7" logo made of tiles was placed on the foyer entrance floor.
In 1997, KODA Camp was founded, to provide an educational and recreational forum for hearing children of Deaf parents to understand, explore, celebrate, and have a stronger sense and understanding of identity and pride in their bilingualism and biculturalism. The KODAs also develop life-long friendships, a peer support network, and sense of community with others who share common life experiences.
In 2004, M7DF kicked off a $300,000 Capital Campaign to raise funds to conduct major renovations to the main lodge, formerly the Mohawk Hotel built in 1899, and to expand the campership endowment fund, which provides camperships for youth and children. This goal was realized in 2008, through several avenues:
- M7DF's subsidiary, Camp Mark Seven (CM7) celebrated its 25th Anniversary and KODA Camp's 10th Anniversary Reunion on August 15-19th, 2007;
- A Curtis Pride Dinner Fundraiser Benefit was held on December 9, 2006 in Clarksville, Maryland. Mr. Pride was the first deaf person to play full-season in the history of modern Major League Baseball;
- The Friends of the Foundation; individuals or organizations contributed $1000.00 or more, and their names were placed on engraved plagues on the "Tree of Life" wall at CM7; and
- A variety of other fundraising events, either conducted by M7DF board members or CM7's friends, former campers and/or staff.
The Foundation hosted the Metamorphosis Gala May 15, 2010 at the Lincoln Center, in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse in New York City. This exciting event honored Meredith "Muffy" Greenough, daughter of the late world-renowned opera singer Beverly Sills, and her late husband, Peter Greenough. In memory of her mother, Ms. Greenough has created the Beverly Sills and Meredith Greenough Trust Fund for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, in support of Camp Mark Seven. The Beverly Sills and Meredith Greenough Trust will ensure funds for the establishment of a multi-purpose amphitheater for general camp activities, especially summer performing arts programs. Also, it will offer camperships (financial aid) for the performing and visual arts programs. Coyne Public Relations in New York City donated their PR services for this event.
The following highlights will illustrate some of the high points of CM7’s history:
- M7DF has been debt-free since its founding;
- In 1990, CM7 was featured in Time Magazine;
- In 1992, M7DF became a non-profit organization with a 501(C)3 status;
- In 1997, KODA Camp was founded, the first of its kind in the country;
- In 1998, CM7 received accreditation from the American Camping Association;
- In 1999, CM7 received the Eleanor Eels Award from the American Camping Association for Innovative Camping and Program Excellence;
- In 2000, CM7 was featured on the front page of the Watertown, New York Times;
- In 2001, CM7 and the Central Adirondack Association hosted their first annual 5K, 10K Walk and Fun Run event in Old Forge;
- In 2004, the M7DF Capital Campaign was established to raise $300,000;
- In 2006, a Curtis Pride Dinner Fundraiser Benefit was held;
- In 2007, CM7 celebrated its 25th Anniversary, including KODA Camp’s 10th Anniversary; and
- In 2008, the M7DF Capital Campaign's goal of raising $300,000 was realized.