Philanthropy on the strip
On Oct. 9, New York’s Metropolitan Opera inaugurates its 2010-2011 The Met: Live in HD series with Wagner’s Das Rheingold, and residents of Raton can experience it on the screen of the historic El Raton Theatre. The equipment that facilitates showings of the series was purchased by the Whited Foundation, working with the Santa Fe Trail School for the Performing Arts. It’s just one example of the artsoriented philanthropy of the Whited Foundation.
According to nominator Bill Fegan (who received a Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2007), the Raton-based foundation supports scholarships in the arts and has given funding to about 20 different local organizations, including major grants to the Raton MainStreet program and Raton public schools. “We do scholarships for Raton high school graduates to pursue studies in the fine arts,” said Mark Morris, chairman of the foundation’s board of directors. “We’ve bought new band instruments and uniforms and choir robes, and we just approved the purchase of some computers for the high school to start a graphic-design program.” The foundation also funds the Raton Arts & Humanities Council, which has an annual performing-arts program — this fall, the schedule includes Rhythm & Passion — a tango/salsa show — and the Redhead Express bluegrass group.
“We also do funding for Music From Angel Fire,” Morris said. “The organization puts on a concert here in Raton, which is free to attend because we give them sponsorship dollars.”
The Whited Foundation is named after a local couple, Jim and Leila Whited. “They were longtime Raton residents,” Morris said. “He owned a jewelry store, and he was very astute with investments in the stock market. The foundation was started in 1997 upon their deaths.”
“Jim Whited directed the city band, and he was the song leader for Rotary International all over the world,” Fegan recalled. “Wherever there was an international Rotary convention, they were there. He led the singing, and she played the piano.”