Sending the Elevator Back Down

The other day while randomly flicking through channels, I caught a glimpse of an interview with Kevin Spacey. He’d been asked a question about why he spends so much free time working with young actors. His answer was remarkable. Quoting mentor Jack Lemmon ’47, Spacey said: “I believe that if you have been successful in the business you wanted to be successful in, and if you have achieved a lot of the dreams you’ve dreamed… it’s your obligation… to send the elevator back down.”

Sending the elevator back down.

For years, I’ve been looking for a simple way to describe the work we do at the Foundation. It’s various and variable, covering fields as diverse as historic preservation (through the Suite Museum and Collections); educational programming & scholarships (through our Global Citizenship programs); or real-world research (through the FDR Center for Global Engagement) to find practical solutions to the daunting challenges we face as a nation and a globe to successfully transit the 21st century. But I couldn’t have found a better phrase than this: Sending the elevator back down.

That’s what we do. Plain and simple. We — in this case, I, a dedicated group of alumni, our House Masters, our affiliated faculty, you, our supporters — we all attempt to take some of the incredible good fortune we’ve experienced and pass that forward.

But to continue, we need your help. Over the last year, we have nearly doubled our historic preservation efforts, educational programming, and scholarships due to exceptional demand. Requests to tour the Suite now come almost weekly; our student seminars have expanded in number from one to twelve; our Global Fellowship summer study grants from one to three. We’ve launched an entirely new endeavor, a non-partisan think-tank, the FDR Center for Global Engagement. Yet individual contributions supporting these efforts have fallen off. A common perception is that we receive substantial funds from the University or from major corporate sponsors. We don’t. We do all this solely through the contributions of dedicated volunteers and the generosity of people like you.

Now, I’d like to ask you to consider helping our efforts. (Or, if you already have in the past, to do so again.) There are many easy ways to do this, from sustaining monthly gifts via credit card, to direct donation of money, of airline frequent flyer miles, of stocks, bonds, or securities. We’re a registered 501(c)3, which means for US residents, your contributions are tax deductible. You may donate in someone’s name, from a private foundation, or anonymously. Simply email me a michael.weishan at fdrfoundation dot org and we’ll walk you through the process.

I know you receive appeals from many quarters. But we like to think that this very special place, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation, nestled in the best of all the houses, Adams, in the bosom of the world’s top university, Harvard, is in a unique position to utilize the legacy of one of our greatest presidents to better all our futures. We here have done our best to send that elevator back down. Please help us ensure that the next car up is packed to capacity.

With warmest wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.



Harvard-Yale, and A Bit of the Past Returned

First of all, on behalf of Masters Palfrey and the Foundation, it was wonderful to greet the 250 plus of you who returned to Adams after the game. I am proud to note that our potent 1878 Harvard Punch withstood the onslaught (just!) with the last few drops warming the cockles of the final visitors around 6 PM.  Since we began this tradition in 2010 with 40 odd guests, the celebration has grown to be one of the largest, if not the largest, alumni post-game celebrations at Harvard-Yale, and I think it truly represents the warm affinity we feel for a special place called Adams.

Before the glow entirely passes however, I just wanted to share with you a wonderful photo. As part of our FDR Suite collections, we recently acquired a 1900 silk Harvard Football flag. This ingenious invention looks like a brass-tipped wand when not in use. To unfurl, you pull the flag staff out of the tube, reverse, attach the staff to the base, and unwind the flag. Presto!
footballflagThis flag belonged to a contemporary of FDR and was purchased from an estate in Maine; as far as we know this is the first time it has returned to Harvard stadium in 112 years. The old girl is a bit faded, but her silk is still supple in the wind; without a doubt, it was the oldest banner flying that day.

Thanks to Santiago Pardo ’15, (flag bearer) Megan Corrigan ’16 & Lisa Wang ’16 (wavers) and Amna Hashmi ’16 (photo) for helping bring a bit of Harvard history back to life.

(PS: We think this is a product whose day has come again, and we’d like to put these flags back into manufacture. The staff and flag are easily replicated, but the brass-tipped tube (made of some sort of pressed material such as thick cardboard) is unique. If any of you have thoughts on how that might be accomplished, i.e. finding a maker, or, would be interested in underwriting some of the costs, etc. I’d like to hear from you. )

Views From the Embassy: The Role of U.S. Diplomats in France, 1914.

Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff from the State Department Historian’s office will be at Adams House this coming MONDAY, November 24th. 1-2pm, in the Conservatory presenting “Views From the Embassy: The Role of U.S. Diplomats in France, 1914.”

“The story is fascinating and… intertwines a lot of U.S. social history of the era. Many of the men at U.S. Embassy France in 1914 were Harvard graduates” including Teddy Roosevelt’s cousin Nick Roosevelt and classmate Robert Bacon.

Join us!