“I have heard it said that if you wait long enough, people will surprise and impress you,” said Nikki Maounis, Executive Director of the Camden Public Library. That was certainly the case when the library received notice of the profoundly generous bequest of over $100,000 by Vera J. Hill. “Wow!” Maounis added, “I wish I had known her and could thank her in person.”
According to Maounis, “Bequests of this size are quite rare. It was very welcome and will make a notable impact.” In fact, in the eleven years that she has been the library’s director, Maounis can only remember one or two bequests that were even in the same ballpark.
The sweeping generosity of Vera Hill, who passed away at age 92, will resonate across the Midcoast as churches, libraries, schools, and even an animal shelter will benefit from her considerate gifts. Hill worked for National Sea Products in Rockland and was active in the Episcopal Church in Camden and Rockland. She is buried in Seaview Cemetery in Camden, and in her obituary, she is remembered for “her cleverness and quick wit, her natural ability to listen and engage others in conversation, and her great sense of humor.” Her legacy is truly an example of how one person’s thoughtful philanthropy can make a radical difference in a community.
The public is often not aware of how nonprofits, such as the Camden Public Library, sustain their operations. It is a misconception that, because Camden’s library is a beautiful historic building on a hill, it is endowed with bountiful funding that will keep it afloat in perpetuity. The reality is that the library is only partly funded by the town. The library must independently raise 52 percent of its operating budget, a daunting $500,000 every single year in order to keep the doors open.
“In a town the size of Camden, a library is truly the center for public life,” said Maounis. “In our community, it’s the place you come to get something to read, meet a friend, learn about local history. It’s a hub and an anchor. So much happens here.” Vera Hill’s bequest came in the midst of the library’s Campaign for the Future — the library’s planful effort create a fund that will ensure that the lantern on the hill will remain lit, in lean times as well as in times of abundance. While Hill’s bequested gift of more than $100,000 made a big impact on the campaign, just over $600,000 is still left to be raised to meet the goal.
The library will be honoring Vera Hill with a dedication engraved on one of the stones in the pathway leading to the library’s entrance. The engraving will read: Vera Hill - Your Gift is Our Future.