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The Melissa Lahtinen-Penfield Organ Donor Fund

Created in memory of Melissa Lahtinen-Penfield, whose wish was to assist families with expenses related to organ donation and educate the community of its vital importance.


Melissa Lahtinen-Penfield was a city councilwoman in Plattsburgh, a social studies teacher in the city school district, an accomplished athlete, a varsity swim coach for a championship team, a grant writer who brought the first AmeriCorps youth program to Clinton County, an advocate for the protection of Lake Champlain, and an active leader in women's issues.

By the age of 32, Melissa had already contributed a lifetime's worth of service to mankind and her community. When a lung-lobe transplant was needed to save her life, North Country communities unified in prayer, hope, and generosity. Scores of people, many of whom had never met her, volunteered as potential donors. Melissa's death created a vital awareness of the importance of organ donation. Her spirit is renewed continuously by the people who were touched by this extraordinary woman

In July 2000, William Santa and members of the Hometown WIRY team, established the annual Melissa Lahtinen-Penfield (MLP) Organ Donor Golf Tournament in her memory. Proceeds of the tournament, together with donations made directly to the fund, will be used to promote organ donation awareness and defray those costs associated with organ transplants which are not covered by health insurance.

Eligibility and Criteria

Residents of Clinton County are eligible to receive consideration for grants of up to $2,500/annually for expenses associated with organ transplants not covered by health insurance. Expenses considered for reimbursement include medical expenses not covered by insurance, travel and lodging expenses, and meals not including alcohol. Financial need will be the primary determinant upon which the application will be weighed. The size of grants is limited to the income generated by the fund. Grants are awarded on an equal opportunity basis regardless of sex, color, race, creed or religion.

Click here for the Application (PDF format)