The Mountain Times

°F Sun, April 20, 2014

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Solar installers give largest single donation in event history at Paramount fundraiser

RUTLAND - The largest-ever donation during the Paramount Theatre's only annual fundraiser was greeted with a standing ovation and loud applause Saturday night.
Philip and Marlene Allen, owners of Same Sun of Vermont, donated $19,500 worth of solar panel installation services to the theatre, which was auctioned off to the highest bidder during the 11th annual event.
It started as one donation of $10,000 worth of services, the largest single donation.
But then, because of the demand and the cause, the Allens decided to follow in Castleton President Dave Wolk's footsteps - offering up two of the same donation on the spot, in the packed theatre.
The second highest bidder got their solar services for $9,500, for a total donation of $19,500 from one company - Same Sun.
Minutes earlier, Wolk nodded his head to a second donation as well, to serve dinner to a party of up to 12 at his own home.
On Monday, Phil Allen said he felt moved to do the same thing.
"People are giving us a lot of credit, but the credit needs to go to the buyers," Allen said, noting that many of the buyers of this year's 80 donated trips, game tickets, dinners, equipment and various services, paid close to, or exact, retail prices.
The fundraiser, the only major source of income for the downtown Rutland theatre, offered nearly 300 donated items in a silent auction and the live auction of the 80 big items by auctioner Robert Prozzo.
Nearly ten years ago when Theatre board member and community activist Paul Gallo took over the fundraiser, it only raised about $15,000 a year, by auctioning off pre-decorated trees, he remembered.
The trees are now gone and the profits are up, with the event bringing in close to $90,000 in one night for the theatre, according to Gallo.
The Allens can be credited with donating a substantial portion of that and the buyers, to buying the services up, with all proceeds going to the Paramount.
Marlene Allen said she donated because she "sees the Paramount as the driving force in Rutland's revitalization," and located her first Same Sun storefront next to it.
Philip Allen said he was thrilled to see audience members raise their paddles to clear a donation board of smaller amounts of $250 and $100, with those proceeds going to the Mentor Connector and the Boys and Girls Club of Rutland County.
Philip Allen said all new positive energy toward Rutland's downtown can be attributed to the theatre.
He also said he feels obligated to give back.
"In the two and a half years my business has been downtown, 30 percent of all solar in this country has been installed," Allen said.
"Before that, there wasn't enough confidence in solar or our business and we might not have had bidders like this year. The timing was right."
Cristina Kumka is a correspondent for The Mountain Times. She can be reached directly at