NANTICOKE — If Walter Mitchell were a rich man, he’d donate to the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre.
That’s what he said, or rather sang, Wednesday morning during a presentation at the LCCC Conference Center.
His presentation charmed an audience of speakers representing 32 nonprofit organizations from throughout Luzerne County during a nonprofit forum hosted by the Luzerne Foundation.
The forum provided organizations a gently enforced five-minute window in which to explain their needs and detail their goals for serving the communities of Northeastern Pennsylvania to a mixed audience of donors, grantmakers and other nonprofits.
Mitchell book-ended his five minutes singing excerpts from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” Between verses, he described the issues the Little Theatre faces.
“It’s a constant struggle to maintain a nearly 100-year-old building,” Mitchell said.
Aging pipes leak, the heat fails and ancient electrical systems sputter, he said, “and yet we press on.”
Gene Talerico of Marley’s Mission, an organization using horses to provide therapy to children emerging from traumatic situations, expressed lighthearted regret at having to follow Mitchell before her remarked, “I think I’m hooked on the Little Theatre.”
After about half of the organizations had presented, Luzerne Foundation President and CEO Charles Barber announced a 10-minute intermission. Attendees cleared the auditorium, adjourning to the conference center lobby, where they chatted and mingled over muffins and coffee.
Previously, Barber said he hoped the forum would spur such interaction and interplay between local nonprofits, as an overlap often exists in the services they provide. After the event, he said he had already heard many references to collaboration and working together from those organizations in attendance.
“We were very pleased with it,” he said, adding the forum attracted “not only a wonderful turnout from the 32 nonprofits that participated, but a very attentive audience.”
Many organizations reported a decrease in funding related to the economic downturn. Organizations offering a range of services — from addiction counseling to conservation to equine-assisted therapy — disclosed a variety of needs.
Some sought to raise awareness of their cause, and others simply seemed to simply be looking for visitors.
“The coffee pot is always on,” Georgetta Potoski of the Plymouth Historical Society said in invitation.
The Luzerne Foundation will hold a second nonprofit forum, featuring the five-minute format Wednesday at the Genetti Hotel & Convention Center in Wilkes-Barre.
With another 32 nonprofits slated to make their respective cases, Barber said he is looking forward to the event. He also spoke to the possibility of similar events in the future.
“We had enough people that wanted to participate that we could hold another day at any time,” he said.
Barber did note, however, the decision to hold another such event would depend on the board members of the Luzerne Foundation.
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