Abigail Jerome Guest Columnist | The Times Leader | December 12, 2020
I’m sure you’ve had a little girl come to your door trying to sell girl scout cookies, or have seen a Santa with a bell and kettle around the holidays.
Maybe you have even done one of these activities.
I know that people always asking for things can be frustrating, but what do these gifts mean to the community? Did you know that sometimes your change from the drive-through could be paying for medical care for a veteran or an elderly citizen? Perhaps your pennies are going to provide shelter for a woman and her children escaping domestic abuse? Or, you just may be paying for the trauma therapy of a sexually abused child? What about a woman struggling with a crisis pregnancy?
A few years ago, I didn’t even know that these issues existed in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I’d like to share with you about a few of my favorite local charities.
The Hope Center in Luzerne provides many types of medical services for the uninsured and underinsured. Most of their patients happen to be veterans and the elderly. Without the Hope Center where would these people go for hearing aids, prescriptions, dental care and everyday healthcare? This wonderful community program also realizes the importance of mental and emotional health and offers a social community where these people are more included and feel less lonely.
Ruth’s place is a crisis shelter for women and the Catherine McAuley House provides shelter and assistance for women and their children. They provide meals, clothing and a warm, safe place to rest. McAuley House helps the children get to and from school and assists the mothers in recovery. They also provide a comprehensive program to help them with jobs and life skills to work toward independence.
Country Heart Farms is an equine therapy farm providing free mental health counseling, camps and programs for abused children, veterans and those struggling with mental illness. They also provide after-school tutoring and meals for children in need. Additionally, all the animals used for therapy are rescued.
The Pro-Life Center in Hanover Township provides resources for women in crisis. The center helps pay for ultrasounds and OB appointments. They also provide baby food, blankets, clothes, diapers, toys and cribs. This gives women the opportunity to raise their baby with the help of a loving and supportive community.
The staff of each of these charities work tirelessly to continually provide much-needed services for the community. There are so many other wonderful charities in our area, and I could write for days about all they do to help those in need. These charities provide some of the most essential and basic daily needs which we often take for granted. I know that sometimes it is hard to give. But if you have been blessed with even a little extra, remember those without. Remember that the veteran with PTSD could be your dad, the abused child could be your neighbor, the woman with a crisis pregnancy could be your daughter. Remember your elderly neighbors in need. Chances are you know someone who is hurting.
Our communities would be suffering much more significantly without these charities and people who care. Reach out into your community and give back. Who knows, maybe your dimes are changing someone’s life.
James 1:27. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the World.”
YAC members are learning the fundamentals of philanthropy. Many have probably participated in fundraisers – a bake sale, dance marathon, car wash, etc. Thus, it may not be out of their comfort zone to solicit potential donors to raise approximately $15,000 to give away. It is the next step that provides a challenge.
How do you give that money away? Throughout the year-long program, “YACsters” survey community needs, solicit grant applications and review them. Site visits occur, and reports are presented to the entire group so that votes may be taken on who should receive the grants. The students quickly understand that the needs are many, and there is not always enough to go around.
Nonprofits were invited to present at a YAC nonprofit forum where members asked direct questions. The group narrowed the field to 8- 12 nonprofits, site visits occurred then discussions ensued regarding each request. Finally, the field was narrowed to three and a final vote was taken
Since the 2013/14 school year, YAC has supported 27 organizations with grants totaling $111,775.