Friends of the Poor Director's Appeal
I hope your summer has been wonderful, and that you are looking forward to the changing of the seasons, leaves, and experiencing the beauty that Northeastern Pennsylvania offers as we turn to fall. As always, it has been a busy few months at Friends of the Poor, but we look forward to picking up our pace even more as the holidays rapidly approach.
Our Camp Connections, funded by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, was an utter success, educating 70 children from our developments on science, technology, robotics, engineering, art, and music (STREAM) for six-weeks at Keystone College. The six-week summer camp has expanded into a year-round program. Our students will continue working with the same teachers and curriculum in an after-school program that begins this month.
Over 160 children and their parents attended the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders game on August 7th for a family field trip where Friends of the Poor was the Community Organization of the Game. Although the RailRiders lost, the children had a blast playing in the bounce houses, watching the players warm up, and meeting some new four-legged friends as it was a dog-friendly evening! Luckily for us, the rain held off until we were all safely back on the bus.
Later in August, we welcomed our newest Jesuit Volunteer, Robbie Starkenburg. Robbie is from Maryland and shares our passion for serving those most in need. He will be here one full year, and we have already had him dive right in! Less than two weeks after his arrival, we held four back to school giveaways, one in each Jackson Terrace, Valley View Terrace, Bangor Heights, and Hilltop. Students from the University of Scranton’s FIRST program assisted with these giveaways, and we were able to supply 206 students with a backpack and all supplies needed for a successful start to the school year.
Our final news for the summer is that we were awarded two AmeriCorp VISTA positions by the state. These two positions, part of a state grant program, are one-year volunteer slots, wherein the VISTA seeks to eradicate poverty whilst living in it. Our VISTAs began at the end of August. Shayna Canty is our VISTA Volunteer Coordinator, and Dane Fallon is our VISTA Program Evaluation Coordinator. We look forward to the wonderful work these two will bring to Friends of the Poor, and the growth we will experience through their efforts.
Of course, all while our special summer programming and administrative changes were underway, so too were the efforts of our volunteers, ensuring our daily programming remained stable and accessible to anyone in need. We served 16,292 individuals, or 5,343 households, across our eight food pantries, dozens more with furniture and household items, 66 with rent and utility assistance, 21 with transportation to medical appointments from Carbondale, and over 81 with workwear from Clothesline for Men all since June 1st.
With all the good we have done in the community in just three short months, we now look forward to even more. In just a few weeks, we will hold our 43rd annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner, our 33rd annual Family to Family Thanksgiving Food Basket Giveaway, our Christmas Community Dinner, our Christmas Toy Giveaway, and our Family to Family Christmas Food Giveaway.
The numbers tell the story of your generosity. With your help, we made a difference in the lives of thousands of individuals in our community in just three months. With your continued generosity, that number will double just through our holiday events. As you know, our needs are greatest this time of year, from donations to volunteer hours. It takes a village, our village, to ensure that the holidays are bright and full of hope for each of our neighbors. We humbly ask for your continued support as we head into our busiest season.
In closing, we have two additional fundraisers coming up that we would like to invite you to attend. Together with Community Intervention Center, we will host a Community Fall Fest at the Marketplace at Steamtown on Saturday, October 12, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. There will be basket raffles, children’s programming, music, and more. Additionally, we are part of Boscov’s Friends Helping Friends program. For $5 you can purchase a 25% off shopping pass to be used on Wednesday, October 16. Volunteers will be selling tickets at Boscov’s on Wednesday, October 16. Tickets can also be purchased ahead of time by calling 570-340-6086.
In closing, we would like to take a moment to truly thank and appreciate each of you as you have walked along this journey with us. It seems like each month we see more people in desperate need of assistance. Poverty is a vicious cycle, but with your help, we are working to break it one family at a time. Your continued commitment to those less fortunate does not go unnoticed. Thank you for being a friend of the poor.
Chief Executive Officer