Heroes Gala Will Support Child Advocacy Program January 12, 2018
"I've yet to see a child who's asked to be in these circumstances," asserted Karen Blevins, CASA of Lancaster County's Volunteer of the Year. "There's not a kid out there who's not worth trying to save."
Blevins, who lives in the Hempfield School District, has been actively supporting abused and neglected children in Lancaster County's foster care system as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for the past two years. She currently intercedes for four children and teenagers, and she has served as a CASA for two additional young people. It is unusual for a CASA to work with more than one child or sibling group at a time, but Blevins is determined to do her part to ensure that children receive the support they need.
"I had one (child) who told me he didn't know what it was like to have someone stand up for him," Blevins said. "It just tore me up. I went out to my car and bawled."
As the name implies, CASAs like Blevins are trained volunteers who are appointed by a judge to get to know a specific child or sibling group in foster care and fight for and protect their right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect, and to learn and grow in the security of a loving family. There are approximately 550 youths in foster care in Lancaster County, and CASAs are currently advocating for 228. An additional 15 cases have been referred by a judge and are waiting for a CASA.
"There's such a great need," Blevins said.
"I understand the role of an advocate sounds daunting, but you don't need to have a specific background or education," commented CASA of Lancaster County executive director Jessica Laspino.
"You just need to have a heart for kids," Blevins added.
There is an application process. Once accepted, volunteers attend twice-weekly training sessions for four weeks. Upon successfully completing the training, the volunteers are sworn in as advocates by a judge. Blevins noted that she felt well-prepared for her first appointment, and support from the CASA volunteer managers and other staff members is always available. The training is provided free of charge, and while there is a cost for one of the required background checks, CASA of Lancaster County ensures that socioeconomic status does not hinder individuals from completing that step.
In order to fund program operations, recruit and train advocates, and provide staff support, CASA of Lancaster County will hold its Heroes Gala and benefit auction on Friday, Sept. 22, at 6 p.m. at the Lancaster County Convention Center, 25 S. Queen St., Lancaster. The evening will feature hearty hors d'oeuvres, including carving stations and butlered bites. A variety of beverages will be available. While there will not be a formal sit-down dinner, there will be a seat for everyone, Laspino noted. The event will include music by DJ Mast, live and silent auctions, and the recognition of Blevins as Volunteer of the Year. A business will also be recognized for its support of the program.
"I was blown away (to be named Volunteer of the Year)," Blevins commented. "I totally didn't expect anything like that. I'm humbled and honored."
Among Blevins' guests for the event will be a young man for whom she once served as a CASA. He has appeared with Blevins in promotional materials for the program.
Tickets for the Heroes Gala may be purchased by calling the CASA office at 717-208-3280 by Monday, Sept. 18. Readers may visit www.casalancaster.org to learn more about volunteering and to view the details of several vacation packages that will be auctioned at the Heroes Gala.
BBBS Marks Mentoring Month January 11, 2018
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region (BBBS) is celebrating National Mentoring Month in January. Every person can be a mentor. Mentors come from every occupation and academic background. Those who decide to invest time in the life of child or young adult will help build better social relationships, greater academic success, and improved decision-making.
BBBS of the Capital Region has a variety of different mentoring programs that allow mentors to find their ideal mentoring environment. These programs benefit children in the community, in schools, and in professional settings. The match process is customized. Throughout the mentoring journey, the mentor, child or young adult, and family receive consistent match support and, where appropriate, training to enhance communication and strengthen the match.
Mentors involved in programs with BBBS of the Capital Region are encouraged to share their Match Stories throughout National Mentoring Month. For more information, readers may visit www.capbigs.org or www.facebook.com/bbbscapregion or call 717-236-0199.
Freezin' For A Reason! January 10, 2018
Polar Plunge Set For Feb. 3
Dover residents Bill and Karen Plappert can remember when two former Special Olympic coaches came up with the idea for a Polar Plunge in York County as a way to raise money for the Special Olympics York County (SOYC). "Our son, Michael, volunteered to do the plunge and help his fellow athletes by raising money," said Karen, who opted to volunteer with team registration with Bill. Folks of all ages came to the inaugural event to experience the thrill of plunging into the Susquehanna River in February.
The plunge turned out to be a big hit, Karen said, and it continues to grow. According to Karen, the event now provides a major portion of the amount needed to fund SOYC's annual budget. Michael's team, The Beach Boys and Friends, is composed of several of his fellow athletes, relatives, Special Olympics volunteers, and the pastor and members of Dover United Church of Christ, where the Plapperts attend.
Last year, The Beach Boys and Friends team raised nearly $11,000. Only the Blue Line Plungers - a group of current and retired law enforcement officers and their family members from throughout the county - edged out The Beach Boys with their financial contributions.
SOYC public relations coordinator Robyn Liggins-Smith - also a proud mom of a SOYC athlete - said that the Blue Line Plungers are always the first team in the river at the Polar Plunge and have supported the event since it began. "My son (and the) other athletes enjoy the plunge and all the activities that happen before the plunge," said Liggins-Smith. "Special Olympics has become a second family for many of us, and the Polar Plunge brings us all together."
The 10th annual York County Polar Plunge will take place on Saturday, Feb. 3, along the Susquehanna River at 124 N. Front St., Wrightsville. Registration and sign-in will open at 9:30 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. and a costume parade and contest at 10:45 a.m. Awards will be given for the best costume and most original costume. "Basically, they can wear whatever they want," said Liggins-Smith. "One year, we even had (someone wearing) a six-foot walrus (costume).
The chicken dance, set for 11:15 a.m., will be performed by all of the chicken plungers in attendance. "A chicken plunger is someone who supports the plunge but does not go into the water," explained Liggins-Smith.
Plungers will begin assembling in waves around 11:45 a.m., and the plunge will start at noon. SOYC athletes will lead each wave of participants to the river. Plungers may dip in just a toe or go all in for a total of three minutes. "When they come out (of the water), the smiles on their faces tell you why they do it," said Liggins-Smith.
The 2017 Polar Plunge, which raised a total of $91,000, had about 900 plungers and 500 chicken plungers. "The temperatures were a very warm 35 degrees," recalled Liggins-Smith. With temperatures reaching especially frigid lows this January, Liggins-Smith said that the Lake Clarke River Rescue team, which is stationed in the river at each Polar Plunge to ensure everyone's safety, will make the determination as to a potential cancellation. "If the river is frozen, we may have to postpone, but in the nine years we have had the plunge it has never been canceled," noted Liggins-Smith.
Heated tents will be set up for participants to change into dry clothes afterward. Coffee, hot chocolate, and water will also be available.
Folks may register to participate as an individual or a team at www.specialolympicsyorkcounty.org. A preregistration event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 28, at 124 N. Front St., Wrightsville. Interested individuals may sign up then or turn in the money they have raised and pick up T-shirts, which are distributed to those who raise $25 or more.
SOYC, which provides training and competition opportunities free of charge to children and adults with intellectual disabilities, currently has 360 athletes participating in 15 sports programs.
Master Watershed Stewards Are Accepting Applications January 10, 2018
A Master Watershed Steward information session will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 23, at the Penn State Extension York County Office, Meeting Room 1, 112 Pleasant Acres Road, York, at 6:30 p.m. Weekly classes will begin in late February and conclude in early May.
After completing the 40-hour course, trainees must volunteer 50 hours for Penn State Cooperative Extension during their first year. Master Watershed Stewards in York County will volunteer in the community to improve the health of the county's streams, rivers, and other natural resources by organizing educational events, organizing stream cleanups, designing demonstration rain gardens, teaching adults and children about the environment, monitoring streams for bacteria, and working with municipal officials to plant native meadows.
The program was launched in 2016 in York County. York County currently has 36 Master Watershed Stewards.
The program fee includes training materials and expenses. Applications will be accepted through January. To preregister for the information session, readers may contact Jodi Sulpizio, Master Watershed Steward coordinator, at 717-840-7408 or email email@example.com. More information is also available at http://extension.psu.edu/york.
Gailey Named To Board January 9, 2018
The American Heart Association recently announced the appointment of Alyssa Gailey to its Lancaster Division board of directors. The American Heart Association is a voluntary health organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular disease.
Gailey is an account executive with Tower Marketing in Lancaster, where she has been employed since 2012. Her duties include working with clients in various industries to help them meet their online marketing goals, anticipate their future needs and match them with strategies and services.
Gailey holds a bachelor's degree in communication with an option in communication studies from Millersville University. She has been involved with the American Heart Association for the five years that she has been employed with Tower Marketing, and she has been an influence in the creative design and creative print material for more than 20 American Heart Association events in that time. Gailey also has 10 years of involvement with the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life.
For more information about the American Heart Association, Lancaster Division, readers may visit www.heart.org/lancaster or www.facebook.com/ahalancasterpa.
CASA Slates Annual Conference January 4, 2018
As part of an ongoing commitment to community education and awareness, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Lancaster County will host its 2018 conference and education workshop, Trauma and the Family: Seeking Health and Stabilization. The half-day event will take place on Friday, Jan. 26, at Willow Valley Communities Cultural Center, 900 Willow Valley Lakes Drive, Willow Street. CASA's annual conference is targeted to both professionals and community members active in child welfare.
The keynote speaker will be Karen M. Jaskot, owner of Jaskot Consulting. Attendees will gain insight on how addiction, mental illness, and trauma are often an intergenerational pattern that impacts attachment, brain development and stability of individuals and the family unit. Presentation attendees will be provided an opportunity to look at what interventions may be used to help move a family system into health, healing, and stabilization.
The conference will provide participants the opportunity to receive continuing education credits sponsored by Millersville University and CEUs for an additional charge. Registered conference attendees must connect with CASA prior to the event to establish eligibility and cost.
CASA provides court-appointed volunteer advocacy for abused and neglected children with the belief that every child deserves a safe, nurturing, and permanent home. CASA works to ensure a qualified, compassionate adult will fight for and protect a child's right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect, and to learn and grow in the security of a loving family.
For more information and to complete the required preregistration, readers may visit www.casalancaster.org. Interested parties may also contact CASA at 717-208-3280 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
iPadz For Autism Shares Announcement January 3, 2018
IPadz for Autism has voluntarily dissolved as a charitable nonprofit organization effective Jan. 1. The group has met the goal it sought to fulfill by placing iPads into special education classrooms in York County to be used by autistic students.
Since 2013, the organization has placed 130 iPads and two iPod Touch devices. IPadz for Autism representatives are thankful to the York community for its support.
Reboot Combat Recovery Class Slated December 26, 2017
The James A. Danner VFW Post 537 in Etters will host a 12-week Reboot Combat Recovery course from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays beginning Feb. 1 at VFW Post 537, 1095 Pines Road, Goldsboro. The course is free to combat veterans and spouses or significant others, and free child care and dinner will be provided.
The course was created to aid service members and their families as they work through their post-traumatic stress, whether from a recent conflict or one from the past. It aims to provide practical help in dealing with the aftereffects of combat while focusing on healing the spiritual and moral wounds of war.
Reboot offers a blend of clinical insight and faith-based support in the form of weekly classes that include topic-based instruction, class discussions, homework, group exercises, and a family-style meal. Reboot is led by volunteers and provides practical solutions for healing moral injuries.
VFW Post 537 held its first series of Reboot classes in 2017.
To register, readers may visit www.rebootrecovery.com. For more information, individuals may contact Charlie Yost at email@example.com or 724-630-4956.
Scholarship Applicants Sought December 22, 2017
The Lancaster County Conservation District (LCCD) will award four Ann Brown Memorial Scholarships in 2018. The $1,000 scholarships are available for graduating seniors who reside or attend high school in Lancaster County and will be continuing their education with the intent of majoring in a curriculum that focuses on natural resources and conservation. Examples of acceptable programs of study include environmental sciences, wildlife or fisheries biology, environmental resource management, or other related programs that will lead to a two-year associate's degree or four-year baccalaureate degree.
Applications for the scholarships are available at www.lancasterconservation.org, and completed applications must be received in the LCCD office by Friday, March 30. The scholarship committee will review the applicants, and the basis for the selection will be determined by past performance and activities, current school and community involvement, future purpose and direction, and communication skills. The committee will conduct an interview of the top candidates, and an announcement of the successful candidates will be made by Tuesday, May 15.
For more information, readers may visit the previously mentioned website or contact Gerald Heistand at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DVGRR Rescues Dogs In South Korea December 13, 2017
The first three of seven dogs rescued from a dog meat farm in Namyangju, South Korea, and slated for placement with the Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue (DVGRR) arrived in Reinholds on Dec. 8 after traveling from South Korea to Dulles International Airport. These dogs were part of a rescue mission conducted by Humane Society International (HSI).
The closure is part of HSI's campaign to end the dog meat trade. The nonprofit has been on the ground in South Korea for three years, working in partnership with dog meat farmers to leave the trade and develop other livelihoods upon farm closure, such as water delivery or blueberry farming.
This rescue started with contact by Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), as DVGRR has been an HSUS Emergency Placement Partner for a number of years.
The next four dogs to be placed with DVGRR were expected to arrive at Dulles International Airport on Dec. 17. HSI covers the cost of transport with DVGRR staff and volunteers then transporting the dogs from Washington, D.C., to its facility in Reinholds. Additionally, HSI handles the vaccinations and quarantine protocols in South Korea prior to releasing the dogs for travel.
Group Wins Barra Award December 13, 2017
The Barra Foundation has announced that Cerebral Palsy Association of Chester County Inc. is a recipient of a 2018-19 Barra Award. The Cerebral Palsy Association of Chester County joins 43 nonprofit organizations in the greater Philadelphia region that will each receive $50,000 in grant funding.
Barra awardees are nominated by their peers in the social sector and are then invited to submit an application to the foundation. The application questions focus on the organization's leadership, performance, and adaptability. In line with the foundation's mission to invest in innovation in the social sector, the Barra Awards provide unrestricted funding and introduce awardees to a diverse network of social sector leaders.
Since their 2013 inception, the Barra Awards have granted more than $6 million to area nonprofits. Awardees represent a range of nonprofits from the arts and culture, education, and health and human services sectors in the greater Philadelphia region.
A full list of the 2018-19 Barra Award winners is available at http://bit.ly/BA-2018-2019. To learn more about the Barra Awards program, readers may visit www.barrafoundation.org/investments/barra-awards.
North Pole Hotline Posted December 6, 2017
Gemma's Angels, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing hunger, has announced the operation of the North Pole Hotline.
To participate, parents, grandparents or other family may register children by visiting www.NorthPoleHotline.org. "The Elves" will ask for information that only Santa knows (teacher's name, pets, siblings, what children want from Santa, etc.). The volunteers, acting as Santa "helpers," will place the calls to the children at their homes in the evenings.
Calls will be made to children from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 22, and Saturday, Dec. 23. Calls are free, though there is a voluntary donation per child or per family.
More information is available at www.NorthPoleHotline.org.
Organization Donates Handmade Items November 28, 2017
Individuals who sew, knit, or crochet united their talents to create 3,350 handmade winter hats, scarves, mittens and gloves for children in the Allison Hill neighborhood. The effort was spearheaded by the Sew Much for Charity organization.
The items were to be distributed by Scott Heiland, founder and presiding elder of City of Refuge Evangelism (CORE). The Sewin' Sisters Sowing group has provided the Allison Hill neighborhood with handmade winter outerwear items for the past four years; however, group representatives noted that it could not keep up with the growing need in the area. The Sewin' Sisters are grateful to the other individuals who donated their time, talent and money to create warm winter accessories.
For more information on Sewin' Sisters Sowing or Sew Much for Charity, readers may call Marcellene Currens, founder, at 717-561-9964.
COBYS Holds Fundraising Event November 22, 2017
The 21st annual COBYS Family Services Bike and Hike event was held on Sept. 10 at the Lititz Church of the Brethren. The event tied the previous attendance record of 601 people, a record established in 2008, and set an income record of more than $136,000. Donations through the event have grown for 19 consecutive years.
The Bike and Hike featured a 60-mile motorcycle ride in eastern Lancaster County, 10- and 25-mile bike rides, and a 3-mile walk through Lititz. This year, the event attracted 166 motorcyclists on 104 cycles, 129 bicyclists, and 306 walkers - nearly 100 more walkers than last year.
In addition to the walking and riding events, the Bike and Hike included a silent auction that generated $4,360. The top selling item was a meal for eight at the Lampeter Cafe, donated by COBYS board member and co-owner Lisa Reinhart. The meal was sold twice.
Top fundraisers for the event were Floy Fitzkee of Manheim, $7,500; Mari Cunningham of Lancaster, $7,080; Londa Brandt of Manheim, $6,450; and Lucy de Perrot of Lititz, $4,015. Nineteen other participants raised at least $1,000. More than 100 businesses and others donated cash, prizes, auction items, and supplies.
Five Church of the Brethren youth groups earned gym and pizza nights by raising $1,500 or more. They were Little Swatara, $10,200; Midway, $3,080; West Green Tree, $2,637; Mountville, $2,040; and Mohrsville, more than $1,512.
More than 50 volunteers staffed the event, including COBYS board members, staff, and friends and six Linden Hall students, who served as part of the United Way Day of Caring in Lancaster.
Motivated by Christian faith, COBYS Family Services educates, supports, and empowers children and adults to reach their full potential. COBYS carries out its mission through adoption and foster care services, counseling, and family life education.
To view photos from the Bike and Hike, readers may visit https://www.facebook.com/COBYSFS.
Volunteer Manager To Guide New Advocates November 2, 2017
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Lancaster County recently swore in 12 new volunteer advocates. CASA volunteer advocates are appointed by the court to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children with the belief that all children deserve safe, nurturing, and permanent homes. CASA volunteers have served 569 children in Lancaster County since the first case was appointed to CASA in January 2010.
More than 30 friends, family members, and CASA supporters witnessed Judge Jay Hoberg swear in the new volunteer advocates during a ceremony on Oct. 4 at the Emerald Foundation. Fall 2017 CASA class members include Sherrill Baumgartner of Lititz, Lucille Connors of Lititz, Jenny Habecker of Hummelstown, Peter Lugaro of Lancaster, Bill Lyons of Lancaster, Shirley Lyons of Lancaster, Eileen Miller of Lancaster, Suzanne Platt of Lancaster, Mona Sauder of Lancaster, Jennifer Smathers of Denver, Bridget Willoughby of Lititz, and Diane Wolfkiel of Lancaster.
Guiding the volunteers will be recently hired volunteer manager, Jasmine Jackson. As volunteer manager, Jackson supervises and guides volunteers through the process of advocating for a child in foster care.
Jackson is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, earning a Bachelor of Arts in government and public policy. She has worked and volunteered with several nonprofit organizations.
Also, CASA of Lancaster County is adding another advocate training class. For information about being involved with CASA, readers may call 717-208-3280, email email@example.com, or visit www.casalancaster.org.
Schools Receive CPR Kits November 1, 2017
The York City School District recently received two American Heart Association CPR in Schools training kits to begin implementing Hands-Only CPR training for ninth- and 10th-grade students at William Penn Senior High School.
Representatives from the American Heart Association and Dr. Thomas Chin, chief of pediatric cardiology at Penn State Children's Hospital and medical director of Children's Heart Group, met with district health and physical education teachers to provide an overview of the kits and guidance for using them in classroom instruction. The mobile CPR in Schools kits contain all the tools necessary to train a class in Hands-Only CPR, including inflatable practice manikins, instructional DVDs, facilitator guide and other instructional tools. The district plans to implement a 30-minute Hands-Only CPR training for all high schools students by the end of the school year.
The donation is part of Penn State Children's Hospital's support of the American Heart Association's youth health initiatives. Nearly 85,000 students at schools that participate in the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart or Hoops for Heart programs throughout Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties will receive exclusive health education resources from physicians and health experts at Penn State Children's Hospital. Students at participating schools will have the opportunity to learn Hands-Only CPR thanks to the donation of the American Heart Association's CPR Anytime kits, enter the Penn State Healthy Community essay contest and art contest, and receive fun booklets and activities to encourage healthy eating.
The American Heart Association is advocating for legislation, such as House Bill 921 and Senate Bill 521, that will ensure all Pennsylvania high school students receive Hands-Only CPR training before graduation.
For more information, readers may visit www.heart.org/kids.