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History Center Posts Change In Services December 13, 2017

The York Family History Center, located in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2100 Hollywood Drive, York Township, has announced a new policy concerning its family history records. As of Sept. 8, FamilySearch discontinued its microfilm circulation services. In the past, patrons could order microfilmed historical records from the Family History Library in Utah for a minimal fee and then receive the microfilm to view in the local family history centers as they searched for ancestors.

Instead, FamilySearch will provide the digital images of records online. Online access to digital images of records will allow FamilySearch to reach many more people faster and more efficiently. This change is the result of significant progress made in microfilm digitization efforts.

More than 1.5 million microfilms have been digitized by FamilySearch, including all microfilms that have been borrowed in the last five years. The remaining portion of the collection should be digitized by the end of 2020. New digital images will be made available as they are scanned on FamilySearch.org.

Patrons are still invited to use the free services of the family history center. The center will continue to provide access to relevant technology, premium subscription services, and digital records, including restricted content not available at home. Trained family history consultants will continue to train patrons to get started with family history, to research family lines, and to input the information into websites. The center also provides computers and printing availability for patrons.

As of Dec. 13, FamilySearch also began to require patrons to set up free accounts to view and search historical records on the site. Patrons visiting FamilySearch.org will see a prompt to register for a free FamilySearch account or to sign into their existing account. By setting up an account, the user can continue to enjoy all the free, expanded benefits that FamilySearch has to offer, like accessing many of the original digital images of the records online.

Local family history centers may opt to retain the microfilm collections already housed at the centers, or they may return their collection to FamilySearch. All microfilm currently in circulation will be converted to an extended loan.

For more details, readers may call 717-846-4539 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon and from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

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Bridge Of Hope Announces Developments December 12, 2017

Bridge of Hope, a national faith-based program with roots in Lancaster and Chester counties, recently announced new developments in its programming, training and language to better aid local Christian faith communities in its work to help families facing homelessness.

The enhancements include a move from "mentoring" to "neighboring" language, which emphasizes the biblical call to be a neighbor to people in need; an increased focus in case management services on assessments for parents and children; expanded housing and financial programs and resiliency education; new program benchmarks and outcomes designed to guide Bridge of Hope locations in their work; and a new training curriculum for volunteers filled with the latest best practices in homeless services.

Bridge of Hope has locations in 11 states. The faith-based program combines professional case management services with Neighboring Volunteers from local Christian faith communities, such as churches or Bible studies, who provide encouragement and tangible support to families facing homelessness. The goal of the combination is to ensure partnering families attain safe and sustainable housing, tools for strengthening their family, an improved financial position, and Bridge of Hope neighborhood support.

The cost of rolling out the upgrades over the next two years will amount to $1 million. To cover expenses, Bridge of Hope has launched the first campaign in the history of its national headquarters.

To learn more, readers may visit www.bridgeofhopeinc.org.

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Lighthouse Reaches Out December 12, 2017

Kirt Barden, CEO of Lighthouse Vocational Services (LVS), is excited about what is happening with the program. LVS, which provides vocational training to individuals with disabilities, is sending more clients into the community to work with both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. "It's changing," said Barden. "We have a paradigm shift."

The change is remarkable in many ways, but partly because only a year ago LVS was linking arms with parents and organizations that provide similar services in response to government regulations that would have required clients to work in the community 75 percent of the time. "We talked about freedom of choice and behavioral issues," said Barden, who saw validation of the efforts when the state dropped the requirement back to 25 percent of the time. In April, the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania introduced a noncontroversial resolution under rule 35. The resolution recognizes the value of sheltered workshops in the lives of individuals with disabilities and acknowledges providers who enable individuals with disabilities to live full and productive lives in their communities. "God spoke in a magnificent way through our parents and providers," said Barden.

The challenges led LVS into a process of re-examining the services it provides based on specific foundational criteria. "Our foundation begins with the Gospel of Christ," explained Barden. "People need not be Christian to come here, but we believe in it." LVS offers services under a private pay option, which Barden noted is unique among organizations like LVS.

LVS also understands that not all businesses are able to hire people with disabilities. "There is no mechanism in place for businesses to be trained in this area through the state or federal government," noted Barden, "so it will be done through Lighthouse and our representatives reaching out to the community to educate businesses."

To begin the process of change, LVS has taken steps to offer more options for clients. "We have set aside a room for daily living skills training," said Barden. "We will introduce our participants to learning opportunities." Barden added that an exercise room, a community hall, a creative art center, a sensory room, and an additional workspace will all be part of the change.

LVS began working toward one of its goals six months ago. "(None of our clients) were going out to volunteer," said Barden, adding that volunteerism is an essential tenet of the LVS mission. "We want our participants to understand what it means to give back as Christ would want us to do," he said. "That's one of the most important things our clients can learn." LVS clients are currently volunteering at CrossNet, at LCBC, and with Meals on Wheels, among other organizations.

Another initiative is called Personal Customized Employment, a process that began with a needs analysis of area businesses. "We seek to understand the needs of local businesses, (so) we have them in for tours," explained Barden. Also, before a client is sent to a job in the community, an evaluation team, which includes parents, participants, state representatives, LVS personnel, and others, decides whether a client is ready and able. "After approval, my team of job coaches (works) to match an individual and his or her gifts and talents with a business," said Barden.

Barden noted that as LVS representatives are sharing with the community about the skills clients can bring to a job, the businesses are beginning to realize the potential of LVS clients. "(Business owners) see the same (LVS) client coming every month to cut their grass, smiling and always being there, and they look to do more with us," said Barden. "There are businesses out there that hear about the unique people we have who (can be) brought to the workplaces."

Readers who would like to learn more about LVS may call 717-354-0355.

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Special Relief Efforts Posted December 12, 2017

The Diocese of Harrisburg has announced that the people of central Pennsylvania and area parishes donated more than $1,109,062 to the special collections for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma relief that were received in recent weeks.

The total for Hurricane Harvey relief was more than $700,087. Additionally, the total amount collected for Hurricane Irma relief was more than $408,974. These funds will be utilized by Catholic Charities USA, the agency of the United States Catholic Bishop designated to work with domestic relief efforts.

Donations for relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the earthquake in Mexico are ongoing at area parishes. Those wishing to donate can do so via check, and the intent of the donation should be indicated in the memo area.

The funds donated for Puerto Rico will be utilized by Catholic Charities USA, while the funds for Mexican earthquake relief will be utilized by Catholic Relief Services. They are the agency of the United States Catholic Bishop designated to work with international relief efforts.

Continued prayerful and financial support is urged for all those affected by this recent string of natural disasters. For more details, readers may contact Joseph Aponick at 717-657-4804, ext. 210.

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Homes Of Hope Looks Back On Seasons Of Giving December 6, 2017

Sara and her family had struggled with finances in the past, but at the beginning of 2017, with both Sara and her husband working, they were doing all right. Then her husband suffered a heart attack. "He required three stents," said Sara, who added that her husband could not work for two months. In April, Sara suffered the first of two mini-strokes. "I was hospitalized twice. I was out of work, and the bills kept coming," she recalled.

In October, Sara and her family were approved to move into a property that is part of the Conestoga Valley Homes of Hope (CVHOH) program. CVHOH provides more than just shelter. According to CVHOH board chair Sue Orth, the transitional housing program offers families the support of mentors, budget coaches, and a professional case manager from Love INC, the nonprofit that oversees Homes of Hope, along with a minimum four-month stay in a fully furnished home.

Lynn and her family moved into a CVHOH home in October 2013 and stayed until May 2014. "Part of it was our fault," noted Lynn, who said that her husband was working both a full-time and part-time job when they were evicted from their apartment. "The economy was bad, but it was also bad budgeting and the snowball effect," said Lynn, whose children were ages 3 and 1 at the time. "We got really behind on our rent ... and we lived in a hotel for two weeks."

While Sara and Lynn and their families benefited from the rent-free time to catch up on bills, both said that the support from mentors was invaluable, as well. "I am very grateful," said Sara, who noted that the mentors have helped the family set goals. "They give us tough love when we need it," she added.

Lynn and her children have now been in the same apartment since 2014. She credits CVHOH with helping her to learn to use money wisely. "It's just keeping track (of money)," she said. "You can't spend it for this if you need it for that." She acknowledged that going through financial strain can be hard on a family. "When you're struggling, it affects everything," she said, adding that the program had benefits beyond financial instruction. "It did bring our family closer together," she said. "It grew me closer to the Lord." In fact, her experience with CVHOH has inspired Lynn to organize a community project where she can use her talents to give back. She and her family also clean for CVHOH between tenants.

CVHOH was the brainchild of a local merchant who brought his concerns about area homelessness to the Leola Ministerium, made up of eight local churches. One of the churches offered its manse as housing, and the Leola Homes of Hope was born. The house was dedicated in January of 2006. A second home was dedicated in 2012, and at that time, the program became CVHOH. The organization has served more than 30 families since its inception.

Sara's experience with the program has made her more aware of local housing issues. "I think the biggest thing I've learned is that so many families go through this," she said. "Many families are living in hotels, their cars, and on other people's couches."

Sara is looking ahead. Her husband is working both a full-time and a part-time job, and she is considering how she can get back into the work force. "My goal is to go back into a part-time position of some type," she said. "I have experience with churches and secretarial work."

Individuals wishing to donate to CVHOH may want to check out the Christmas tree located at Gracie's on Main, which is located on Route 23 in Leola. "There will be tags on the trees for pillows, towels, blankets, and various gift cards," explained Orth. According to Orth, CVHOH is always open to help from volunteers, especially those who can clean or provide maintenance at the property. "We could use a volunteer plumber and electrician," she noted.

Readers who would like more information may call 717-656-9200 or email sueo@zionleola.org.

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Meeting Needs In Terre Hill And Beyond December 5, 2017

The Northeastern Lancaster County Food Bank, which is located at St. Paul's United Methodist Church (UMC), 105 W. Main St., Terre Hill, provides more than food to families and individuals in need in that area of the county, including clients in East Earl and Brecknock townships. The bank has books, puzzles, and other items for children, as well as a room for other non-food items, such as paper products. In December, donations of hats, gloves, mittens, and scarves will be accepted for clients.

Food bank volunteers often provide support and encouragement to bank clients. "People come and talk to us and look forward to hugs," said Dixie Adams, one of the food bank team leaders. "They just want to talk, and we have developed relationships."

Earlier this year, the food bank decided to offer services on the third Thursday of each month from 4 to 6 p.m. The food bank entrance may be found at the rear of St. Paul's UMC. Parking is plentiful. Identification will be requested. The bank is overseen by the Terre Hill Ministerium, which includes a dozen churches, in partnership with CrossNet Ministries and Petra Church in New Holland.

As a choice bank, clients are given the opportunity to select food items from specific categories based on the size of their families. "When people sign in, they receive a color-coded card," explained Adams. "Each (type of food) item has a number, and based on the size of the family, they can choose a certain number of those items." Adams added that switching to a choice pantry model has changed the food bank experience for clients. "We've found it makes (clients) feel more like they're going to the grocery store," she said. "This way, they can pick what they need and feel a little more empowered about coming to the food bank."

In addition to canned and dry goods, the bank now carries fresh foods. "One of the churches donated a commercial refrigerator/freezer, and every month we have fresh produce," said Adams, who added that volunteers encourage clients to take what they can use. The bank also stocks frozen items and donated pastries.

Volunteers for the bank are provided by the 12 churches that take part in the ministerium. According to Adams, a minimum of four volunteers is needed to staff the bank each time it is open. Adams noted that local youth groups help out at the bank and that youths from Weaverland Church have been serving there for several years.

Items the food bank often needs include juices, jellies, syrup, and condiments, such as ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. Hot chocolate mix, sugar-free items, and low-sodium canned vegetables are also on the food bank's wish list. All donated food items must be unexpired. The bank will also accept personal care items such as toilet paper, paper towels, and detergent.

In November, the bank served 18 families. In addition to the regular food bank hours, the team provides clients with food baskets for specific holidays, including Easter, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. This year, 38 Easter baskets, 29 Labor Day baskets, and 36 Thanksgiving baskets were distributed.

Individuals in need of food bank services may call the bank at 717-715-4628 or CrossNet at 717-355-2454. Readers who wish to donate or volunteer may also call the food bank.

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Women's Group Sets Program December 1, 2017

Women of all ages and preschool children are invited to attend Neighbors Sharing and Caring, a women's ministry of the Chiques Church of the Brethren, 4045 Sunnyside Road, Manheim, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, from 9 to 10:45 a.m.

Marci Baum will present "It's Christmas!" The purpose of the program will be to help attendees prepare to celebrate the day that Jesus arrived.

Baum is a wife of 25 years, a mom of three children, and a follower of Jesus. She was born and raised in Manheim and still resides there.

Classes are provided for children from infants to prekindergartners. Readers may contact Rose at 717-665-9417 or Veronica at 717-626-7603 for more information, including a copy of this year's schedule.

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A Decade Of Meeting Housing Needs With Hope November 30, 2017

Penn Manor Homes of Hope is marking a decade of providing transitional housing to families within the Penn Manor School District.

In early 2006, pastors of several churches in the district met with representatives of Love INC, a clearinghouse that works with local churches to address specific needs in the community. Together, they discussed how they could partner to serve families facing homelessness.

"We in the community were made aware of the need - that people were homeless, doubling up in homes, or staying in a campground," said then-chairperson Ed Runkle.

After further consultation with social workers from the district, a steering committee convened in January 2007. The committee consisted of members of Tapestry Church, Millersville Community Church, and Manor Church. A two-unit home was donated to the ministry in August 2008, and in October, the first family moved into one of the units. Following some needed renovations to the second unit, another family moved into the home the following January. In the summer of 2012, Boehm's Chapel Society offered Penn Manor Homes of Hope the use of a property that provided residents with more convenient access to public transportation.

To date, the ministry has served 32 families, for a total of 42 adults and 80 children. The ministry continues to partner closely with Penn Manor School District social workers, who connect homeless families in the district to the ministry. Thanks to support from the community, Penn Manor Homes of Hope will begin a second decade of service to the district.

"The need remains, so we'll continue to serve," said current chairperson Bruce Heydt. "But it's a big challenge, and we'd welcome other congregations to join us in our effort to bring new hope and a fresh start to homeless families."

The Penn Manor Homes of Hope steering committee meets on the first Thursday evening of each month at 7 p.m. at Millersville Community Church's Grace Campus, 163 W. Frederick St., Millersville. The next meeting will be held on Thursday, Dec. 7. Interested individuals are welcome to attend. Readers may email Heydt at bruceheydt@gracemillersville.org for more information.

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LightShine Purchases Property In Alaska November 24, 2017

LightShine Ministries has been taking skilled laborers from Lancaster County to serve in Alaska since 1995. Co-founder and ministry director Tom Denlinger explained that as the ministry grew, it accumulated several vehicles, trailers, and a lot of tools. "But the harsh Alaskan winters really take a toll on things that are exposed to the weather," Denlinger stated. So for 22 years, LightShine had been storing the materials with friends and praying to find a place in Alaska someday to use as a base of operations.

In September, Denlinger was on an administrative trip to research potential locations, and he said that God highlighted a new property to him. After he communicated with the members of LightShine's board of directors back in Pennsylvania, they unanimously decided to move forward with an offer to purchase the property. After the purchase price was agreed upon, LightShine had the month of October to raise an additional $50,000 - beyond the amount it had already saved up to purchase the property.

LightShine leaders and volunteers sent out brochures explaining the need to all of the people who supported the organization in the past, as well as to several area business owners who understand the need for mobilizing the people of Lancaster County who have a strong work ethic. "God's people responded to this need in miraculous ways, and the leaders of LightShine Ministries were greatly encouraged," commented Denlinger. "(We) want to thank the many individuals who gave towards this need."

On Nov. 2, papers were signed and the property officially became LightShine's. The organization will soon begin a new capital campaign to raise $75,000 to purchase building materials. "The advantage that LightShine Ministries has is that many of (our) volunteer contractors and skilled laborers will be able to build whatever (we) need once the money is raised," Denlinger explained.

Over the years, volunteers have been able to assist in the building of three Bible camps in Alaska, as well as a church, a parsonage, and buildings for a Bible conference deep in the wilderness in an Alaskan Native village. To switch gears and take a couple of volunteer teams to build a garage for LightShine Ministries in the summer of 2018 will be a reasonable thing to do, said Denlinger. After seeing God work so powerfully in people to give toward purchasing the property, Denlinger said that the LightShine leaders are energized to move forward with the next steps.

LightShine is based out of Mount Joy and sends teams of electricians, carpenters, general contractors, plumbers, framers, drywallers, painters, and general laborers to assist in building projects.

Since its inception, hundreds of volunteers from local churches, including Mount Joy Mennonite, Hope Community, Community Bible, Cross Roads Brethren in Christ (BIC), Elizabethtown BIC, Manheim BIC, Rissers Mennonite, LCBC, Lancaster Christian and Missionary Alliance, Calvary Monument Bible, and Encounter Church, have served. Volunteers from neighboring counties and states have volunteered with LightShine as well.

Ten teams were sent through LightShine in 2017, and approximately 12 teams will be sent to Alaska in 2018, according to Denlinger. Individuals who are interested in serving with LightShine are encouraged to visit www.lightshineministries.org to learn more and to view photos of past teams and projects. "This is a great opportunity to use your God-given talents for the glory of God and encourage many people in wilderness areas in Alaska that need your help," Denlinger implored.

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Church Seeks Volunteers For Food Box Ministry November 22, 2017

The outreach committee at Oxford Presbyterian Church (OPC), 6 Pine St., Oxford, is currently seeking volunteers to help with its annual Christmas Food Box Ministry, which provides Christmas dinners for local families in need. Last year, approximately 150 boxes were distributed.

On Friday, Dec. 15, beginning at 9 a.m., volunteers are needed to move, sort and count the donated canned goods in preparation for packing the Christmas food boxes. The work lasts approximately two hours. Later, at 6:30 p.m., people may volunteer to pack and organize the food boxes for delivery and pickup.

On Saturday, Dec. 16, volunteers are sought to hand out the food boxes in the church's fellowship hall from 9 a.m. to noon. Additionally, volunteer drivers are needed to deliver boxes.

"We especially need strong people on (Dec. 16) because the boxes are really heavy," explained church secretary Eryn Gallagher. "(Each box contains) a complete Christmas meal, with a turkey and all the fixings, bread, eggs, butter, potatoes, plus canned goods."

In all, she noted, between 75 to 100 volunteers are needed to carry out the annual effort.

Additionally, the church is accepting canned goods and nonperishable food items through Thursday, Dec. 14, at the church office, which is open on Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 8:15 a.m. to noon.

Gallagher reported that the Food Box Committee has been working since September to plan and prepare for the event by soliciting donations from local businesses and gathering canned goods. Oxford Neighborhood Services Center provides the names of families in need of a Christmas meal. "That's where we get our main list," she said, noting that local churches also provide names of other families who may benefit from a meal.

Gallagher noted that canned goods come from food drives from all over the area held by Boy Scouts, Oxford-area schools and local businesses. Some of the turkeys are donated by a local grocery store.

Gallagher said the church has held the Christmas Food Box community outreach for close to 60 years. "It started by helping people in the church and people that we know in the community, and it has grown and grown," she stated. "For the last 15 years, we (have gotten) the list from Neighborhood Services Center.

"(We are feeding) 150 families, close to 700 people," she added. "That's the best (part) of the church - community outreach."

Volunteers interested in helping out with the packing or distribution are asked to contact Gallagher at the church office at 610-932-9640. Walk-in volunteers will also be welcome.

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Released Time Program Seeks A Few Good Volunteers November 15, 2017

Kevin Kirkpatrick, school coordinator with the Blue Ball Released Time program that began meeting on Sept. 21, would love to see more area residents volunteer to serve as mentors for the 106 children who take part in the program. "My goal is to have three students per mentor," said Kirkpatrick. "Right now I have groups of four (for each mentor), so I could use 10 more mentors."

Blue Ball Released Time is held each Thursday while school is in session. "The children leave school at 2:15 and return by 3:15 p.m., so we are here roughly 45 minutes," said Kirkpatrick, who noted that Blue Ball Mennonite Church, where the program is held, is located in East Earl across Ewell Road from Blue Ball Elementary School.

The program, which is available for third- through sixth-grade students, begins with a group gathering and prayer. Students are then dismissed to their activity of the day, which may include a 30-minute lesson or time working with their mentor, before gathering again for singing at the end of the program.

The Blue Ball program uses a two-year sequential curriculum that begins with the establishment of God as Creator and the One who has brought about the way of salvation. The program establishes that humans are unholy and sinful and that God provides a way to salvation through Jesus Christ. The curriculum was written by Rosalee Schneck and Joan Benjamin. "They wrote a fantastic overview of the Scriptures in 30 lessons," noted Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick said the program is set up to give each instructor significant teaching time. "As a teacher, I like the time to really dig in deeper than you can in only 15 minutes; with 30 minutes, I can do something," he said. Teaching along with Kirkpatrick, who instructs sixth-grade students, are Dot Cronin, who teaches third grade; Debbie Alexander, who teaches fourth grade; and Schneck, who teaches fifth grade. "At the end of each teaching time, the teachers give time for the mentors to check with their students," said Kirkpatrick.

According to Kirkpatrick, mentors only need to meet a few requirements. "Mentors must pass (necessary) background checks," he said. "They need to love Jesus, and they need to love (children)." They also need to be available for 90 minutes each Thursday. Kirkpatrick emphasized that the mentors play an important role in the lives of the students they work with. "The mentors get to know the students," he said. "They help them memorize Scripture and look up and explain Scripture."

Readers who are interested in becoming mentors for the Blue Ball Released Time program may contact Kirkpatrick at 717-598-3515 or kevdikirk@frontier.com.

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Seniors Serving Seniors To Meet November 14, 2017

Seniors Serving Seniors, a mutual ministry of Churchtown United Methodist Church and Bangor Episcopal Church, will meet on Tuesday, Nov. 28, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The program will be Christmas Crafting with Keri Bloom, with a Bible study to accompany the craft. Lunch will be served. All community members over age 60 are invited to attend.

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Pedaling With Purpose November 14, 2017

This summer, Lifecycles embarked on its third annual challenge ride with 17 teenage boys and 16 adult leaders. The crew spent four days bicycling throughout the White Mountains in New Hampshire and three days in Acadia National Park in Maine. In between rides, which are organized into smaller groups according to ability levels, the boys and leaders spent time camping.

Lifecycles founder Lee DeRemer said that it was a joy watching the boys flourish on the challenge rides as they accomplished something that they may not have thought they could conquer. One of the groups completed a 78-mile loop around Mount Washington at an elevation of more than 4,400 feet.

Lifecyles is a nonprofit mentoring program committed to building young men of character through bicycling and outdoor adventures. Past summer challenge rides have taken groups to Lake Placid and Niagara Falls, and the destination for the summer 2018 ride will be the Laurel Highlands in western Pennsylvania.

Aside from the annual challenge rides, Lifecycles hosts weekly rides for teenage boys from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from April to September, as well as on some Saturdays. Lifecycles provides bikes, helmets, T-shirts, and hot meals free of charge. The rides meet and end at East Donegal Riverfront Park in Marietta and Amos Herr Park in Landisville.

In October and November, when it becomes dark earlier in the evenings, Lifecycles meets indoors at Rainbow's Ends Youth Services (REYS), 105 Fairview St., Mount Joy. The organization will take a break beginning in December and resume regular programming at REYS on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. The indoor program includes lessons on basic bicycle repairs and maintenance, basketball and dodgeball in the gymnasium, and a hot meal. Interested individuals are encouraged to sign up at www.lifecyclesteam.org ahead of time if they would like to attend. Walk-ins are welcome too.

Lifecycles currently serves approximately 50 youths. Volunteers are welcome to sign up to bring meals for the group, and financial donations are welcome too, in order to keep the program free. "When people see the boys and the program in action, they get hooked," said DeRemer.

"Lifecycles is the story of these boys building their lives. Every face is a story," DeRemer noted. DeRemer is grateful for the volunteer leaders who believe in the vision of Lifecycles. The program continues to grow by word-of-mouth, as no official recruiting is done by Lifecycles. Boys travel from throughout York and Lancaster counties to participate, and plans are currently in the works to open another chapter that will meet in eastern Lancaster County. Adding another meeting location will help to accommodate the growth and maintain the small group atmosphere.

"My attitude is that I love growth but not for growth's sake. I love growth because I care about the boys," said DeRemer. "God has them here for a reason, and we don't turn anyone away."

Experience levels vary. DeRemer shared how an individual who had never ridden a bike before showed up at Lifecycles and was taught how. As he learned to ride and became consistently involved at Lifecycles, the leaders saw changes in his behavior and overall attitude and demeanor. "He's part of this community now, and we love having him," said DeRemer.

In the past year, the leaders have seen not only a lot of physical growth in the group as far as strength and stamina when it comes to riding, but also an increase in spiritual growth and overall maturity. "We meet each boy where they are," DeRemer stated. "We are all about opening doors for the boys." Whether that be with bicycling, helping them to complete an application to college or trade school or the armed forces, encouraging them in any area of life, or meeting any other need that may arise, the Lifecycle volunteers are committed because they care. "A community is being built around this, and we just watch with wonder to see where it goes," said DeRemer.

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Retrouvaille Posts Services November 9, 2017

Retrouvaille invites local residents to consider signing up for its service. The Christian peer ministry, a lifeline for struggling marriages, is a three-phase program that begins with a weekend experience, followed by post-weekend presentations and monthly small group support meetings. Through the ministry, couples help couples with the support of clergy members. The primary focus is on improving communication and building a stronger marriage so couples may rediscover the love they have for each other.

Retrouvaille, pronounced "retro-vi," is a French word meaning "rediscovery." Though the program is Catholic in origin and has a Christian orientation, couples of all faiths or no faith background are welcome. The nonprofit program, which began in Quebec, Canada, in 1977, is available in communities worldwide.

The next weekend experience has been set for Friday through Sunday, Jan. 12 to 14, 2018. Space is limited, and there is a per-couple fee. For more information, readers may contact George and Mary Russo, community coordinators, at 717-817-1838. To register, individuals may email retrouvaillehbg@gmail.com.

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Emergency Supplies Donated November 8, 2017

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Youngsters Invited To Join Upward Basketball League November 3, 2017

Youngsters in first through seventh grades are invited to take part in the upcoming season of Upward Basketball offered at Pequea Baptist Church, 6062 Old Philadelphia Pike, Gap.

The Upward Basketball program, where the emphasis is placed on learning skills, will run from January through March 2018. Practices will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and games will be held on Saturday mornings.

In preparation for the season, evaluation nights will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Nov. 14 and 16 and Dec. 5 and 7. The sessions are held to assess individual abilities and place youngsters on appropriate teams. Consideration will also be given to placing children on teams that practice on weeknights that are convenient for their families.

Boys in first and second grades, as well as girls in first through third grades, play in the youngest division. There is a separate division for girls in fourth through seventh grades, a division for third- and fourth-grade boys and one for boys in fifth through seventh grades. Last year, more 130 children participated.

"We had the largest number of kids we ever had last year, so it's getting bigger and bigger," said Ethann Zimmerman, who is the assistant to Upward Basketball organizer Eric Simpson.

No previous basketball experience is required, and all children who sign up are placed on teams. Within each age group, teams are formed to be as equally competitive as possible.

"We want the teams to be as fair as we can," Zimmerman said. "It doesn't matter what your skill level is; everybody's there to improve. It's more of a fundamentals league than competition. It's an equal rotation, so every kid gets the same amount of playing time."

Youngsters may be registered in advance, or they may simply attend one of the assessment nights at the church. There is a participation fee, which covers the cost of uniforms, officials and facilities.

Upward Basketball is a nationwide program provided through sponsoring churches. In addition to teaching basketball skills, the league features a faith-based component.

"We will have devotionals," Zimmerman said. "We're always trying to teach character traits, such as how (to) act and how to speak in a way that reflects your faith in school."

The season will conclude with a special day of fun for all ages. "There is a celebration that we have at the very end of the year. We have a parents versus their kids basketball game, which is awesome," Zimmerman said. "We give away prizes, and it's a very big deal."

A new addition last year brought social media into the league with "Upward Rewind." "A Facebook video goes out every week after the games. It has highlights and commentary," Zimmerman said. Upward Rewind is available at www.facebook.com/FirstBaptistChurchOfPequea.

Registration for Upward Basketball is available at the church Facebook page and at www.fbcpequea.org/kids. For more information, readers may contact Simpson at fbcpequeaupward@gmail.com or 484-467-5336.

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Community Invited To Donate To Boxes Of Love Program October 25, 2017

Last year, Trinity Assembly of God (AG) Church in West Chester distributed 508 complete Thanksgiving meals to families in need as part of its annual Boxes of Love program. This year, the church is looking to increase that number and is seeking help from the community.

"We're going for a record this year - 700 boxes," said Trinity AG pastor Jimmy Smuda. "We will take care of the turkeys, but we want people to drop off those (side dishes)."

From now through Sunday, Nov. 12, the community may donate any of the following nonperishable food items to be placed in the boxes: canned items such as corn, green beans, fruit, cranberry sauce and yams; instant mashed potatoes and gravy; boxed stuffing; pumpkin pie filling; and instant pie crust.

The food donations can brought to Trinity AG, 1022 Pottstown Pike (Route 100), West Chester, and placed in the waterproof food collection bins that are located just outside the church office.

"If they want to donate one of each (item), that will fill an entire box," noted Caleb Gudgeon, Trinity Compassionate Ministries director. "For those who don't want to go out and buy items and drop them off, they can give online on our website, www.trinityag.org."

Currently, 700 empty cardboard boxes line the sanctuary at Trinity AG. They will be packed right after the 10:45 a.m. Sunday worship service on Nov. 19. "We will have an assembly line to fill the boxes," Gudgeon noted.

Those who need a Thanksgiving food box are asked to contact the church at 610-692-1897 by Thursday, Nov. 16, and provide their name, a phone number, an address and the number of people in the household. No proof of income is required.

Since Thanksgiving is on Thursday, Nov. 23, some of the boxes will be delivered to the local families by volunteer drivers on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 20 and 21. "(The fact that we deliver the boxes) is helpful for people who don't have cars or transportation (to the church)," said Gudgeon, noting that other boxes will be delivered by the church's partners to sites in Philadelphia and in Wilmington, Del.

"It's not just a drop off and run. We (enjoy) getting to talk to (the recipients) and getting to meet them. We want it to be personal," said Gudgeon. "Our goal is to share the love of Jesus with them through these boxes. That is our main goal. Whether they come to our church or go to another church, it's not about the numbers and trying to get people into our church. It's about showing the love of Jesus."

Smuda said the increase in the Boxes of Love goal to 700 is meant to meet a growing need for food in the community. He added that the effort could not happen without people who are willing to donate items and the volunteers, who donate their time by helping to pack the boxes and deliver them. "We have a lot of people in the community who want to help, and there are tangible ways," he stated.

In addition to the annual Thanksgiving effort, the church operates the Joseph's Closet food bank. Donations of nonperishable food items are accepted at the church year-round.

For additional information about Trinity AG or the Boxes of Love program, readers may call 610-692-1897, email calebgudgeon@trinityag.org or visit www.trinityag.org or www.facebook.com/TrinityAGWC.

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Offering A Safe Haven For Addiction Recovery October 19, 2017

"Katartizo" is a Greek word that means "to mend, restore, and prepare." In the New Testament, the word is used in the Gospels to describe the disciples mending their fishing nets and preparing them for use, explained Daniel DeLeon, executive director of The Way Recovery Houses, which was created under the nonprofit banner of Katartizo, a faith-based organization.

The Way was launched on Jan. 1, 2016, and took over the management of an addiction recovery house in Washington Boro. Since then, The Way has acquired additional homes in Lancaster city, including one exclusively for women, and has a total capacity of 40 people. Following a graduation at the end of October, six beds will be available. Residents commit to living in a recovery house and working through The Way program for one year, although they may stay longer if they need to.

"We like to think we are bridging the gap between treatment providers and integration into society," DeLeon said. "Metaphorically, we teach people how to swim while they're still in the shallow end of the pool."

That process is summed up by the slogan "We R4 You." "We" represents The Way and the staff members' commitment to providing residents with a safe, structured environment, as well as accountability, encouragement, compassion, and a pathway to restoration and renewal. "You" is the individual seeking change. Those two groups bookend the four R's, which stand for rest, re-engagement, reintegration, and release. The plan is that by working through those four phases, residents become confident and prepared to transition seamlessly into life on their own. Counseling and other psychological treatment is an important part of the recovery process as well.

Church partners are crucial to the success of The Way. Each house has been adopted by a church, which welcomes residents to worship services and other activities and provides mentors who develop positive relationships with residents. Additional churches provide financial donations and meet tangible needs as they arise.

"The key (to our ministry) is we are mobilizing the church to respond to addiction," DeLeon said. "Churches are a tremendous resource to combating addiction."

He noted that people vulnerable to addiction often feel a lack of meaning and purpose in their lives, and they seek out mind-numbing or pleasure-giving substances to soothe their spirits. "It's a relational breakdown with our Maker," DeLeon asserted. "It's a breakdown in our families, in our sense of self, a relational breakdown with others, and a breakdown of our creative purpose. Through the participation of churches, we can make a greater impact."

DeLeon has a testimony of addiction and recovery, and the program used by The Way is based on his experiences and on research. Women's director Kelly Baldwin also has experienced addiction and recovery, and she developed a door-to-door program for people leaving prison.

"Kelly brings a level of expertise and connections to recovery work," DeLeon commented.

"The women call me 'Mama Bear' because I try to keep them safe as much as possible," Baldwin remarked. "The women's house is a safe haven. A lot of women (who have lived there) say they finally have a place to call home."

Residents are expected to find employment, and they pay rent, which just covers the cost of operating the houses. DeLeon and Baldwin are considered domestic missionaries, however, so they do not draw salaries from The Way and must raise support instead. Financial contributions toward the operating expenses of The Way are appreciated. Folks may donate online at www.katartizopa.org, and they may call general manager Ivan Reyes at 717-510-2226 or email Baldwin at thewayrecoveryhouses.kelly@gmail.com for more information.

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Neighbors Group Slates Program October 19, 2017

Neighbors Sharing and Caring, a women's ministry of the Chiques Church of the Brethren, 4045 Sunnyside Road, Manheim, invites women of all ages and preschool children to attend a program on Tuesday, Oct. 31, from 9 to 10:45 a.m.

The speaker, Karen Burrows, is an ordained minister with a pastor's heart for women. She graduated from the Ministry Training School at Church of the Word International and was ordained in 1998. She is a mother and a grandmother.

While women are attending the program, classes will be provided for children from infants to prekindergartners. For more information or a copy of this year's schedule, readers may contact Rose at 717-665-9417 or Veronica at 717-626-7603.

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Volunteers Complete Tasks As Part Of Mission Trip Birdsboro October 19, 2017

This summer, volunteers with Mission Trip Birdsboro had to deal with scorching heat and high humidity during the four days they volunteered in the community to complete various projects at the homes of local residents in need and at area parks.

Since some of that work could not be completed during the scheduled time, a group of volunteers ventured out on Oct. 14 to finish a few remaining jobs. Among the tasks that the volunteers completed were the installation of a dugout roof at the Daniel Boone Optimist Ball Field in Birdsboro and a job that included breaking down a large fallen tree for a local homeowner who wanted the tree split into logs and delivered to neighbors. Because the day turned out to be foggy and rainy, the crew was unable to complete the planned project of painting curbs in the borough.

The group of approximately 10 volunteers met for breakfast at 7 a.m. and then completed the tasks from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. "Because of the extreme heat (during Mission Trip Birdsboro in the summer), we couldn't get to (some jobs). For the homeowner, we replaced the door on her shed and we sealcoated her driveway, but we couldn't get the tree done (this summer)," said volunteer Rich Bowden, who coordinated the recent volunteer effort. "At the ballfield, we got one dugout (roof) done, but we didn't get the second one done."

This summer during Mission Trip Birdsboro, there were more than 90 volunteers from six churches who worked in the community from July 19 to 22. Volunteers represented St. Paul's UCC; St. John-Hill UCC, Boyertown; the former Alice Focht United Methodist Church, Birdsboro; St. Paul's UCC, Amityville; Church of Nazarene, Birdsboro; and St. Paul's Lutheran, Douglassville.

During the mission project, the volunteers assisted 25 homeowners in need, including elderly, widowed or disabled people and single parents. Workers performed general home maintenance, removed trees, repaired decks, installed hand railings, painted and power washed, while meeting with the homeowners to provide support and encouragement. Additionally, volunteers made improvements at the Birdsboro-Union Fire Department, Texas Ball Field, Optimist Ball Field and Maple Springs Pool and painted community curbing.

The efforts were supported by more than 25 business sponsors and seven nonprofit organizations.

Volunteers in the summer and on Oct. 14 wore salmon-colored T-shirts that read, "God Is on the Move."

When asked why volunteers worked in the summer heat and on the rainy fall Saturday, Bowden said that helping others is a way to share God's love. "We are showing God's love - that's what it's all about. It's giving back to the community that is so good to us," he said. "We are all blessed each in our way with our own gifts, so we are just trying to give back."

For more information about Mission Trip Birdsboro, readers may visit www.stpaulsbirdsboro.org and select the What We Do tab.

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