Local nonprofits think globally, make major impacts

“If the global nonprofit sector were a country, it would have the sixteenth largest economy in the world, according to GDP data compiled by the World Bank,” the National Council for Nonprofits states on their website.

Nonprofits serve our communities in a multitude of ways every day. Local libraries provide access to a wealth of knowledge for free. Local pet shelters strive to keep animals in our communities safe and healthy and, often, help us find a new friend in the form of a family pet.

Nonprofit organizations help to clothe, feed and house the most vulnerable in our communities. Some local nonprofits though, are working to make a more global impact.

One such nonprofit that has made an impact in the local community and globally is Dress a Girl Around the World (Dress a Girl).

According to their website, “Dress a Girl Around the World is a Campaign under Hope 4 Women International” a non-profit that has been in business since 2006. The organization has a nondenominational Christian affiliation but is independent of any religious organization.

Renita Yahara, owner of E-town Sewing Studio, learned about Dress a Girl four years ago when she received a large donation of fabric at her studio. She researched “charitable sewing” on the internet, and after some time came across Dress a Girl.

Yahara and volunteers are able to create dresses with donated fabric and rick rack.

“I love sewing for ages about 18 months to about ten [years old],” Yahara said.

With her love for sewing for children and her want to sew in a way that helped a charity, Yahara knew that she could fill a need working with Dress a Girl.

Dress a Girl provides dresses for vulnerable, young girls in developing nations around the world. All dresses have a label associated with the organization as a kind of protection against human traffickers.

“What I am told is that [traffickers] think twice if they see a child that is being cared for, they see the child and say ‘Oh, this child is being cared for by an organization,’” Yahara stated regarding the importance of including the label on all dresses.

Yahara first opened her shop to volunteers with the expectation that they would meet occasionally to make dresses, but local interest was much larger than she expected. Volunteers meet every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the E-Town Sewing Studio. Community members are welcome to join, even if they have no sewing experience.

In the last four years, Yahara and volunteers have made and distributed over 3500 dresses. They also make and send dolls, of which they’ve made over 2000.

Yahara says she has seen her work with Dress a Girl make a local and global impact.

In addition to dresses, volunteers also make dolls for girls worldwide.

“I got a letter from a missionary that said the dresses were a gateway to get into the communities with the love of God,” Yahara said.

Locally, Yahara has seen the community come together to support Dress a Girl through donations of fabric, rick rack (a zigzag trim used for decoration on dresses) and money to support the creation of dresses and dolls. Additionally, local missionaries and nonprofit organizations have distributed dresses all over the world.

One such nonprofit, and another local organization making a global impact, is Brittany’s Hope.

Founded in 2000, Brittany’s Hope is a nonprofit organization that works to support families who choose to adopt special needs children worldwide through monetary grants. They also work with sponsors to financially and emotionally support children and families around the world.

Brittany’s Hope has been helping children and families globally for over 19 years.

The organization is not an adoption agency but does work closely with agencies in order to assure that families who are willing to adopt special needs children have the resources and support they need.

Created by Candace Abel, the organization stands in memory of her adopted daughter Brittany who was killed in a car accident during her senior year of college.

In the last 19 years, the organization has been able to assist in the adoption of over 1200 children and has given humanitarian aid to over 3000 children and families.

Mai-Lynn Sahd was also adopted into the Abel family as a child and now runs Brittany’s Hope as the executive director.

Sahd said that the organization fills a need as there are not many organizations that offer resources and support for families looking to adopt special needs children internationally.

“These are the children that are stuck, that are left behind…,” Sahd said. “Our grants are not just to help families, but to help shed light on that child.”

According to Sahd, due to policy changes and societal trends, international adoption has decreased significantly in the past five years. While some criticism surrounding international adoption calls attention to the fact that human trafficking can often be linked to this kind of adoption, Sahd says that Brittany’s Hope recognizes these issues and has formed their actions around that.

“We realize adoption should not be the only solution,” Sahd said regarding the issue of international adoption causing an increase in human trafficking.

The organization’s commitment to create sponsorships and connections between local families and international children and families helps to support these children and further prevent trafficking.

Elizabethtown College students can get involved with Brittany’s Hope through every-other-year May service trips to Vietnam. During these trips, students and faculty can help carry out the benefits of sponsorships in supporting local orphans and at-risk families.

Winter Weather in Elizabethtown

A snow day can mean many things to different people. For working adults, it means having to consider if conditions are safe enough for them to try and make it to work, or if they need to take a day for the sake of staying home with children. For those students high school-aged and younger it means a day that they don’t have to go to school and can stay home and play in the snow. College students get to wait with bated breath for the email that notifies them if the campus will be closed or not.

If the schools close and parents need to stay home with their children, the thought arises of: “but what will we do with the day?” Depending on different situations there are different ways to occupy one’s time on a snow day. Parents with young children who get to stay home from school have the opportunity to bundle their little ones up and send them outside to play in the white blanket that covers our little town. They can also attempt to set them down with a movie or TV show to while away the hours.

Students in high school can do much of the same thing, bundle up to go outside or stay inside with video games and Netflix—though the latter is much more likely if they don’t have a mode of transportation or desire to be outside.

Courtney Schwanger, 20, is a resident of Elizabethtown. When asked what she and her friends did during snow days she responded immediately with, “We always take the trucks out and go play.” When asked to elaborate she went on to explain that she and her friends would take their 4-wheel drive trucks out and go for drives around the area in the snow.

High Library in the snow
High Library in the snow

Students at Elizabethtown College could have a different experience with a snow day—depending on if the campus is closed or just delayed. In the event of a delay, only a section of the morning classes cancel. Even if the campus closes, students may receive emails from their professors with assignments to complete in place of meeting as a class.

“On snow days I usually mingle in the lobby playing games with people,” Tyler Gamble, 21, a student at E-town College told WeTown.

A walk around campus will also reveal other things that students are up to on a snowy day. There will be a few snowmen scattered around the College grounds. They vary in height and appearance, ranging from two to four feet tall—though one in recent times has been at least five or six feet tall! With little in the way of decorations, students have used candy, sticks and nut shells to give their snow-people facial features.

Myer snowman
A snowman built by students outside of the Myer resident building

Rachel Szivos, 19, a student at Millersville University shared that where she lives in E-town is at the bottom of a hill and with a car that doesn’t do well in the snow she often becomes “trapped” in her own home. “If it’s during the semester I get school work done. Otherwise I usually just relax and take advantage of the day off.”

Whether Blue Jay, Marauder or resident of E-town there are many possibilities for things to do on a snow day. From staying inside to watch Netflix, play games or catch up on school work to going outside to build snow-people, take a drive or take pictures, there is no shortage of things to do. With little time left until March 20—the first official day of spring—we may be in for more snow and more opportunities for a snow day.

We request your feedback on this article. Follow this link to a SurveyMonkey. Thank you for your participation!

Community Cupboard

 

Community Cupboard is a local food pantry and covers areas within the Elizabethtown school district that collects donations and helps people receive food. In order for people to be eligible to get food from the Cupboard they need to live within the area that the food pantry covers, and they need to meet certain income requirements.

 

Community Cupboard has recently moved locations to the Community Place on Washington, the local social services building in Elizabethtown. In the new building it provides more space for the Cupboard to operate and hold more items for storage. Also in the New building is a kitchen. With the kitchen, the Community Cupboard is hoping to start cooking classes so that they can teach the value of nutritional meals and how to prepare them.

 

Melissa Rhodes, the head of the Community Cupboard had this to say about the new location. “It’s a new campus that we have been dreaming about for years. We wanted something that all the social services could be under one roof and when this opportunity came up, United Churches Elizabethtown Area jumped on it.”

 

The Cupboard is divided into different sections that stock different food items. These items include fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and many more. The Community Cupboard is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays and are always accepting donations. They accept cans, boxed foods, and anything non-perishable.

 

If you want to learn more about what you can do for Community Cupboard, you can find them on Facebook and get their contact information there.

Elizabethtown Community Cupboard

 

Elizabethtown’s Community Cupboard is moving in with other Elizabethtown social services into the Community Place on Washington. In this new space, they will have more room for inventory, and for the customers to browse when they come.

“We’re a local food pantry and we cover the Elizabethtown, Rheems and Bainbridge zip codes. We are now part of the local social services building. It’s called the community place on Washington. So we are in the bottom level, we have the bottom level for our food bank and upstairs is ECHOS, Etown community Care, Elizabethtown HUB, among a few other places.”

Customers choose their foods based on the Choose My Plate pamphlet, a guide to a healthy diet according to the US department of agriculture. The Community Cupboard provides fruits, grains, vegetables, juices, proteins, as well as a variety of hygiene related items.

“He made us a huge donation box that’s outside, it’s accessible 24 hours a day, and it’s located right outside of our building. We accept cans and we accept boxed foods, anything non-perishable, and it has to be non-glass. So that’s open 24 hours and people can donate.”

The Community Cupboard of Elizabethtown and Melissa plan on bringing in educational cooking classes to help citizens be more frugal with their spending.

In Elizabethtown, Michael Wong, wetown.org.

 

Elizabethtown College-Community Orchestra

The Elizabethtown College-Community Orchestra is conducted by Robert Spence. It features 84 people in the ensemble, entirely comprised of wind, string, and percussion instruments. The orchestra performs a variety of string orchestra and full orchestra. Any student can join the Community Orchestra, there aren’t even auditions required for string players. You will need permission to join if you wish to play wind or percussion, however.

Founded in 1971, the Elizabethtown College-Community Orchestra has been playing at least one concert a semester for over 40 years. At this event, Robert Spence gave recognition to new five and ten-year orchestra members. Before the event started, several songs were played by a few different student ensembles. All Elizabethtown College-Community Orchestra concerts take place in Leffler Chapel, and are free and open to the public. No meal swipes required.

“Uh well, I suppose I was interested in joining the orchestra because this is something that I’ve done since 3rd grade actually. I played the cello since 7th grade, and it’s just something I’ve always really enjoyed doing; and I just thought, ‘Why not continue it in College?’”

“Hi, I’m Melissa Germano and I went to the concert today. I am not a musical person whatsoever, but I came to support one of my best friends and former peer students because that’s what I’m supposed to do, and I really liked it a lot.”

Many standing ovations were had from the crowd, many thanks to Robert Spence and the orchestra for putting on a fantastic show.

Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania Citizen Journalism