Last updated: October 29. 2013 11:37PM - 1498 Views
JON O’CONNELL joconnell@timesleader.com

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WILKES-BARRE — Out of five nominees, members of The Luzerne Foundation’s Millennium Circle members chose the Family Service Association’s Help Line initiative to receive its annual grant, $20,000 for 2013.

About 450 members of the foundation’s contributors, those who are listed as part of the Millennium Circle by way of their donations of $2,000 or more, picked Family Service Association’s Help Line transition program as the non-profit agency works to optimize their technology.

The votes were cast at the Luzerne Foundation’s annual luncheon Tuesday in Genetti’s Hotel and Conference Center.

The Family Service Association runs the hotline in 10 Northeastern Pennsylvania counties and provides support to those in non-emergency crisis situations who dial 211.

Trained agents who man the phones offer immediate 24-hour referrals for state and private agencies that handle cases of:

• Mental health,

• Child abuse and neglect,

• Drug and alcohol abuse,

• Runaway,

• Energy assistance,

• Homeless, and

• Victim services.

The grant will allow Help Line to update its aging database software to an automated system that will assist employees who now must enter data manually.

The most recent numbers published by the Family Service Association show Help Line received 66,497 calls between July 1, 2012, and June 31, 2013, and averaged about 264 calls in a day.

The Luzerne Foundation is a non-profit philanthropy organization that raises money to support community-minded endeavors.

The other initiatives nominated this year were:

• Kirby Center For Performing Arts — arts education and community outreach programs,

• Wyoming Valley Children’s Association — a multi-sensory environment for children,

• Jewish Community Alliance of Wyoming Valley — services four young adults with autism, and

• Wilkes-Barre Free Clinic — an expansion project.

Luzerne Foundation President and CEO Charles Barber shared his gratitude for the organizations nominated and said the vote does not discredit their purpose.

“All of them express a pressing and important need in the community,” Barber said.

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