WILKES-BARRE — Chet Mozloom, executive director of the Lands at Hillside Farms, opened his presentation aimed at attracting volunteers and donations with a question.
“So we sell ice cream, right?”
Mozloom and representatives from 31 other local nonprofits made their pitches Wednesday morning t0 the Luzerne Foundation at the organization’s second nonprofit forum in as many weeks.
The Princess Room at the Genetti Hotel & Convention Center erupted with laughter as the presenters from Hillside Farms “broke every rule,” as President and CEO of the Luzerne Foundation Charles Barber said.
Mozloom’s sometimes serious, sometimes funny, sometimes self-deprecating presentation confessed to the ambiguous nature of his Kingston Township organization’s idealistic goals.
“It’s hard to see our mission sometimes, because people see ice cream and kids coming to the farm,” he said.
But according to Mozloom, Hillside Farms promotes an important message. When children do visit the farm, he said, they’re educated, perhaps “covertly,” on the benefits of healthy living and sustainable agriculture.
“We want to get people to think differently before they have a problem,” he said. “And we have great ice cream.”
Much like last week’s forum, Wednesday’s event provided a stage for a wide range of organizations to present their different, yet often interconnected goals and needs.
Monsignor John Bendik described the work of the Care and Concern Ministries, a Catholic organization serving the Greater Pittston Area that provides free health and pediatric clinics to more than 3,000 individuals. The organization requires money to cover the costs of supplies and tests as well as the occasional cab fare provided to those who utilize the clinics, Bendik said.
A bit later, Gretchen Hunt of the Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO), clued the audience into some staggering statistics.
Hunt said 44,760 people in Luzerne County alone are “food insecure or hungry,” and the county rates 57th out of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties by way of basic health indicators.
She summarized Luzerne County as “more obese and less active,” blaming the area’s poor access to healthy food, an issue she said CEO hopes to address.
John Maday of the Riverfront Parks Committee gave the morning’s second to last presentation.
“We have become victims of our own success,” he said, and he explained how the Riverfront Parks Committee’s projects and responsibilities have grown to such a point that managing them without a permanent home is becoming difficult.
Maday posed a request for office space to anyone who, he joked, is willing to put up with him as a neighbor, which, if he is to be believed, may be no small task. His business mind and military efficiency, he said, sometimes prove grating to those with whom he works.
“I always say, if we raise $5, we will run a $5 event,” he said.
The Luzerne Foundation will hold its annual meeting and 20th anniversary celebration 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 15 at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts.