Car wash acts as ‘manna’ for charity home

By Marcella Kester - For Times Leader
Manna House program supervisor Jackie Tona, 34, of Exeter, washes a car with Gavin Sayre, 6, of Mountain Top, in the parking lot of Volunteers of America on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre during Saturday’s fundraiser. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Manna House life skills coach Brianna Smith, 22, of West Nanticoke, holds up a sign to lure passing cars to the group’s car wash fundraiser on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Manna House program supervisor Jackie Tona, 34, of Exeter, takes a break from washing a car to hose off helper Gavin Sayre, 6, of Mountain Top, during the Manna House car wash in the parking lot of Volunteers of America on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — One area program decided to get a little wet to raise money Saturday morning.

Standing in the middle of River Street holding multi-colored signs, participants in the Manna House charity attempted to lure passing cars for their car wash fundraiser.

Manna House, part of Volunteers of America, acts as transitional housing for homeless young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. The house is staffed 24/7 and provides case management, life skills, services, employment, education assistance and more for up to two years.

“We assist all of our residents in getting the services that they need in the community, finding employment and then the end goal of finding permanent housing after they exit the program,” said supervisor Jacqueline Tona.

The clients each get their own apartment inside the house, helping them to learn how to act responsibly and properly care for their future homes.

“You understand what a landlord should do, what you should be expected of as a tenant,” she said, explaining this acts as a first apartment for many Manna House members.

The house, which is partially funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as the county, can hold up to eight clients at a time. It is currently one person short of capacity.

Tona said the group decided to hold the car wash as a way to fill in some funding gaps. In addition, the June tornado in Wilkes-Barre Township posed another challenge. The storm destroyed Panera Bread, which assisted Manna House by providing baked goods to its residents.

Tona was pleased to report Saturday that community organizations have since stepped up to help, with at least one area church supplying bread.

‘Better head on shoulder’

Holding a pastel tie-dye sign, Manna House life skills coach Nicole Weisner said she’s enjoyed being a part of the organization for the last few years.

“I think it’s a really unique and great program,” she said. “There’s not much out there transitional housing-wise, and our residents leave here with a better head on their shoulder from the day they came.”

With her blue sedan getting hosed down, Sandy Caffrey watched as her 6-year-old grandson, Gavin Sayre, decided to have some fun with the water. As he and Tona engaged in a playful water fight, the Mountain Top resident said she enjoys assisting Manna House and other area organizations.

“I like to help a lot,” Caffrey said. “We do good things for the community.”

An additional fundraiser for Manna House is set for July 31 at Chipotle. That day, 33 percent of sales profits will go to the organization when Manna House is mentioned at the time of order.

Manna House program supervisor Jackie Tona, 34, of Exeter, washes a car with Gavin Sayre, 6, of Mountain Top, in the parking lot of Volunteers of America on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre during Saturday’s fundraiser.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_TTL071518CarWash1-2.jpgManna House program supervisor Jackie Tona, 34, of Exeter, washes a car with Gavin Sayre, 6, of Mountain Top, in the parking lot of Volunteers of America on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre during Saturday’s fundraiser. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Manna House life skills coach Brianna Smith, 22, of West Nanticoke, holds up a sign to lure passing cars to the group’s car wash fundraiser on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_TTL071518CarWash2-2.jpgManna House life skills coach Brianna Smith, 22, of West Nanticoke, holds up a sign to lure passing cars to the group’s car wash fundraiser on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Manna House program supervisor Jackie Tona, 34, of Exeter, takes a break from washing a car to hose off helper Gavin Sayre, 6, of Mountain Top, during the Manna House car wash in the parking lot of Volunteers of America on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_TTL071518CarWash3-2.jpgManna House program supervisor Jackie Tona, 34, of Exeter, takes a break from washing a car to hose off helper Gavin Sayre, 6, of Mountain Top, during the Manna House car wash in the parking lot of Volunteers of America on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
WB fundraiser helps boost homeless young adults

By Marcella Kester

For Times Leader