PLAINS TWP. — More than 30 local nonprofit groups talked about their missions and the challenges they face Thursday during the Luzerne Foundation’s annual nonprofit forum at Holiday Inn East Mountain.
Leaders from groups with missions ranging from promoting childhood literacy to providing dental care for the uninsured took the opportunity to explain their needs to members of the foundation’s grant committee, which will choose grant recipients at the group’s annual meeting May 10.
Charles Barber, president and CEO of the Luzerne Foundation, said the organization is re-working how it distributes its grant awards this year, which he hopes will make a greater impact on the nonprofit groups aided through the foundation.
“This year we’re going to be deliberating and we’ll be awarding approximately $85,000 as a result of this forum,” he said. “… We are trying to be much more strategic in our grant making, so we’re probably going to make fewer grants, but hopefully larger grants, so they may range from $1,000 to possibly $10,000.”
The foundation will award grants in seven categories — education and scholarships, neighborhoods and community development, youth issues, historic preservation and the environment, arts and culture, health and wellness, and social services.
Barber also said the forum, in its fourth year, allows businesses and private donors to learn more about the community and what groups have to offer, as well as offers an opportunity for those nonprofits to join together and promote more collaboration between them.
“This gives an opportunity for everyone, even the other nonprofits, to learn about what’s going on, and hopefully we’ll see collaborations between the various charities,” said Barber. “There’s a lot of synergies between these charities, so rather than create a new program, partner with organization X, Y or Z.”
David Parmelee, who spoke on behalf of The Little Theater of Wilkes-Barre, said he enjoys the opportunity to address so many different people in one setting — especially those who may have been unaware of the theater’s existence.
“We’re a theater made of the community for the community,” said Parmelee.
Elaine Rash, youth service coordinator at the Osterhout Library, said while many know about their local libraries, some may be unaware of the specific programs for children like summer reading groups and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities.
“Many people are unaware of all the things we do,” she said. “It’s not just books.”