• The Council on Foundations Recognizes The Luzerne Foundation for Compliance with National Accountability Standards

    By: Doug Martin on January 16, 2017
    Tags: , Categories: News

    accredited_logoThe Luzerne Foundation is recognized for having organizational and financial practices that are in accordance with the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations. The Council on Foundations and leaders of the community foundation field created the National Standards in 2000 to aid community foundations in establishing legal, ethical and effective operational practices that would show the foundations’ transparency and financial responsibility in light of the increased public scrutiny of foundation practices. In addition, National Standards were developed to distinguish community foundations from other philanthropic vehicles, build the capacity of community foundations to carry out their missions, and assist the field with self-regulation in a manner viewed positively by the Internal Revenue Service.

    The National Standards seal, pictured here, was developed for community foundations to signify that they have been confirmed in compliance with National Standards. Professional advisors and prospective donors will recognize the seal as an indication of the integrity and demonstrated excellence of the compliant foundation.

    In all, 26 National Standards must be met before compliance is issued. Intended both as a blueprint  for internal organizational development and as a tangible set of benchmarks for external assessment of performance, the  National Standards address the following keys areas of community foundation operations:

    Structure & Governance – Reflects the independence and integrity of the organization’s board and staff in managing the foundation’s operations and assets. In review of their organizational and financial policies and procedures. The review is performed by trained, experienced community foundation practitioners.

    Resource Development – Ensures that the organization receives a revenue stream that represents the diversity of citizen support.

    Accountability – Assures that the organization complies with accountable financial record keeping and reporting disciplines, and prudent investment practices.

    Grantmaking – Determines that the organization responds to community needs, and uses funds only for qualified charitable purposes.

    Community Engagement – Assures that the organization demonstrates leadership and outreach to the community.

    The Council on Foundations is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit membership association of more than 2,000 grantmaking foundations and corporations.  The Council provides the opportunity, leadership and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance and sustain their ability to advance the common good. For more information on the Council, visit the organization’s website at www.cof.org.

  • Dr. Jennifer Sidari Hope Golf Tournament

    By: Doug Martin on November 4, 2016
    Tags: , Categories: News

    hope_golf_tournamentFriends and family of Dr. Jennifer Sidari gathered on Oct. 7 at Blue Ridge Golf Club for the third ‘Dr. Jennifer Sidari Hope Golf Tournament.’ The tournament was a success and the Sidari family and tournament organizers thanked those who attended and sponsored the event. Jennifer Sidari, M.D. passed away unexpectedly on May 29, just two weeks after receiving her doctoral degree from The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC). Born and raised in West Pittston, she was also a graduate of Wyoming Area High School and The University of Scranton. She was nationally recognized in her medical education by receiving the Physicians of Tomorrow Award. During her studies at TCMC, she volunteered in children’s hospitals and clinics around the world including South Africa and Haiti. Donations are still being accepted and may be mailed to The Dr. Jennifer Sidari Scholarship Fund, c/o The Luzerne Foundation, 140 Main St., Luzerne, PA 18709. From left, are Pete Sidari, father of Dr. Jen Sidari, with members of the tournament’s winning foursome, tournament co-chair Mike Cabell, Harry Hinkle, Paul DeAngelo and tournament co-chair Bill Goldsworthy. Also participating was team member Perry Fiesner.

  • Motorcycle ride and block party raises money for Dr. Jen’s Hope Foundation

    By: Doug Martin on August 18, 2016
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    Event raises funds for Dr. Jen’s Hope Foundation

    By Tony Callaio – For Times Leader
    Jimmy Musto, of Jenkins Township, is thrilled to have his name picked in one of the many raffles at the Fourth Annual Dr. Jen’s Hope Motorcycle Rally and Block Party at Cooper’s Seafood House and Cabana in Pittston.

    Jimmy Musto, of Jenkins Township, is thrilled to have his name picked in one of the many raffles at the Fourth Annual Dr. Jen’s Hope Motorcycle Rally and Block Party at Cooper’s Seafood House and Cabana in Pittston.

    PITTSTON — All Dr. Jennifer A. Sidari dreamt about from high school through medical college was to helping people.

    And even though she is no longer here to fulfill those dreams, her legacy continues to serve the community more than three years after her death.

    The Fourth Annual Dr. Jen’s Hope Motorcycle Ride and Block Party was held Sunday at Cooper’s Seafood House and Cabana. It featured food, raffles, music and a dunk tank to raise money for Dr. Jen’s Hope Foundation, named in honor of Sidari who died on May 29, 2013, at the age of 27.

    The Sidaris were overwhelmed and grateful with the public’s response.

    “We have given out, since Jen’s death, approximately $130,000 to local charities,” Pete Sidari, Jennifer’s father, said. “We are really proud to say no administrative fees come out of it. Whatever a donor gives goes 100 percent to charity, and we are always looking out for people that need help.”

    The Dr. Jen’s Foundation will announce the recipient of a full scholarship to The Commonwealth Medical College on Wednesday.

    “This is one of our high points since Jen’s passed — the awarding of our first four-year scholarship to med school,” Sidari said. “Our hope is that one of these bright young doctors that receive the scholarship will practice in our area.”

    The scholarship is valued at approximately $240,000.

    Chris Musto, 22, of Pittston, is a first-year student at TCMC and the recipient of a partial scholarship from the foundation, totaling $12,500.

    “The scholarship money takes the burden off of me trying to find a way to pay for medical school,” Musto said. “Knowing who Jen was, I’d like to carry on her legacy.”

    Money raised from Dr. Jen’s Hope has helped Wyoming Area, Wyoming Area Catholic, the Child’s Advocacy Center, the Red Cross, the United Way and, in the near future, Helping Hands in Hazleton.

    “One hundred percent of the money raised, stays in our area,” Sidari said.

    Jennifer was a 2005 graduate of Wyoming Area and each year, the Sidari family donates to a graduating senior.

    “It’s been a blessing to get to know the Sidaris,” said Rosella Fedor, Wyoming Area scholarship coordinator.

    Fedor went on to say the family has shown great courage in the face of the tragedy.

    The three Wyoming Area recipients chosen for the 2016 Dr. Jen’s Hope Scholarship are Ashley Lamoreaux, Taryn Gates and Ryan Murphy.

    Although Lamoreaux is looking toward working in a non-medical field, she has been inspired by Jennifer’s history of volunteerism. Jennifer traveled overseas to help the sick and needy in other countries.

    “What she did was so inspiring that after college I want to join the Peace Corps.,” Lamoreux said. “What she did in her heart was just amazing.”

    Reach the Times Leader newsroom at 570-829-7242 or on Twitter @TLnews.

  • The 21st Annual Invitational Golf Tournament of the Luzerne Foundation

    By: Doug Martin on July 27, 2016
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    Thank you to everyone that came out to the 21st Annual Invitational Golf Tournament of The Luzerne Foundation & The Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan Memorial held at Glenmaura National Golf Course.

    Please join us next year on July 24th, 2017 at Huntsville Golf Club.


  • The Yudichak Family Lighthouse Fund Donates to Luzerne County Library System

    By: Doug Martin on July 27, 2016
    Tags: , Categories: News

    yudichak_news_photo_300pxThe Luzerne County Library System announced The Yudichak Family Lighthouse Fund of The Luzerne Foundation recently donated $5,000 to fund the 2016 county-wide summer reading program. The Yudichak Family has funded the program since 2011. The Luzerne County Library System was founded in 1984. It is made up of 10 libraries throughout Luzerne County that work cooperatively to provide citizens with recreational and educational materials and programs, such as the annual summer reading program. The summer reading program is under way and continues through mid-August. It is open to all ages (children, teens and adults). There are weekly prizes and attendees are eligible to receive a certificate for participating. Register at a local library or visit www.luzernelibraries.org for information. First row, from left, with state Sen. John Yudichak’s wife, Heather, are their children, Evelyn, Sarah, Grace and Anna. Second row: Richard Miller, executive director, Osterhout Free Library; Elaine Rash, youth services coordinator, Osterhout Library, and Charles Barber, president/CEO of The Luzerne Foundation.

  • Luzerne Foundation Held 3rd Annual Nonprofit Forum

    By: Doug Martin on April 4, 2016
    Tags: , Categories: News


    The Luzerne Foundation held its 3rd Annual Nonprofit Forum on Wednesday, March 30th.  With over 100 people in attendance, 33 local nonprofit organizations spoke, for five minutes each, to share their mission, discuss the needs and challenges they face, and highlight their programming efforts. These nonprofit organizations represent the seven major field-of-interest areas that The Foundation feels represent our comprehensive community needs: Education and Scholarships, Neighborhoods and Community Development, Youth Issues, Historic Preservations and the Environment, Arts and Culture, Health and Wellness, and Social Services. Together, these seven fields of interest support a healthy and sustainable community that enhances the lives of Luzerne County residents.

    At the conclusion of the Forum, The Foundation held a drawing for a $1,000 grant from each of the seven field-of-interest areas.  The seven winners were:


    Front Row, left to right:  Merlyn Fletcher, Newport Township Community Organization ~ Neighborhoods & Communities; David Kovach, Stuart Tank Memorial Association ~Historic Land Preservation & The Environment; Karen Baker, The Commonwealth Medical College ~ Health & Wellness

    Back Row, left to right: John Dowd, Grants Distribution Committee Chairman; Lani Drobnock, United Way of Greater Hazleton ~ Social Services; Bob Skulsky, Greater Hazleton Civic Partnership ~ Education; Jim Payne, Camp Orchard Hill ~ Youth Issues; Will Beekman,  F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts ~ Arts & Culture; Charles M. Barber, President & CEO

    “We had a very successful and informative day,” said Charles Barber, President and CEO of The Luzerne Foundation. “I would like to thank everyone who spoke on behalf of our area’s nonprofit groups as well as those who attended the Forum.”

    The Luzerne Foundation supports donors with their charitable giving, helping them invest strategically in causes they care about and in ways that make a difference in our community. We are a philanthropic leader, a community resource and a financial steward. We are… Here for Good.

    Additional grants will be announced and awarded at the Luzerne Foundation’s 2016 Annual Meeting on May 12th at the F.M. Kirby Center in Downtown Wilkes-Barre. Contact us to register!

  • 33 Nonprofits Get Quick Shot

    By: Doug Martin on March 28, 2016
    Tags: , Categories: News

    charlesThe Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines opportunity as “a favorable juncture of circumstances or a good chance for advancement or progress.”

    Would you believe me if I told you that The Luzerne Foundation wishes to provide a special opportunity to local nonprofits in the form of brief, 5-minute, well-crafted speeches that succinctly summarize their mission and goals? It’s true – time is valuable and the community’s needs are great, so we will not linger over PowerPoint presentations or visual aids of any kind. In fact, they are not permitted during the forum, and no question-and-answer sessions will be offered. Sounds like a refreshing change, doesn’t it?

    Our third annual Nonprofit Forum on March 30 at the Luzerne County Community College’s Educational Conference Center in Nanticoke creates “five minutes of opportunity” for 33 area nonprofit organizations. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude around noon. A continental breakfast will be served. Selected nonprofits will share their mission, discuss the needs and challenges they face, and highlight their programming efforts, all in five-minute time frames.

    The organizations selected for this opportunity are the Wyoming Valley Children’s Association, North Branch Land Trust, The Hope Center of Wyoming Valley, The McGlynn Center, Harris Conservatory, Greater Hazleton Area Civic Partnership, Newport Township Community Organization, Camp Orchard Hill, United Way of Wyoming Valley, The Center for Landscape Design, West Pittston Library, Cori’s Place, Stuart Tank Memorial, Fine Arts Fiesta, CASA of Luzerne County, Riverfront Parks Committee, Luzerne County Head Start, Dinners for Kids, Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, Step by Step, Pittston Memorial Library, Helping Hands Society, F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, The Commonwealth Medical College, SPCA of Luzerne County, Camp Cadet Troop “N,” United Way of Greater Hazleton, Sophia Coxe Memorial Foundation & Education Center, Catherine McAuley Center, Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress, Camp Koala, Commission on Economic Opportunity and The Hazleton Area Education Foundation.

    From a funding perspective, The Luzerne Foundation foregoes its traditional spring grant cycle and holds the forum to gain a “fresh perspective.” By keeping our finger on the pulse of the most pressing needs faced by our area’s nonprofit organizations, we can take a more strategic and creative approach to funding.

    As a result, we are awarding seven $1,000 bonus grants the day of the forum – one for each organization whose mission represents social services, education and scholarships, arts and culture, neighborhoods and community development, youth issues, historic preservation and the environment, and health and wellness.

    The Luzerne Foundation encourages its friends and donors, fundholders, grantmakers, private funders and committed citizens to attend this free and informative half-day event. Feel free to RSVP your attendance plans to donna@luzfdn.org.

    Established in 1994, The Luzerne Foundation is a force for philanthropy in our community. Like all community foundations, it helps citizens establish permanent funds for the good of their communities. By giving through the foundation, donors benefit from its expertise on community needs, local nonprofits and charitable tax benefits. We routinely work with individuals, families, attorneys and financial planners to design gift plans that fit every economic situation, ensuring that donors receive the most benefit from their charitable contributions and that their philanthropic dollars are used to the fullest extent.

    The Luzerne Foundation also acts as a catalyst to bring diverse groups together to address local needs and foster greater giving. As a philanthropic institution supported by community members, The Luzerne Foundation is uniquely positioned to act as a convener and collaborator. Many complex challenges are best resolved through collaborations with multiple partners and key players; the foundation brings those people together to create a shared vision for change. It takes a full complement of our resources – development, investments and grant making – to accomplish our mission of improving lives and communities in Luzerne County.

    To date we’ve distributed nearly $98 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and house more than 350 charitable funds. With over $32 million in assets, The Luzerne Foundation is positioned to do good today and tomorrow. After all, we are … Here for good.

    We welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have about the services we provide to donors or the philanthropic support we provide to nonprofit organizations.

    Charles Barber, a Kingston resident, is the president and CEO of The Luzerne Foundation. He can be reached at charles@luzfdn.org or 570-714-1570.

  • Special Tax Bill Includes Extended Help for Charities

    By: Doug Martin on December 21, 2015
    Tags: , Categories: News


    Provision Permits Tax-free Charitable Transfers from IRAs

    On December 18, Congress passed the PATH Act, which renews and makes permanent the Charitable IRA provision of 2006, making it easier for Americans to give to causes they care about. This provision has the power to help local charities strengthen their communities by allowing individuals to roll over up to $100,000 annually from an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to charity without being federally taxed.

    Millions of Americans continue to save pre-tax dollars in their IRAs. The law allows taxpayers 70 ½ and older to share their wealth by giving retirement savings directly to charity—and bypassing income tax. (source: http://www.ici.org/research/stats/retirement/)

    This law is important to local charities operating as agents of philanthropy in order to continue to build community and improve social service programs that benefit people every day.

    “It is a win-win—for people who would rather give to charity than pay taxes and for the nonprofit organizations they choose to support,” said Charles M. Barber, The Luzerne Foundation President & CEO.

    Thanks to decades of deliberate saving, some of today’s retirees have more money in their IRAs than they need for daily living expenses and long-term care. Charitable individuals and couples have expressed an interest in giving the funds to charity, but income tax must be paid on all withdrawals, which reduces the value of the gift. Others are concerned about designating their children as IRA beneficiaries, since that may draw unintended tax consequences.

    “For larger estates, a good portion of IRA wealth goes to estate taxes and income taxes of beneficiaries,” Barber said. “Experts estimate heirs may receive less than 50% of IRA assets that pass through estates.” A provision in the federal law extends this special option: transferring IRA assets directly to charity. By going directly to a qualified public charity such as The Luzerne Foundation, the money is not included in the IRA owner’s income and—most important—is not taxed, preserving the full amount for charitable purposes.

    Annually, holders of traditional IRAs who are at least 70½ years old can make direct charitable transfers up to $100,000. Individuals may exclude the amount distributed directly to an eligible charity from their gross income. The Luzerne Foundation can help donors execute the transfers and choose from several charitable fund options for their gift. Donor Advised Funds do not qualify for tax-free IRA transfers.

    “This really is a powerful and limited opportunity. The window is open now, but will close at the end of the year,” said Barber “For anyone interested in establishing a permanent legacy in this community, this is the opportunity of a lifetime to make the gift of a lifetime.”

    Through philanthropic services, strategic grantmaking and community leadership, The Luzerne Foundation helps people support the causes they care about, now and for generations to come.

    Gift of a Lifetime: Shopping for Charity

    Having more retirement money than you need is a great problem to have, and one that’s now easier to solve. But generous IRA donors still face multiple options for their gifts: Support the entire community? Underwrite a special cause? Shore up a favorite charity? Here are three top charitable fund picks of Charles M. Barber, The Luzerne Foundation President & CEO

    The Fund for Luzerne County…Meeting ever-changing community needs.

    IRA transfers to the Fund for Luzerne County address a broad range of current and future needs. The Luzerne Foundation evaluates all aspects of community well-being—arts and culture, community development, education, environment, health and human services—and awards strategic grants to select projects and programs.

    Barber: “For people who care deeply about this community and its people, this fund is an excellent way to address our most pressing needs, today and tomorrow.”

    Field of Interest Fund—Connecting personal values to high-impact opportunities.

    IRA transfers to Field of Interest Funds allow donors to target gifts to causes important to them: arts, AIDS services, urban education, neighborhood revitalization, youth welfare and more. The Luzerne Foundation awards grants to community organizations and programs addressing the donor’s specific interest area.

    Barber: “For those who are particularly passionate about a single cause, Field of Interest Funds provide strategic, lasting support—even as needs change over time.”

    Designated Fund—Helping local organizations sustain and grow.

    IRA transfers to Designated Funds allow donors to support the good work of a specific nonprofit organization—a senior center, museum or any qualifying nonprofit charitable organization.

    Barber: “For people who want to help secure the future of their favorite charities, our endowed Designated Funds give nonprofits a steady stream of income, plus planned giving and investment management services.”


    Charles M. Barber, The Luzerne Foundation President & CEO, 570.714.1570

    Investment Company Institute, http://www.ici.org/research/stats/retirement/

  • Wyoming Valley-based program to give food to low-income children wins $20,000 grant

    By: Doug Martin on October 30, 2015
    Tags: , Categories: News

    By Mark Guydish – mguydish@timesleader.com


    Gretchen Hunt, from the Commission on Economic Opportunity, gives a two-minute speech about the CEO’s proposed “Food 4 Kids Weekends Backpack Program” during Thursday’s Millennium Circle luncheon. The program received the most votes among five presented to Circle members during the event, winning a $20,000 grant. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

    WILKES-BARRE — Commission on Economic Opportunity’s Gretchen Hunt didn’t trash talk the four organizations that lost in Thursday’s competition for a Millennium Foundation grant. “They are all worthy causes,” she said.

    And she didn’t claim to have been more persuasive than the others during the two minutes each had to pitch their requests at a forum at Genetti’s.

    No, she figured numbers spoke for themselves when it came time for the Millennium Circle members to vote on which cause would get $20,000.

    “The fact is that nearly 16,000 children in Luzerne County are struggling with hunger,” Hunt said after learning the Commission on Economic Opportunity had won the grant for its proposed “Food 4 Kids Weekends Backpack” program. “That’s nearly one in four children. It’s not a fact that’s easy to ignore.”

    Hunt is the nutrition programs and resource development director for CEO. She was the last of five people representing different organizations to speak during the Millennium Circle event, each given two minutes to persuade those present that their idea should get the money.

    The CEO program will use the $20,000 for transportation and other program costs in launching the new initiative, which will provide food to low-income students in school for the weekends, holidays and extended breaks. The theory is that they already can get federally subsidized meals during the week at school, but are on their own Saturdays and Sundays.
    The students — and how much food they get — will be decided by working with the school district officials, Hunt said. The cost isn’t in acquiring edibles because that is all donated; it’s in transporting the goods, both from donor to CEO and from CEO to schools.
    There will be some administrative costs in setting up the program, but once established it should become part of CEO’s annual effort and not require any special fundraising, she added, making it sustainable once the grant expires — one of the things voters consider in choosing a grant winner.

    Established in 2001 by the Luzerne Foundation, the Circle has handed out $272,000 in grants.
    The money comes from the investment return on the $2,000 it costs to become a member, Luzerne Foundation CEO Charles Barber explained. Members annually nominate a program or organization for a grant, a committee winnows it down to handful of finalists, and after they pitch their program in print and at the luncheon, members vote to determine the recipient.

    • This year there were 36 nominations and five finalists. The other four:
    • Dress for Success sought money for the Set for Success program that helps unemployed women learn skills needed to get a job;
    • The Luzerne County Child Advocacy Center wanted the grant to provide medical and wellness exams to abused children;
    • The Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic sought funds to expand its musical outreach program;
    • The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business & Industry looked to pay for an updated plan on how best to preserve and re-purpose the shuttered Irem Temple in Wilkes-Barre.

    Local businessman, arts supporter and mayor of Bear Creek Village Walter Mitchell said he’s been a member of the circle since the beginning, and that he supports it because it is “unique” in allowing the donors to become members who then directly control who gets grants. Asked which program he voted to fund he demurred. “It’s a secret ballot.”

    Wilkes-Barre City Council candidate and former Luzerne County Historical Society Executive Director Tony Brooks didn’t hide his preference. “I voted for the Irem Temple. I’m a big supporter of preserving the Irem.”

    A member since 2006, Brooks said the Circle is a great idea in part because the $2,000 membership can be paid over 10 years. “That’s $200 a year. That’s about $17 a month,” he said. “The great thing about it is that any person can be a philanthropist.”

  • Senator John Yudichak and Family Donate to Luzerne County Library System

    By: Doug Martin on July 31, 2015
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    Donation supports Summer Reading Program

    The Luzerne County Library System is pleased to announce that The Yudichak Family Lighthouse Fund of The Luzerne Foundation has generously donated $5,000 to fund the 2015 County-wide Summer Reading Program. The Yudichak Family has funded the program since 2011.

    The Luzerne County Library System was founded in 1984. It is made up of ten libraries throughout Luzerne County that work cooperatively to provide citizens with recreational and educational materials and programs, such as the annual Summer Reading Program.

    The Summer Reading Program is underway and continues through mid-August. It is open to all ages (children, teens and adults). There are weekly prizes and attendees are eligible to receive a certificate for participating.

    Be sure to sign up for the Summer Reading Program at your local library. To find the library nearest you and more details, visit www.luzernelibraries.org.

    Yudichak Summer Reading Kickoff

    (L – R): Charles Barber, Luzerne Foundation, Senator John Yudichak with his children (Sarah, Grace, Anna & Evelyn); Elaine Rash, Youth Services Coordinator, Osterhout Free Library, Melissa Werner, Hoyt Library & Chris Kelly, Osterhout Library.

  • Millennium Circle Fund of The Luzerne Foundation Declares a Perfect Tie!

    By: Doug Martin on July 14, 2015
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    And the winners are…
    Volunteers of America-Ruth’s Place
    Commission on Economic Opportunity- Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan Center for Healthy Living

    The Millennium Circle Membership has spoken and for the first time in its fourteen year history-we have a perfect tie! In response to this voting anomaly, The Luzerne Foundation will split the 2014 grant allocation of $20,000 and present a $10,000 grant to Commission on Economic Opportunity – Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan Center for Healthy Living and $10,000 grant to Volunteers of America for Ruth’s Place. The organizations were chosen from twenty-nine initial grant nominations which were narrowed down to five finalists for presentation at the Millennium Circle’s 2014 Annual Luncheon.

    During the Annual Luncheon, a representative from each of the five nonprofit finalists presented to nearly 175 Millennium Circle members and guests how the grant money would help their organization address an important need and by extension the community. Only Millennium Circle members could vote on which charity should receive the grant. Each finalist did a phenomenal job in presenting their charities need. Below are excerpts from our declared winners.

    photo1Commission on Economic Opportunity- Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan Center for Healthy Living: “There are 46,480 food insecure or hungry individuals living in Luzerne County, including of all children, will benefit from this funding. CEO’s Weinberg Regional Food Bank partners with 74 member agencies; 24 after school programs; 51 summer programs – including city parks & recreation departments, housing authorities, libraries and community centers; 15 schools and 54 senior locations – all in Luzerne County and all working with the Food Bank to fight hunger, improve nutrition, and reach the 1 in 7 people who are food insecure people in the county,” said Gretchen Hunt, spokesperson for the Commission on Economic Opportunity.

    Volunteers of America for Ruth’s Place: “The funds will assist with the expansion of our service model. Currently, we rent space for the shelter, at which is not ideally suited as there remains a lack of separation of sleeping areas with common and public areas, thereby denying the women privacy.

    photo2To rectify this, our intent is to move the shelter to an empty building we own in Wilkes-Barre, but before that can take place; we must renovate and update the interior and critical systems. This transition will not only improve our service to current clients but expand our outreach in emergency shelter services for women and women with children -one critically unmet need in Luzerne County homeless services,” stated Kristen Topolski, Executive Director of Ruth’s Place.

    The Millennium Circle Fund of the Luzerne Foundation was created by a special group of donors whose gifts of $2,000 to the Fund play a pivotal role in helping The Luzerne Foundation identify significant unmet community needs. The ultimate goal is to have 2,000 members and a fund that would present community grants totaling $200,000 or more each year.

  • Times Leader: Luzerne Foundation forum offers a wealth perspective

    By: Luzerne Foundation on March 20, 2014
    Tags: , Categories: News

    AR-303199969NANTICOKE — If Walter Mitchell were a rich man, he’d donate to the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre.

    That’s what he said, or rather sang, Wednesday morning during a presentation at the LCCC Conference Center.

    His presentation charmed an audience of speakers representing 32 nonprofit organizations from throughout Luzerne County during a nonprofit forum hosted by the Luzerne Foundation.

    The forum provided organizations a gently enforced five-minute window in which to explain their needs and detail their goals for serving the communities of Northeastern Pennsylvania to a mixed audience of donors, grantmakers and other nonprofits.

    Mitchell book-ended his five minutes singing excerpts from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” Between verses, he described the issues the Little Theatre faces.

    “It’s a constant struggle to maintain a nearly 100-year-old building,” Mitchell said.

    Aging pipes leak, the heat fails and ancient electrical systems sputter, he said, “and yet we press on.”

    Gene Talerico of Marley’s Mission, an organization using horses to provide therapy to children emerging from traumatic situations, expressed lighthearted regret at having to follow Mitchell before her remarked, “I think I’m hooked on the Little Theatre.”

    After about half of the organizations had presented, Luzerne Foundation President and CEO Charles Barber announced a 10-minute intermission. Attendees cleared the auditorium, adjourning to the conference center lobby, where they chatted and mingled over muffins and coffee.

    Previously, Barber said he hoped the forum would spur such interaction and interplay between local nonprofits, as an overlap often exists in the services they provide. After the event, he said he had already heard many references to collaboration and working together from those organizations in attendance.

    “We were very pleased with it,” he said, adding the forum attracted “not only a wonderful turnout from the 32 nonprofits that participated, but a very attentive audience.”

    Many organizations reported a decrease in funding related to the economic downturn. Organizations offering a range of services — from addiction counseling to conservation to equine-assisted therapy — disclosed a variety of needs.

    Some sought to raise awareness of their cause, and others simply seemed to simply be looking for visitors.

    “The coffee pot is always on,” Georgetta Potoski of the Plymouth Historical Society said in invitation.

    The Luzerne Foundation will hold a second nonprofit forum, featuring the five-minute format Wednesday at the Genetti Hotel & Convention Center in Wilkes-Barre.

    With another 32 nonprofits slated to make their respective cases, Barber said he is looking forward to the event. He also spoke to the possibility of similar events in the future.

    “We had enough people that wanted to participate that we could hold another day at any time,” he said.

    Barber did note, however, the decision to hold another such event would depend on the board members of the Luzerne Foundation.

    Read it at TimesLeader.com at: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1267136/Luzerne-Foundation-forum-offers-a-wealth-perspective

  • Luzerne Foundation Holds First Ever Nonprofit Forum

    By: LF Gerard on February 11, 2014
    Tags: , Categories: News

    Local Nonprofits Have 5 Minutes to Tell Their Story 

    The Luzerne Foundation will hold its first-ever Nonprofit Forum on Wednesday March 19th at Luzerne County Community College’s Conference Center and Wednesday March 26th at Genetti’s Best Western in Wilkes-Barre.  All Luzerne County 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations are invited to sign up for a five minute time slot during which they will have the opportunity to present their current needs and challenges to The Foundation’s Grants Distribution Committee, Foundation leadership, donors and friends, and other foundations and guests.

    “This is a chance for a nonprofit to explain, from their perspective, the most pressing needs and how they are planning to address them,” noted Charles Barber, President and CEO of The Luzerne Foundation.  “It’s not asking for money, it’s creating awareness.  We hope coalitions will be formed and ideas exchanged,” he continued.

    The Nonprofit Forum is one of The Luzerne Foundation’s 20th Anniversary Celebration schedule of events and is part of a community needs assessment that will shape future Foundation grant-making.

    The event begins at 8:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast followed by the five minute presentations.  Eligible nonprofits must RSVP in order to participate by calling The Luzerne Foundation office at 570-714-1570.

    Celebrating 20 Years of being…“Here For Good“.  The Luzerne Foundation supports donors with their charitable giving, helping them invest strategically in causes they care about and in ways that make a difference in our community. We are a philanthropic leader, a community resource and a financial steward. For more information about The Luzerne Foundation please contact us at 570-714-1570.

  • YAC (Youth Advisory Committee) Holds Inaugural Meeting

    By: cds on November 3, 2013
    Tags: , Categories: News

    Youth Advisory Committee Formed at The Luzerne FoundationLF-YAC Logo 2
    Student Run Group to Research and Award Grants

    Students from area high schools across Luzerne County have become members of a newly formed Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) at The Luzerne Foundation to learn the fundamentals and importance of charitable giving in the community.  At the conclusion of the school year, the YAC will award $15,000 in grants to area nonprofit groups.

    The 19 YAC members are 9-12 grade students from seven schools and will spend the year completing assignments such as a community needs assessment, grant reviews, prospective recipient site visits and the awarding of the grants.  Additionally, the group will raise funds, plan events and solicit potential donors.

    “Our goal is to teach the youth of our community about the fundamentals and responsibility of philanthropy,” noted Charles Barber, President/CEO of The Luzerne Foundation.  “The YAC will give them an opportunity to find out more about the needs in our community, understand the limitations of funding and enjoy the good feelings that come with making a difference.”

    Shown in Photo:YAC Group Pix-10-20-13-A

    Row 1 Left to right: Dana Carrato, MMI;  Roshan Patel, WVW; Janki Patel, WVW;  Madison Dowd, SEM;  Carrie Pozaic, Wyo. Area:  Nesli Akinci, SEM; Mackenize Bilbow, Wyo. Area;  Soprina Guarneri; MMI; Alexis Davison, Holy Redeemer.

    Row 2 Left to right: Brian Wisowaty, Wyo. Area;  Michael Conlon, Holy Redeemer; Bailey Hamilton, Nanticoke; Andrew Casper, Holy Redeemer; Emily Wolfgang, Wyo. Area;  Abigail Straub, SEM  Olivia Minzola, MMI;  Madison Nardone, SEM.

    Absent were: Matthew Straub, Haz. Area; Francesca Trottini, Wyo Area.

  • Family Service Association to receive $20k Millennium Circle Grant for 211 Conversion

    By: Luzerne Foundation on October 31, 2013
    Tags: , Categories: News


    The Millennium Circle Membership has listened and voted to award the Family Service Association of NEPA – Help Line –PA 211 Transition, the recipient of the 2013 Millennium Circle Grant of $20,000.

    Excerpt from the Family Service Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania:

    “The program is simple. Anyone throughout ten counties of Northeast PA and access to a telephone can dial ‘211’ at any minute of the year and be connected to Help Line for linkage to critical human and social services. Trained, professional caseworkers will assess the callers’ stated and implied need and guide them to the organizations and programs that best match the need. Emergency needs such as heating fuel, utility assistance, shelter, substance abuse treatment, mental health crises, child abuse/neglect, elder abuse/neglect, crime victims services, domestic violence services can all be accessed through 211, as can other services for consumer information, landlord/tenant rights, or insurance information and resources. Service resources and programs are only valid if they are used. Help Line drives the traffic to our community resources.”

    “Data on thousands of agencies, programs, and services need to be entered manually into the statewide system.  Stated succinctly, Help Line can handle the additional calls, but we struggle to carve out the time to do the data entry and data mining necessary to convert to a true ‘211’ system, complete with resource data accessible through the internet, call tracking, and an automated resource information update feature.  Once the data mining and entry is complete, Help Line, because of the intricate cross-web of after-hours services tied to the program, will serve as a model to the state for comprehensive, centralized services.”

    Click here to learn about the grant recipient.

    Click here to view photos from today’s luncheon.

    We congratulate and thank all of the finalists who did an exceptional job in presenting the compelling needs within their respective organizations.

  • Save The Dates – 2017!

    By: cds on March 3, 2013
    Tags: Save The Date , Categories: News


    FEBRUARY 2017

    Rusty Flack Society Gathering
    Wednesday, February 8, 2017
    5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
    Westmoreland Club

    Learn More Here »

    MARCH 2017

    4th Annual Nonprofit Forum
    Thursday, March 30, 2017
    A continental breakfast will be served beginning at 8:00 a.m.
    Holiday Inn: Wilkes-Barre – East Mountain
    600 Wildflower Drive, Wilkes-Barre

    Learn More Here »

  • Grantee Profile–Serento Gardens

    By: cds on March 3, 2013
    Tags: , Categories: News

    Since its founding in 1977, Serento Gardens in Hazleton has helped thousands overcome their chemical dependencies by providing support and the opportunity to regain control of their lives.  In The Luzerne Foundation’s Fall Grant Cycle, Serento Gardens was selected to receive a grant for a new program – Stewards of Children, a child sexual abuse prevention program developed by the internationally known “Darkness to Light” organization.

    Much of the treatment provided at Serento Gardens is for the symptoms resulting from childhood trauma caused by sexual abuse at a young age.  The program educates adults about the steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse which is related to significant problems with academic performance, friendships, family relationships, physical health, and a range of mental health difficulties including both emotional and behavioral problems.

    The grant will fund a region-wide campaign to enhance awareness of child sexual abuse and provide the research based tools that put sexual abuse prevention into the hands of adults, the only place a lasting difference can truly be made.

    “I am happy to report,” said Edward Pane, LSW, MBA, CAADC Diplomate and President and CEO of Serento Gardens, “that our trainers are in place and we have five upcoming sessions scheduled throughout Luzerne County in Berwick, Hazleton, Nanticoke and two in Wilkes-Barre.”  The final event on May 2nd, will be held at Kings College and includes a special guest speaker – Angela Shelton.

    Angela Shelton is a writer, movie maker, blogger (http://angelashelton.com/finding-angela-shelton-2) and a survivor of abuse.  In her uplifting and multiple award-winning documentary, Searching for Angela Shelton, she drives around the United States surveying other Angela Sheltons. She discovers that 70% of the Angela Sheltons she speaks to are survivors of rape, childhood sexual abuse and/or domestic violence.

    On her journey the filmmaker meets an Angela Shelton who tracks sexual predators and lives in the same town as the filmmaker’s father, who sexually abused her and her siblings for years. Angela Shelton’s survey of women becomes a journey of self-discovery during which she decides to finally confront her own past and her abusive father – on Father’s Day. (http://www.searchingforangelashelton.com )

    The sessions are free and open to the public.  “We hope people will come to learn,” notes Ed. “Or to heal.”

  • 2012 – A Year of Challenges

    By: cds on March 3, 2013
    Tags: , Categories: News

    What an interesting year 2012 was –for the Foundation it was a year of change and challenges. We are truly becoming the Center For Philanthropy in our community.

    We became deeply involved in the recovery efforts from last year’s flooding serving as a part of the Disaster Relief Recovery Coalition and we continue to participate to ensure those affected are served and to assure our community we are organized should an event like it happen again.

    We were galvanized to be part of the Anti-Bullying Coalition which had already been reaching out to assist teachers and students alike to recognize and deal with the serious issues young people face.  The members of the Millennium Circle Fund of The Luzerne Foundation voted to further fund these efforts.

    We continue to provide educational seminars and forums for nonprofits, fundraising professionals and professional advisors (accountants, attorneys, estate planners) during our Annual Meeting events.  These were well received and led to new funds being established at The Foundation.

    And “The Ribbon” was finally unveiled at the Millennium Circle Portal of the River Common.  It is the first piece of public art to be placed along the river and we hope it will inspire everyone to “reach up and out” today and for years to come by being part of The Luzerne Foundation.

    As you can see from the pie chart, The Foundation has distributed over $46 million in grants since our beginnings in 1994.  The impact on our community has been immeasurable and we have you to thank. LF Pie Chart & Inception Grants 12-31-12 Updated

    As we move closer to our 20th anniversary in 2014 watch for more changes, challenges and opportunities.  As always, be in touch with us with any questions or suggestions. What needs do you see in our community?  Let us know.

  • Leading The Way: The Luzerne Foundation Annual Meeting to be held on May 16th

    By: Luzerne Foundation on May 30, 2012
    Tags: , Categories: News

    Michael & Kathleen Hirthler to Receive Bevevino Community Service Award

    (Luzerne, PA) The Annual Meeting of The Luzerne Foundation will be held on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts beginning with a reception and 5:30 p.m. followed by the meeting at 6:00 p.m. A highlight of the event will be the presentation of The Mary Bevevino Community Service Award to Michael & Kathleen Hirthler. The Award was established in 2000 and honors a Luzerne County resident who has made a significant, positive impact in the area. It is The Foundation’s highest tribute reflecting the unwavering dedication, commitment and spirit of its namesake.

    “This is going to be a terrific day,” noted Phil Decker, Chair of The Luzerne Foundation Board of Directors. “Mike and Kathleen are such deserving recipients of the Bevevino Award and we’re thrilled to be hosting educational seminars all day long as part of our Annual Meeting activities. The Foundation is Leading the Way and we look forward to using our unique position in the community to build awareness about ways to become involved in making our area truly remarkable.”

    Kathleen Hirthler, DNP, CRNP, FNP-BC and Mike Hirthler, President and Chief Investment Officer of Jacobi Capital Management are a dynamic and dedicated team. Kathleen is deeply involved in Volunteers in Medicine, serving as its Assistance Medical Director; on the Medical Ethics Committee; and as a Mentor for Community Health Projects developed by students at The Commonwealth Medical College. She also provides healthcare services in her role as Nurse Practitioner at the Wilkes-Barre Free Clinic at St. Stephens Church. In addition, she is an Assistant Professor, Doctor of Nursing Practice Program in the Nesbitt College of Pharmacy and Nursing at Wilkes University. She is a Catholic Youth Center board member, CCD Instructor at Church of St. Therese in Wilkes-Barre and has presented numerous wellness presentations to community groups.

    Michael Hirthler founded Jacobi Capital Management in 2008 which he named in honor of Carl Gustav Jacobi, a famous German Mathematician. Over his 25 years Mike has quietly become one of the largest investment advisors in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

    Michael is an active member of the community, and involved with the Catholic Youth Center, the YMCA, Volunteers in Medicine, the Luzerne Foundation, the Salvation Army, Junior Achievement of NEPA, the Kiss Theatre, Kings College and Wilkes University. He currently serves on the YMCA Board of Trustees, the Kirby Center Board, the Geisinger Advisory Board, the Mercer Athletic Foundation Board of Trustees, and was formerly an advisor and Board member for the Catholic Youth Center.

    With Michael as Chair, he and Kathleen spearheaded the Catholic Youth Center Capital Campaign helping to raise over $5 million for a new gymnasium and indoor pool. Mike was also Chair of the CYC’s “March Madness” annual fundraiser which, over the past four years, has raised in excess of $400,000.

    They have sponsored, coordinated and funded prizes for the Sir John Templeton Laws of Life Essay Contest in the Wilkes- Barre Area School District and are the presenting sponsor of the annual Meyers Speech and Debate Team’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Tournament each year.

    “These are wonderful people,” stated Charles Barber, President and CEO of The Luzerne Foundation. “They do so many things in our community, probably more than we know. They are truly deserving of the Mary Bevevino Community Service Award.”

  • Workshop: Improving your Organization’s Annual Fund Campaign

    By: Luzerne Foundation on May 1, 2012
    Tags: , Categories: Events
  • Luzerne Foundation Annual Meeting

    By: Luzerne Foundation on May 1, 2012
    Tags: , Categories: Events