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Carbon group fills needs

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    Amber Breiner. BRIAN W. MYSZKOWSKI/TIMES NEWS

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    Carbon County Community Foundation’s newly appointed executive director Amber Breiner. BRIAN W. MYSZKOWSKI/TIMES NEWS

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    Carbon County Community Foundation’s newly appointed executive director Amber Breiner. BRIAN W. MYSZKOWSKI/TIMES NEWS

Published November 14. 2017 12:38PM

 

It’s no secret that Carbon County looks out for its own.

When disaster strikes the area, you can count on your neighbors to have your back. No matter what you need, be it food, furniture, money or other necessities, folks in your neck of the woods will come out in droves to pitch in.

The philanthropic nature of the county does come with a bit of a hitch, though — the business end of charity.

But now, with the help of the Carbon County Community Foundation, donors and recipients have another neighbor on their side.

“We are a 501c3 nonprofit that exists to help build funds to improve the quality of life in Carbon County,” newly appointed executive director Amber Breiner said. “We can support nonprofits or other charitable organizations that are fulfilling a community need. We’re an organization that makes grants, so we find private funds and match donors up with opportunities to give in the community.”

In 2015, Chris and Sheri Anthony, Debra Kay and Joe Bennett, Tiffani and Jim Christman, Tina and John Dowd, Dr. Michael Everett, Pam and Mark Fludgate, Darlene and Richard Nothstein, and R.F. Ohl established the community foundation.

Similar organizations have taken root in surrounding counties, including Berks, Lehigh, Luzerne, and Schuylkill over the years, but Carbon lacks the number of philanthropic groups that those other areas have.

Breiner said the Luzerne Foundation pitched in to help get things off the ground, providing assistance with strategies geared toward Carbon County.

Grants

By the fall of 2016, the group began distributing grants to local causes, including Family Promise of Carbon County, Zion United Church of Christ’s Feed a Neighbor Program, and more.

“The people of Carbon County are generous, giving people, so by organizing their giving we can better support the local nonprofits that are serving our community,” board President Tina Dowd said. “The community foundation can also take a leadership role in challenging our nonprofits to collaborate and find synergies which will ultimately improve services. Although our workforce is the driving engine for the larger economies that surround us, it has been difficult historically for nonprofits seeking funding. A community foundation of our own will alleviate this problem.”

Groups such as Family Promise, which provides housing and other services to families in need throughout Carbon County, were able to use those funds for basic operating expenses, and to expand services to their guests.

“We used the money to transport guests to and from job interviews, and to and from medical appointments until we got them set up with community transit,” executive director Hannah Bartron said. “This was pretty important to us. Transportation is something we really struggle with. Because we had that extra support, we were able to provide rides to interviews. It was pretty crucial in getting some of our families employed.”

On Monday, the group donated $3,000 to the Shepherd House food pantry, $1,000 to Blue Mountain Health for the “Healthy Smiles/Happy Kids” dental van, $500 to the Lehigh River Stocking Association for expansion of cooperative trout nursery, $1,000 to the Lehighton Fire Department for firefighter protective equipment, $1,000 to the Palmerton Library for roof replacement and $650 to Rotary Club of Jim Thorpe for Carbon Career & Technical Center Graduate Assistance Program.

Helping charities

Breiner and the foundation are looking forward to streamlining charitable causes in Carbon County. The foundation can help establish and maintain the business end of things, while advocates for just about anything can focus on their cause without worrying about the government regulations, paperwork, and auditing that comes along with charity work.

“People can set up a fund through us, and just have people write checks to that fund,” Breiner said. “Let’s say you want to raise money for animals. You could start a fund, go out and do all of your community fundraising that you normally do, and not have to accept the money yourself, or worry about starting your own nonprofit, which costs money. It’s a lot of overhead to start an organization, and maybe that’s not what you wanted to do with your life. You just wanted to make some money for animal welfare.”

Once those 501c3s are up and running, the foundation aims to provide continued support for both donors and charitable causes.

Breiner said that the foundation plans on getting to know the organizations that excel in the mission to meet the community’s needs.

“We’ll be able to identify opportunities for organizations to collaborate strategically within the community. If somebody comes to us and says that they want to support a certain cause, we’ll know who is doing that in the community, and who is doing a good job,” Breiner said.

For now, Breiner is focused on growing the foundation’s general fund, connecting with the community, and organizing more services, including grant writing workshops.

“A year from now, I want everyone in Carbon County to understand what the Community Foundation is and what it does, and for them to trust us,” she said. “We’re here to improve the capacity of nonprofits in Carbon County, to strengthen their ability to be sustainable organizations, and serve the community better.”

 

 

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