Local Nonprofits Gather at Regional Impact Symposium

On Wednesday, June 6, the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation (CSCF) hosted an Impact Symposium at Bucknell University.  The goal was to bring together nonprofit partners to identify and evaluated unmet needs, network, learn and collaborate.  The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce director, Jeff Emanuel, was one of the nearly 125 nonprofit participants in the event.  There were representatives from organizations that span the six-county footprint served by CSCF. 

The program began with an introduction and welcome by Holly Morrison, president/CEO of CSCF, and Chamber board member, who introduced John Kurelja, regional impact fund campaign chair. Kurelja shared the story of a widowed mother with 10 kids and asked attendees what they thought happened to these kids as they grew. No one expected the results and the successes these children would have as they became adults.  All of them are successful and that success ranged from Phds, lawyers and executives. Kurelja’s story seemed so personal when he told it, and eventually, the crowd why. He was one of those children. The point was made — with with the right programs to assist families in this region, the sky is the limit for them.

Following Kurleja was the keynote speaker, Brad Ward, director of the community philanthropy with the Council on Foundations.  Ward interacts with hundreds of community foundations and place-based institutions across the country. He has directed, merged and witnessed the impact of community foundations first hand.  “Getting at the heart of nonprofits through community foundations” was the topic of his presentation. By the time he was done, there was no doubt of the sustainable impact and legacy that community foundations offer. 

Once the presentations were wrapped up it was time for the first of two breakout sessions.  The morning session was a county breakout of Columbia and Lower Luzerne Counties, Montour County, Northumberland County, Snyder County and Union County. The groups were tasked with identifying unmet needs in their counties and discussing how these relate to needs being served by the individual organizations. Everyone in the rooms got to learn from one another, and begin to envision how collaboration would benefit each county. 

The afternoon breakout sessions were focused on the program areas of arts and culture; civic and community development; education; health; human services; and youth and recreation. Again, the attendees were asked to speak about needs they are addressing, and identifying unmet needs in their program area. Everyone had the opportunity to offer suggestions of programs they offer that could benefit other organizations, and were again offered the opportunity to envision collaborative efforts. All the organizations have limited resources, but everyone strives to have maximum impact. There was a great deal of discussion about how pooling resources and increasing communication about efforts could increase the positive impacts on those served.  

At the conclusion of the program, Christine Pangelinan, CSCF program officer, shared a unique grant opportunity with those in attendance. Everyone in the room waited to hear the strings that were attached, but they never came.  CSCF’s first unrestricted grant round through the Regional Impact Fund was announced.  This grant round is open to the entire 5 ½ county service area. There are no geographic restrictions within counties for this grant opportunity. Charitable organizations investing in community programs and projects benefiting Lower Luzerne, Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Union and Snyder Counties are encouraged to apply. This year, the Regional Impact Fund is granting a total of $50,000 through this competitive grant round. Grant requests up to $10,000 are being considered. 

Grant requests must be submitted online by 11:59 pm on Thursday, July 12. Grant decisions will be announced in October 2018.

Camp Victory a Haven For Personal Victories

Photo provided by Camp Victory

From PPL Electric Utilities

On a remote property in a small northeastern Pennsylvania community, some big things are happening for thousands of kids, thanks in part to the PPL Foundation.

It’s a place for young people to experience a wide range of personal victories. The aptly named Camp Victory in Greenwood Township, near Bloomsburg in Columbia County, has hosted nearly 30,000 overnight campers since it opened in 1994. The camp hosts children with any type of health problem or physical or mental disability.

It’s one of many organizations that benefit from the $2 million donated annually to nonprofit groups by the PPL Foundation to improve education, develop future workers and revitalize communities.

Lois and Dennis Wolff — inspired by their son, who was born with a life-threatening liver disease — created the camp and the Nicholas Wolff Foundation in 1986. The Wolffs donated 35 acres of farmland for Camp Victory, which was created as a “special camp for special kids.”

Since then, children from across Pennsylvania, the United States and even the world, have spent weekends and weeks at the camp to meet other children and take part in activities ranging from swimming and fishing and archery to wall climbing, zip lining and arts and crafts.

“It’s very rewarding and wonderful to see the kids come here and get to do all of the wonderful things that they do here,” said Jamie Huntley, the group’s executive director. “They also get to be with other children with whom they develop life-long relationships.”

Since opening, the camp property has expanded to 130 acres and hosts about 1,600 children, ages seven to 17, annually.

Tracie Witter, our regional affairs director in the area, said PPL is proud to be associated with an organization that has touched so many young lives and helped forge relationships among young people.

“Camp Victory has helped so many families and given so many kids an opportunity to have a special time away from home with others who face similar challenges,” Witter said. “Our area is fortunate to have a camp like this that gives these young campers a chance to be independent. It truly is a great program.”

To learn more about Camp Victory, visit its website

Note: Camp Victory will host a Chamber Business After Hours on Wednesday, Oct. 24. 

Chamber Foundation Participates in Senior Exit Interviews at Central Columbia

Members of the business community gather at Central Columbia High School last month for senior exit interviews.

What do you get when you put a class of nervous graduating high school seniors in a room with community and business leaders? An amazing experience for seniors to see what real world interviews will be like in their careers. As Jeff Emanuel, director of The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber realized, you also get a great opportunity to see the hope for the future of our region. Emanuel was one of over 100 business and community leaders from throughout the region that participated in senior exit interviews at Central Columbia High School in late May. 

The senior exit interview at Central Columbia is a culminating activity of a high school student’s career. In this joint effort between the school and local community leaders, students are interviewed and expected to engage in a conversation about their career action plan. Every year, more than 100 community leaders participate in this activity. In the minds of the students, the senior exit interview is arguably one of the most significant and worthwhile experiences in their high school career.

If you are interested in participating in this event in future years as a local business leader, contact Central Columbia High School principal Jeff Groshek at 784-2850 ex. 3444 or via email

Leadership Central Penn Seeks Applications For 2018-19 Class

The 2017-18 class on its first class day at Quest at Bloomsburg University.

Leadership Central Penn, a program of The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber, is currently seeking applications for its 2018-19 class. LCP is the Chamber’s community leadership program for working professionals, and seeks to identify and educate citizens from Columbia and Montour counties that exhibit leadership potential. Classes meet on the third Thursday of each month for a full day (approx. 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) from September through May. There is also a brief (approx. 1 hour) program orientation on an afternoon in late August. Area businesses and organizations are encouraged to nominate and sponsor employees. Individuals may also apply. The application deadline is July 31.

The 2018-19 class will be the 20th since LCP’s inception in 1993. The 2017-18 class, which at 20 was the largest in program history, held its graduation last month. 

Application (.docx)

Program promotional brochure (.pdf)

Below are links to articles that summarize each class date from this past year’s class (2017-18). Although the program curriculum, class sites, order of classes and various other aspects of the class can change from year to year, these summaries provide a good feel for the material covered through the course. 

The 2017-18 class at its graduation at the Pine Barn Inn.

September 2017
October 2017
November 2017
December 2017
January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018

Manufacturers Invited to Discuss Ideas and Needs

Personal interaction is the best way for the Chamber to learn about member needs, help you make connections, and identify other ways we can support your organization. Downtown Bloomsburg Inc., the Montour County Task Force, and Berwick merchants are among the groups the Chamber supports in bringing businesses together to discuss and address issues. We are now proposing to form a manufacturers’ council, which would meet quarterly.

An initial meeting is scheduled for Friday, June 29, from 9-10:30 a.m. at The Greenly Center in downtown Bloomsburg. The focus will be on workforce development, specifically for existing employees. Any business interested in learning more about the manufacturers’ council should contact Fred Gaffney at the Chamber at 570-784-2522 or email.