LCP stands for Leadership, Community and Poverty for October’s Class

LCP class members help winterize the butterfly garden at the Bloomsburg Children’s Museum.

October provided a unique opportunity for Leadership Central Penn (LCP) participants. They were joined by five pediatric and pediatric resident physicians from Geisinger, as well as 38 Geisinger Health Plan employees for a day of collaboration and learning. The morning started with a brief introduction and explanation of the day from Adrienne Mael, CEO of United Way of Columbia and Montour County. Adrienne explained that the large group would be split into community project groups. The LCP class was joined by the Geisinger residents and went to assist with one of three projects: strategic planning brainstorming at the Bloomsburg Area YMCA, multipurpose room cleaning and organizing, or butterfly garden winterization at the Bloomsburg Children’s Museum.

When the projects were completed, it was off to the Caldwell Consistory for a poverty panel discussion.  The panel included Tom Dougher of the Gate House, Becky Stender of Central Susquehanna Opportunities-Community Action and Eileen Chapman from AGAPE. The group learned about rural homelessness and how organizations like the Gate House in Danville are trying to help. They heard about many community needs from food assistance to flood assistance and the many efforts of AGAPE and CSO. In the end, everyone learned that while they may be aware of poverty in our area, they don’t fully understand the depth and breadth. The only way to fully understand it is to experience it.

The poverty simulation held at the Caldwell Consistory.

After a great lunch from Lucy’s Kitchen & Catering, everyone got to learn first-hand what it is like to walk in the shoes of poverty for one month. The participants started by randomly selecting a card that then assigned them a real-life role in a family living in poverty. Some were a parent, a child, a grandparent, but each had unique issues to deal with due to their family’s situation. There were many struggles that plagued the families as the weeks went by. What bills could you afford to pay, what bills were the most important to pay, how do you get to work, how do you care for children, what do you do when school is closed, how do you find help, where do you look for help? The biggest challenge faced was figuring out where to start. The reality is poverty isn’t something people plan for and it also isn’t something that can be fixed by one nonprofit, charity or government agency.

When the day was done everyone shared how well they did, or didn’t do, and what they took away from the day. Some participants actually turned to crime and became Robin Hoods during the end of the month. Others lost their homes and children, and were defeated. Some managed, but barely. Only one group shared that they thought they did well with the hand they were dealt. All of the groups realized in the end that this is not a game, and that there is much work to be done to combat the issues of poverty in our area. We all can and need to be part of the solution.

The 2018-19 LCP program is sponsored by Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital, Kawneer, PPL Electric Utilities, SEKISUI SPI, USG and Williams

Future Careers Expo Cancelled

The The Foundation of The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce’s Future Careers Expo, scheduled for next Tuesday, Nov. 20, has unfortunately been cancelled. Please keep an eye out for another piece of workforce development programming in the near future. 

U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance Resources Available For Columbia County

The U. S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance offers low interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery & equipment, inventory and business assets damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster.  Applications may be submitted online. The deadline to file for physical damages is Dec. 24, 2018.  See the fact sheet for additional details, and for questions or more information, the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955.

The Columbia Montour Chamber is also offering special bridge loans of up to $10,000 at a 3% fixed interest rate to members impacted by this summer’s flooding. Please see the full guidelines and application for this program, and questions can be directed to Chamber president Fred Gaffney at 570-784-2522 or by email

Free Training in Berwick For Online Designing Tool and Resources

Businesses and non-profit organizations in the Berwick area are invited to attend a free training session on Thursday to help with marketing efforts. The Berwick: The Next Step committee has worked with a consultant this fall to develop marketing materials to promote healthy living in Berwick, using the online design platform The committee is now inviting Berwick area businesses to a free training workshop to learn how to use the website, and the materials that have been developed. Canva offers a free version so that businesses can easily develop their own marketing materials.

The workshop is Thursday, Nov. 8, from 6-8 p.m. at the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation. Attendees should bring a laptop to get hands-on exposure. There is no cost to attend the workshop or obligation to purchase any software or subscription.

Anyone interested in attending should RSVP to Josh Nespoli at Community Strategies Group via email.

Traditional and Longstanding Events Dot Calendar For Holiday Activities in Berwick

Some long-running and traditional events highlight the holiday activities schedule in Berwick, which kicks off with the 109th Run for the Diamonds on Thanksgiving. 

The following day, Black Friday, Nov. 23, will mark Santa’s first appearance of the year in our area as the Santa Parade begins at 10:30 a.m. at Crispin Field and runs down Mulberry, West Front, Market & 11th Streets. Later in the day, Santa will also make an appearance at WHLM’s Parade of Lights in Bloomsburg, and then in Danville the following weekend on Nov. 30 in Danville’s Welcome Santa Parade, sponsored by First Columbia Bank & Trust. Berwick will also have a Small Business Saturday event on Nov. 24 to promote patronage of small businesses in town. 

Berwick’s WinterFest will be on Saturday, Dec. 1, and will feature numerous activities in the downtown including free cookie decorating, horse & carriage rides, a gingerbread house contest, crafts, face painting, marshmallow roasting stations and more. Enjoy live music from The Bennett Brothers Band and ice sculpting while walking the streets. Santa will make another appearance at 5 p.m. before heading to the opening of the Christmas Boulevard at 6 p.m., which the tree will be lit up in St. Charles Park. Sponsors and vendors are still being accepted for WinterFest. Contact the Berwick United Way or visit the Experience Berwick website for more information. 

McBride Memorial Library will also host a Holiday Party on Monday, Dec. 17, from 6-7:30 p.m., that will feature holiday crafts, do-it-yourself presents and carol singing. There will also  be an opportunity to make homemade ornaments and cards for members of the community. Refreshments will be provided. 

For more information on events in Berwick, visit