Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Nonprofit seeking stability


       

By Nancy Young
Enquirer Contributor

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — The rapid growth in West Chester and Liberty townships also means increased needs for those who may be left behind, says a volunteer group now in its ninth year.

        Reach Out Lakota recently created its first capital advisory committee to make sure it will be able to continue meeting the rising demands. Committee members include volunteers from a cross-section of professions — such as police officers, real estate agents and entrepreneurs — who share a common goal.

        “Our objective is to initiate a capital campaign that will raise enough funds to allow Reach Out Lakota to pay its annual expenses through interest earned on that money,” said Lourdes Ward, director of Reach Out Lakota's Food Pantry. “We want to ensure that the organization is still viable decades from now.”

        The group would like to raise $500,000 over the next several years for the capital fund.

        Residents have seen that when disaster strikes locally, Reach Out Lakota volunteers are among the first ones on the scene. When a fire devastated an apartment complex days before Christmas in 1999, Reach Out Lakota team members mobilized the community. Within 24 hours, thousands of dollars worth of donations were making their way into the hands of victims.

        But the group is active on a daily basis.

        “Contrary to what many people believe, we do have low-income families in this community who need our help on a regular basis,” Mrs. Ward said. “But there are families living in some of the area's most prestigious communities who also call on our services.

        “Life changes and tragedies can affect anyone — whether it's a fire, flood, abuse situation or divorce,” she said.

        The 2000 Census figures show Liberty's population jumped by 147 percent in the 1990s, while West Chester's grew by 38 percent.

        Reach Out Lakota helped more than 1,000 people in 2000 — assistance including Christmas gifts, food, clothing and personal hygiene products. Numbers for 2001 are expected to be up by 50 percent.

        Reach Out Lakota still relies entirely on private donations, including fund-raising efforts by schools and churches. Mrs. Ward, a licensed social worker, is the only paid staff member.

        For more information, call 779-7515 or e-mail the organization at LAWROL1@aol.com.

       



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