Bloomsburg Middle School Student Wins Writing Contest

Madeline Polhill, a seventh-grade student at Bloomsburg Middle School, won a writing contest sponsored by Scholastic Scope Magazine and had her first line selected as the first sentence for a short story.Scholastic Scope Magazine invited students to create a first line to a short story and submit it for review.

More than 5,000 entries were submitted to the contest. Madeline’s was selected by writer Roland Smith, author of more than 30 novels. He created a short story based on Madeline’s suggestion: “Peering through the window, I caught a glimpse of some piles of old Halloween costumes, three giant plastic flamingoes, and a life-sized sculpture of Napoleon Bonaparte.”

Madeline was also featured as the main character in the story that is published in May 14th edition of Scholastic Scope.

[box type=”shadow”]The full story featuring Madeline can be found and read here as a PDF on the Scholastic website.[/box]

The Latest Buzz from BTE: In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play

At the dawn of the age of electricity, Dr. Givings performs some experimental treatments. Dr. Givings’ wife, Catherine, will soon discover the “shocking” side-effects of her husband’s revolutionary gadget.

On Thursday, 3 May, The Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble premieres their latest production: In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play.

At the dawn of the age of electricity, Dr. Givings performs some experimental treatments in his home office on Victorian women suffering from hysteria. Intrigued by what’s going on in the next room, Dr. Givings’ wife, Catherine, will soon discover the “shocking” side-effects of her husband’s revolutionary gadget. In this touching, bittersweet comedy by the author of The Clean House, take a peek at what happens when hysteria becomes hysterical.

“At our current time of vast technological advancement, when women’s health and bodies are so much in the national media discussions, this play asks us to examine the electrifying power of intimacy between two people,” states Director Cassandra Pisieczko in her Directors Notes on BTE’s website. “Meditations on marriage, motherhood, and the longing for personal satisfaction reverberate throughout this piece – as well as the desire to see, and be seen, for who we are as individuals … But underneath it all is a longing to connect, to know and be known on an intimate level – a longing to be not in the next room, but rather in communion with those we love.”

Written by Sarah Ruhl, the play features Anastasia Peterson as Mrs. Givings, Aaron White as Dr. Givings, Nina Edgerton as Sabrina Daldry, and Katherine Nora LeRoy as Elizabeth.

In the Next Room, which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play in 2010 offers an examination of sexual topics and is recommended for mature audiences only.

For all others, The Bloomsburg Daily suggests a distraction-free evening browsing the latest Brookstone catalog.

[box type=”shadow”]You may follow other related articles on BTE’s In the Next Room Tumblr Blog.

“Pay What You Wish” Night Thursday, May 3 at 7:30PM

Friday, May 4 at 7:30PM, Reduced Price Preview, $11/General Admission

Dates & Times:

May 3 – May 20, 2012

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30PM

Sundays at 3PM

Tickest my be purchased via the following means:

Online at www.bte.org

In Person at 226 Center Street, Downtown Bloomsburg

Over the phone: (570) 784-8181 or (800) 282-0283

Ticket Prices:

$11 Preview

$25 Adult

$20 Senior/Young Adult

$11 Student

$5 BU Student (with ID)[/box]

Photographs by TBD’s Bob Rush:

Love In Bloom: Six Stories on Love, Lust and Relationships

Premiering on Thursday, April 26, at 8:00 p.m. in Carver Hall, students of the Telecommunications Department at Bloomsburg University directed this series of short films about love, lust, and relationships on a college campus.

When walking into the back of room 1247 in McCormick, a person would expect to find a classroom or a normal office. But hidden in the back are a set of movie posters, and behind three large Mac monitors is a 27-year-old man who has already changed Bloomsburg University or at least the Mass Communications Department.

“I liked video production since high school because it was something to do rather than write papers,” Michael DiGiorgio, manager of Instructional Media Services, says. His career at the university started with his lack of interest in writing papers. “My friends from high school and I would have to write long papers about Julius Caesar so instead of writing them, we would do the film,” says DiGiorgio.

He attended Stockton College and majored in Video Production/Communication. He also did a summer internship at the New York Film Academy where he wrote his first short film, Natalie, which is highlighted on a shelf behind his desk along with his other films he created over the years. “It just seemed like the best major for me because I was already interested in it and I was good at it so I just continued it to college,” DiGiorgio says.

The turning point in DiGiorgio’s career was not in school but during the time he ran his own company and produced a video for a local DARE program in Franklin Township, New Jersey.

“We put this fifteen-twenty minute video together and it was like a dance off with the police officers and stuff. It was really silly.” But, the kids in the auditorium ended up screaming their approval.

“It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen because these little kids were loving my work which was odd to me because I never experienced anything like it,” says DiGiorgio.

Now, DiGiorgio has older kids who look up to him. Chad Vanhorn, a sophomore telecommunications major, wasn’t exactly sure what DiGiorgio did at the university. “He was quiet but once I got to know him, I found he is really helpful and all around a nice person,” Vanhorn says.

DiGiorgio found coming to the university was a step up from what he was doing. “I was doing a lot of basic production work and freelance work for NBC and Comcast and any other company that I could find,” says DiGiorgio.

The university also gave him the opportunity to run his own studio. “It was hard to pass up when I saw all the things I would be able to do here.”

Since his arrival at Bloomsburg University, DiGiorgio has changed the entire studio. “When I first came here, we were all analog, very little digital. We did all the editing on a hard drive,” says DiGiorgio. He added HD equipment, green screens, blue screens, added more editing areas for the students and created more opportunities for students to produce their own shows and movies.

DiGiorgio’s latest film he wrote and produced was created in the fall. His ideas were written on a Word document describing quirky characters and six short stories of college romance. He chose five students to direct the short films, and Vanhorn also directed and played a main role in the movie. “He did a wonderful job with the script and had a great vision on how it should turn out,“ Vanhorn says.

After working diligently on the movie for almost five months, Love in Bloom has finally come to life. “He was positive on allowing us to be creative and work on our own ideas,“ Vanhorn says.

DiGiorgio’s short film will appear in Carver Hall Thursday, April 26 at 8 p.m. and another poster will be added to his wall and another DVD put on the bookshelf behind his desk waiting for his next creative idea to incorporate the BU students. “This film is something I wouldn’t be able to accomplish without the help of student workers,” DiGiorgio says. “Without the students, we couldn’t do a lot of the programming that we do and we wouldn’t have a lot of the content that we are actually able to produce.”

[box type=”shadow”]Tiffany Bellum is a senior Mass Communications major at Bloomsburg University[/box]

The Long Journey to Recovery

Holly Freese tells a story of personal courage and valiant resolve about a Kutztown University student’s recovery from an automobile accident. This is a must read for anyone who might face a life-changing experience.

It’s mid-day and a woman is struggling to get to the bathroom. She calls for a family member to help her as she gets out of bed and grabs on to her walker and walks the 50 feet she’s able to before having to stop due to extreme pain. This woman isn’t elderly. She’s 20-years-old.

Lauren Hoke, a student at Kutztown University, was enthusiastic about school and determined to maintain her 4.0 GPA as she went into student teaching. Her dream was to graduate with at least a 3.5 GPA and teach 1st grade. Her brother Kyle, 18, of East Stroudsburg described his sister as easy going and “an all around fun person to be around.”

On Feb. 17 Lauren had just washed her car and was on her way home when she lost control. Investigators suspect that her tire blew out, causing her to swerve off the highway. When she tried to get back onto the road, she turned too sharply which cause the car to flip. She then rolled to the other side of the road where she was hit by an oncoming car.

Lauren’s car was totaled, but that damage was minimal compared to the trauma caused to her. She fractured her pelvis in seven places, her spine in two places. She also had a brain hemorrhage, punctured her spleen causing internal bleeding, and suffered from a collapsed lung.

For five days after the accident, Lauren was in the Critical Care Unit, where she was awaiting to hear if she would need any surgery. Lauren said this part was the worst, because she couldn’t eat or drink anything until doctors knew what was going to be done.

For days after the accident, she was only allowed to dip a sponge in water if her mouth was dry until they knew if surgery was necessary. “I would just cry for water,” Lauren said. “I had to wait days [for news].”

Another torture Lauren had to face while in CCU was a neck brace she had to wear. “I don’t think I slept a night until it was off,” Lauren said about what she referred to as “the worst thing ever invented.”

Lauren was then moved to a transitional trauma room for an additional five days. At this point in her hospital stay, x-rays and CT scans were administered daily, but she could not move on her own because of her injured spine and pelvis. In order to move her, a board was placed under her and health care providers had pick her up to move her from stretcher to stretcher.

Her last few days at the hospital, Lauren was preparing to head home. Basic tasks that a person does everyday, like getting dressed or going to the bathroom, became the things Lauren needed to practice and master before leaving.
A physical therapist who visited before Lauren was discharged, realized she had a pinched nerve in the leg she was allowed to put weight on. “I couldn’t stand on it at all,” Lauren said. “It would immediately burn so bad I would scream and cry all at the same time. It was the worst pain I felt throughout the whole thing.”

When she made it home, the long journey to recovery wasn’t over. Her mother or father had to give her a shot in her stomach for a month and a half. She also had eight different medications she had to take throughout the day. By now she could successfully use a walker but could only make it a short distance before being in extreme pain. She also needed supervised bathroom visits so in the middle of the night, she had to text her brother or dad to help her. She needed a special raised toilet seat that had handles for support. She also needed to use a stool in the shower so she could sit down.

Lauren said that coping after the accident was hard. But for her brother, the most difficult part about dealing with her accident was trying to remain calm around their family. “I knew someone had to be there to help get everyone else through it,” Kyle said. “It was hard seeing everyone else’s reactions on top of my own.”

After being home for a while, Lauren experienced a wide range of emotions with trying to deal with her recovery. “I was super happy to be out of the hospital. It was nice having family come see me everyday, but at times it would get annoying to have someone watch your every move 24/7,” she said, “and I was so upset to be home and not school.”

However, Lauren became aware of some positive outcomes from her accident. She was incredibly touched by the number of people who cared about her. She kept friends updated on her Facebook about her recovery noting, “I would post something about my accident and 90 people would like it. I actually got a blessing from the Pope in Italy and I thought that was super cool.”

She also said she has bonded with her family since being home, which has been good for her. She also started dating her current boyfriend Manny Green, who pushed back enlisting in the Navy until she was fully recovered so he could be there for her and help her throughout the recovery process. “He’s my Superman right now,” she said about Green.

“Life is life is life,” was her response when asked how her life has changed since the accident. She is being sued by the man who hit her so the accident has put a lot of stress on her and her family. Lauren kept her sense of humor, however, and simply said, “My dad will probably have grey hair by the end of the year.”

Lauren still can’t do everything she use to be able to and is limited in psychical activity that includes some personal disappointments. “I can’t go on roller coasters this year because of my brain hemorrhage.”

She also had to leave school for a semester and was given only a week after her accident to decide if she wanted to withdrawal and get her money back. She pointed out several times that she’s upset she’s not in school right now, but she is excited to go back.

Lauren said that she is going to take summer classes to catch up instead of packing her schedule next year. And now, her new plan after she graduates if to take a year and travel so she can see as many places as she can. Lauren said she finds herself more optimistic and values life more. “Things can always be worse,” she said.

Kyle wants people to know that anything can happen. “She wasn’t texting or doing anything to distract herself, and she had her seatbelt on, and she was still in an accident,” he said. “With a little luck and a lot of strength, things will get better,” Kyle said. “My sister is unbelievably lucky and strong to get through this like she did.”

[box type=”bio”]Holly Freese is a Junior majoring in Journalism in the Mass Communication Department at Bloomsburg University. The photograph of Lauren’s car after the accident is provided courtesy of the Hoke Family.[/box]

Author Stephen Elliot Comes to Bloomsburg University

Award winning author Stephen Elliot spoke at Bloomsburg University’s Kehr Union on Wednesday, 28 March, offering his views on the various modern media available to authors through which they are able to present their work.

An author of four novels as well as collections of essays and short stories, Mr. Elliot achieved critical acclaim for his 2009 work The Adderall Diaries, a self-described “memoir of moods, masochism and murder” which Elliot claims to be the result of a relationship. Called a “provocative, masterful, thrilling ride” by the San Francisco Chronicle, The Adderall Diaries was named as one of the best books of 2009 by Kirkus Reviews.

“‘The Adderall Diaries’ was a book I was very proud of,” said Elliot. “But the idea of writing personal, creative, non-fiction like that, didn’t appeal to me very much.” Looking instead for other outlets though which authors could make connections, Elliot founded The Rumpus, a website and forum that bridges the gap between writer and reader.

“The Rumpus is not worried about being the first to break the news,” writes Elliot in describing his online project. “We care about good writing, and we’ll publish essays just because the writing is good. We’re focused on culture but not ‘People Magazine culture.’ We want to introduce readers to things they might not have heard of yet. The Web was supposed to diversify content and so far it hasn’t. If anything, the Internet has amplified the echo chamber so all the big online magazines are focusing on the same stories.”

Speaking to his personal motivation for founding The Rumpus, Elliot said, “I knew I wanted to be in editing and I knew I had a lot of free time on my hands. I wanted to build a website for people like me.”

The Rumpus grants readers an intimate connection to their favorite authors, more than they were able to have in the past. Readers receive a letter from their author of choice three to four times a week. Elliot believes that by receiving a letter, the subscribers have a more personal connection with the author.

“Letters are more intimate than magazine articles, the same way emails are more intimate than blogs,” said Elliot. “Even if it’s written to 11,000 people, it feels like it is written to you.”

According to Elliot intellectual mediums offered to writers, such at The Rumpus, affect the creative writing method. The way a writer would present a piece of creative writing in a novel isn’t the way they would exhibit their writing in an email or a blog.

“There are a lot of mediums going on here [at The Rumpus] because we are living in a fractured medium landscape,” said Elliot.

Elliot also presented a reading from his memoir The Adderall Diaries on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 in McCormick at 7 p.m.

[box type=”shadow”]Mr. Elliot’s personal website is http://www.stephenelliott.com/ and The Rumpus is http://therumpus.net/. Mr. Elliot is @S___Elliott on Twitter.[/box]

[box type=”bio”]Brianna Albertini is a student in the Mass Connunications program at Bloomsburg University. Photo Credit: Black Pearl 10 used under a Creative Commons License.[/box]

Renaissance Jamboree: Townsfolk, BU Students Ready for Annual Celebration

The Renaissance Jamboree, Bloomsburg’s annual one-day street fair celebrates its 34th year this month. On Saturday April 28th the festival will stretch for 8 blocks along Main Street, hosting over 100 art, craft and food vendors, artists, musicians, local businesses and non-profit groups – plus games, children’s entertainment, folk dancing from around the world, a martial arts demonstration, and even a high flying trampoline performance by Flippenout.

In past years, the Jamboree sometimes fell on the same weekend as Bloomsburg University’s Block Party. As a result, the Jamboree never became part of the lexicon handed down from class to class. But as many students are discovering the Town itself can host an amazing party.

“I saw a few posters about it around campus but never really paid much attention to it,” said Lauren Grose, a sophomore at Bloomsburg University. “Is it during Block Party weekend? If so, that’s probably why. It seems like more of a community event than student event.”

Grose’s opinion is shared by other students, such as BU senior Tanira Perkins.

“They don’t promote the event the way they promote others,” said Perkins. “I’ve been here 4 years and I’ve never heard of it once.”

While there seems to be many individual students that are not aware of the Renaissance Jamboree, there are a number of student groups and organizations that get involved. The Community Government Association (CGA), Protestant Campus Ministries (PCM), and several student service organizations such as Kappa Kappa Psi and Alpha Phi Omega are registered for this year’s festival.

One of several student groups that participate yearly, the PCM has a table at the Jamboree where they sell drinks, host a game, and do face painting.

“Who doesn’t need an hour or two break?” said PCM Campus Minister Maggie Gillespie on the subject of studying for finals.

Gillespie said the jamboree benefits the Bloomsburg community and is “an outlet for our local talent.”
“I have always loved it so much as a member of the community. It’s a fun thing to be a part of!”

Jimmy Gilliland, Director of Student Activities at BU since 1983, works with student groups involved with Renaissance, and also understands the history behind the springtime event.

According to Gilliland, Renaissance Jamboree began as a celebration to commemorate the “rebirth” of Bloomsburg in 1978 when trees were planted along Main Street. While many people think of swordplay and sorcery when they think of “renaissance,” the Bloomsburg version is really about the metaphorical rebirth of the town.

“Honestly, it’s a fun street fair,” said Gilliland, pointing out that “there will be lots of fair food, which students seem to enjoy,” like fried Twinkies, cotton candy, barbequed meat and the many other staples of the standard American street fair.

Returning by request, the Lehigh Valley band Joyous will perform again this year, covering hits from every decade of the 20th century.

Applications and guidelines for art and craft vendors can be found at the Renaissance Jamboree website.

[box type=”bio”]By Bloomsburg University Student Matt Nason with contributions by Danielle Columbo and Mercedes Smith.[/box]

Dodgeball Raises Money for Students in Need

“What’s better than Dodgeball? It’s the All-Star Sport of Gym Class!” Ben Eshelman laughs happily as he describes the go-to rainy-day sport of Phys-Ed teachers everywhere. For those that know Ben, a Personal Trainer at Bloom Health & Fitness on Old Berwick Road, his excitement is infectious but unsurprising.

“It’s something that’s fun, gets kids and families involved!” You can’t help but notice the energy. Ben’s words bounce, impossible to avoid. “It’s a ball. You dodge it.” He smiles at you as he lets his Zen-like oversimplification of a simple game sink in.

“Yes,” you think. “I get it. I was so wrong before. I dodge the ball. And I have fun.”

Then you remember why you’re here in the first place, this high school gym on a Saturday, and that too is Ben. He took the tragedy of a child and created an annual charity event for the benefit of students in need at Central Columbia.

Two years ago, after horrid bullying left a student severely injured at Central, Ben, who also volunteers as a coach in the Central Columbia School District, approached High School Principal Jeff Groshek about the possibility of a charity dodgeball tournament. The tournament of that first year was “more successful than we could ever have imagined,” said Mr. Groshek.

Last year, again wanting to raise money for students in need, Ben organized a second annual dodgeball tournament. With “no specific student in need,” said Mr. Groshek, there was a question of what to do with the money. Central’s solution was to use their Student Assistance Program (SAP), an eight-member group consisting of Mr. Groshek, guidance staff, and faculty at Central that meets twice a week to identify students with possible needs and lend assistance when possible. With the money raised from these annual tournaments the SAP has greater means to assist students than previously.

Money from the fund is not distributed directly. Rather the SAP members make purchases for the students to ensure that the money is used as intended. “This year we know of and targeted four students,” Mr. Groshek explained. “One is unable to purchase lunch and we help him to buy a healthy lunch. There are some who are less fortunate and now they are benefitting directly.”

Because of the dodgeball tournament, the publicity it provides, and the funds provided to Central’s SAP, the program has this year received an outside, unsolicited donation of $800. With that money and the expected revenue from this year’s tournament, plans are being made to continue the financial assistance aspect of the Student Assistance Program well into next year.

“It’s a ball. You dodge it,” says Ben, exited and understated as always. What cannot be understated is the impact that Ben’s simple idea and energy is having on the lives of students at Central Columbia.

[box type=”shadow”]The Bloom Health & Fitness 3rd Annual Dodgeball Tournament will be held this Saturday, 25 February, with team registration beginning at 9:30 AM at the Central Columbia High School Gym. Team Registration is $60 if registered before 24 February.

Registration forms can be downloaded here or obtained at Bloom Health & Fitness and mailed to:

Dodgeball Information Flyer

Dodgeball Tournament Rules

Dodgeball Waiver

Ben Eshelman

C/O Bloom Health and Fitness


1150 Old Berwick Road

Bloomsburg, PA 17815

Phone: 570-412-6643


Fax: 570-784-3610


E-mail: beshelman40@yahoo.com[/box]

BTE Offers Student Specials

BTE is offering special matinees of Julius Caesar for area students.

Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble is proud to continue its tradition of offering special matinees for area students in this, its 34th season. BTE begins the new year with its fourteenth Shakespeare play, Julius Caesar. Three special school matinees are scheduled on January 25, 26, and 27 at 10:00 a.m.

Like the highly acclaimed Hamlet and Macbeth before it, Julius Caesar is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts Shakespeare In American Communities Grant. For an unprecedented third year, BTE has received this grant as part of the Shakespeare For A New Generation program.

What better Shakespeare play than Julius Caesar to initiate discussion among high school students about leadership, enfranchisement, freedom, tyranny, citizen outrage, and political opportunity. According to Syreeta CombsCannaday, BTE Communications Director,

Seventeen schools are experiencing Julius Caesar this year, either through the matinees at the AKT or on tour at their school, thanks to the Shakespeare in American Communities grant. Their experience includes one or two workshops conducted by our professional actors, a fully researched study guide (available online), and of course, the performance of Julius Caesar, featuring five members of the Ensemble! The students get really into it; they loved last year’s Macbeth. Maybe it’s the fast-paced cutting; maybe it’s seeing just how seriously the cast takes this show. Maybe it’s the post-performance talkback where they get to interact with the performers. Whatever it is, Page to Stage is succeeding in its goal to bring Shakespeare to life for local high school students.

BTE’s production, directed by Ensemble member James Goode, tells in a compelling way Shakespeare’s version of a war hero whose rise to power threatens a ruling class, the convergence of the threatened class’s diverse motives for his assassination, and the destructive fallout from their conspiracy.

Ticket price for these special student matinees is $9.00 per person for all audience members.

Julius Caesar is part of BTE’s Page To Stage Program which includes the full production of Julius Caesar and a “TalkBack” with the cast following the performance. A Study Guide, play script, and play synopsis are all available as downloads from BTE’s website: www.bte.org. In addition to the performance, schools may book a Julius Caesar workshop in their school at no additional charge. Workshop descriptions are also available on the website.

All matinees are held at the Alvina Krause Theatre in downtown Bloomsburg. Matinees for Julius Caesar are filling fast; school representatives are urged to book soon. For more information about all of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble’s programs for students, contact Paula Henry, BTE’s School Programs Director at (570) 458-4075, email phenry@bte.org or visit www.bte.org.

Taking a Poverty Resolution

Matthew Jones didn’t consider himself to be a typical MBA student when he applied for admission to the Penn State Smeal College of Business. Rather than setting his sights on becoming a wealthy executive, he decided to devote his business and financial research interests to issues of poverty in developing countries. Jones, now a graduate of the Penn State Smeal MBA Program, continues his mission to serve others through a nonprofit he co-founded with his brother, Andrew, a current MBA student at Smeal.

Their organization, Poverty Resolutions, grew to fruition following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010. Jones, a seasoned traveler, decided that instead of pursuing a traditional internship through the MBA program, he would spend his time off that summer learning about the needs that existed in Haiti and what part he could have in developing long-term solutions to serve those needs.

This spring, Poverty Resolutions plans to engage American elementary schools, high schools, and colleges in the need that exists in Haiti and what they can do to help. The organization has developed a variety of educational presentations and programs, based upon age level, that are intended to illustrate the harsh realities of global poverty. Additionally, the organization has released the documentary footage showcasing their immersion in Haiti. It is their goal that the film will not only offer a glimpse of the desperation present in Haiti, but also the hope that continues to exist. Click here to view the documentary trailer.

“For me, Haiti seemed to be so close to the U.S.,” Jones recalled. “With the disaster being so literally close to home, I decided to take advantage of the time I had off to help.”

According to the organization’s research, Haiti was the poorest country in the Americas prior to the earthquake, with more than half of its citizens living on less than one U.S. dollar per day. The earthquake exacerbated this desperate situation. Thousands were driven from their homes and forced to live in tents located in fields and on sidewalks. Even now, many of these families continue to live without clean water, proper sanitation or nutritious food.

With this knowledge, Jones, his brother, and 12 other individuals teamed up to carry out an immersion in Haiti and document their experience along the way. The group felt that, in order to truly help the people in Haiti, they had to get to know them. Four of the team members, including the Jones brothers, chose to make a 28-day commitment, in which they would pledge to live on $1 a day and document their experiences living alongside Haitians in a tent city. They developed their plan based on the premise that nearly one-sixth of the world’s population lives on less than $1 a day. In addition to this standard, the team set guidelines to mirror the experience of the Haitian people as accurately as possible. The team agreed to the following rules:

  • Spend only $1 per day on food, supplies, and drinking water.
  • Live and sleep in Haiti with one blanket or sheets.
  • No toiletries: no toothpaste, no deodorant, no soap.
  • Refrain from accepting food from Haitians.
  • If caught or scavenged, food can be eaten without penalty.
  • Two sets of clothes per person.
  • No laundry facilities.

In addition to providing support to the four living in the tent cities, the other team members recorded the experience for Americans back home. As the four were filmed and photographed, the team members searched for opportunities to develop partnerships with Haitians. In addition to establishing strong relationships with the Haitians, the group also networked with fellow humanitarians to learn about what they were doing to help and how they could combine forces. Over the course of the four weeks spent in Haiti, powerful lessons were learned and connections were made with local individuals and organizations that would form the framework for Poverty Resolutions.

The main concern among Haitians with whom they interacted was a lack of jobs. They desperately wanted to improve their situation, but had no means of making money to do so. Using their own education and experience, the group began to think logically about how to spur small business development and job creation in such an impoverished area.

As with many developing countries, education typically takes a back seat to the more immediate issues surrounding food and shelter. However, it became obvious to the group that if they were going to create and sustain a solution to joblessness in Haiti, they needed to start with education.

Statistics show that only half of Haitian children attend primary school, which has led to a literacy rate of only 53 percent among the adult population. In fact, only one in five young adults attends secondary school. While Haitian children must pass a standardized test to reach this level of schooling, the group found cost to be the greatest roadblock to their education, which in turn leads to unemployment later in life.
By utilizing the network established with fellow humanitarians already focused on improving the educational system in Haiti, Jones and his cohorts set their sights on raising funds to help reduce the financial burden that prevents capable Haitian children from attending school. Poverty Resolutions currently works with an expanding network of nearly 10 Haitian schools, helping to raise funds toward educational scholarships, effective training programs for teachers, and school supply purchases.

In addition to providing educational support, Poverty Resolutions also offers programs geared toward funding small business through microfinance, which provides small financial loans to low-income clients who aspire to start or grow their own business. Farmers, artisans, and entrepreneurs who would otherwise lack access to traditional lending services may be recipients of microfinance loans, which are repaid and then reinvested into the program.

“Through donations, we aim to provide loans to support Haitian farmers so they can feed their animals, to artisans so they can purchase supplies to create their products, and to countless other individuals aspiring to build and sustain their own small businesses,” said Jones.

In order to contribute to the larger fight against poverty and the overall progress made by organizations worldwide, Poverty Resolutions has focused much of its efforts on educating and inspiring not only Haitians, but also a second generation of American students who would also be committed to the cause.

“Although younger Americans at the elementary, high school, and even college levels aren’t established financially, we believe they are important to target because of their willingness to be inspired,” Jones said. “The willingness to help is there, but most American students aren’t fully educated on the poverty crisis to know what they can do to make a difference. We aim to help them take that next step in becoming involved.”

To learn more about Poverty Resolutions or to get involved in development efforts, visit www.povertyresolutions.org.

[box type=”shadow”]This story originally appeared in Penn State Live. Contact, Lori Wilson at 814-863-9855. Photo via Flickr.[/box]

MePush and BTE Partner for Special Show

MePush sponsors special post-Christmas performance at BTE.

Looking for something to do with the family in the days after Christmas? Ready for a break from all your new electronic gadgets? Come spend some time at BTE for a special post-Christmas performance of Holiday Memories, Thursday, December 29 at 7:30PM. Admission to this performance is free with the donation of one gently-used or unwanted new computer item; items accepted are laptop computers, desktop computers, printers, cell phones, keyboards, and monitors.

Holiday Memories is based on two short stories by Truman Capote, the writer of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. “Oh my, it’s fruitcake weather!” Miss Sook, Truman’s older eccentric maiden aunt looks out her window to greet each holiday season. Her home-made fruitcakes will go to family and friends, and many to people she met just once, or perhaps not at all. Like President Roosevelt. Truman Capote’s stories of his childhood holidays in the Depression Deep South are filled with joy, love, family, music, vivid characters, and even puppets and is appropriate for all ages.

MePush, a local computer support business with offices in Lewisburg and Bloomsburg, hopes this event will collect enough computer hardware to upgrade BTE’s offices and bring computers to other offices in the Bloomsburg area that are in need of new or gently-used equipment, especially after the recent flooding in our area. MePush staff will be at the theatre, collecting and loading hardware, and then will donate refurbishment services to get the equipment all in working order for BTE and others. “We want to make this an annual event, a good way to collect computer hardware for companies like BTE that are in need,” says MePush president Conor Quinlin.

Tickets will also be sold at regular price for this performance, and the additional post-Christmas performance of Holiday Memories on Friday, December 30 at 7:30PM. Reservations are strongly encouraged, and your computer donation can be brought to the Box Office in advance, for your convenience. To make arrangements, or for more information, please visit the website www.bte.org or call the BTE Box Office at (570) 784-8181 or (800) 282-0283. For more information about MePush, please visit their website at www.mepush.com.