Q&A with Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence

We recently had a chance to talk with Judy Yupcavage, the Communications Director for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. We talked about the challenges involved in getting support and resources to domestic violence victims, as well as national headlines and the impact of Marcellus Shale gas drilling on housing for victims. We also identified resources available to victims in Columbia and Montour counties. If you or someone you love are affected by domestic violence, please take advantage of the resources readily available and the many people who want to help.

1. Can you tell us a little about your organization?

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) – the nation’s first state domestic violence coalition – is a private, nonprofit organization with a statewide office in Harrisburg and a network of 60 community-based domestic violence programs across the commonwealth. We work collectively to build stronger, safer communities . We do this through prevention, intervention and social change strategies designed to shift public attitudes and break the generational cycle of violence; ensure free and confidential services to victims and their children in need; and secure sweeping laws and public policies that protect victims and hold batterers accountable.

2. There have been some startling developments in domestic violence policy recently, including Topeka, Kansas’ decision to decriminalize domestic violence. Can you talk about some of these decisions and how it impacts your job?

One of the primary reasons individuals batter is because they can. When there are no consequences, violence flourishes. All of the social and criminal justice systems are over-burdened and working with larger caseloads and fewer resources; however, the answer isn’t to ignore the risks that violent offenders pose to individuals and the community at large.

3. We recently heard that you are having difficulty finding housing for victims because of Marcellus Shale drilling employees taking up the available surplus. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

We’re hearing from domestic violence programs in gas drilling regions that safe and affordable housing (to rent and to buy) is becoming scarce with the influx of industry workers. Moreover, many of the programs’ clients report that their landlords are raising rents, sometimes so high that they are forced to relocate. Additionally, hotel and motel rooms are in short supply. As gas drilling expands, many fear the shortage of housing will be even more of problem for battered victims attempting to escape violent relationships.

4. What are the biggest challenges you face?

One of greatest challenges is stabilizing long-term funding for core services, such as hotlines, shelter and counseling, and for public education and prevention initiatives. The impact of a troubled economy has hit our programs hard. Their resources continue to diminish while operating costs continue to rise, along with requests for help from victims, many who are forced to remain in shelter longer because they have fewer housing and job options available to them.

Another major challenge is changing public perceptions that domestic violence is something less than a crime, nothing more than a private matter between sparring couples. Getting people to recognize that domestic violence is deadly and preventable is an on-going effort, as is getting people to step up and speak up if they see or hear domestic violence. We say, “there is always something you can do to help.”

Victim-blaming is a huge problem. From the outside looking in, people really don’t get a clear picture of what goes on inside homes where domestic violence is a way of life. They don’t see the fear that punctuates a family’s actions/interactions or the imposed isolation that limits their connection to the outside world. They also don’t see the lengths family members go to avoid further abuse, the many attempts they’ve made to be safe, or the hidden barriers that limit their ability to break free of the violence.

Responding to the alarming rate of domestic violence-related fatlities in PA also poses tremendous challenges. Domestic violence can be, and often is, as brutal and deadly as any stranger-on-stranger crime. Yet many people, including victims themselves, often underestimate its potential for lethality. PCADV is initiating training – beginning with domestic violence program advocates, law enforcement and health care providers – on the use of danger assessment screening tools that have the potential to enhance the safety of victims, law enforcement and the community at large, and prevent future homicides.

5. What are the warning signs that friends and families can look out for?

Certainly the physical results of battering – unexplained or suspicious bruises, broken bones. Other signs: Does person have repeated injuries and bruises that do not seem accidental? Does person fear partner’s temper or jealousy? Is person isolated from friends and family? Does person have repeated mental health and stress issues such as depression, suicide attempts, substance abuse, headaches and ulcers? Does partner exert an unusual amount of control over the person? Does person appear exhausted, frightened, or on edge? Have you noticed a change in behavior of person’s children? Do they seem easily upset or are they experiencing problems in school or with other activities?  At the end of this article, we will attach a list of things you can do to help domestic violence victims.

6. Can you talk about the victims a bit? We realize there is no “typical” victim, but we want to put a human face on victims. Can you tell us what their overwhelming emotions are?

Domestic violence victims come from all walks of life, all professions, income and education levels. They are teenagers and senior citizens. The one emotion many share in common is fear – fear for their safety and that of their children. Fear of retaliation if they leave; fear of losing custody of their children; and fear of living in povery or being homeless. They also feel pressure – pressure from the abuser, children, family, faith leaders and others to stay in the relationship. They often feel hopeless, isolated and judged.

7. Is there anything else that you would like to share? How can we help spread your message?

Anytime you report on domestic violence, please include information that free and confidential help – right in your own community – is just a phone call away, and publish the local domestic violence hotline and the national domestic violence hotline (800-799-7233).

If you or someone you care about might be impacted by domestic violence, in Columbia and Montour counties you can contact the Women’s Center.  Their phone number is 570-784-6631 and their hotline number is 1-800-544-8293. Click here to find resources in other areas.

How You Can Help Domestic Violence Victims

Friends or family members who are being abused:

  • Call police if you see/hear abuse
  • Ask if they’re safe or need someone to talk to
  • Explain that FREE and CONFIDENTIAL help is available help for victims and their children at local domestic violence programs
  • Offer a ride to a local shelter, a place to make a phone call or to baby-sit while they attend appointments

Friends or family members who are abusers:

  • Call police if you see/hear abuse
  • Tell them there are no excuses for abuse and they may lose their families, friends, homes and jobs if it doesn’t stop
  • Hold them accountable for their behavior
  • Support their efforts to locate and obtain appropriate batterer intervention treatment

Your local domestic violence program:

  • Volunteer your time
  • Make monetary donations or donate phone cards, gift certificates, bus tickets, etc.
  • Offer to board pets or livestock while victims are in shelter
  • Sponsor a family for a holiday meal, holiday gifts, etc.
Photo by ghetto_guera29

Candidate Guide for Town Council Elections

This Tuesday, November 8th, is Election Day.

Among the various local races there are four candidates standing for election to the Bloomsburg Town Council. The Bloomsburg Town Council is made up of six members and the presiding officer, the Mayor. The terms of the mayor and council members are four years, with three elected every two years. Council members are elected at-large and serve the entire municipality, rather than representing a specific ward or district.

In order for you to help make your decision on Tuesday, The Bloomsburg Daily offers this brief guide to the candidates and their stated positions.

Regardless of party affiliation or independent status, The Bloomsburg Daily encourages all eligible residents of Bloomsburg to vote in this and every election.

Barry Thorne, Republican

Background:

  • Graduate Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Doctorate Degree
  • Graduate New York State University-Cortland, Bachelor Degree Mathematics
  • Retired
  • Supervisor, Marion, New York
  • Bloomsburg Planning Commission 2008

Goals for Office:

  • Maintain and improve our present infrastructure.
  • Fill the vacant storefronts downtown, in order to maintain its vibrancy.
  • Recognize the importance of the town’s historic district, while realizing that with newer construction materials may need to be considered as alternatives.
  • Flood protection project needs to be built to protect essential areas of the town.
  • Continue support for the Town Park
  • Maintain a close working relationship with the University

Dianne Drosdick Levan, Democrat/Republican (Incumbent)

Background:

  • Active with Bloomsburg Little League
  • Graduate of Bloomsburg Senior High School
  • PA Treatment and Healing involved in treating those with drug and alcohol problems.
  • Bloomsburg Planning Commission 2005-2008
  • Vice President Town Council 2008 to present
  • Member of Columbia County Children and Youth Advisory Board

Goals for Office

  • Continue working on obtaining flood protection for the Town
  • Ensure safe housing
  • Continue to work on improving relations between the town and the university
  • Revitalizing downtown downtown businesses
  • Being a voice for the Residents of Bloomsburg

Eric T Bower, Democrat/Republican

Background:

  • Graduate Central Columbia High School
  • Graduate Community College of the Air Force Information Systems Management
  • President Bower Media, LLC

Goals:

  • Obtain funding for a floodwall project, even accepting flood protection that may not be exactly perfect but will protect the majority of the major infrastructure and industry that we have left.
  • Make Bloomsburg a more business friendly environment, by revamping complicated ordinances that hinder the growth of business in town.
  • Work closely with Bloomsburg University for its continued growth and success.

Fred Trump, Democrat

The Bloomsburg Daily attempted on several occasions to get Mr. Trump’s background information and his goals for office. As of our publish time, Mr. Trump did not provide that information.

William Todd Heiss and Derek Gittler for The Bloomsburg Daily

Photo by √oхέƒx™

Remember When: At the Movies

Remember when Bloomsburg had a Drive-In Theater? How about when there were movie theaters on Main Street? Did you know that not only was there the Capitol and Columbia, but at one time there was also a Nickleodeon on the west end of Main Street? This week we share our memories of being At The Movies.

My earliest movie memories are all tied to the Capitol. Remember when it was all one theater with a balcony instead of two screens? The ceiling had the most beautiful and intricate medallion on it — probably a leftover base from a chandelier that was before my time. I always got to the theater early so I could get my favorite seat (the middle of that center row, the row that had no one in front of it so short people like me could never get stuck sitting behind a tall person). I must have spent hours over the years, staring up at that medallion, listening to that tape they played before the movie started. Do you remember it? “I’ve been to Paradise (But I’ve never been to me),” and “The Age of Aquarius” were on there. Does anyone remember any of the other songs they used to play before the movies at the Capitol?

And remember that side exit they would open when the movie was over? Remember the mask that hung in the alleyway?  

The first movie I ever saw was Star Wars at the Capitol. I was only five years old so I fell asleep before the Death Star blew up. But I went back to see it many many times after that and was so in love with movies because of it, I knew I wanted to work on them when I grew up. And now I do! What was the first movie you saw in town? Which theater was it in? And does anybody remember when the Capitol showed “The Molly Maguires” (see this column’s photo)?

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I only have one memory of the Columbia Theater. By the time I was a movie-goer, that theater had fallen into quite a state of disrepair but they showed “Raiders of the Lost Ark” so I had to go there! About…14 times!

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Dave Henrichs has these Bloomsburg movie memories:

“I remember waiting in line for the first Batman movie with Michael Keaton.  The line was down the street to get into the Capitol!!!  But the first movie I remember seeing there was the first Muppet Movie with my mom, sister and grandmother….

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Cole Camplese has these Capitol memories to share:

“I remember when Kramer vs Kramer was there and the lines were around the corner. The same thing happened for ET, the Muppet Movie, and Jaws. All movies I saw at the Capitol!

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And Jack Edwards learned a valuable life lesson at the movies in Bloomsburg:

“There was a movie I wanted to see at the Capitol, ‘Green Mansions’ I think it was. It was a beautiful summer afternoon so I emptied my piggy bank, and with my life’s savings in my pocket I walked out to Old Berwick Road and waited for the next North Branch to come by. I got off at the corner of East and Main and headed towards the Capitol theater, window shopping along the way. About three doors from the theater, there in a store window, were two new hot rod model car kits, “The Green Hornet” and “The Black Widow”. It was a tough decision, but I chose the Green Hornet, $1.49, and counted my money one more time. I had it made! But when she gave me the total, there was this thing called ‘sales tax’! Now I was a nickel short of the 25 cents it took to get into the movie!

I needed a loan, so I walked down Main Street to Grammy Edwards’ bake shop. Grammy wasn’t there! She was running an errand and Nola, the lady who worked for her, was taking care of the store. Now what?

Nervously, I explained my predicament to Nola and asked if she thought Grammy would mind loaning me a nickel. She laughed and said, “Of course not”, and handed me a dime from the cash register.

After the movie I walked down to my grandparents’ house on Railroad and Third where I was to meet my parents. I had to explain my financial obligations to my mother. She wasn’t too happy about it. She looked me in the face and said, ‘Don’t you ever again buy anything you can’t pay for!’”

What are your Bloomsburg movie memories? Add on to the conversation below.

(Photo Courtesy of Jack Edwards)

Flood Help and Events

Julie Kuntz Klingerman is the adminstrator of the Helping Neighbors – Bloomsburg Flood 2011 Facebook group.  She will be helping us compile flood-related help and events.

The “Turn the Page” book drive is in full swing at the Columbia Mall near Dunham’s.  Over 30,000 books are available for children of all ages who have lost their libraries.  The books are being handed out for free, and children of all ages may choose up to a dozen books.  The hours are:

 

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – Closed
Thursday – 4:00 – 7:00
Friday – 4:00 – 7:00
Saturday – 1:00 – 7:00
Sunday – 1:00 – 5:00

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AGAPE still needs volunteers as the continually changing needs of the community evolve.  Specifically, help is needed:

  • at the information desk on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p. m. answering the phone, handing out applications, and filling supplies requests.
  • at the storehouse to lift, load and unload store donations, sort clothing, and help fill supply requests from the information desk
  • at Freedom Hall at the fairgrounds to load and unload furniture on Monday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Tuesday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • for Flood Survivor Recovery Assistance as experienced caseworkers or those willing to be trained
  • for skilled dry-wallers, licensed electricians and licensed plumbers

AGAPE may be contacted at 317-2210 or at agaperelief@gmail.com

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The Bloomsburg Area YMCA will be hosting a ZUMBA party November 5th from 4 – 6 p.m. to raise money for AGAPE.  Admission is $10; free for AGAPE volunteers with badge.  Zumba-wear t-shirts are available for $10, with all proceeds benefitting AGAPE as well.

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The Catawissa Christian Church, 102 Main Street is offering clothing, some furniture, large and small appliances, toys, pet supplies, and a variety of food and household items to flood victims on Saturday, November 5th from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.  *No FEMA numbers required, no questions asked.*  The church is also accepting donations that may be dropped off outside the door of the church on Monday-Friday from 4:30 – 9:00 p.m.  Needed:  men’s, women’s,  and children’s clothing, especially for winter, canned goods, bedding, towels, dishes, Christmas decorations, pet supplies, books, and small appliances.  To donate furniture, please call ahead: Coleen, 594-2750, Maureen, 441-2749 or Sue, 356-2364.

Julie Kuntz Klingerman for The Bloomsburg Daily

Taking a Look at Seasonal Forecasts for Winter 2011-2012

Morning After First SnowLast weekend, the weather played quite a trick on the Northeast, including the Bloomsburg area. Snow of varying amounts fell across Pennsylvania, as shown in a National Weather Service State College Office public information report. Amounts ranged from an inch up to just over a foot, an impressive snowstorm for January, much less October. Halloween decorations in a Christmas-y natural scene made for quite an unusual sight last Saturday night.However, we are back to more normal early November weather, giving us a chance to take a look at what may happen when winter finally arrives. There are a variety of weather outlets that release winter season forecasts. Let’s take a look at who is releasing these forecasts and what they have in store for the Susquehanna Valley and surrounding region.

National Weather Service

Temperature-wise, the National Weather Service (NWS) says that Bloomsburg has equal chances of seeing above-, near-, or below-normal for the winter season. However, there was one caveat. The “wild-card”, as the NWS calls it, is the Arctic Oscillation (AO), an index that forecasters pay attention to closely in the winter. If it is negative, then we often end up cold. If it is positive, we can end up mild. The NWS is concerned that when this turns negative, we could get bitter cold arctic air masses this winter.

Precipitation-wise, we also have equal chances of seeing above-, near-, or below-normal for the winter season. The NWS does note that snow could be above normal if timing allows storms to arrive when cold air arrives.

AccuWeather

AccuWeather foresees near-normal temperatures and normal to slightly above-normal snow for the winter season. They believe that winter’s worst weather in Pennsylvania will happen in northwest Pennsylvania and the Appalachians. There, frequent lake-effect snow outbreaks and cold air masses will make for a cold and snowy winter.

AccuWeather said that a few significant snow and ice events should hit the area. They expect most of the winter’s snow events to happen in December and January.

WxRisk

A private forecasting firm owned by Dave Tolleris, WxRisk’s winter forecast is for a cold December with normal temperatures in January and February. Mr. Tolleris believes there will be a fair amount of eastern and coastal lows, leading to normal precipitation in December but above-normal precipitation for January and February. This seems to indicate a chance for above-normal snow.

Farmers’ Almanac

The Farmers’ Almanac is a bit different than the rest. They are predicting above-normal temperatures for the Bloomsburg area for the winter season. They are also predicting a stormy time, with lots of rain and snow. They believe the best chance for a big snow is in February, as a lot of the storms early might be mixed or rain.

Old Farmers’ Almanac

The Old Farmers’ Almanac is different than the Farmer’s Almanac. They are going for a slightly milder than normal winter but with above-normal snow. That may sound odd but it is possible if the timing is right for storms and cold air.

They do expect the coldest periods to be mid-December and in February, while the snowiest periods will be mid-December, mid-January, and mid-February.

As you can see, there is some variance in the forecast but it seems like we will have our share of wintry precipitation events this winter. So perhaps last Saturday was our dress rehearsal.

Living with Lung Cancer: Stephanie Dunn Haney

November is National Lung Cancer Awareness month.  The Bloomsburg Daily had the opportunity to chat with Hemlock Township Manager, cancer advocate, mother of 2, and lung cancer survivor Stephanie Dunn Haney.  Stephanie relayed her experiences with cancer, her hopes for her young children, and her determination to battle the stereotypes and stigma associated with her illness.

For Stephanie, it started with a “funny pain” in her right side when she sneezed or coughed.  She didn’t want to bother her doctor with her seemingly minor complaint, and soon she became pregnant and was busy with a new baby to care for.  They wouldn’t do an X-ray on a nursing mother anyway, she thought.  The “funny pain”  failed to resolve, and after a year and a half, Stephanie finally consulted her physician.  In an attempt to diagnose and treat her symptoms, the next two years were filled with a battery of tests and treatments. Stephanie underwent an EMG (nerve conduction study),  an Ultrasound of her gall bladder, X-rays, and an MRI, all of which were negative.  She was referred to a neurologist, a chiropractor, and even to physical therapy, which were also unsuccessful in alleviating her symptoms.  Finally on October 3rd, 2007 after  approximately three and a half years of unresolved symptoms, the diagnosis came after a CT scan came back positive:  lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, stage IV. Even then, her surgeon told her it was probably not lung cancer as she had never smoked and had no family history of cancer, and a surgical biopsy was performed.  This procedure confirmed her diagnosis the same day.

The stage of cancer refers to the tumor’s size and to what degree it has spread to other parts of the body.  Stage IV is the most advanced stage of lung cancer, and about 40% of patients newly diagnosed with lung cancer are already in that stage. In this stage of lung cancer, the tumor has spread to another part of the body and as such is considered inoperable and incurable. Treatment options, while available, are limited.  This type of cancer also has a very low survival rate, with only about 15% surviving 5 years or more.

While Stephanie notes that the first year after her diagnosis was spent dealing with grief and loss, she states , “I eventually got mad,” and became an advocate for lung cancer.  Stephanie points out that lung cancer kills more people than prostate, breast, and colon cancers, and melanoma combined, and yet it has very little funding.  She also notes that  lung cancer is a highly stigmatized disease, and that people tend to want to place blame on patients with lung cancer for contracting the disease in the first place.  She was frequently asked questions that would indicate some sort of cause for her illness. “But I have no risk factors.  I never smoked.  I have no family history of cancer.  This is not necessarily an environmental disease.  I provide an example that stretches people’s understanding of the disease.”

Stephanie and her friend Rachel Troychock have also been active in their fundraising efforts for lung cancer research and awareness.  Team Haney, the local group walking in the “ Free to Breathe National 5K” campaign, was organized in 2008 and has managed to raise more than $43,000 over the last 3 years.  The funds raised by this event benefit the National Lung Cancer Partnership, a non-profit organization dedicated to research, advocacy for patients, and increasing community awareness of the disease. Stephanie has also been involved with the Lung Cancer Alliance, a group whose main directives are to lobby for federal funding for research, increase awareness, and to provide patient support.

Through her advocacy efforts, she  strives to be a role model for her 2 girls, now ages 6 and 8. “I want my kids to learn how to be their own advocate, how to handle adversity, and how to fight for something they believe in.”

In February of this year, Stephanie entered into a clinical trial of Crizotinib, and  on August 26th, the Food and Drug Association (FDA) approved the new drug for the treatment of certain lung cancers. Crizotinib (brand name Xalkori ) has been effective at treating patients with a specific genetic mutation called ALK (anplastic lymphoma kinase).  This mutation is often found among non-smokers who have developed non-small cell lung cancers, and Stephanie has this gene.  According to the FDA, 50-60% of patients in the clinical studies for Crizotinib experienced complete or partial shrinkage of their cancer.

Currently, Stephanie remains in the clinical trial, and she continues to have the tumors though she claims she is “living with stable disease.”  This past August, a brain tumor was discovered and she was treated with Cyberknife.  She continues to get scans every 6 weeks and she is monitored by her oncologist.

Several fundraising events are planned for this month; please see the events calendar for details, or contact Rachel Troychock at racheltroychock@hotmail.com:

November 5th:   Free to Breathe National 5 K walk at the Columbia Mall.

November 19th:  Pancake Breakfast at Applebee’s

November 20th:  Longaberger Basket and American Girl Doll Bingo at the Buckhorn Firehall

Raffle:  Purchase tickets for a chance to win an iPod2; drawing held November 20th

 

 

 

Mayor Dan Knorr and Town Officials Visit Washington, D.C.

Bloomsburg Town Hall has confirmed with The Bloomsburg Daily that Mayor Dan Knorr, Councilperson Dianne Drosdick Levan, and members of the Bloomsburg Flood Authority all traveled to Washington D.C. on Wednesday morning.  We requested an agenda for their day, but none was made available.

Given the press release from Senator Toomey’s office and letter he sent to the Army Corps of Engineers today regarding the Bloomsburg flood wall project, we did want to see whether town officials were meeting with Toomey.  According to Senator Toomey’s office, they were not scheduled to meet with the senator.

As of Wednesday evening, we have not received any further comments from the town or Mayor. We will continue to follow up and attempt to get comments as soon as they are made available. Stay tuned.

Reported by William Todd Heiss and Kristin Zeisloft Camplese

Photo by Bob Rush

Donors Help Magic Carpet Preschool Get Back to Barton Street

When Penny Pomfret, director of Magic Carpet Preschool in Bloomsburg, dismissed her students early on September 7th from their Barton Street location, she was thinking about flooding but was focusing on the potential for losses in the school’s basement. “I did not realize how destructive the flood would be until I woke up Thursday morning after it had already happened. We went to bed Wednesday evening believing [the river] would crest at 28 feet, much less than Agnes.”  Because the school’s current location was not flooded during Agnes, the main concerns were water in the basement and the potential loss of the furnace or hot water heater.  After the river and Fishing Creek hit record levels, the reality of the damage was devastating.

The basement was inundated and even the classrooms on the main floor had approximately a foot of water.  The majority of all classroom materials, toys, books, furniture, and supplies were lost.   The school was closed for seven days and was forced to relocate to the Wesley United Methodist Church, which generously provided space to both Magic Carpet Preschool and the Columbia County Child Development Program.  According to Pomfret, “Parents, children, and teachers adapted well to our new surroundings and the people at the church have been most kind and welcoming to us. Pastor Jay Jones even let us store our salvageable belongings in his garage!”

And even though the mission of the school is to facilitate learning for 3-5 year olds with a hands-on problem solving approach, no one was prepared for the amount of “hands on” and “problem solving” that they would all have to engage in.   The facility would need to be gutted and essentially rebuilt.  And because the school was founded in 1973, nearly 40 years of acquired learning materials were lost.

But Pomfret says the network of people who were concerned about Magic Carpet Preschool instantly stepped up to help with the rebuilding process, “In the days following the flood, there was a huge outpouring of support from alumni, parents, and friends on various Facebook sites. It was heartwarming and firmed up my commitment to continue the school.  Many alums, parents, friends, and people who heard about the school have sent contributions, toys, and supplies.”

Two such people were Sue Van Kirk and Tricia Cossick, both of State College, who found out about the disastrous flooding primarily through Facebook.  Van Kirk grew up in Harrisburg where river levels were often talked about.  In addition, her parents were from Mt. Carmel and her mother and grandmother both have degrees from Bloomsburg University.  She talked with her own daughters and her Brownie Troop about the losses and the children instantly wanted to do something.  “The kids were saying things like, ‘I feel really bad for the children who lost everything in the flooding.  They don’t have any toys. Can we do something?'”  Van Kirk sent an email to troop parents and they gathered items at their next two meetings.  In the end, 7 girls collected over 100 items for the school:  a dollhouse, a princess pop-up tent, puzzles, books, art supplies, and more.  According to Van Kirk, who hand delivered the donations to Pomfret, “Even I was surprised and touched by the generosity.”

Tricia Cossick also learned about the severity of the flooding through Facebook.  Cossick is the Director of OCC Montessori Preschool, so she was instantly sympathetic to a preschool losing nearly everything they owned. “When I heard that a longstanding quality preschool program had been swept away in flood waters, I felt like I wanted to do something to make a difference.”  Cossick is now in contact with the parents from her school, as well as other State College preschools in order to collect gently-used preschool furniture, educational toys, and books to donate to Magic Carpet, as well as other affected preschools in the area.  She is currently storing the items and will deliver them to Bloomsburg when the collection is complete.

While Pomfret had some hesitation about reinvesting in the current location, she feels a commitment to the preschool children and their families.  “No one can predict the future.  Right now we are concentrating on getting Magic Carpet up and running at Barton Street.”

Apparently that concentration has paid off.  Pomfret now reports that the Barton Street location of Magic Carpet will be re-opened to students on Thursday, November 3rd.  Pomfret is amazed, “The outpouring of support has been unbelievable!”

Magic Carpet Preschool can be contacted at 570-784-9282 .  The Columbia County Child Development Program can be contacted at 570-784-8618.

(Full disclosure:  Kristin Zeisloft Camplese is an alumna of Magic Carpet Preschool)

It’s Your Turn: Santa Needs Our Help

It is the first day of November and many thoughts are now turning to the holidays.  Flood victims are the primary concern as the holidays can be a difficult time for those who have suffered major losses.  One victim who no one has been talking about, however, is Santa Claus.  Unfortunately, when the flood waters came, even his cottage wasn’t spared.  Stored at the Public Works building in Bloomsburg, it incurred significant damage and is currently being repaired by those in the Public Works Department.

We talked with Tim Wagner from Downtown Bloomsburg Inc. (DBI, which runs the cottage) and he indicated that about two feet of water got into the cottage. With such extensive destruction in the town, no one’s thoughts quickly went to the cottage, but recently Public Works Superintendent John Barton went into to take a look and found the damage.  The drywall, wiring, and carpet had to be pulled out and according to Wagner, “Santa’s cottage looks like most houses in Bloomsburg right now.”

Bloomsburg Carpet donated carpet for the interior and work is being done to install the new drywall, put in the carpet, and do some last minute painting.  But Wagner said that “when we started thinking about all of the stuff in there that made it ‘homey,’ things started adding up.”  The following items are needed:  Santa’s chair, an ottoman, 1 or 2 end tables, a small desk, a framed mirror, and a 2 foot or 4 foot baseboard electric heating unit.  While not entirely necessary, Wagner indicated that these items really make it feel like a cottage when children arrive.

And Downtown Bloomsburg, Inc. and the Town of Bloomsburg are under a strict deadline as the repairs need to be completed by the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving (November 22nd or 23rd), so it is ready for WHLM’s Parade of Lights on Friday, November 25th.  Wagner is confident though. “It will get done and there will be a Santa’s Cottage.  It’s just not acceptable to not have it.”

If you would like to make a donation or purchase an item to help Santa and the town out, please contact Tim Wagner at Wagner’s Trophies at 570-784-6025.  Donations are tax-deductible.   In addition, the DBI is looking for a tree donation for next to the cottage.  If you have one that you might be willing to part with, please contact the town or Mr. Wagner.

Photo by corsi photo

 

Run to Rebuild 5K to Benefit Flood Victims

When Ginny Larson and Brooke Wilson met as graduate students in the Student Affairs program at Bloomsburg University, they had very little idea that they would eventually work together to become disaster recovery organizers.  Larson, a Bloomsburg native, 2004 graduate of Central Columbia High School, and 2008 graduate of Bloomsburg University, was drawn back to town for her masters degree for this simple reason:  “I love the area.”  Wilson, a native of Rockport, Massacusetts, discovered Bloomsburg when she decided to pursue her masters and received a graduate assistantship in the Sports Information office at BU.

Both, however, were incredibly affected by the flooding and destruction they witnessed following Tropical Storm Lee.  Larson, who has called the area home since she was 8 years old, said,  “I was devastated. I know we have had  flooding problems in the past but once I was able to drive downtown and see the destruction, I cried so much I could barely even drive. [This town is] a part of me and who I am. Seeing it demolished was heartbreaking, and I was one of the lucky ones not harmed.”  Wilson compared what she saw in Bloomsburg to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

When the two returned to campus after the flood closure, they instantly knew they had to help.  Wilson said, “I knew I needed to plan something that would be a big event to help those in need even if it would be months later. Many people seem to forget that families and people had lost so much and that they still are in need of help, although the damage my not be seen it is still there.” Several of their peers in the Counseling and Student Affairs program were affected and forced to relocate, which made the destruction all the more personal.  According to Larson, “Although many of us will never forget what happened, we wanted to do something that showed we hadn’t forgotten, symbolize community support, yet was uplifting and fun. That is how the Run to Rebuild 5k walk/run was born.”

After working with their program advisor, Mark Bauman, and Jean Downing, the Director of the SOLVE office, the idea began to take off.  Larson and Wilson are working with the Bloomsburg University’s Student Veterans Assocation to hold the event, and have received extensive support from the Bloomsburg YMCA, the SOLVE office, and multiple fraternities and sororities.  All proceeds will be donated to the Columbia County Volunteer Organization for Disaster Relief. “The event was organized in such a small amount of time, but we hope to have a great turn out to show the community we are here for them,” said Larson.

The Run to Rebuild 5K will be held Saturday, November 12 from 8:00am – 11:00am.  The race will begin at 8 AM and runners and walkers are welcome. Registration will be held from 6:30-7:45 AM at the Bloomsburg YMCA.  The cost is $5 for students, $10 for pre-registration ($15 on day of the race), and $50 for a group of 10 OR MORE.  The entry form and more details can be found here.

According to Larson, it should be a full day of community events, “Following the race, the Veteran’s Day parade is being held in downtown Bloomsburg. In addition, at 1:00 pm Bloomsburg University’s last home football game against Lock Haven will be taking place. If you bring your race bib, you will even get half off your football ticket!”

For more information or to join their community, go to Run to Rebuild 5K on Facebook.




Update: Due to the response from the community, we are kicking off The Bloomsburg Daily Charity Challenge.