You Gotta Give! The Erie Reader Gives 2021
We asked the office, and here's who we're donating to for Erie Gives Day
In 2021, Erie Gives Day becomes Erie Gives Decade, as the beloved charity event marks its 11th year in action. Since its inception in 2011, Erie Gives Day has provided an allotment of matching funds, so that when you donate within that specific period of time, your contribution goes even further to help local nonprofits.
For half a decade now as well, we've had our own little tradition here at the Erie Reader. We don't mind putting our money where our mouth is. Since 2017, we've asked members of our staff to tell us who they're giving to and why.
Some of these are organizations we share a deep connection with, and some are relatively new to us, but all of them are worthy of your consideration and your money.
We hope this serves as a simple jumping off point to raise awareness of the event overall. While we're happy to contribute to these given causes, there are literally hundreds of worthwhile nonprofits to choose from this Tuesday, Aug. 10.
Erie Women's Fund
Who's giving: Adam Welsh, Editor-in-Chief
Who they are: Started in 2007 by 12 women looking to make an impact in our community, the Erie Women's Fund (EWF), a donor advised fund of the Erie Community Foundation, now boasts over 200 members who have given over $700,000 to local nonprofits that empower women and families. EWF educates and inspires its members to positively impact the lives of Erie County women through philanthropy and community engagement.
Why I'm giving: EWF provides financial grants, hosts enriching educational forums and engages members through informational meetings and social gatherings. Last year alone they gave $100,000 to Multicultural Health Evaluation Delivery System, Inc. to open a new facility in the JFK Center, $20,000 to the emergency COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund to aid local nonprofits, and $20,000 to the YMCA Meals for Kids program among other things. All told the EWF gave over $157,000 to Erie women and families in 2020.
Friends of the Erie County Library
Who's giving: Brian Graham, Editor-in-Chief
Who they are: A nonprofit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to the advancement of Erie County Public Library classes, programs, and services.
Why I'm giving: The past year and a half have been challenging times for everyone, with the effects of the pandemic turning our lives upside down in myriad ways. For those of us lucky enough to stay healthy, there was the question of how to fill the time, and this was especially true for those of us at home with small children. The winter months were a particular struggle, with outdoor activities limited by weather and indoor activities outside the home off limits. Thankfully, the Erie County Public Library System was there to help. Although the branches were closed to the public for a good portion of the winter, they offered curbside pickup for the duration. With a robust and easy to use online catalog, we found some good lists of children's books to check out and placed an order every week or so. Usually within 24 hours the library staff would gather the books and send an email notifying us that they were ready. We would then set up a time for pickup and head to the library where a cart would be out front with our books, puzzles, and art projects for the little ones. With a friendly and knowledgeable staff and an amazing selection of books and other media, the Erie County Public Library system is a community treasure and should not be taken for granted. I intend to support them with a donation this Erie Gives Day.
All Aboard Erie
Who's giving: Liz Allen, writer
Who they are: Local group pushing for a high-speed rail connection in Erie.
Why I'm giving: I am always happy to support the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network and Emmaus Ministries, because of the good work that the women religious do in Erie to help those in need.
I also give to Preservation Erie, where I'm on the board, and to the Friends of the Erie County Library, because I love all of the services that the volunteers at the Friends provide to readers.
I added All Aboard Erie to my donation list because of the visible role that this organization and the new director, Michael Fuhrman, will have in spurring support to improve existing Amtrak service and in advocating for high-speed rail. At a July 27 press conference, Brian Pitzer, longtime head of All Aboard Erie, announced that Fuhrman has been named executive director of the organization and that in his new position, Fuhrman will also lead the Lakeshore Rail Alliance, which strive to improve rail service on the corridor from Chicago to New York City, which includes Erie.
Fuhrman gave an impressive, impassioned speech on the need to step up rail transportation to address climate change. He and other rail advocates from New York State and Ohio also talked about the need to make existing passenger service more convenient and frequent. I would hop on the train with my husband instead of making long drives to see family in New York City and college friends in Wisconsin. That's why I'm on board for All Aboard Erie.
Erie County Community College of PA
Who's giving: Dan Schank, Contributor
Who they are: The latest and most affordable resource for higher education in town. After years of activism, the Erie County Community College is finally set to offer associate's degrees and technical skills certificate programs customized to our economy.
Why I'm giving: Higher education is unreasonably expensive. And unfortunately we live in an economy where advanced degrees are increasingly crucial to long-term prosperity. In a community struggling with endemic poverty, we can't expect everyone to gamble on a degree that will require decades of expensive student loan payments. Accordingly, community colleges offer the most accessible path to secure, rewarding labor. And the genuinely grassroots effort that helped establish ours is worth supporting.
Who's giving: Erin Phillips, Contributor
Who they are: The history of Asbury Woods begins with Otto Behrend (one of the founders of Hammermill Paper), who acquired the land of Asbury Woods as a country estate in 1920. He kept much of the land as farmland, raising cattle and planting fruit orchards, while reforesting much of the rest with trees that are largely still standing today. When Otto Behrend died, he left the land and everything on it to the Millcreek School District to use for educational and recreational purposes. Over time, the Browns Farm and Von Buseck properties were added to create a massive conservation area spanning 205 acres of Millcreek Township. Today Asbury Woods serves more than 13,000 school children and sees more than 100,000 visitors each year while offering environmental education programs, outdoor recreation, summer nature camps, adult learning opportunities and more.
Why I'm giving: Since my first daughter (who is now nine) was little, we have loved and taken advantage of the multitude of quality programs that Asbury Woods offers: starting off with Tots in Nature and now with more mature programs like Tree and Mushroom Identification Hikes and Compass Courses. During the pandemic, when most familiar and fun family events were canceled, Asbury Woods was still there for us and gave us the comfort of familiar woods for hiking and a safe place to go and have an adventure, during a time when nothing felt safe or familiar. And now that things are moving back to normal, but without the option of having a vaccine for children, Asbury Woods is still there for us by providing safe, outdoor activities for my preschooler by way of enriching "Summer Sprouts" classes and educational hikes for my older daughter and I to take together to learn about our local environment. I am so grateful that Asbury Woods has been there for us through it all!
Bonus: Consider donating to the nature conservation/environmental education program that you utilize the most like Presque Isle Partnership, Goodell Gardens and Homestead or LEAF
Erie Latino Leadership Association
Who's giving: Nick Warren, Managing Editor
Who they are: The Erie Latino Leadership Association is a place where members of our Latinx community can come together to raise awareness about their heritage and build connections to strengthen their future. They're responsible for putting together events like the Hispanic Festival, and building a scholarship fund for students.
Why I'm giving: A lot of people don't even realize that I'm Latinx. With a last name like Warren (taken from my Mom's side), most wouldn't think about it. I am. I'm mixed race, being half-Mexican, and it's wonderfully obvious when you see me. This is my identity, it's the skin I live in, and I'm proud of it. I want organizations like this to continue to operate and flourish in Erie. Representation matters. If there's a kid out there who hasn't connected with their own racial identity, I want that to happen sooner than later, and prop up groups that make it happen.
Performing Artists Collective Alliance
Who: Matt Swanseger, Copy Editor
Who they are: Housed in the historic Meyer building in Downtown Erie, PACA brings together creators of all kinds, giving them a space to cultivate their respective crafts and (if desired) share their gifts with the community. And of course, the second floor is renowned for putting on some of the most provocative theatrical performances in the city.
Why I'm giving: As it stands, PACA has a lot to offer — over the years, I've been there to catch plays, spin clay (Erie ClaySpace), and namaste (PACA Movement Center). But beyond recreation and entertainment, I've also had the privilege of meeting local entrepreneurs whose dreams PACA has helped incubate. If you ever get the chance to tour the building, it's evident how much more the facility could still be. The more room we give artists to create, the more life that gets breathed into the city — public masking orders or no.
Erie Humane Society
Who's giving: Jessica Hunter, Publishing and New Media Coordinator
Who they are: In 1892, the Erie Humane Society was incorporated as a private, non-profit, charitable organization of the Commonwealth of Pa. The initial mission was to investigate crimes of animal, child, and elder abuse. Operating under "no-kill" standards, the Erie Humane Society works to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome all pets in need. The services they provide include shelter, feeding, veterinary care, spaying and neutering, vaccinations, grooming, temperament testing, kennel maintenance, cruelty prevention and more.
Why I'm giving: At the end of 2020 our family was looking to expand and welcome a new pet to love and care for, and I knew we wanted to adopt. I was scrolling through a few shelters' social media accounts and came across a photo of a gray tabby on Erie Humane Society's page. I was smitten with the kitten! I called the shelter and was able to speak with someone immediately to set up an appointment to meet her. Once I saw her sweet face the paperwork for the adoption was already in process and I was able to take her home to meet the rest of the family. Her name is Binx and we're so happy to offer the abandoned kitten a home full of love.
Bonus: Erie has a lot of people ensuring the best care for our local animals. Check out Erie Animal Network, The Anna Shelter, Orphan Angels Cat Sanctuary and Adoption Center, and Because You Care for other opportunities to donate.