West Ward Neighborhood Partnership Revitalized by New Sources of Funding

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Residents in the West Ward of Easton, Pennsylvania can rest easier now, thanks to two charitable organizations that pledged grant money for the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership to continue operations. There was a real possibility that the non-profit partnership would have to cease operations by the end of the month due to lack of funding, meaning there would not be an anti-poverty program for the West Ward for the first time in half of a century.

With the September 30 deadline looming, the partnership’s parent organization, the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV), was struggling to attain corporate donations after previous donor commitments termed out in June at the end of the fiscal year.

But thanks to the generosity of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation and the Two Rivers Health and Wellness Foundation, the program will be funded through at least the rest of this fiscal year. The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation committed to a five-year grant of $50,000 in the first year and $25,000 per year after.  The Two Rivers Health and Wellness Foundation will contribute a $10,000 discretionary grant on October 1st, an additional $40,000 grant split into two payments in January and July 2016, and an in-kind donation of office space for the partnership’s two employees.

In the 11 years since the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership began, battling poverty in the blighted West Ward of Easton has been the mission of the CACLV. In that time, with help from corporate donors like Lafayette Ambassador Bank, Easton Hospital, and Air Products, the partnership has rebuilt the facades of 153 homes, planted 705 trees and dozens of gardens, repaired or replaced 134 sidewalksand funded a teen center run by the Boys and Girls Club of America.

But since those commitments ended in June, the partnership struggled to find new donors willing and able to help fund their efforts. Since its inception, more than $4.8 million has been invested into the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership to enhance the community.

One of the partnership’s employees, Sophia Feller, is the urban agricultural coordinator who oversaw the creation of the Easton Urban Farm in 2012, which has produced 6,000 pounds of vegetables for needy residents. She also helps coordinate 14 community gardens throughout the neighborhood.

Another employee, Lynne Holden, is the project coordinator for the partnership, responsible for evaluating applications for façade improvements, sidewalk repairs, and placement of street trees. Having lived in the West Ward for most of her life, she was confident everything would work out.

Feller, Holden, and many other West Ward residents are extremely grateful that the partnership will continue operations for at least another fiscal year.

The CACLV is a great example of an organization continuing to work hard toward their goals, just as Athletes C.A.R.E.. We too are striving to help the homeless in the Easton community as well as expand our helping hands across the country. 

Thanks to the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley for their endless commitment to helping the Easton community!