Even if you don’t possess the deep pockets of a “Secret Millionaire,” your money can make life better for generations of Luzerne County residents.
Simply pledge to support the Millennium Circle Fund — a charitable effort whose supporters by midday today will dole out $20,000 to one of five area nonprofit agencies vying for its annual grant.
Since 2001, the circle’s membership has contributed about a quarter-million dollars to deserving causes. Among the recipients to date: a program called Friday’s Child that assists autistic children and their families, Candy’s Place support center for cancer patients and their loved ones, Ruth’s Place homeless women’s shelter and the Volunteers in Medicine free health clinic.
Perhaps you never thought you’d amass the finances to be a big-time philanthropist. The Millennium Circle, however, puts the possibility of having a long-lasting impact within reach of anyone able to give a one-time gift of $2,000; you can even opt to contribute the sum over several years. So far, hundreds of individuals, families, businesses (including The Times Leader), school groups, civic clubs and at least one card-playing bunch have ponied up.
The ultimate goal is for 2,000 donors to each supply $2,000, providing a total investment pot of $4 million.
From that large reservoir, The Luzerne Foundation, which administers the Millennium Circle’s funds, would be able to supply annual grants of $200,000 or more.
The circle has yet to fully take shape as its founders intended more than a decade ago; they continue to seek more community-minded women, men and young people capable of writing a check for, or raising, the $2,000 necessary to be part of this group.
Do you have the cash and the inclination to make a tax-deductible gift — one capable of aiding this place in perpetuity? Participants in the Millennium Circle are eligible each year to identify pressing needs in the community and nominate potential grant recipients. At a luncheon held in the fall, those same participants can cast votes for the grant winner.
Here are the five finalists for the 2013 grant, according to information distributed by The Luzerne Foundation:
• Family Service Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania, for transition of its Help Line crisis intervention and information referral telephone service to a simpler 211 phone number.
• F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, for arts education and community outreach programs.
• Jewish Community Alliance of Wyoming Valley, for services for young adults with autism.
• Wilkes-Barre Free Clinic, for expansion of its patient waiting area inside St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church to serve people seeking health services.
• Wyoming Valley Children’s Association, for a multi-sensory environment room to aid children with autism spectrum and other disorders.
Few people can afford to bankroll one — let alone all — of these important endeavors. But if you and like-minded people throughout Luzerne County chip in, the power of compound caring can pay tremendous dividends.