The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 23, 2014

A Lift for nonprofits: Annual Project Party brings organizations together

JOHNSTOWN — Lift Johnstown always hoped its annual Project Party would provide a way for nonprofits and volunteers to get in contact with each other.

During the past three years, that goal has been accomplished. But the event has succeeded in another unexpected way, too.

Since the beginning, the party has created an opportunity for organizations that share similar goals to interact and develop relationships. It happened again on Thursday when almost 70 nonprofits participated in the third annual party inside the Pasquerilla Conference Center in downtown Johnstown.

“The networking opportunities between the nonprofits has also been a benefit that we hadn’t anticipated,” said Brad Clemenson, Lift Johnstown coordinator.

Hundreds of individuals attended, looking to find out information about volunteering opportunities.

“I think this is a wonderful way for agencies to network, not only with other agencies but also with individuals in the community who are seeking to volunteer somewhere,” said Artyce Thomas, Epilepsy Foundation Western/Central Pennsylvania’s regional coordinator. “I think oftentimes individuals just aren’t aware of how to go about that process of starting to volunteer with an agency or organization, so this is the perfect way for everybody to kind of meet and link up.”

Organizations ranging from The Atrium to the Classic Clown Club, from Cambria City Mission to Sandyvale Dog Park, from Johnstown Area Heritage Association to Frank’s Landscapes, from Nardecchia Spay Neuter Fund to Windber Area Community Kitchen, explained what they do to the interested volunteers. The needs of the different groups varied from hospices searching for caring people to comfort the sick to several organizations looking for help with construction projects.

“It’s a great combination of getting all these organizations together,” said Renee George, who manned the Produce to People booth. “It’s nice because volunteers can walk around and see what fits with their program, things that they’re actually interested in.”

During the event, George was honored with Lift Johnstown’s Volunteer Spotlight Award, which is handed out quarterly. She brought Produce to People to Cambria County. It provides fresh produce to low-income residents.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.

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