The Women’s Club of Lebanon awarded $12,000 in grants on Dec. 5 to four local nonprofit organizations that are caring for people who are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the virtual presentation event, Jo Ellen Litz, Women’s Club president, said the organization had initially planned to award $10,000 in grants, but the board agreed to increase the amount to $12,000. Lebanon Valley Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) and Lebanon Rescue Mission each received a $5,000 grant. The Caring Cupboard and Jonestown Outreach PantrY (JOY) each received a $1,000 grant.

“The need [for healthcare services] is great with COVID-19. The grant will touch so many people in our community,” said Dr. Victoria (Vicki) Brown, a physician at VIM.

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According to VIM’s website, the organization “provides free basic primary care medical services to working, low-income and uninsured individuals and families to keep them healthy, employed and out of the hospital emergency room.” VIM’s services are provided via a free walk-in clinic at 711 S. 8th St., Lebanon. Patients may also have most of their medications filled through VIM’s dispensary at no cost. Through a partnership with WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital and Juntos De Lebanon, VIM provides diabetic support and education to Spanish speaking residents of Lebanon County.

Founded in 1945, the Lebanon Rescue Mission shelters and feeds the “homeless and impoverished in Lebanon County” at both a men’s shelter and the Agape Family Shelter. The rescue mission also provides primary and behavioral health care to uninsured county residents through the Lebanon Free Clinic. Susan Blouch, a member of the clinic’s advisory committee said the woman’s club grant funds are earmarked for emergency dental care. “We are very concerned with dental health; it affects everything [in the body],” she said.

Both The Caring Cupboard and JOY focus on the issue of food insecurity. “We feel that the health of our local community is important, but we realize that people are losing jobs and their unemployment [compensation] is running out. There are more and more people in need of food [from food pantries],” Litz said.

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Shila Ulrich, The Caring Cupboard executive director, said this year to-date, the food pantry has served 20,000 individuals. The food pantry serves residents of the Palmyra and Annville-Cleona school districts. Founded in 2001 as a ministry of the Palmyra Church of the Brethren, it was expanded in 2004 to serve a wider community under the umbrella of Palmyra-A Caring Community. It’s housed in the former Royer Flower Shop building at 131 N. Railroad St., Palmyra.

Ulrich said The Caring Cupboard not only serves the community from its brick and mortar food pantry, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s partnered with Penn State Hershey Medical Center to deliver meals to families with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. The Caring Cupboard also collaborates with WellSpan Philhaven’s ACT program to provide a food delivery service for people with mental health issues.

Linda Wood, JOY volunteer director, said the food pantry will “put the donation [from the Woman’s Club] to good use”. The all-volunteer organization serves the Northern Lebanon School District and is located at 48 W. Market St., Jonestown. Wood said JOY has seen a dramatic uptick in those needing its services. “We were serving 30 clients per month in March (pre-COVID), and by November that number increased to 87 clients, or families, per month. On average we now serve 52 to 58 children per month,” she explained.

Before concluding the virtual presentation event, Litz shared a public service video the Woman’s Club created in collaboration with the Mask UP Lebanon initiative. It’s entitled “Grandmas Wear a Mask for the Ones They Love” and features members Pat McAteer, Joyce Ceresini, Judy Heagy, Katherine Hoopes, Shirley Karnich, Jo Ellen Litz and Melanie Schaeffer.

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The Woman’s Club of Lebanon celebrates its 123rd anniversary this year. Litz said traditionally grant recipients are selected in December, and grants are awarded the following year. “Because of the impacts of the coronavirus, we felt a sense of urgency to move the awards schedule up,” she said.

Read More: Women’s Club of Lebanon celebrates 122 years, next meeting soon

Traditionally grants are funded through arts forums for the public, but the pandemic didn’t allow that this year. Litz said the Woman’s Club had a mansion, but has sold it. Funds realized from the sale were invested, and the organization can draw on them to award nursing scholarships and community grants.

Additional information or membership application is available from any member. The next Woman’s Club of Lebanon meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 16. The program will feature a slide presentation detailing the organization’s history.

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