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Making a Difference of Lebanon, PA, a local nonprofit organization, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary.
Through scholarships, events and diverse programming, Making a Difference has been serving Lebanon County for a decade, with the mission of “building lasting relationships throughout the Lebanon County community by providing services to youth, veterans and those in need through Education, Services Projects and Events.”
With such a wide mission, Making a Difference has a diverse range of activities, including STEM Camps, Scholarships for High School Seniors, Dinner Clubs, Collection Drives, Christmas Meals and many others. These numerous activities are managed by different committees (currently Events, Community Service & Special Projects, Education, Fundraising, 10-year Anniversary), and overseen by a board of directors.
Cornell Wilson, president and co-founder of the organization, had a simpler way of explaining what links everyone together.
“It’s made of volunteers who want to give back to the community,” said Wilson.
Born and raised in Lebanon, Wilson has a storied and diverse history of engaging with the community. A graduate from both Lebanon Senior High School and Lebanon Valley College, he has been a soccer and basketball coach, a foster parent, house parent for Lebanon County Children and Youth, and a former elected member of the Lebanon school board and Lebanon City Council.
With “giving back to the community” a common thread between his endeavors, it might not be surprising that Wilson co-founded the nonprofit, helping it grow and develop over the years.
“We did start at a kitchen table with three people, and now we have an office downtown, and we have five committees and a board,” stated Wilson. “The biggest growth and change probably was the amount of people who volunteer or support the organization, and also the amount of events we had, the big events we have, and the push towards education.”
With two to five events per month, the Lebanon community has access to a variety of options that are aimed to serve as many people as possible. After all, save a few exceptions, “all of our events are free, all we do is free,” stated Wilson.
“We raise our own money, we don’t get any federal or state money, so a lot of our money comes from sponsors or people who donate to the organization or some smaller grants that are more local […] We’re always looking for volunteers and always looking for people who want to support the organization.”
Also citing it as the reason behind their success, Wilson thanked the active volunteers and board members. On the latter, he mentioned that “they’re not just board members who come to a meeting and make decisions once a month,” but rather participate in the committees and events themselves.
As part of the 10-year anniversary celebrations, Making a Difference will host two open houses, the first one in March and the second one in “October or November,” said Wilson. They are also partnering with Grade A Haul-Away to host the “2023 Summer Games,” which are planned as a day of friendly competition for local businesses and organizations.
These events and many more have already been added to their full calendar for 2023, which currently has more than 40 different scheduled activities, and can be found at makingadifferenceoflebanonpa.org.
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