It’s not just somewhere else; it’s right here.
“I’m going to tell you a little bit about poverty in this area,” Arlene Daily, Keystone Opportunity Center’s executive director, told the about 300 attendees at Keystone’s annual Spring Banquet April 5 at the Indian Valley Country Club.
“In this area, just this two-county area, there are 22,251 children living in poverty. That’s just the children,” Daily said. “There are 14,422 seniors living in poverty.”
The banquet, which included live and silent auctions along with award presentations, is Keystone’s largest fundraiser of the year, according to Keystone information.
“When I’m out in public saying to people that Keystone Opportunity Center cannot do this alone, I mean it,” Daily said. “If we are serious about not allowing people to suffer without food, housing and education, then all of us must work together.”
Along with being a celebration, the banquet also is a chance to tell about what Keystone does, said emcee Jeff Devlin, a Bucks County native, owner of Schoolhouse Woodworking and host of HGTV/DIY Networks’ “Stone House Revival,” “I Hate My Bath,” “Ellen’s Design Challenge” and “Spice Up My Kitchen.”
“They give you more than just giving you something. They educate you, they empower you and they encourage you,” Devlin said of Keystone.
Along with speaking about the importance of homes, he lauded those in attendance for caring, giving and wanting to make a difference.
“Every single one of us in this room wants to make a change,” Devlin said.
Trish Sneddon, Keystone’s board president, also noted the place those in attendance play in Keystone’s work.
“Keystone Opportunity Center does not stand by itself,” Sneddon said. “We are a community-based organization. We belong to the community. We don’t exist if we don’t have your volunteer and financial support.”
The awards presented that night are to acknowledge some of the people and organizations that partner with Keystone, Daily said.
The new E. Richard Aichele III Corporate Partner Award, named for Aichele, who was Keystone’s executive director from 2010 to 2017, went to Penn Community Bank for its financial contributions in memory of Aichele.
“This donation enabled the agency to do numerous things, including to help fund the relaunch of the Family Literacy Program this year,” information in the program booklet said.
This year’s Champion of Housing was Univest Financial, which sponsors Keystone events and provides two houses to Keystone, allowing Keystone to offer affordable housing to three households, booklet information said.
This year’s Champion of Food was Tyma Trachtenberg Dental Community for leading a combined group of dental practices that over the past five years have donated $7,013 in cash; 3,570 pounds of food and housing supplies; and 1,520 pounds of personal care items to help those served by Keystone’s food pantry.
“Food insecurity in this region is a challenge that we must meet. An astounding 25% of the children in the Souderton Area School District are on the free or reduced lunch list. Each year, Keystone Opportunity Center’s Food Pantry provides 300,000 pounds of food to approximately 800 families. In the fall of 2018, Keystone effectively doubled its food services by taking over management of the weekly Fresh For All Neighborhood Food Distribution in Souderton,” the program booklet said.
This year’s Champion of Education was Souderton Mennonite Church, which, for three decades, has partnered with Keystone to provide no-cost education to community members in need, the booklet said.
“The church provided space for Keystone to offer classes and as the need grew, they expanded their building by adding an education wing with our programs in mind,” the booklet said.
This year’s Champion of Client Assistance was Moyer Indoor-Outdoor.
“Our community case manager helped more than 300 individuals with their household budgeting and financial assistance last year. When household budgets run tight, our community case manager reaches out to organizations like Moyer Indoor-Outdoor to provide their support with oil to heat our clients’ homes,” the booklet said.
This year’s Champion of Welcoming the Stranger was Zion Mennonite Church for several years of having provided the day center for Keystone’s emergency shelter program.
“Nearly 200 families were served in this program over the past 20 years,” the booklet stated. The day center is a place for families to keep their clothes, care for their children and take time to seek employment and permanent housing before being shuttled back to churches that provide a temporary place to sleep, the booklet said.
“Zion Mennonite opened their home to those who needed refuge,” it said.
Before beginning the live auction, auctioneer Len Walter reminded those in attendance that they are all blessed and of what the night was about.
“When you’re bidding on any of these items, you’re bidding for Keystone, not for yourself, not for what you’re going to get,” he said.
The final award, the Karen Kispert Volunteer of the Year Award, named for Keystone’s first executive director, went to the Tiley family of Upper Salford — Glenn and Janet and their children, Jacob and Samantha.
“Annually, volunteers contribute 7,000 hours to the work the Keystone staff does in helping those who are hungry, homeless or needing education,” Devlin said. “Obviously Keystone could not provide all that it does for those in need if it weren’t for the many people who volunteer.”
The Tiley family does maintenance work in the Keystone office and in the low-income rental-housing units Keystone manages, Devlin said.
“Both of my kids volunteer every week at the food pantry, and then the whole family volunteers with all the food drives,” Glenn Tiley said in a short interview prior to the presentation.
The Tileys, who have given Keystone more than 400 volunteer hours since 2014, also represent Keystone at events such as the International Food Festival, Devlin said.
“Everything that’s done by Keystone is really done by all the sponsors and all the donors and all the volunteers, so thank you,” Daily said in closing.