Giving Tuesday Time to Give Back

Posted on November 29th, 2016 at 9:08 AM
Giving Tuesday Time to Give Back

Adults in Barber National Institute day programs and students in the Elizabeth Lee Black School volunteered at several organizations on Tuesday, Nov. 29, as part of a year-round focus on becoming active members of their community.  Teens and adults participate in a number of volunteer activities every month, ranging from helping at area food banks, senior centers and animal shelters.

Adults in one program, Club Erie, complete more than 200 hours of volunteer service on average each month.

"We believe that it is important that everyone develop a sense of commitment to their community, and work to foster that in our students and adults," said Dr. Maureen Barber-Carey, executive vice president of the Barber National Institute.  "Our organization has also received tremendous support from the community that makes it possible for us to carry out our mission, and we always look for opportunities to 'give back' to other organizations that are enriching our community."

Giving Tuesday was initiated in 2012, marking a day after Black Friday and Cyber Monday that shifts the focus from consumerism to philanthropy.  The 92nd Street Y in New York City, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, established the day to connect diverse groups of people and organizations to celebrate and encourage all forms of giving. 

A group of middle and high school age students in the Elizabeth Lee Black School were at Brevillier Village where they visit twice a month to bowl and play other games with senior citizens residing at the facility.

A group of adults in the Club Erie program offered by the Barber National Institute were doing their weekly volunteering at the food bank at St. Patrick’s Church.  Adults have volunteered there for several years, helping assemble the more than 600 food baskets distributed weekly to families in our community.

Another group from the Journeys day program at the Barber National Institute was helping at the Erie Humane Society, where they volunteer every week.

Other organizations where student volunteer include the Salvation Army, Second Harvest Food Bank, and the Soldiers and Sailors Home.  Adults regularly volunteer at organizations that include Bethany Outreach Center, the Tom Ridge Center, Sunrise Assisted Living and in community programs at several area churches.  The Second Harvest Food Bank recently presented the group with an award for five years of dedicated volunteerism.

The experiences offer benefits to all involved, according to Carrie Kontis, vice president for Intellectual Disabilities Services at the Barber National Institute.  “Volunteerism helps participants in our services understand the needs of others and helps them find places in their local communities where they are welcomed.  They may be receiving some help themselves, but volunteer opportunities provide a way to give something back,” said Kontis.

“Many adults are also building skills that we hope will help them eventually find community employment,” Kontis added.

As the Barber National Institute works to expand community integration, Kontis said that programs are looking for more opportunities to volunteer at local non-profit organizations.

Additional Photos

A group of adults in the Journeys program helped clean at the Erie Humane Society.
Adults and staff in Club Erie have been volunteering weekly at the Sr. Pascal Food Pantry at St. Patrick Church for more than five years.