Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” This quote is especially impactful to me as I think about the wide range of stakeholders who have helped mobilize the mission of the Barber National Institute since its very beginning in the early 1950s. Even before Dr. Gertrude Barber established the first class for children with disabilities, she had support from a group of parents who saw the promise in what Dr. Barber was doing to help provide critical services for children with disabilities.
Today, our programs have expanded in ways that seemed impossible at one time. As I think about the success of our programs, I reflect on who is in my village. This year, we had so many key stakeholders come together to make the following possible:
“Christmas in the City” Barber Ball, which took place on Saturday, December 10 at the Bayfront Convention Center, marked 50 years of this annual gala that benefits programming at the Barber National Institute. Thanks to the efforts of our chair couple Tim NeCastro, President and Chief Executive Officer at Erie Insurance, and his wife Lisa NeCastro, and over 1,200 guests who attended, we were able to raise funds for our pool renovation project, which is expected to start in June 2023.
Operation Warm delivers winter coats to young children in need in our communities at no cost to families. With the motto of “more than a coat”, the nonprofit organization believes that it is important to focus on meeting the needs of the whole child. A winter coat provides physical warmth and protection just as it proves confidence and hope for a brighter future. Our partners at PNC Financial Services have collaborated with Operation Warm to help the Elizabeth Lee Black School obtain coats for our students in need. I would like to offer a special thanks to Jenny Weigold Geertson, Vice President and Director or Client and Community Relations for the Northwestern Pennsylvania Market of PNC, for her work in coordinating this year’s delivery of winter coats for our students.
The Kahkwa Club is working to enrich the lives of disadvantaged students at the Elizabeth Lee Black School this holiday season through a gifting program. Thanks to the generosity of Kahkwa Club members, students will receive gifts they request. I want to extent my gratitude to the Board of Governors at the Kahkwa Club along with Kal Darres, General Manager, and Hillary Kaczay, Director of Administration/Membership, for supporting and coordinating this gifting program.
Thanks to everyone who supports the diverse programming for both children and adults at the Barber National Institute. It really takes of village to accomplish great things!