Catasauqua Press

Saturday, December 15, 2018
PRESS PHOTOS BY DOUGLAS GRAVESJohn Donches doesn’t agree with the idea of providing grants to various community organizations, he tells the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners during a meeting July 11. PRESS PHOTOS BY DOUGLAS GRAVESJohn Donches doesn’t agree with the idea of providing grants to various community organizations, he tells the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners during a meeting July 11.
Fred Sorrick speaks to the board of commissioners about the number of homeless kindergarten through fifth-grade students in the Allentown School District. Fred Sorrick speaks to the board of commissioners about the number of homeless kindergarten through fifth-grade students in the Allentown School District.

Nonprofits in pipeline to receive grants

Wednesday, July 25, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES Special to The Press in Local News

The Pennsylvania Music Preservation Society will probably get a $2,000 grant, $3,000 less than the newly formed nonprofit had requested from Lehigh County, whose board of commissioners approved a motion at its July 11 meeting to amend the bill to reduce the original $5,000 to $2,000.

At the first reading of the bill at the previous meeting, Commissioner Percy Dougherty opposed the idea of giving $5,000, saying other deserving organizations that have been operational for many years were only getting $2,000. The bill was expected to be voted on again at the July 25 commissioners meeting.

Other nonprofits are still in the pipeline to get grants, but before they do, they need to get waivers from the requirement to show a past financial history because they are new or have no financial history. The commissioners gave preliminary (first reading) approval to waive the requirement for a financial history to be submitted for the Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King Memorial project and the Mock Turtle Marionette Theater, which will allow them to apply for grants.

Emmaus resident John Donches didn’t agree with the idea of giving them money at all.

“You’re giving them money in return for their vote,” he said. “That’s the way I look at it.”

Donches said he would prefer that, instead, the commissioners take care of infrastructure and police and “stuff like that.”

The commissioners also approved distribution of federal funding known as Community Development Block Grants, which will affect many organizations and communities in the Lehigh Valley. Some of the recipients include Catholic Charities, for up to three months of rent and utility assistance to 25 low- and middle-income households — $29,700; Lehigh Career & Technical Institute, for case management of 20 low-income, at-risk students who require truancy interventions — $25,000; The Literacy Center, for English as a Second Language and GED instruction to 30 adults — $15,000; Alliance for Building Communities, to rehabilitate the Mountain View Apartments by replacing an elevator, renovation of bathrooms and kitchens in four apartments and a driveway replacement to eliminate mobility barriers for the physically disabled — $143,000; and Coopersburg Borough, for slip lining and manhole repairs — $163,130.

Fred Sorrick, who was representing Child Evangelism Fellowship of the Greater Lehigh Valley, told the commissioners he provides “ministry to the public school systems” and alleged there are 1,100 homeless kindergarten through fifth-grade students in the Allentown School District.

“When contacting principals in the Allentown School District, I found that children are coming to school who have to pay for their uniforms,” Sorrick said.

Sorrick asked, “I know we have grants. Can the county do anything about this? I know we have a serious situation.”

Sorrick said there is a need for “underwear and toothbrushes because it is a burden of teachers to take money out of their own pockets to meet the needs of these children” to provide such items. He said teachers are becoming social workers.

Dougherty reminded Sorrick, “We have a Department of Children and Youth.”

When asked by The Press, Sorrick said he got his information from a contact in the Lehigh Conference of Churches; however, The Press was not able to confirm that information.

Lehigh County Director of Administration Edward D. Hozza Jr. told commissioners he will contact the Allentown School District administration on the matter.

Lehigh County Children and Youth employee Francisco Molina, in an interview, said he was not aware of 1,100 homeless children in Lehigh Valley schools. He said such information is considered “mandated reporting,” meaning that anyone with knowledge of such information is required to report it to proper authorities.

In a later interview, Commissioner Amy Zanelli said the assertion that there are 1,100 homeless kindergarten through fifth-grade children in the Allentown School District is “inconsistent with information I have from my sources.”

After the meeting, Sorrick said his group conducts evangelism meetings in several Lehigh County schools, but he declined to say what schools were involved.

“We go into six elementary schools in Allentown with 130 volunteers,” Sorrick said.

This information could not be confirmed with Allentown School District before press time.