Digital Exclusive: Family Service Association of NEPA celebrates 125 years

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The Family Service Association of NEPA has been a helping hand in our community for the past 125 years.

“A group of volunteers came together in 1895 and created this non-sectarian organization to provide services to families and individuals who needed help,” Family Service Association CEO Gurt McGowan said.

Since then, the organization has been providing a variety of resources, like the PA 2-1-1 Northeast Helpline

“A 24/7, 365 free information and referral service in 17 counties in northeastern Pennsylvania,” McGowan said.

McGowan says the COVID-19 pandemic had a tremendous impact on the organization. 

“The programs that we have with Children & Youth had a sharp decline in referrals because children were not at school or going to sporting events. Our 2-1-1 Helpline service doubled in volume for the first three months,” McGowan said.

Today, they’re implementing new ways to help those who need it most during these difficult times.

“We do telehealth now with our counseling service. We do a lot of porch visits with our client case worker services, and we just adapted to meet the needs of the community,” McGowan said.

Nora Blessner, the organization’s Director of Development, says marking the 125-year milestone is a testament to their mission of service.

“To know that we’ve done that for so many years, is really very important and valuable and I think it makes people here very proud,” Blessner said.

The non-profit is holding its annual Spring Fling Gala on April 10th and has a goal of raising $125,000 for 125 years. 

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