Who/what: The nonprofit, non-sectarian Family Service Association has served people of all ages in Northeast and Northcentral Pennsylvania for 125 years. Through its various programs, the Wilkes-Barre-based group empowers people “to achieve their full potential (by) building healthier relationships and stronger communities,” according to Attorney Gertrude C. McGowan, CEO.

Services include counseling; ParentChild+, an in-home early learning program for at-risk children and their guardians; PA 211 NE/Help Line, an all-day, year-round free information and referral service and after-hours answering and crisis service for local nonprofits and government offices; the Children’s Center of Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties, which conducts forensic interviews, medical examinations, trauma therapy and more; and guardianship for at-risk adults in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe and Wyoming counties. Additionally, FSA works with Luzerne County government offices to provide a wide range of programs to strengthen families at risk of being separated, or who need “supportive services to allow reunification,” McGowan said.

Why: Despite the restrictions and troubles of the last year, FSA continued its services without interruption. It had to adapt how it operated, however, which required raising money to buy technology that would let employees work from home. Employees then met virtually with clients or used “porch visits” to continue programs.

During the first three months of the pandemic, the number of people who contacted PA 211 NE/Help Line doubled, McGowan said, as more people sought help with food, utility assistance, housing, information about the pandemic and more. She also noted, however, that “many service lines dipped in referrals when children were out of sight of (people) who may have called or reported concerns when the world was ‘open.’”

How: Fundraising supports numerous programs, and volunteers also are needed for the help line. To donate, call Executive Assistant Theresa Langan at 570-823-5144.

Additionally, as FSA celebrates its milestone anniversary this year, it will hold its major annual fundraiser, the Spring Fling Gala, virtually on Saturday, April 10. A four-course dinner will be available for pickup at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Plains Twp. Tickets cost $50, and for every two dinners purchased, ticketholders get a choice of red or white wine to go with their meals. Later that night, people can view a video honoring the Thalenfeld family on fsanepa.org.

“This family has demonstrated three generations of commitment to the organization and is receiving the Legacy Award, a special honor during this anniversary year,” said Nora Blessner, director of development.

Also, from Thursday, April 8, to the night of the gala, the public can bid on items ranging from purses and jewelry to gifts cards in an online auction.

For gala tickets, visit fsanepa.org or call Blessner at 570-823-5144, ext. 309. Donations and auction bids also can be made on FSA’s website.

In her own words: “Funds supporting FSA are critical for keeping these programs viable. This funding allows us to continue our mission of empowering families by providing them with the tools to successfully navigate so many difficult societal issues prevalent today. Community support for FSA contributes to healthier and stronger community for us all.” — Attorney Gertrude C. McGowan, CEO