Reimagining Entrepreneurship by Stefenie Sawyer

By Stefenie Sawyer, PNLV Project Manager – Entrepreneurship Without Limits

It’s that scene from Field of Dreams… you know it. Even if you’ve not seen the movie you know it. Let’s say it together, “If you build it, they will come”. It’s that moment in the movie where we were all inspired, watching the ghosts of baseball players creepily come out of the field, and watching the dreams of one man inspire an entire community.

I’ve often wondered if they’d follow up decades later to see if his dream really made any lasting impact. However, that line can sell a lot of dreams. This “field of dreams thinking” can inform strategies, create new programs, and cultivate a hero culture that at its core desires to create change, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

But what if this “field of dreams thinking” didn’t include everyone being able to built it? Do people who don’t live in the community that needs a new dream really know how to reimagine its new day? What if a community realizes that its best players are already found within and its not that it needs to be built so they will come, but that it needs to invite those players to join in the game and equip them for the work?

This is what PNLV is dreaming about as we begin our intentional work around cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurs in our schools, neighborhoods, and communities. We’re launching a new track called Entrepreneurship Without Limits. Removing limits on dreams and opportunities. Opening a pathway to the future. It’s this idea that our best future business leaders are right here waiting for an opportunity to live out their dreams.

Our question to you is, will you join us? What dreams are waiting to become reality? How would our community look different because those with dreams stay in Allentown? Be on the lookout for our new webpage, where you can take a next step. The future is bright and it’s right here in #OurAllentown.


Honoring volunteers during National Volunteer Month – by PPL Electric Utilities

Time is a gift. And in April, we saluted those who give it. You see, April was National Volunteer Month.

It’s a low-key month that you might not have heard too much about. It’s not the kind of event with parades and fireworks — though, honestly, most people who give time to help their communities aren’t looking for attention anyway. Instead, it’s a more personal celebration. It’s a chance to thank people you know who give their time, and to appreciate the things they do.

And, if you haven’t gotten involved, it may be a time for you to look into opportunities to help others. (No matter how tight your schedule is, or what causes you think are most important, organizations in this area would love to have your help.)

Volunteering takes many forms. It can mean packing boxes at food banks, helping young children learn to read, leading a Scout troop, coaching a youth sports team, protecting a community as a member of a volunteer fire company, and so much more. Every gift of time makes a difference, regardless of the specific setting.

I’m proud to know and work with people who are committed volunteers. People like Steve Gelatko, director-Distribution Asset Planning for PPL Electric Utilities, who serves as a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley. These folks have challenging work responsibilities, but still make time to serve others.

Volunteering isn’t the only way to support the community. Financial donations make a difference too, of course.

At PPL, our employees and retirees raised more than $1.4 million this past year to support United Ways across central and eastern Pennsylvania. Matching funds given by PPL raised our campaign total to more than $2 million. Locally, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley will benefit from those gifts.

These donations translate into real programs and services for people who need help every day in the communities we serve. Things like preschool literacy classes, programs that support healthy lifestyles, and services that help seniors stay in their homes.

We’re proud of that support, but it’s only half the picture. It wouldn’t mean as much without personal commitment – the thousands of hours our employees give to support those agencies and other community groups.

So, we take this month to salute our co-workers, neighbors and friends who volunteer. The places where we live and work are stronger as a result of their generosity.

They deserve a parade. And fireworks.



El tiempo es un regalo, y en el mes de abril homenajeamos a todos aquellos que nos brindan su tiempo.

Como saben, abril fue el mes nacional del voluntariado.

Es un mes poco llamativo sobre el cual, probablemente, no haya escuchado demasiado. No es el clásico evento con desfiles y fuegos artificiales aunque, honestamente, la mayoría de las personas que dedican su tiempo a ayudar a sus comunidades no buscan llamar la atención de manera alguna.

En realidad, se trata de una celebración más personal. Es una oportunidad para agradecer a las personas que usted sabe que brindan su tiempo y reconocer las cosas que hacen.

Y, si aún no se ha involucrado, puede ser el momento de buscar oportunidades para ayudar a otras personas. (no importa cuán ocupado esté o qué causas le parezcan más importantes; a las organizaciones de esta área les encantaría contar con su ayuda).

Hay muchas formas de voluntariado; desde empaquetar cajas en bancos de alimentos, hasta enseñarles a leer a niños pequeños, liderar un grupo de exploradores, entrenar un equipo de deportes de jóvenes, proteger a una comunidad formando parte de una compañía de bomberos voluntarios y muchas cosas más. Cada tiempo brindado marca una diferencia enorme, sin importar el contexto específico.

Me enorgullece conocer a voluntarios comprometidos y trabajar con ellos. A modo de ejemplo, Steve Gelatko, Director de planificación de distribución de activos de PPL Electric Utilities, forma parte de la junta de Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley. Estas personas tienen responsabilidades laborales desafiantes, pero, aun así, se hacen el tiempo para servir a otros.

Ser voluntario no es la única forma de respaldar a la comunidad. Obviamente, las donaciones económicas también hacen una gran diferencia.

El año pasado, nuestros empleados y jubilados recaudaron más de $1.4 millones para ayudar a United Ways del centro y este de Pensilvania. Los fondos correspondientes aportados por PPL aumentaron el total de nuestra campaña a más de $2 millones. A nivel local, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley se verá beneficiada por estas donaciones.

Estas donaciones se invierten en programas y servicios reales para personas que necesitan ayuda a diario en las comunidades a las cuales servimos. Por ejemplo, clases de alfabetización preescolar, programas de apoyo de estilos de vida saludables, y servicios que ayudan a los adultos mayores a permanecer en sus hogares.

Estamos orgullosos de esta ayuda, pero esta solo es una cara de la moneda. No sería lo mismo sin el compromiso personal: las miles de horas que nuestros empleados dedican a ayudar a estas agencias y otros grupos comunitarios.

Entonces, dedicamos este mes para honrar a nuestros colaboradores, vecinos y amigos voluntarios. Los lugares donde vivimos y trabajamos son más fuertes gracias a su generosidad.

Ellos se merecen un desfile y los fuegos artificiales.


ACHIP Community Health Worker Profile – Kelly D Brown

The Allentown Children’s Health Improvement Project (ACHIP) was launched in 2016 thanks to a $1.91 million, 30-month grant from The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust. The new program brings together Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Department of Community Health and Women and Children’s services along with the Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital, and Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley in a partnership. The program’s primary goal is to improve the health of pregnant women and young children in Center City Allentown through home visits for early intervention. A staff of bilingual community health workers from the neighborhood surrounding the Neighborhood Improvement Zone operates out of PNLV’s Allentown Promise Neighborhood office in downtown Allentown. APN uses its strong relationship with downtown residents to connect parents with young children and pregnant women to the ACHIP services.

The health workers are embedded in the community they serve in order to better cultivate relationships with residents, leading to trust of the local healthcare system, which is a critical component to the program’s success with this at-risk population. Here is a profile on one of them – Kelly D. Brown.


Kelly D Brown1. What made you want to work on the ACHIP program?

I love helping people. ACHIP promotes helping pregnant moms and their young children, a population which is near and dear to my heart.


2. What interests you most about the work you do in the community through the ACHIP program?

To provide community resources, to empower families to become self-efficient, and to promote a healthy way of living.


3. Since the home visitations started, what types of things have you been able to help the new moms and moms-to-be about with when it comes to caring for themselves and/or their child?

I’m able to provide resources such as breast pumps, information on WIC, and make sure they have health insurance. I also can connect the family with childcare services if needed.


PNLV names APN Manager Amanda Raudenbush as Interim Executive Director

Regional nonprofit organization Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley has named Allentown Promise Neighborhood Manager Amanda Raudenbush as Interim Executive Director following the departure of Yamil Sanchez Rivera earlier this month. Sanchez Rivera recently took a new position with the United Way of Berks County.

Raudenbush of Kutztown joined the organization in 2014. A graduate of Rutgers University in New Jersey, she holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in American Studies and Urban Studies, as well as a Masters of Curriculum and Instruction from Kutztown University, and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy at Rutgers. She’s also earned certificates in Geomatics and Urban Planning from Rutgers.

Most recently she had worked in education as a mathematics teacher at the I-LEAD Charter School in Reading. Prior to that she worked in community planning as Director of Planning and Building for Palmer Township; as a Senior Planner for Somerset County Planning Board in Somerville, NJ; and owned her own business, Jensen Planning, for two years in Kutztown.

“I am excited about this new opportunity to lead the staff of our nonprofit community organization and to work with our many partners and funders to continue moving the needle on the Nine Promises that impact the quality of life for our residents,” said Raudenbush. “I am passionate about the work our team does in the Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton Promise Neighborhoods, and am committed to building upon the framework Yamil created for us and moving it forward in 2017.”

Initiated by the United Way and developed by community leaders, PNLV was envisioned and planned as a regional organization to address challenges facing families and children in select neighborhoods across the Lehigh Valley. PNLV’s first neighborhood is in the Old Allentown Historic District downtown. The success of Allentown Promise Neighborhood has led the organization to expand its model to the valley’s other cities, launching the Easton Promise Neighborhood in the city’s West Ward last year and the two Bethlehem Promise Neighborhoods on Southside and in the Marvine neighborhood earlier this year.

About Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley
Founded in 2007 by United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley unites residents and leaders from various sectors to ensure the success of children from birth through career. Promise Neighborhoods accomplishes its work through place-based, collective impact efforts. Its office is located at 1101 Hamilton Street, Suite 102 in Downtown Allentown. For more information, visit


Meet the BPN Resident Liaisons – Yessenia Serrano

IMG_26911. How long have you lived in the BPN? What do you like most about living here?

I have lived in BPN more than 20 years. I love the neighborhood and the resources available to us.

2. What made you want to get move involved in your neighborhood?

I wanted to help my neighbors find the resources that they need to lead better lives.

3. Why do you feel that you are a good candidate to represent BPN? What qualities or abilities do you possess for this role?

Because I am familiar with the neighborhood and I want to make a difference in my community.

4. What are you most looking forward to in your role as a Resident Liaison?

Making a difference and helping others in the best way I can.

5. What do you think of BPN and what it does for our community?

I think it’s an excellent organization. It helps people connect to he right resources.


2nd Annual EPN Resident Block Party in West Ward is Tomorrow!

Easton Promise Neighborhood will host its Second Annual Resident Block Party to bring West Ward neighborhood residents together while connecting them with local public service agencies this Saturday, July 23 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. inside Cottingham Stadium on N. 11th Street next to Paxinosa Elementary School.

The free event for EPN neighborhood residents will feature partner information tables from local non-profit groups, food and beverages, music, games and activities for children, and other entertainment. It will be held rain or shine. Attendees who get their passport stamped at each partner information table will be entered in a drawing for FREE raffle prizes.

For the first time the block party will take place inside Cottingham Stadium on the grassy playing field. We’ll have a large tent where you can hang out to enjoy all of the activities.

There will be water balloons to toss, sprinklers to run through, and of course the dunk tank! Plus we will be handing out cold bottles of water to refresh you! The first 200 people will get free ice cream, and the first 300 will get ice pops!

Event partners are Family Connection of Easton and the Easton Area School District.

Parents can also register their child for school in the Easton Area School District at the event. The following items are needed for registration:

  • Proof of immunizations
  • Four doses of DPT with one dose of tetanus and diphtheria on or after the fourth birthday
  • Three doses of polio
  • Two doses of MMR
  • Three doses of Hepatitis B
  • Two doses of Varicella (chicken pox) or proof of the disease
  • A current vaccine record must be presented at registration in order to register.
  • State birth certificate or other proof of birth
  • Completed school district forms
  • Student registration record
  • Home language survey
  • Health information sheet
  • A mortgage or lease agreement in the parent(s) name is mandatory, plus two of the following:
  • Current utility bill, moving permit, car registration or insurance, tax statements, current

credit card statement, check stubs from wages, public assistance, or social security.

  • If a mortgage or lease is not available in the parent(s) name, an affidavit of residency or

support is required. Contact Central Registration at 610-250-2400 extensions 35097 or

35099 for more information.

  • Custody papers or PFA order, if applicable.



Congratulations to LVCC!

We’d like to congratulate Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers (LVCC) on its achievement of higher quality ratings for three of its full-service centers.

LVCC on Walnut Street in Allentown, LVCC at Allen High School in Allentown, and LVCC at Stones Crossing in Easton all have been recognized with a STAR 4 designation in Pennsylvania’s Keystone STARS program. With these advancements, all of LVCC’s full-service centers are now STAR 4!


Bethlehem Health Bureau to screen documentary on early childhood development followed by panel discussion

On Tuesday evening April 5, the Bethlehem Health Bureau is inviting the public to a special event dealing with issues surrounding early childhood development.

The free event at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Southside Bethlehem begins at 7 p.m. with the screening of the important documentary “The Raising of America – Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation” that aims to reframe the way Americans look at early child health and development.

After the documentary screening, a panel discussion with local experts will focus on how society can ensure every child receives maximum health and well being. Among the panelists will be PNLV Executive Director Yamil Sanchez Rivera. Trained as an educator, Rivera has worked as a teacher at William Allen High School and also as Principal at a Reading, Pa. charter school.

Panelists will address a range of related topics dealing with economic insecurity of families, the family environment, child abuse, access to affordable high quality early childcare and education, and more.

Other panelists include:

• Joseph Roy, Bethlehem Area School District
• Mary Widmer, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley
• Kelly Berk, St. Luke’s University Hospital Network
• Michael Walker, Community Services for Children
• Robin Hojnoski, Lehigh University

The Bethlehem Promise Neighborhood staff will be assisting the Health Bureau with public outreach to promote the event to parents through its partner agencies, community schools, and one-on-one engagement at street level.

Raising of America - Beth Health Dept


EPN & Paxinosa School to launch West Ward Collective Impact Team

Earlier this year EPN released the results of its 2015 Neighborhood Survey of West Ward residents in Easton. That report acted as a springboard for its nonprofit community partners, school district representatives, business leaders, funders, government officials and residents to work together on addressing the many issues that families living in that community (Census tract 142) are dealing with.

Paxinosa Elementary School Community School Director Ashley Sciora met with EPN Manager Ammar Sharif to begin the conversation on how to help solve those issues.

Now a new initiative called the West Ward Collective Impact Team is being formed. Community leaders, decision makers, and key influencers in Easton have been invited to attend quarterly meetings to discuss the four key areas that have already been identified:

  • Early Learning
  • Housing/Safety
  • K-16 Education
  • Health

The first Collective Impact Team meeting will take place later this spring; date, time and location are still to be determined. After reviewing the results of the EPN report data, the group will decide what to work on first. Attending partner agencies are invited to bring their own data long to the meeting to share with the group.

Sub-groups will be created for the four focus areas so that each can tackle specific tasks. After this initial meeting a schedule for subsequent quarterly meetings will be developed.

Community members and residents are also invited and encouraged to attend. Anyone interested in joining us should contact Ammar Sharif at  610.438.4327 or



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Get to know the PNLV Staff: Ammar Sharif, Easton Promise Neighborhood Manager

Ammar Headshot1. How long have you worked for PNLV and what do you do there?

I’ve worked at PNLV for a year and 12 days, but who’s counting?  I am the Easton Promise Neighborhood Manager, which up until this point has involved creating relationships with potential partners and residents in Easton, and learning all I can about the Easton community.

2. What did you find most interesting about the research you did on Easton and the quality of life of the city’s residents?

I found it all interesting and I loved wading through all of it. I especially enjoyed sharing it and getting the residents’ input, analysis, and reactions.  The most interesting piece of information didn’t come from my presentation, but instead the experience itself.  It was incredible seeing all of these residents of Easton turning out at the town hall meetings because they cared about their city. We saw residents ranging from students to senior citizens and all races who were eager to share their opinions and insights.

3. How do you think establishing an Easton Promise Neighborhood will help residents in the West Ward neighborhood?

I thin hope that establishing the Easton Promise Neighborhood in West Ward will help the neighborhood in whatever ways it most needs. The beauty of our work is it is data driven. We’re not coming in with an already-established agenda. We’re coming in with our survey based around our nine Promises to identify the needs in the community. Then we will work to address them. Identifying the needs, then connecting the service providers with those who need their services will be where we can help residents the most.

4. What’s your favorite part of the work you do for PNLV?

I’ve really enjoyed just about all the work I’ve done so far. My coworkers are great, the people we work with from other organizations are great, and I really believe in what we’re all coming together to accomplish. If I had to pick one thing, I think it would be the contact we have with the residents. I will always fondly remember Earth Day 2014 when I stood on our old office’s doorstep calling to residents to ask if they’d gotten their free potted tulip from PNLV yet.