Lift Johnstown Party

Brad Clemenson (left), Lift Johnstown’s coordinator, poses with Ferndale Spotlight student winners (from left) Holly Wilson, Brooklyn McKendree, Libby Kinsey and River Dorn on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

Wearing a blue jersey with a red No. 55 and white trim, Georgianne Matava spent hours inside the Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center on Tuesday working to raise awareness about the Tri-county Phoenix Semi Professional Football Team.

Meanwhile, at the same gathering, The Garden Club of Johnstown received Lift Johnstown’s 22nd Volunteer Spotlight Award for work the organization has done to beautify the community.

Though disparate in their missions – from organizing adult tackle football games to planting flowers – the two groups both contributed to the 8th annual Lift Johnstown Regional Project Party, a get-together that attracted individuals looking for places to volunteer and representatives from more than 70 nonprofits.

“I’m looking for a volunteer opportunity, basically seeing what else is out here, working with different organizations in the area, working with my church, working with Vision 2025 (a Johnstown-based volunteer organization), trying just to basically get information from those around here about what they need or just where we can plug in and help out,” said Gary Weible, a Johnstown resident who stopped at numerous displays.

The goal is to pair volunteers with organizations where they can best use their particular skills.

“Whatever you’re comfortable doing, whatever you would like to do, there’s some place, an organization here,  where you can fit in and make a difference,” Brad Clemenson, Lift Johnstown’s coordinator, said.

The event also provided an opportunity for representatives of nonprofits to learn how they might work with other groups.

“The one thing that has changed is (that) we’re emphasizing as much the networking among the nonprofits where they talk to each other, they figure out ways where they can collaborate,” Clemenson said. “We’re also having workshops now. The nonprofits tell us that these workshops are very helpful, educational and help them do a better job serving their community as well.”

Some of the participating organizations included Alleghenies United Cerebral Palsy, Cambria City Mission, Community Arts Center of Cambria County, Greater Johnstown Community YMCA, Habitat for Hounds, Sandyvale Wine Festival and Veteran Community Initiatives.

“There’s something here for everybody, from the community food banks to the Humane Society,” said Ronald Shawley, president and founding member of the Laurel Highlands Historical Village, an organization dedicated to celebrating the area’s cultural and ethnic heritage. “We’re all nonprofit, and we’re all looking for that volunteer help.”

Lift also honored students from Greater Johnstown High School Key Club, Ferndale Area High School, Westmont Hilltop High School and Johnstown Christian School who exemplify the volunteering spirit. 

The garden club received its recognition from the Lift committee.

“We’re just thrilled that people noticed that we are making a difference and we’re trying to make a difference,” said Darlene Wissinger, the club’s president, who was joined by former president Sheri Lowry for the presentation. “That’s our goal this year – to get more people involved in beautifying the city.” 


Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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