“The Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce’s vision is to connect members to new ideas, resources and relationships to achieve their goals. Life Transforming Ministries is an excellent example of putting this vision to work by bringing individuals, businesses and non-profits together to improve the lives of those in our community” stated Chamber Board President, Alissa Griffith as she kicked off the 9th annual Corporate Citizenship event.
This year the event was held virtually and filmed by Valley Creek Productions. Although we could not host our members to join us, the mission of the event remained the same. Bob Holliday of the Brandywine Regeneration Project was the integral leader in the development of the event, he said, “Corporate Citizenship was created to recognize critical non-profit organizations, their leaders, and the community and businesses that are major supporters. Together they create a powerful community of caring that exists in western Chester County.”
Bob explained that a major part of the event is education; to teach others about non-profit agencies and the ways they provide to the community. The important message is for the audience to learn from major community supporters and recognize the importance of giving to others through volunteer work. For 2020, the Chamber selected Life Transforming Ministries as the Corporate Citizenship honoree. Life Transforming Ministries (LTM) maintains a platform of services for people to lift themselves up to a higher level of quality of life. The event highlighted LTM’s partnerships with Vangaurd, Harcum College and the United Way of Chester County. The partnerships between the organizations create major and ongoing support to enable essential services.
Bill Shaw, Director of LTM and former Chamber Board President said, “I am honored to be here to accept this recognition. The most interesting factor of LTM is the board, which represents many different traditions. Our mission is to explore that diversity among us and to express through creative partnerships the kind of unity that our creator desires for all of us to participate in.” LTM is engaged in many different programs including the Harcum College Partnership, the Peacemaker Center counseling services, New Mornings Re-entry Services for previously incarcerated people and the Transformation Center which handles the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.
Reverend Hunt, president of LTM Board of Directors said, “Bill is truly a servant; he has served so well with his acclimation to many different backgrounds. The board of LTM continues to come together from diverse backgrounds to work together to determine what is needed in the City of Coatesville. In light of today’s world, we are saying this is our time to show what god has done in us, and to show others this is how we are going to work together. Let’s get at the roundtable to talk about the good things and find what we need to see within one another to make our community better.”
LTM’s partnership with Harcum College in the Lukens Historic District has seen 100 Coatesville residents graduate. The Coatesville site is one of Harcum College’s fourteen partnership sites. Bill said, “the partnership is a very creative way to fill a gap in the Coatesville community, to give people actual skills and marketplace credentials to help them advance in the workforce. One of the greatest things I have observed is how people’s lives are transformed over the 2 years it takes them to complete the program.”
The organization works hard to create value and leverages financial aid and grants for students. Their commitment to including every student from every financial standpoint, makes the college process affordable, even for those who think they do not have the resources to go to college.
“I am honored to be here today and part of something so positive for the community of Coatesville” said LeeAaron McKnight. LeeAaron is a graduate of the class of 2020 in Human Services Associates of arts. He originally did not intend to go to college and had visited LTM for career employment services. While there, the staff asked why he had never considered college and ultimately inspired him to give it a shot. He thought he did not have the financial resources but the staff helped him discover resources to do so. “The Coatesville site is a place where the people want to see you succeed, it is a contagious chain of events, everyone’s success is built off of one another.”
For 16 years, LTM has partnered with the Internal Revenue Service through the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program. The program helps individuals get their income taxes done for free. LTM trains volunteers to reduce tax anxiety and increase the outcome for individuals serviced. Over 100 volunteers each year help make this happen and over 2,000 households are helped through this program. From the VITA program sprouted another partnership, the Volunteers For Vita Program developed by Vanguard for their crew members to contribute volunteer work to the financial center. Emily Lautz of Vanguard has worked with LTM for the past 5 years. She said “one of the things I enjoy most is the opportunity to interact with individuals in my own community, the look of relief when telling someone they’re getting a refund and clients who return year after year who become familiar faces. I believe it is important to build a connection with my community; the more you connect, the more you understand, the more you can help.”
The final partnership recognized at the event was LTM and the United Way of Chester County. Bill said, “The greatest key to success of a partnership is to determine who is good at what and then building that team to get something done. The United Way of Chester County has made a culture of that in our county.” Chris Saello, CEO of United Way explained that Bill was a founding member in the Financial Stability Partnership. The partnership was developed to synchronize financial programs and fill gaps and services in the county. LTM came onboard to offer their VITA program. The United Way celebrated 75 years in 2019 with their roots as the Coatesville United District Charities. Chris said, “We are proud of the work we have done. Our job is to enhance education, health and financial stability of every person in the county.
Under Bill’s leadership, the program has grown tremendously and it has allowed us to fight hard for every person’s financial stability.”