Beer lovers raise money for new home for autism support group
KINGSTON TWP. — Beer enthusiasts with a charitable streak are helping a local nonprofit that works with autistic children find a new home.
The NEPA Craft Beer Lovers Facebook group presented a $4,130 check to Supporting Autism & Families Everywhere (SAFE) at Frances Slocum State Park on Saturday morning.
The donation will be used to help find a new home after SAFE’s previous location at 267 Mundy St. in Wilkes-Barre Township was destroyed by an EF-2 tornado June 13.
“We decided to focus our charitable efforts to SAFE in February or March way before they were impacted by that tornado,” said NEPA Craft Beer Lovers Facebook administrator Mark Harvey. “Seeing their plight from the tornado made people want to donate more.”
The Facebook group has expanded its original focus — craft beer — to include charitable endeavors.
“Last summer, I said I wanted to raise money for groups in our community,” Harvey recalled. “We spend money on beer. We should be able to give back.”
Since last summer, the group has raised money for three causes, including SAFE.
“We had members nominate a few groups,” Harvey said. “Our group is very democratic and they put it to a vote. I’m glad that we could raise money for SAFE.”
SAFE has been a staple in Northeastern Pennsylvania for 23 years, working to unite concerned families, caretakers, professionals and community leaders with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
“You never know where support will come from,” said SAFE children’s program director Lindsay Dragon. “I never would have thought a beer group would help out an autism group.”
“For a local Facebook group to raise this amount of money,” Dragon noted, holding back tears. “We are just so appreciative.”
Being a mother of a son, Jackson, 4, with autism, Dragon knows the value of every dollar SAFE receives.
“Every dollar goes right back into their programs for the children and their parents,” she explained. “Our previous location on Mundy Street was a secure space for the children and their parents. We offered music and art lessons and hosted support groups for families.”
The money will be used to find another home.
“We are still in the process of looking for a new space,” Dragon said. “Hopefully, we will find a cost-effective space. I hope we are up and running by September.”
SAFE (Supporting Autism & Families Everywhere) board president Dolphus Teart, right, of Wilkes-Barre, hugs NEPA Craft Beer Lovers member Mark Harvey after Harvey presented a check to SAFE at Frances Slocum State Park in Kingston Township on Saturday. Teart, who has a 27-year-old autistic son, said, ‘I’m always happy about the awareness being spread.’
Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes