Paying it forward

(EDITORS NOTE: This is the fourth and final installment in a series about Leadership Lycoming projects in the community.)

P aying it forward – the idea that, when someone does a good deed for someone else, and then that person “pays it forward” to the next person, and so on – is not a new concept. But many might be surprised how often it is actually practiced within the community. It’s happening all around.

Favors Forward Foundation is a one-of-a-kind non-profit organization; they don’t exist anywhere else, and this, paying it forward, is the type of work their volunteers strongly believe in and practice.

“The Favors Forward Foundation’s mission is to provide a network of volunteers uniting their time, talent and treasures, and also to assist children and adults in Lycoming County facing life-changing hardships. Our focus is on individuals and families that are not receiving ongoing assistance from other organizations,” said Favors Forward Foundation’s director, Lori Wannop.

Hardships include job loss, disability, illness, death in the family, domestic violence, separation and divorce, home fire or flood, military deployment and more.

A relatively new venture, FFF was founded in 2009 by Beth McMahon, a professor at Lock Haven University and president of the foundation.

She said it initially started because she knew of a large network of people who enjoyed helping others and she decided to take it to the next level.

Though, she insists that the community, collectively, was FFF’s true founder.

“The community was the founder; I want the community to own it – because they do. It doesn’t matter who thought of it, we all make it work,” McMahon said.

Their partnership with Leadership Lycoming started in August 2012, after FFF applied for assistance in creating more awareness about their organization.

As we live in a society where technology is rapidly evolving, many companies have realized the benefits of social media and have implemented Facebook and other outlets into their practices.

Favors Forward Foundation realized the importance of awareness, and this is where Leadership Lycoming helped.

“I think the heavy hitter was the larger outreach to the community and surrounding counties via Nicole’s (Hayes, Leadership member) lead to revitalize and totally revamp their Facebook initiatives,” said Jonathan Blackwell, FFF project group member with Leadership Lycoming and also production process manager and OE specialist at Lonza Inc.

“This allowed better and more frequent communications of the events and needs of the foundation,” he said.

Over a solid year of planning and implementing and working together, the group successfully executed their plans to revamp the organization.

Other members of the group included Nicole Hayes, Transitional Living; Glenn Smith, First Community Foundation; Kimberly Vanemon, IMC; Mark Thompson, Hope Enterprises; and Geralda Xavier.

In addition to implementing a social media presence, the group also set up a web-to-text-message application for members of Favors Forward, which can be used by Favors Forward to send out messages to volunteers.

Though the Leadership Lycoming group felt that with more time that they could have done even more, they are thrilled at the fact that they put their time towards a worthwhile cause.

“I feel that the most rewarding aspect was providing aid using our various skillsets to such a worthwhile cause. Our group seemed to be one of the biggest melting pots of personalities, professionals and backgrounds,” Blackwell said.

He said, because of that dynamic in their group, it allowed them to come up with many different ideas and allowed the project to succeed and move forward smoothly.

And smoothly it went.

One sort-of worry that FFF faced was that some of the families they are helping might be exploited through Leadership Lycoming’s marketing efforts. But Leadership was careful not to do that.

“Leadership looked from the outside in and worked in getting our message out while maintaining dignity and respect for the very intimate, difficult details of families’ lives,” McMahon said.

Group member Nicole Hayes continues to help the organization even though the project was completed some time ago.

This particular group even won an award from Leadership Lycoming for their work with this organization.

“I think specifically, the updates and maintenance of the Facebook page helped to reach a larger geographic area and attained help from people who would have otherwise not known about Favors Forward,” group member Mark Thompson said.

To learn more about the Favors Forward Foundation, visit their Facebook page,, or their webpage,

Donations also can be submitted directly through their website.