"You never can anticipate the power of people," said Dr. Beth McMahon, Favors Forward Foundation president. "When people start moving in a positive direction, it feeds on itself. That's why the power of giving is so important."
Favors Forward is an organization totally run by volunteers and based on the idea of providing help to those who will then turn around and pay it forward by becoming the giver themselves.
McMahon, who was named a YWCA Woman of Excellence in May, said she started the foundation because she wanted to develop a "social network of good" and provide opportunities not only to people who need help, but also to those who want to give help.
This year, McMahon and the foundation have helped a number of families in the community through an Adopt a Student Back-to-School project and Adopt a Family holiday project by providing families and children who have experienced hardships with school items, clothes and Christmas presents.
The foundation took it to another level this year by providing opportunities for children in hardship, such as a parent with a terminal illness, through its Partners to Promise Youth Initiative. That initiative provides children with activities such as music, sports or dance lessons, in which the foundation provides one year of free lessons.
McMahon, together with her family and foundation volunteers, gather at the back dock of Wegmans every Sunday throughout the year to package and deliver food to families in need and also help those in transition from a shelter to independent living by providing them with household items and food.
The foundation offers almost any type of service to those in need and has helped families and individuals with personal assistance such as laundry, grocery shopping, gardening, painting and cooking.
Geoffrey Arthur, Valley Prevention Services director, said he has worked with McMahon for about 20 years through different types of work in the community.
"She has always been a very strong proponent to try to bring resources to people who have not been able to access them," Arthur said.
"She speaks very loudly with her heart, but she also speaks very loudly with having the data (to make sure a significant need is present)."
Valerie Robitaille, a former foundation client who now is its administrative assistant, said there is no better feeling than working with others toward a goal for the common good.
"Beth has taught me about true compassion and tireless service to others," Robitaille said. "She is a warm, lovely and loving human being and we are fortunate to have her as a community leader."
McMahon also is a Lock Haven University professor in the health science department who says her favorite part of being a professor is watching young adults grow into college graduates and she loves their energy and ambition.
She is a loving parent to her son and daughter and also is a foster parent who has adopted her foster daughter and has had two other long-term foster sons.
"I think my favorite part (about Favors Forward) is seeing the goodness in people," McMahon said. "Just the people who will step up for someone they don't even know. I'm inspired every day by those people."
Tana DeWire, Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition executive director, said McMahon is a committed and outspoken advocate for all health improvement efforts in the community.
"Beth set the foundation for our public health outreach and she is probably best known for her data-driven focus and her passion for the community," DeWire said. "This community really should be thankful, especially in this holiday season, for all persons with a strong sense of community like Dr. McMahon."
Heather Cottage, LHU health science student and AmeriCorps volunteer, has worked with McMahon and the foundation doing extensive work with their adopt-a-family holiday project.
"While working with her, I have come to realize the amount of work she really takes on and the joy she brings to everyone's life," Cottage said. "Her work is genuine and from her very giving heart and she never does anything less than 100 percent. She always helps others out and never expects anything in return."