Orion Communities, a charity based in Phoenixville, aims to prevent poverty for people in Chester County.
According to Executive Director Kris Keller, the nonprofit is known for “working with the ‘poorest of the poor’ and people who fall through the cracks of other agencies.”
In Pennsylvania, Chester County is the wealthiest county, but there are still 35,000 people in the county at or below the poverty level, Keller explained.
For the past 35 years, Orion Communities has sought to help the community. It does not duplicate government services. Instead, it focuses on helping people who have slipped through the cracks of those programs.
One such program is Interim Case Management, where there is advocacy for those in need of support during crisis transitions.
This helps with food, homelessness, clothing, not being able to get to work, and more.
Orion also has technology resources that helps those in the community search for houses, prepare resumes, and more.
The Community Emergency Fund helps those in need with funds for essentials. Also, Orion has a Community Outreach Program, where they donate children’s books to families.
“It is incredibly powerful to meet our neighbors in need – to learn that the desire for shelter, food and good opportunities for their children transcends income, and that there are ways to help individuals and families to achieve their goals,” said Keller.
Currently, a junior social work major at WCU interns at Orion. Orion is constantly welcoming new volunteers and social work interns to the organization.
Volunteers work at different events, help with social media, act as photographers, write articles for the organization’s newsletter, prepare mailings and trouble-shoot challenges.
According to Keller, the goal is for “neighbors to help neighbors.”
Orion collects blankets, coats, holiday gifts, office supplies, and more. Monetary donations pay for rent, utilities, and transportation costs.
If interested in volunteering, students can contact Orion at 610-415-1140 or email info@OrionCommunities.org.
“Orion Communities is one of the organizations that helps people get through these challenging times and back on the path to self-reliance,” Keller said.
Theresa Kelly is a fourth-year student majoring in English literature secondary education. Contact her at TK780615@wcupa.edu