The Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) honored an iconic Lehigh Valley fundraiser and champions who follow her example during the chapter’s 2017 National Philanthropy Day Awards Breakfast, presented by the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation.

The chapter presented its first Lona M. Farr, Ph.D., ACFRE Award of Distinction to the award’s namesake before a sold-out event. Founder of the area’s AFP chapter in 1986, Farr has helped organizations raise more than $425 million and was one of the first individuals in the United States to earn AFP’s Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (ACFRE) designation.

In a career of more than 45 years, Farr also has exemplified the highest excellence in advocacy for the fundraising profession, commitment to professional development, teaching and mentoring, and representation of AFP. In her remarks, Farr said that “it is easy to be a success in fundraising if you live a life of philanthropy yourself,” by doing as you ask others to do – giving your time, talent, and treasure to help others.

Part of the National Philanthropy Day event produced by AFP, the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter’s annual awards breakfast is held to increase awareness of fundraising professionals, individuals, foundations, organizations, and corporations who are responsible for millions of dollars in community investment each year.

The chapter presented seven additional awards during the Nov. 1 event at DeSales University. The Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award was presented to 8-year-old Cayden Ellis Roth of Breinigsville, PA. Cayden has raised thousands of dollars to benefit Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries, the agency that placed him with his adoptive parents when he was 13 months hold.

The Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award was given to Edward and Anne Davis of Schnecksville, PA, for their decades of support for Muhlenberg College and several additional organizations. The Outstanding Corporation Award was presented to ATAS International, Inc., of Allentown, PA, for its extensive support of several organizations, including the Da Vinci Science Center, which nominated ATAS for its award.

The Outstanding Foundation Award was given to Keystone Savings Foundation for its funding support of nearly 500 organizations and partnership with PBS39 Lehigh, which nominated the foundation for its award. The Outstanding Philanthropist Award was presented to Robert and Susan Gadomski of Center Valley, PA, for nearly two decades of investments with dozens or organizations, including United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, which nominated the couple for their award.

Rebekkah Brown, Vice President of Advancement for Muhlenberg College, received the Outstanding Fundraising Executive Award. Brown has led Muhlenberg to a 16 percent increase in total funds raised during the past five years.

Determined by a three-week online vote at, the Special Project of Year Award went to the Sassy Massey Toy Drive for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) created by 4-year-old Jillian Massey of Coopersburg, PA. A spunky girl battling brain cancer at CHOP, Jillian wanted to give back to her friends after she had become well enough to return home. She and her family started a toy drive through Facebook and collected approximately 3,000 toys. Her story gained attention nationally from outlets such as ABC News.

Additional distinguished honorees were Marilyn Brewster, for her support of MorningStar Senior Living Foundation; Leonardo Buscemi, Ph.D., for his support of the Easton Area Community Center; Colleen Class, for her support of Easterseals Eastern Pennsylvania; Susan Seccombe Cox, for her support of Cedar Crest College; Kathy Craine of WFMZ-TV for her support of Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries; Bruce and Trudi Denlinger, for their support of Northampton Community College; Cynthia Lambert Durham, for her support of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation; Donna Haggerty, for her support of The Arc of Lehigh and Northampton Counties; Bertie Francis Knisley, for her support of Moravian College; Edward and Betty Jo Richards, for their support of the Wildlands Conservancy; Patti Gates Smith, for her support of St. Luke’s Visiting Nurse Association; and Tom Sweeney, for his support of Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network.

In addition to the Presenting Sponsorship by Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, the National Philanthropy Day Breakfast supported by Audiovisual Sponsor AmericaVen; Venue Sponsor DeSales University; and Corporate Community Sponsors ASR Media Productions, EmpowerStar Marketing; and Working Dog Press. Award Sponsors were Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries; Community Services for Children, Inc.; Muhlenberg College; Fulton Financial Advisors; St. Luke’s University Health Network; Da Vinci Science Center; PBS39 Lehigh Valley; Judy Belaires, CFRE; United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley; Allentown Art Museum; Kreischer Miller Certified Public Accountants; The Leonard & Beverly Bloch Foundation; Bob and Sandy Lovett; and the Allentown Symphony Association.

The Accounting Sponsor was Joel A. Ronco, CPA – Regan, Levin, Bloss, Brown & Savchak, P.C. Distinguished Honoree Sponsors were St. Luke’s University Health Network; Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries; Cedar Crest College; Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network; Moravian College; The Arc of Lehigh and Northampton Counties; Wildlands Conservancy; Crayola; Easton Area Community Center; Easterseals Eastern Pennsylvania; and Morningstar Senior Living Foundation.

Table Sponsors were Allentown Art Museum; Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival; Lona M. Farr, Ph.D., ACFRE; Lehigh Valley Health Network; Muhlenberg College; Cedar Crest College; Penn Foundation; Valley Youth House, and Wildlands Conservancy. Professional Sponsors were Sharon Alexander, CFRE; Andrew Block; Julie Zumas; Wendy Christman; Sandy Gaspar; Linda Merkel; Lori Richardson; and Marcella Moyer Schick, ACFRE.

Produced by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), National Philanthropy Day (NPD) is a special day set aside to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy – and those people active in the philanthropic community – have made to our lives, our communities, and our world. National and regional events held on or around Nov. 15 recognize activities of donors, volunteers, foundations, leaders, corporations, and others engaged in philanthropy.

Photo by Lehigh Valley Community Foundation; Video by ASR Media Productions

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