Special Project of the Year Award

2018 Winner: Bethlehem YWCA Pop-Up Prom Shop

The Special Project of the Year Award honors an event, marketing campaign, capital campaign, and/or social media project that does the following:

  • Advances the mission of the organization
  • Raises community awareness of the organization and its mission
  • Plays a key role in raising funds for the organization uses organizational volunteers and financial resources wisely
  • Generates value-added benefits
  • Demonstrates collaborations with other organizations
  • Promotes diversity
  • Involves youth

Nominations are selected by the AFP Eastern PA Awards Committee and the winner is chosen by an online vote. The 2018 online vote will be held from Oct. 15-26.

2018 Nominees



Nominated by the Allentown Parks Department

Description: On April 29, 2018 an estimated 2,500 community volunteers descended upon 36 Allentown parks to mulch playgrounds, plant 350 trees, paint benches and tables, remove invasive plants, clear trails and streams, weed flowerbeds, remove graffiti from playground equipment, remove trash, clean up illegal dump sites and more. This beautification activity utilized approximately 10,750 volunteer hours to collect circa 103,500 pounds of vegetation and refuse. #LoveLehighValley is a 1-day volunteer-based community service event, one component of which specifically targets cleanup and other activities focused on Allentown’s wonderful parks. This parks-related project is a collaboration between Friends of the Allentown Parks, Faith Church and other faith-based organizations, Allentown neighborhood associations, businesses, educational institutions, residents, and private citizens. 2018 marks the fourth year of this collaborative activity which touches numerous lives, exemplifies the moniker “service above self,” and instills satisfaction amongst all participants and a sense of pride in the city of Allentown.

Energy Makeover

#New Bethany Ministries Energy Makeover

Nominated by the Sustainable Energy Fund

Description: The Nonprofit Energy Makeover Contest (NEMC) was a contest fueled by Sustainable Energy Fund to upgrade a nonprofit building to be more energy efficient at no cost to the winning organization. The main goal of the NEMC was to promote energy efficiency and assist local nonprofits in overcoming educational and financial barriers to a sustainable energy future. In August 2017, Sustainable Energy Fund announced the contest winners, which were chosen for their inefficient buildings and the good they do for the community, and awarded them major energy efficiency building retrofits. New Bethany Ministries, one of the winners, is an interfaith organization that aims to provide opportunities for a secure future to the hungry, homeless, poor and mentally ill of the Lehigh Valley. The New Bethany Ministries energy retrofit occurred in October 2017 and included LED light retrofitting, low-flow water fixtures for sinks and showers, mini-split heat pumps, window heat pump units, new laundry units, weatherization measures, resident education and cosmetic improvements such as painting. The total money spent by Sustainable Energy Fund on the retrofit was $42,790.55. It is estimated that the upgrades will save New Bethany Ministries an average of 105,000 kWh and $12,000 in utility cost per year. The money the organization saves can instead be directed towards furthering their mission.

YWCA Bethlehem Pop-Up Prom


Nominated by YWCA Bethlehem

Description: YWCA Bethlehem has hosted a “prom dress day” event each year since 2008 to make the prom season more affordable for Lehigh Valley teens and their families. This year’s Pop-Up Prom Shop featured a stunning inventory of 2,000+ new and nearly-new donated gowns. The dresses cost $10 each, and there is no charge for accessories such as shoes, jewelry and purses. The event saves families an estimated $50,000 a year. On March 3, 2018, more than 170 girls representing 26 area high schools attended the Pop-Up Prom Shop at the State Theatre. Dozens of teens and women donate gently used dresses each year and more than 50 volunteers assist with set-up, running the event and breaking down the room. After the event, YWCA Bethlehem donated 50 dresses to Allen High School for a dress event that the school holds for its students each April. Key community partners and sponsors include The State Theatre, Jon’s Bridal by Suzanne, Sands Bethlehem, RCN and Wegmans. Volunteer and “dress drive” partners include ESSA Bank, Metlife, Phillips Pet Food and Supplies, PPL, Provident Bank, Southern Lehigh High School and Wells Fargo. Although any teen may attend the Pop-Up Shop, the event makes a tremendous difference for lower-income families. One shopper wrote on her check-out survey, “Awesome opportunity to buy dresses we normally would struggle to buy.” Another simply wrote, “I am thankful for this.”