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'Nightly News Banquet' Sets Giving, Attendance Records

Nightly News BanquetThe COBYS Nightly News Banquet ended up being big news.

Held March 6 at the Middle Creek Church of the Brethren, the event established a new attendance record and shattered last year's giving record. As of mid-March, total donations were nearing $51,000, up from $44,100 in 2013. Attendance was 558, up from 549 in 2013.

Attendance would have been higher, but seating was limited, forcing planners to turn some people away for the first time. At one point, the 550 banquet slots were filled and 60 additional people were on a waiting list.

"We were thrilled with the strong response to our banquet invitation," said Director of Development Don Fitzkee, "and we really hated to turn people away."

To accommodate people who wanted to see the program, arrangements were made to live stream it into the church sanctuary. People who came just for the program were offered a coupon for some ham loaf and gourmet potatoes at Gene Wenger's Meats & Fine Foods. While only 14 people came for the live stream, that was enough to establish the new attendance record.

The banquet program took the form of a nightly news broadcast, with a mixture of fun and serious features. The King's Strings, comprised of John & Cindy King and some of their eight children, provided lively gathering music and then wowed the crowd during the "Arts & Culture" segment of the "newscast."

Less serious items included the "Top Six-and-One-Half at Half Past Six" to kick off the broadcast; traffic updates from Nicole Lauzus that highlighted the abundance of skunks and lack of cars on the lightly traveled country roads near the church; the therapeutic weather report from weather therapist Laura Miller; sports by Mark Cunningham; and two original commercials for Gene Wenger's ham loaf. Wenger's donated the ham loaf for the meal and the coupons for live stream attenders.

"People really seemed to enjoy the humor," said Don. "We sure had fun. But we hope they were paying attention to the real news too!

The serious news included a Work for the Well-Being of the City campaign update with a "live look in" at classes at the COBYS Family Life Center; a report on foster/adoptive resource parent training taking place the night of the banquet at Lancaster Church of the Brethren; and a feature on respite parents Dave & Marj Stoddard and the Dupler family.

For your enjoyment, here is a video of the COBYS "Nightly News" Banquet 2014...

More videos of the complete program and some of the individual segments are available on the COBYS YouTube page.

A photo album from the banquet is available on our Facebook page.

Next year's banquet is slated for March 5, 2015, at Middle Creek. We are exploring the option of supplementing the main banquet with a daytime event at another venue to address space limitations.



20 Years of Walking
Family Fun Walk Set for May 4

COBYS Family Services will host the 20th annual Family Fun Walk on Sunday, May 4, at Peter Becker Community, 800 Maple Ave., Harleysville. The walk begins at 4 p.m., with registration beginning at 3:15.

The event consists of a three-mile walk, followed by ice cream, refreshments, and awarding of door prizes. Walkers donate, enlist sponsors to benefit COBYS ministries to children and families, or both.

A total of 86 participants raised nearly $9,000 at last year's walk. Goals of 100 participants and $10,000 have been set for this year.

"We are hoping for a great turnout to help us celebrate the 20th anniversary of the walk," says Director of Development Don Fitzkee. "We'll be planning a few special things for the occasion."

Top fundraisers can choose between grand prizes of a rocking chair donated by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store & Restaurant or two tickets to Noah, donated by Sight & Sound Theatres, Lancaster. All participants receive a free t-shirt, ice cream and refreshments, and a chance to win a door prize. Youth groups who raise $1,000 or more receive a free gym and pizza night.

Costs of the event are partially underwritten by Bauman Family Fruit Butters and Cider, Sassamansville. Additional business supporters are being sought. The event will be held rain or shine.

The walk benefits the ministries of COBYS Family Services. Motivated by Christian faith, COBYS educates, supports, and empowers children and adults to reach their full potential. COBYS carries out this mission through adoption and foster care services, counseling, and family life education. Based in Lancaster County, COBYS serves children and families from several counties, including Berks, Chester, Montgomery, and Lancaster.

For more information about the event, please contact Don Fitzkee at 800-452-6517 or

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Praise Dinner to Feature Penn View Bible Institute Choir, Ensemble

Penn View Bible Institute ChoirThe Penn View Bible Institute Choir and Instrumental Ensemble will provide a program of inspirational music at the 19th annual Wenger Foundation Praise Dinner on Wednesday, April 16, at 6:00 p.m., at the Lebanon Expo Center. The event will benefit COBYS Family Services and three other ministries.

The 60-voice choir and instrumental ensemble are touring groups from Penn View Bible Institute. Located in Penn's Creek, Pa., the school offers Christian education from kindergarten through postsecondary level in the conservative Wesleyan-Arminian persuasion. The Institute prepares men and women, at the postsecondary level, for the pastoral ministry, missions, the Christian music ministry, Christian school teaching, Bible teaching, and other church ministries.

In addition to music, the Praise Dinner will include a buffet meal catered by Country Home Catering. Other ministries benefitting from the event are Evangelical Seminary, Friendship Community, and On Fire Youth Ministries.

The cost to attend is $100 per person or $1,000 per table of 10 guests. All donations support the designated ministries. Underwriting all of the event's expenses are: John Byler; Country Fare Restaurant; Roger & Marjorie Gerhart; Good's Disposal Services; Bud & Joyce Mitstifer; Tom B. Morrissey TV & Appliance; Roger & Carolyn North, North Group Consultants; Reedy Diesel Service; Bill & Nancy Smeltzer; Gene Wenger's Meats & Fine Foods; Sight & Sound Ministries, Inc.; and Wengers of Myerstown.

The Wenger Foundation, Inc., was established in 1996 as the charitable giving arm of the Wenger Family of Companies. Since then, the Foundation has awarded more than $2 million to a variety of Christian and community ministries, including $287,109 to COBYS, which first became a beneficiary of the Praise Dinner in 1999.

Last year's Praise Dinner attracted a record attendance of some 900 people, and raised more than $100,000, including $20, 049 for COBYS.

Invitations will be mailed in early March. For more information, please contact the Wenger Foundation at 717-866-2130 or



Video Clip Highlights Adoption as Life-Affirming Option

The politically charged debate surrounding abortion sometimes drives people apart, but adoption is a life-affirming option that people of diverse perspectives can embrace.

COBYS Family Services has prepared a three-minute video segment for churches to use in their observance of Sanctity of Life Sunday on January 20. The video highlights the story of Beverly, who received free birth parent counseling through COBYS and chose to make an adoption plan for her soon-to-be-born daughter.

View and download the video here. Or check it out on Facebook and help spread the word to your friends. DVDs also are available for congregations who request them.

For more information about the video, contact Becky Frey or to learn more about COBYS Birth Parent Counseling services, please contact Melanie Swansfeger or go to


Annual Reports & Newsletters

April 2014 COBYS Connection Newsletter

Spring 2014 Fostering Hope Newsletter

February 2014 COBYS Connection Newsletter

2013 Annual Report/Contributors List

2013 Staff Christmas Card

Winter 2013 Fostering Hope Newsletter

November 2013 COBYS Connection Newsletter

Fall 2013 Fostering Hope Newsletter

August 2013 COBYS Connection Newsletter

Summer 2013 Fostering Hope Newsletter

April 2013 COBYS Connection Newsletter

Spring 2013 Fostering Hope Newsletter

January 2013 COBYS Connection Newsletter

Winter 2012 Fostering Hope Newsletter

November 2012 COBYS Connection Newsletter

Fall 2012 Fostering Hope Newsletter

August 2012 COBYS Connection Newsletter

February 2012 COBYS Connection Newsletter

Summer 2012 Fostering Hope Newsletter

Spring 2012 Fostering Hope Newsletter


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COBYS 1417 Oregon Road Leola, PA 17540    1-800-452-6517    717-656-6580    717-392-0504    Fax: 717-656-3056
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