Despite steady rain that cancelled portions of the 22nd annual COBYS Bike & Hike, Sunday, September 9, was a bright day for COBYS Family Services.
More than 200 supporters walked three miles through the streets of Lititz in a steady downpour. The route was revised to avoid a soggy Lititz Springs Park. By the end of the day donors had established a new income record of more than $142,000 for COBYS ministries. The figure is an increase of more than $5,000 from last year and may still grow.
“We knew the weather would impact attendance,” said COBYS Director of Development Don Fitzkee, “but we weren’t sure about income. We were thrilled that people gave so generously. It was a great day!”
The increase in income marked the 20th consecutive year of growth for COBYS’ signature fundraiser. Since its inception, the Bike & Hike has raised more than $1.4 million for COBYS ministries.
In addition to the walk, the event usually includes two bicycle rides and a motorcycle ride, all staged from the pavilion at the Lititz Church of the Brethren. The rides were cancelled due to a flood advisory, and the event was moved inside to the church fellowship hall.
“We were really grateful that the church could accommodate us inside on short notice,” said Fitzkee. “It made for a much more pleasant afternoon.”
A number of would-be riders walked instead, or came to donate and pick up a t-shirt. In addition to 210 walkers, many others stopped in for fellowship, ice cream, or to bid on the Silent Auction that ran throughout the afternoon. Total attendance was estimated at 350, down from 601 people who walked or rode last year.
Taking the weather in stride, planners jokingly changed the event name to “COBYS Soak & Hike” and Fitzkee encouraged participants to “make memories” as they trudged through puddles. He later joked that although participation was down, the event established a new “indoor attendance record.”
Keith & Lisa Reinhart, owners of the Lampeter Café, cheered bedraggled walkers by setting up an impromptu coffee and hot chocolate station. (Someone suggested that serving hot drinks was their excuse to not have to walk in the rain, and Keith did not deny it.)
Contributing to the day’s success was record business support. More than 100 businesses provided cash or in kind donations of auction items, door prizes, or food and supplies. Cash sponsorships from businesses exceeded the last year’s amount by $11,000 and the previous best by $6,000. The auction generated $4,921, nearly $1,000 more than last year. Bringing top price at $440 was a custom Philadelphia Eagles-themed cornhole game made by Craig Snyder and donated by Galen & Nancy Shenk.
Participants pay a registration fee and/or raise money from sponsors. Mari Cunningham established a new individual fundraising record with total pledges of $12,525. Other top fundraisers were Floy Fitzkee, $6,685; Londa Brandt, $5,810; and Lucy de Perrot, $3,900.
Four Church of the Brethren youth groups earned gym and pizza nights by raising at least $1,500. They were: Little Swatara, $10,462; Mohrsville, $5,031; Mountville, $1,972; and West Green Tree, $1,556.
At the end of the day Fitzkee thanked the crowd for their friendship and support during his 17 years as Director of Development, acknowledging that he recently had announced his resignation and would not be handing out door prizes next year. The crowd expressed appreciation for his service with a standing ovation.
COBYS is grateful to additional sponsors who helped make Bike & Hike a success. Click here to view a full list.
More than 200 guests stopped by COBYS Family Services open house events at Murry Hill Center on June 10 and 13. Located at 444 Murry Hill Circle in Lancaster, the 13,600-square-foot facility houses adoption, foster care, and family life education staff.
The open house events featured tours of the renovated facility, program displays, and staff presentations of services. In addition, a dedication service was led by Executive Director Mark Cunningham on June 10, with a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 13. Click here to view a YouTube video of the June 10th dedication service. Click here to read the Open House Speech.
COBYS purchased the building in January for $1.1 million to help alleviate severe over-crowding at our main office in the historic mill at 1417 Oregon Road in Leola. Murry Hill Center is centrally-located between the main office and two COBYS facilities in downtown Lancaster. It is an additional location for COBYS; all other buildings are being retained. The main office continues to house administration and counseling staff.
Since January, COBYS has invested about $250,000 in upgrades to the new facility, including new roofing and siding, replacement of more than 180 light fixtures with energy efficient LEDs, new carpet and paint, and various repairs. Renovation costs to the 1970s structure would have been much higher, if not for the generous response of more than 60 volunteers who provided nearly 700 hours of labor.
In late February, 24 adoption and foster care staff moved into new offices at Murry Hill Center. Seven family life education staff joined them in March, moving from their downtown Lancaster location.
Evidently a lot of people were in need of a barber.
The March 8 COBYS Barbershop Banquet clearly was a cut above previous events, as evidenced by huge growth in attendance and giving. Total income exceeded $72,000, up from the previous record of $60,864, set last year. Total attendance for the noon and evening seatings ballooned from last year’s record 598 to 732 this year.
“We were absolutely thrilled with the turnout and response,” said Director of Development Don Fitzkee, the primary planner and butt of more than a few bald jokes. “I had no idea how much people enjoyed making fun of people with haircuts like mine.”
Inspirational music was provided by the Yeater Sisters—Rachel Cassel, Joanna and Lois Yeater.
The program was set in a barbershop, where various patrons discussed COBYS-related topics but, much to the frustration of the barber, did not come to get their hair cut. Business Operations Manager Tim Strawser played the barber.
Among those stopping in were Permanency Unit Supervisor Krista Rankin, who told how COBYS came together to support a foster child whose mother died of a drug overdose; Director of Family Life Services Abby Keiser and Lancaster County Treatment Court Coordinator Karen Andreadis (via video) who spoke of how COBYS is partnering with the treatment courts through a program called Seeking Safety; and Adoption Supervisor Jen McDowell, who highlighted the 20th anniversary of the COBYS adoption program.
McDowell introduced Brent & Julie Hess and their daughter, Jerraca Hernandez, who shared some of their journey since becoming COBYS’ first adoptive family in 1998. Scott, Amanda, and 14-year-old Alex MacFeat talked about their more recent foster care and adoption experience. Along the way Executive Director Mark Cunningham and Controller Cindy Umberger told of organizational growth—much of it fueled by the opioid addiction crisis—and the recent purchase and renovation of a building north of Lancaster, and the subsequent relocation of foster care and adoption staff to the new facility.
In the end, the only patron who actually received a haircut was the one who didn’t have any hair, as a barbershop quartet pointed out in their rendition of “Donny Boy” sung to a familiar Irish tune.
For more photos, see our Facebook page.