Lackawanna College Student Establishes Nonprofit


Lackawanna College Student Establishes Nonprofit

At Lackawanna College’s Sunbury Center, a student is making remarkable waves in her community through her nonprofit organization. Teresa Rhoads, a Sunbury resident, is putting the skills she learned in the classroom, studying Business Administration and Business Studies, into her nonprofit, Rhoads to a New U. Her journey to this point is marked by determination and support from staff and faculty at the college, enabling her to contribute significantly to the Sunbury community.

Initially, Rhoads almost didn’t enroll at Lackawanna College due to financial constraints, specifically an application fee she couldn’t afford. However, thanks to Phil Campbell, Director of College Partnerships, who waived the fee, she was able to begin her studies.

“We’re a family of six, myself, my husband and our four children. $100 for us was a lot to pay the application fee. I emailed Phil to cancel the meeting but he convinced me to still meet with him,” Rhoads said. “He waived the fee for me, and that was the only hurdle keeping me from saying yes.”

Since enrolling, Rhoads has made the Dean’s List every semester, reflecting her consistent academic excellence.

Rhoads attributes much of her success to the support she received from the college faculty and staff. Paul McDermott played a crucial role in helping her develop a business plan, which was part of her class final and became the catalyst in establishing her nonprofit initiatives.

“I was able to take in what I had for the final and ask him for suggestions to make it more professional,” Rhoads said. “He helped throughout the process of the business plan and made sure I knew the ins and outs of starting a business. I got a lot of good feedback from him.”

Additionally, Jackie Curry, who is no longer working at Lackawanna, provided valuable advice on time management, enabling Rhoads to balance her studies, nonprofit work and time with her family.

From Fitness Studio Dream to Nonprofit Initiatives

While Rhoads initially aimed to open a fitness studio, her involvement with AmeriCorps as a Food Service Coordinator for a local recreation center revealed a significant community need. This experience led her to start a nonprofit organization focused on food distribution in Sunbury along with other programs to help her community.

Mind Body Balance Program

One of Teresa’s key programs is Mind Body Balance, designed primarily for youth and teenagers but beneficial for adults as well. This program offers fitness, dance, cooking, arts and crafts and meditation activities, aiming to improve participant’s mental health.

“We want to give them healthier outlets to put their energy into that will give them a positive mental experience as opposed to them potentially turning to negative experiences involving drugs and alcohol,” Rhoads said.

Project Veteran Program

Inspired by her father’s military service, Teresa launched Project Veteran, which provides resources like ramps, wheelchairs, walkers, canes and handrails to help veterans become more mobile within the community. This initiative aims to support veterans in maintaining their independence and improving their quality of life.

Take a Bag Program

Another important initiative is the Take a Bag program, which helps foster children transition between homes with more dignity. Instead of using plastic bags for their belongings, foster children receive pre-filled suitcases or duffel bags with clothes, toys, stuffed animals and blankets appropriate for their age. For infants, diaper bags filled with essential items are provided. This program seeks to ease the transition for foster children and provide them with a sense of comfort and dignity.

Looking Ahead

Rhoads’ journey at Lackawanna College exemplifies how determination and support can lead to meaningful community contributions. Her work through her nonprofit organization and various programs has positively impacted many lives in Sunbury. With the summer approaching, Rhoads’ non-profit has upcoming activities such as a flag football game on June 22, a water day on July 20 and a back to school chalk art day on August 24.

As she prepares to graduate in 2025, her efforts continue to inspire and demonstrate the significant role education and mentorship play in achieving personal and community goals.

“After graduation, I plan on putting myself full force into the nonprofit as far as career goes,” Rhoads said. “My sole focus, besides my family, will be the nonprofit by getting grants, having a physical location and getting our programs up and going.”

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