Eastern Orthodox Foundation Transitional Living Center
By George Hnatko Jr.
Twenty years ago, a priest had a dream: to build a center to help the emotionally handicapped, the retarded, the alcoholic, parolees, and others to help themselves and to learn to function better in society and on their own. This was the beginning of the Eastern Orthodox Foundation (EOF).
Its founder. Father George Hnatko, a Ukrainian Orthodox priest, had in mind for some time a haven for people who needed a home, a place to make the transition from institutional living to traditional living. Today, in addition to providing transitional services, EOF is also licensed as a personal care facility.
The Eastern Orthodox Foundation is a private, non-profit organization chartered on July 10, 1966, under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It was voluntarily established by and continues to operate today with the help of Fr. Hnatko and a Board of Directors. Originally the Board consisted of five members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Today, it is made up of 15 members from various Ukrainian Orthodox parishes in Western Pennsylvania, five priests and ten laymen.
Beginning with an old motel building, a $95,000 mortgage and $1,000 in cash, the EOF has grown to several buildings in a campus setting. There is an administration building, a two-story brick dormitory, a combination dining and recreation hall, a chapel, and a maintenance building. Located in Cherryhill Township along Route 422, ten miles east of Indiana, Pennsylvania, the grounds include 192 acres of pine and hardwood forest, a 20-acre lake, 15 smaller ponds, and about 30 acres of grassy fields.
PROGRAM FOR THE GUESTS
People who stay at the Foundation are referred to as guests. Presently there are 96 guests. An individual living program is developed for each. This program includes food, shelter, clothing, personal care, counseling, social activities, basic education, casework, budgeting, field trips, recreational activities, job and community placement. Orthodox church services are a regular part of the community life. Guests stay at the Foundation for as long as they need. Some stay for several months; others may stay for several years.
The atmosphere at the Foundation is one of love, concern for fellow man, with a sense of caring and belonging. It accepts all persons regardless of race, color, creed, age, or place of residence. Referrals are made by community agencies, state offices and institutions, clergy, private individuals, and by the guests themselves. During the past 20 years over 6,000 people have been at the Foundation - and many have made better lives for themselves.
The EOF staff includes 33 full and part-time employees, who administer a comprehensive array of services. The focus is upon the residents’ need to develop self-confidence and to learn to do as much for themselves as possible.
EOF programs concentrate on the development of the skills of daily living. Vocational rehabilitation and occupational adjustment are an integral part of the milieu therapy, along with individual and group counseling, character guidance, personality adjustment, and socialization. Support, reassurance, and individual encouragement help to develop the “whole person” in each of the guests.
The professional staff includes an administrator, caseworker, business manager, teacher, food manager, counselor, spiritual advisor, and four nurses. A dentist, physician, and psychiatrist are available on a scheduled basis. Guests are also able to attend workshops and partial hospitalization programs in the community.
DONATIONS OF TIME, TALENTS AND MONIES MAKE EOF POSSIBLE
EOF is financed entirely by charitable contributions, supplemented by whatever the person who stays at the Foundation can pay for his or her own care. EOF gets no Federal or State grants, except those benefits received by individual guests. In addition the EOF must hold special fund raising projects such as festivals, dinners, cookbook sales and other activities just to balance the budget.
Various groups and many concerned private citizens cooperate with the Foundation, giving freely and generously of their time, skills, and knowledge. Without the help of such concerned people there might never have been an Eastern Orthodox Foundation.
Fr. Hnatko feels that there is still a long way to go in fulfilling the commitment to those in need. Plans for the future include the construction of a retirement community and a personal care and perhaps intermediate care facility for those who may later need more care as they become older.
Anyone wishing to visit the Eastern Orthodox Foundation may do so at any time. Individuals or groups desiring to help or to volunteer their services are invited to do so. Referrals to the Eastern Orthodox Foundation are made by calling or writing to:
Administrator Eastern Orthodox Foundation
Rt. 422 East - Penn Run
P.O. Box 432 Indiana, PA 15701
1. One person has often been behind the realization of some large and successful undertakings. Can you give some examples? What are some of the qualities that such a person must have in order for his idea to succeed? What kind of support is also essential?
2. In order to maintain any large non-profit program or facility, volunteer help in all forms is essential and welcome, as is stated by the Administrators of the EOF. What are ways that local parishes and individuals ccould be of service?