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Despite a late postponement due to snow, the COBYS Has Talent Banquet set a new income record. Income exceeded $52,000 with some additional donations still expected. Last year's COBYS Nightly News Banquet raised $51,183.50.

Slated for Thursday, March 5, at the Middle Creek Church of the Brethren, the banquet had to be pushed back one night due to the 10 or so inches of snow that blanketed the area. More than 580 people had been signed up for the banquet and the related livestream to the church sanctuary. With the bad weather, the livestream was cancelled and all guests were welcomed into the main hall. Attendance was 520.

"We knew we would lose some people by rescheduling," said Director of Development Don Fitzkee, "but we really didn't end up having a choice. We were thrilled that we still had nearly a full house. It made us feel really good that so many people rearranged their schedules to be there."

A number of table sponsors invited new guests to fill spots of those who were unable to attend because of the date change.

"Perhaps even more amazing than the strong attendance and giving," said Don, "was the fact that Middle Creek was able to switch nights and that nearly everyone on the program could make it work. We really appreciated all the people who worked with us so we still could hold the event."

After enjoying a family style meal, banquet attenders settled in for COBYS Has Talent-COBYS' take on the many talent shows popular on television. Executive Director Mark Cunningham hosted the show (and also managed to make his leg disappear and balance a chair on his nose-just not at the same time). COBYS staff Rachel Eshbach, Krista Rankin, and Don Fitzkee played a nice, glamorous, and mean judge, respectively, and kept the evening light with their comments and critiques of performers.

The program included a mix of fun and serious acts, with some presenters providing updates on COBYS programs or testifying to the effectiveness of COBYS ministries. Solanco Community Mobilizer Rithy "T" Ung, gave a brief update on his grant-funded work to organize community partners in Southern Lancaster County to form a Communities That Care Coalition to address risk factors like truancy and drug and alcohol use.

Former Elementary School Principal and current COBYS Adoption Caseworker Drew Scheffey shared via video how he was attracted to continue his lifelong service of children in a new setting.

Court of Common Pleas Judge Leslie Gorbey put "mean judge" Don Fitzkee in his place and spoke of her interactions with COBYS through her work in Family and Juvenile Court, specifically highlighting the professionalism and caring of COBYS staff. Speaking of COBYS foster care and permanency unit staff, Judge Gorbey said, "I am able to sleep better at night because I know that they are on the case. And they're making sure that all the children that they supervise are in a safe and sound situation."

She also touted the effectiveness of COBYS' Cooperative Parenting class, which she has seen reduce conflict between parents so that they can better co-parent their children. "COBYS Family Life Education programs are a godsend to me," said the Judge. "I frequently will order parents to go to these educational classes."

While his toddlers Paxton and Kaylin entertained the crowd, Ryan Rutt shared told of how he and his wife, Sarah (who was unable to speak due to illness), were given the support they needed to provide foster care and adopt Kaylin in December 2014. "Our story is one of a thousand little steps," said Ryan. "And at each step we saw God working. And at each step COBYS was there to support us and show us how to take that step."

Mindy Nolt & Jared Hankee were the featured musical act. Other musicians included COBYS Board member Kent Rice, who sang his original "Foster Care Blues;" Permanency Unit receptionist Leonida Gonzalez; and Jon Landis, who got disqualified for being a judge's brother.

After the three judges deadlocked, Judge Gorbey declared COBYS Family Services the evening's winner.

Video of the program is available on YouTube and a photo gallery is posted on Facebook. Both can be accessed from the News & Events page of




COBYS Family Services will host the 21st annual Family Fun Walk on Sunday, May 3, at Peter Becker Community, 800 Maple Ave., Harleysville. The walk begins at 4 p.m., with registration beginning at 3:30.

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. Some 75 participants raised nearly $10,000 at last year's walk.

Top fundraisers can choose between grand prizes of two tickets to Joseph, donated by Sight & Sound Theatres, Lancaster, or a pair of COBYS logo canvas folding chairs. All participants receive a free t-shirt, ice cream and refreshments, and a chance to win a door prize. Additional prizes are available for those who reach certain levels of support. 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, print a brochure or contact Don Fitzkee at 800-452-6517 or

Print additional sponsor sheets.




Marie MonvilleThe BrownsSpeaker Marie Monville and gospel artists The Browns will provide inspiration and entertainment at the 20th annual Wenger Foundation Praise Dinner on Thursday, April 16, at 6:00 p.m., at the Lebanon Expo Center. The event will benefit COBYS Family Services and three other ministries.

Monville is an inspirational speaker and author of One Light Still Shines, which shares her testimony of how God has been faithful in the aftermath of her husband's role in the Nickel Mines Amish schoolhouse shootings.

The Browns are a family of award-winning gospel musicians from Iowa, comprised of Shelly Brown and her grown children Adam, Andrew, and Michaela. Their music prominently features vocal harmonies and violins. Learn more at

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 $125 per person or $1,250 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; Tom B. Morrissey TV & Appliance; Roger & Carolyn North, North Group Consultants; Gene Wenger's Meats & Fine Foods; Sight & Sound Ministries, Inc.; Jim & JoAnne Speers; Kline, Kreider & Good Auctioneers; Brightbill Body Works; 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 $305,761 to COBYS, which first became a beneficiary of the Praise Dinner in 1999.

Last year's Praise Dinner attracted more than 800 people, and raised more than $100,000, including $18,652.50 for COBYS.

For more information, please contact the Wenger Foundation at 717-866-2130 or




Family Life CenterPledges toward the Work for the Well-Being of the City campaign have reached more than two thirds of the $300,000 campaign goal. Additional pledges currently are being sought in the Church Gifts phase of the campaign.

As of November 1, pledges totaled more than $225,000. Of that amount, nearly $160,000 had been received.

In June 2013, COBYS launched the campaign to pay for a new Family Life Center facility, located at 171 E. King Street in Lancaster, and undergird Family Life Education programming.

In concert with the education theme, the campaign goals can be summarized in three R's: Retire remaining debt on the Family Life Center ($185,000); Recoup a portion of costs for furnishing the building ($45,000); and Raise new funds to support Family Life Education programs ($70,000). Any giving above the $300,000 goal will support additional educational programming.

In October 2012 COBYS purchased the 5,400-square-foot facility at the corner of King and Lime Streets to house Family Life Education staff and programs. The move was prompted by a need for consistent, well-equipped facilities for education and childcare and a growing realization that many people served by COBYS education programs live in the city.

The campaign will receive additional support through the November 21 ExtraOrdinary Give. All donations to COBYS from first-time donors through the online giving campaign will support the Work for the Well-Being campaign (unless the donor designates otherwise). Donors are invited to visit the Family Life Center during the ExtraOrdinary Give between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Those who stop by to donate will receive a whoopie pie from Zig's Bakery & Deli as part of The ExtraOrdinary Whoopie Pie Event.




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

Spring 2015 Fostering Hope Newsletter

February 2015 COBYS Connection Newsletter

2014 Annual Report/Contributors List

2014 Staff Christmas Card

Winter 2014 Fostering Hope Newsletter

November 2014 COBYS Connection Newsletter

Fall 2014 Fostering Hope Newsletter

August 2014 COBYS Connection Newsletter

Summer 2014 Fostering Hope Newsletter

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


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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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