COUDERSPORT — The Coudersport Area Ministerium has chosen A Way Out as the first beneficiary of a new endeavor to better serve the poor in the area.

The ministerium is moving away from donating directly to individuals, instead donating to agencies who serve the community.

A Way Out will receive $1,000. This is an organization that helps the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Under the direction of David Hyde, with the advocacy of Judy Brown and Mona Paro, and the counseling expertise of Jennifer Caber and Lucinda Greene, A Way Out provides crisis counseling, emergency shelter, medical assistance and legal advocacy, as well as educational resources, prevention programs and support groups.

The Christian community in Coudersport raises thousands of dollars annually through Advent and Lenten luncheons, other fundraisers, freewill offerings and special collections to help the poor in the area. In the past, the ministerium has used those funds to assist people in paying for utilities, rent, transportation costs and extraordinary expenses.

However, with limited resources it has always been a challenge to vet those who have approached the ministerium for aide and to identify who is really in need and where the greatest needs lie.

Faced with this challenge, the Coudersport Area Ministerium recently decided to contribute the money they raise for the poor to local agencies that are more equipped to identify who is truly in need and to assist those with the greatest need.

The ministerium is very happy about supporting these professionals and it is their hope that this new initiative will encourage them as they continue to accompany those in need. As pastors, ministerium members understand that even the most stouthearted and well intentioned people can become discouraged and disheartened as they carry their own crosses and assist others who shoulder tremendous burdens. Therefore, the Ministerium is hoping that this act will communicate both love for the poor and a care and concern for those on the front line helping them in their day to day struggles.

The Coudersport Area Ministerium is an association of clergy from various religious groups who come together to build collegiality and to address the socioeconomic needs in the community. They do this in a spirit of generosity, charity and holy obedience to God and his commandment to love one another.

The ministerium invites others to contribute smaller or even a matched contribution to this organization to keep the light of hope shining brightly. Monetary donations are accepted via mail at A Way Out, P.O. Box 447, Coudersport, PA 16915, or in donation jars set up at local businesses in Coudersport.