Little Siblings Weekend at Westminster College


Our Origins kids got to go on an AWESOME field trip to Westminster College to join in on their “Little Siblings” weekend. Each of our kids were linked up with a group of college buddies for the day, and got to take part in some pretty fun activities! Thank you for all of the Westminster college students who helped out planning this event and bonding with our Origins kids! We hope to be back soon!


Like Sisters


By Jessica Shelenberger
New Castle News

Haliegh Lee needed some variety in her life.

“I wanted to do other stuff besides just hanging around with my friends,” said Lee, a 13-year-old New Castle resident, who, with her neon blue-dyed hair and sky blue-colored contacts clearly isn’t afraid to take a risk.

“We’d just walk around and do the same thing over and over again. I wanted to get out and do something,” she said.

Enter Tiffany Murphey, a 23-year-old “big sister” with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lawrence County.

On Saturday, the organization is hosting its 21st annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake at Colonial Lanes. The fundraising event typically raises 20 to 25 percent of the organization’s annual operating budget, according to Steve Landman, director of development for Cray Youth and Family Services.

Murphey, who is an Americorps volunteer for Cray, which oversees the mentoring program, has been paired with Lee since January, after Lee’s mother, Jeanne Lee, recommended her daughter sign up. And, in those few months, Murphey has shaken up the young girl’s ordinary routine.

“I pick her up and take her places,” said Murphey, a 2010 Shenango High School graduate. “We’ve gone ice skating, we’ve played cards, we’ve gone to the movies and the mall, and we went bowling once.”

Murphey said they like to eat at Hugger Mugger’s in Shenango Township, but they’ve also eaten at Sweet Frog’s Frozen Yogurt and at Chipotle — a first for Lee.

“In the short time we’ve been together, we’ve gotten pretty close,” Murphey said. “I try to get together with her every week, and usually it’s on weekends. For me, it’s fun to share what I did with her.”

“She’s awesome,” said Lee. “Everything we do is so fun.”

Murphey and Lee’s story is one of many volunteer mentors making a difference in the lives of local youth, as Big Brothers Big Sisters program holds 62 active matches across Lawrence County, and has provided year-long volunteer mentors to more than 600 children, ages 6 to 15, since the organization started here in 1995.

“It’s an incredible organization,” said Bill Nesbitt, who has volunteered since 2008. “We’re so fortunate to have it here in our community.”

Nesbitt said he and several other members of Clen-Moore Presbyterian Church had approached Landman about volunteering — but doing it in a group setting twice a month, instead of the usual once a week.

Since getting the organization’s blessing, Nesbitt said his church has had up to nine “bigs” from the church mentoring their “littles” at one time.

“We’ve been involved for about five years, and it’s been just wonderful,” said Nesbitt. “You forget it’s missional; you just go out and have a fun time with kids.”

Nesbitt says in the more than six years he’s been with his “little,” he’s had a chance to talk to him about good decision making skills, about family, and more recently, even about dating.

“We’re not miracle workers in any way,” Nesbitt said of himself and the other volunteers. “We’re just people who care about these kids and see them over an extended period of time.

“It’s beautiful,” Nesbitt continued. “It gives them hope in the chaos that they might be living in.”

Nesbitt encourages others to get involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“We should help build it up,” he said. “Go volunteer and make a difference in your community.”

Murphey said Big Brothers Big Sisters is dependent not only upon volunteers, but also those who donate funds, especially during the bowling event tomorrow.

“As a nonprofit, we really rely on those donations,” she said, adding that the volunteers and their “littles” participate in the bowling event.

Murphey said there are 59 teams of 4-6 people signed up for the event. Each participant must raise or donate a minimum of $50 to participate.






Global Youth Services Day

Lawrence County Social Services, Inc., Youth Services America and State Farm awarded Cray Youth and Family Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lawrence County program a mini grant to host a volunteer project as part of the 2015 Global Youth Service Day.  Global Youth Service Day Grants support volunteer projects that engage youth and address education, health, clean energy/environmental stewardship, economic opportunity, disaster preparedness, supporting veterans and military families, hunger or public safety.gysd

America’s Farmers Grow Communities

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lawrence County received a $2,500 donation from the Monsanto Fund on behalf of Lawrence County farmer Kathleen Wilson.  Kathleen selected Big Brothers Big Sisters to receive the donation through America’s Farmers grow Communities.  America’s Farmers Grow Communities recognizes the important contributions farmers make, and helps them to grow communities by supporting local organizations.  Since the program started in 2010, more than $16 million has been invested in rural America.54ee51e8d5a7a.image[1]                             From left are Dave Copper, Melissa Barnes, Steven Slick, Katie Wilson, Brad Wilson and Tiffany Murphey


To see the full story please visit the New Castle news Online at the link below:


Bowl for Kids’ Sake: COMING APRIL 11, 2015!

Mark your calendar, gather your bowling team, seek some sponsors, and new this year- sign up on our website!

CLICK HERE for more information &/or to sign-up your team

Foster Care

It was the fall of 2011 when Alison and Chris Thompson joined Cray as foster parents.  Since becoming foster parents they grew from a family of two to a family of five, making their home a forever home for D’Wayne, Kayla, and Isaiah. The Thompson’s have done both respite care and long term foster care.  They have enjoyed taking trips with the kids who come to stay with them.  This summer they were able to take everybody to the beach.  “It was so fun seeing the kids play in the ocean, and even though it was a ten hour trip the kids did pretty well.“  The Thompson’s are also very appreciative of the support they have received from the Cray staff.  “We  have received excellent training, and know that if something happens, a Cray staff member is only a phone call away.”  It is hard to believe it has almost been four years since becoming foster parents, but the Thompson’s are excited about what the future holds for them and for their family

Sheena Carchedi
Foster Care Director
Cray Youth and Family Services, Inc.foster care

One Cup Of Coffee At A Time

The Confluence is a social enterprise venture of Cray Youth & Family Services! Every dollar you spend here, stays in our community and helps support the children’s programming of Cray! …”Making life better for kids, one cup of coffee at a time!”
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Alma Krause

Did you know that our Krause Youth Center is named in honor of Alma Krause who dedicated her life to making life better for children.  Alma worked at the Youth Development Center for 19 years and after her retirement she volunteered at our boys group home and then at the Krause Youth Shelter  up until just a couple of months before her passing in July of 2004.  Mrs. Krause was named First Lady of New Castle in 1969 and received the WQED Award of excellence in 1970 for her work with young people.

Today the program that carries her name, the IMG_1208 (640x480)Krause Youth Center is the only residential option for youth, ages 10 – 18, in our community.  As a shelter and residential program, Krause houses youth who have been removed from their home due to abuse, neglect or out of control behaviors.  Krause offers counseling, social and life skills training and drug and alcohol programming based on individual service plans.  Some youth in this program may also receive Aggression Replacement Training.  When children are removed from their homes, they make more sustainable changes when able to remain in their local community and maintain attachments.  Krause is a local resource helping local kids find success.


A Merry-Ann Christmas

Every year at Christmas our Independent Living Coordinator, Mariann Lillibridge hosts a Christmas party for the girls who used to be in our programs and their children.  This has become a wonderful tradition all thanks to Mariann.  She does so much to make it all possible every year.  We would also like to thank Liberty Mutual and Erie Insurance for helping to provide Christmas gifts for the children.10422372_10203396475815845_5580586084752857163_n[1]

Merry Resource Fair

On Thursday December 18th Lawrence County Council of Community services will be hosting their Merry  Resource Fair.  The event will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 pm., at the Confluence, which is located at 214 East Washington Street in New Castle. It is a free vendor style event and is open to the public.cocs2

This is a great opportunity to learn about what our community has to offer. Representatives from local agencies will be on hand to answer questions and distribute information.  It’s also a good time meet and connect with other service providers. Don’t miss the chance to meet front line staff and to understand the service in our own backyard.