On Centre: Bald Eagle Area | Benefit for single mom in need could use a hand

June 4, 2014 

Kelly Noecker and Debbie Smith want to help a friend.

But to do that, they’re going to need some help of their own.

Noecker and Smith, sisters both from Wingate, are trying to organize a benefit dance for Sally Minarchick, a Port Matilda single mother trying to raise a teenage daughter while battling health issues. Minarchick’s niece, Stephanie Williamson, of Port Matilda, is joining the effort.

All was going well until they ran into a snag.

They had a place and DJ lined up for a June 13 fundraiser, but due to unforeseen circumstances, their plans fell through. Now, they’re asking for a hand in giving Minarchick and her daughter, Taylor, a boost.

“We’re in need of a location, and we’re looking for some kind of entertainment to be provided,” Noecker said.

Smith and Minarchick are both 1980 graduates of Bald Eagle Area High School. The women got back in touch, and Minarchick last year joined Smith’s church, the Christ Community Church in Benner Township.

Minarchick was going through a rough period.

Her husband had died in 2010. That same year, she had received a kidney transplant at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville from her sister, Peggy Stanton, of Port Matilda.

Though the surgery was successful, Minarchick’s body rejected the transplant. She travels to Danville several times a week for therapy, racking up steep medical costs and daily expenses.

On top of all that, she now must have hernia surgery at Mount Nittany Medical Center.

Smith didn’t realize the depth of her friend’s struggles until a phone call one day. Minarchick cried into Smith’s ear.

It was a revelation for Smith. Here was her friend, a “very loving, caring person who would do anything for anyone, but also a woman of such pride,” breaking down.

“For somebody like her, with her pride, to call me, she must really need help,” Smith said.

Smith felt her faith calling her to action.

She arranged for a gas card and other help from her church’s care program. Then she and Noecker conceived of the idea for the benefit dance.

For Noecker, faith also motivated her, but she also drew inspiration from her Shine Bright Like A Diamond Foundation, an outreach she’s starting to help school bullying victims.

She saw another person in need.

“You don’t know what people need until they reach out to you,” she said.

Smith said several raffle item donations and financial contributions have come in from individuals and businesses.

“The response has been unbelievable,” she said.

The original plan for the 3-hour dance was to charge $5 and offer a 50/50 raffle and auctions as well as music. Both Noecker and Smith are adamant about seeing it happen on June 13 or 14 — somewhere.

“I really don’t want to cancel this because (Minarchick) is really grateful for everything,” Noecker said. “I really think it would be sad if we had to do that.”

To offer a place or entertainment, call Noecker at 380-2570. To make donations, call her, Smith at 380-0129 or Williamson at 359-6597.

Chris Rosenblum writes a weekly column about news in the Upper and Lower Bald Eagle valleys. If you have news to share, email crosenblum@centredaily.com or call 231-4620.

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