August 16, 2009 The Express-Times article

Buoyed by a large anonymous gift, Visions of Eagles is trying to help the Nazareth area one food donation, DVD and utility bill at a time.

The nonprofit group formed two years ago during a 45th Nazareth High School class reunion.  That’s when an anonymous donor living in Florida revealed his long-held dream “to start a fund for needy people,” said Bud Donnelly, of Nazareth, who chairs the Visions of Eagles steering committee.

The group identifies individuals in need through church and civic organizations.  Its first donation was $5,000 for the Nazareth Area Food Bank to buy a commercial refrigerator/freezer, Donnelly said.

“What refrigeration and freezing capability means is we can now store frozen foods, and that means we have elevated the quality of food we can give our clients,” said Jim Byrnes, president of the food bank board of directors.

Instead of  just boxed and canned foods, they can now offer fresh bread and frozen meat.  Byrnes can’t thank Visions of Eagles enough.  “We were thrilled…especially during these economic times.”

Donnelly said the organization donates to only two nonprofit groups:  the food bank and the Nazareth Area Chamber of Commerce.  “Mostly we help individuals,” he said.  “But we don’t give them money.  We pay their bills.”

They were also able to get fuel oil for a woman who ran out and could not afford to fill her tank.  “She told us, ‘Thank God. That was the first warm shower I had in six months.'”  She ran out again, but had $200 to put toward a $300 fuel bill to fill her tank.  “The ideal situation is people who help themselves, but just need a little bump of help from others.” Donnelly said.

Donnelly said the benefactor especially wants to help autistic children and the elderly.  The group “adopted” the fourth floor of Gracedale, Northampton County’s nursing home in Upper Nazareth.  “We gave them two DVD players during their Christmas in July event and plan to donate DVD movies a few at a time.  They have videotape players, but do you know how hard it is to find VCR tapes these days?”

They put people in touch with agencies that can help, such as the Northampton County Agency on Aging.

Visions of Eagles has paid for treatments needed by two children with autism in the Nazareth area.  Donnelly, who declined to reveal the children’s names, said that one boy will begin kindergarten in September.

Although the group emerged from a Nazareth high school class reunion and its school mascot is the blue eagle, similar to the Visions of Eagles logo, there is no official association between the school district and Visions of Eagles, Donnelly said.

Its motto is “Flying with the vision of eagles on the lookout for those in need”.  Donnelly said members take that mission to heart.