March 16, 2011 Nazareth Patch Artlcle

‘Visions of Eagles’ Helps Bridge the Gap Between Despair and Hope

by Mallory Vough

It helps with the simple fixes; a new set of tires, a new house window that blew out or pellets for a stove.

But it also helps with the big fixes; furnishing an apartment while a Lower Nazareth Township family rebuilds its fire-ravaged home and paying to bring a doctor from Philadelphia to Lower Nazareth to help an autistic boy learn how to eat.

The small and big fixes are all bandaged by a local foundation, Visions of Eagles.

The homegrown, not-for-profit corporation was established in October 2008 and operates as a public charity, according to Tom Fehnel, president of its board of directors.

The 501(c)3 provides temporary assistance to individuals and families living in the Nazareth area including the borough, Stockertown and Tatamy and the townships of Lower Nazareth, Upper Nazareth, and Bushkill, according to Carol Seaton of Nazareth, Fehnel’s sister.

Visions of Eagles, which comprises 11 local committee members, has assisted 50 individuals and families so far.

According to Fehnel, the group recently surpassed $50,000 in caregiving costs, and raised $24,000 through fund raising in 2010.

For a small, local foundation, Fehnel and Seaton have amazing stories to share.

“A woman in Tatamy was literally crawling around her house,” said Fehnel, a 1962 Nazareth Area High School graduate.  “We got her a power scooter and worked with the Carpenter’s Community Church.  We purchased the materials and the church built a ramp for her.”

But most rewarding is, “She not only gets around her house now, but she can also visit her neighbors.  She’s as happy as can be,” Fehnel said.

He also remembers the time Visions of Eagles, along with Fogel’s Fuel Service, helped a woman who went without hot water for several months.

“She hadn’t had hot water for five months because her furnace was dysfunctional,” Fehnel said.  “When committee members went down to interview her, she was sitting in front of a space heater with quilts to keep warm.”

While Fogel’s helped fix the woman’s furnace, the foundation helped the woman get set up with the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), he added.

When Visions of Eagles steps in to assist, it routinely looks to local Nazareth businesses for help.  Vally Tire, Moore Tire Center, Boscov’s, Nazareth Plate Glass, Fogel’s Fuel Service and others have all helped the foundation assist local individuals and families in different ways.

During the holidays, “Visions of Joy” works closely with Boscov’s, Seaton said.  “Boscov’s has been fantastic to us.  It has given us discounts and has brought in people to wrap gifts specifically for us,” she said.

And although the Visions of Eagles’ brochure states, “Flying With the Vision of Eagles on the Lookout for Those in Need,” Fehnel has another favorite motto:  “We are here to assist individuals and families cross the bridge from despair to hope.”

For the curious bunch, there is one paid Visions of Eagles employee, Bud Donnelly, who is paid $200 per month, according to Fehnel.

“I would say that 90 percent of every $1 that is received by Visions of Eagles is provided to care for receivers,” Fehnel said, adding that each month about $50 goes toward a phone bill, $200 goes to Donnelly, and once a year a required payment is made to the IRS.