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College Plus - Celebrates Program and Generous Donation

Though it was an emotional day for those who gathered to celebrate the continuing success of Voice and Vision’s peer support initiative, College Plus, the May 11th ceremony at the Newtown Campus of Bucks County Community College left guests with a feeling of hope and accomplishment.   Honorees of the event were current supporters of College Plus and Joseph and Almerinda Gaskill of Chalfont who created the Joseph G. Gaskill Fund, which is named for their late son.
The event spotlighted three people who went through the three-year-old College Plus program: Matthew Zbik; who attends BCCC in hopes of pursuing a career in human services; Cori Pappert, who graduated from the community college last May with an associate’s degree in art; and Helena Lohr, who is studying journalism.

“Thank you College Plus for putting me on the path,” said Matthew, who praised the program for allowing him the independence to succeed at his own pace.
“All I really needed was a chance,” said Cori, who discussed her breakdown in 2006 as the catalyst for her seeking help.
The Gaskills, whose son Joseph committed suicide in 2006 as the result of an undiagnosed mental illness, were on hand to receive a proclamation from the Bucks County Commissioners for their $80,000 donation to the Philadelphia Foundation to benefit College Plus.   Almerinda told guests that after losing their son, she and her husband wanted to “transform pain into something useful.” She explained to the audience that recovery from mental illness is possible and encouraged participants to urge people to seek treatment for mental health issues. She ended her talk by reading a poem Joseph wrote for her on his last Mother’s Day.
Said Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia, “This is a great program. Just never give up. Keep going.”

“We are very grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Gaskill for sharing their son and his gift with us.  We are hoping people will donate directly to us for College Plus or to the fund so we can really expand,” said Voice and Vision Executive Director Valerie Melroy. 

Each year College Plus will receive 4% of the amount in the fund from the Philadelphia Foundation.  To make a donation to College Plus through the Philadelphia Foundation, visit philafound.org, and search “Gaskill” and click on the Joseph Joselino Gaskill Education Fund. Or donate directly by sending a check to The Philadelphia Foundation,
1234 Market St., Suite 1800, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Make checks payable to The Philadelphia Foundation and write "Gaskill Fund" in the memo line.  Also, tax deductable donations can be sent directly to Voice & Vision through their website or by mailing a check to 600 Louis Drive, Ste. 106, Warminster, Pa 18974.  Please write College Plus in the check memo line.  Thanks.

College Plus is accepting applications from people who have a mental illness and reside in Bucks County for the fall 2011 semester.  Please email collegeplus@voiceandvisioninc.org for an application or for more information, or call Caren at 1-800-734-5665.