2:09 min September 04, 2023

Pennsylvania Elks Home Service Program

PTN's Brianna Strunk highlights the four organizations receiving critical funding through the 2023 Pocono Mountains Community Fundraiser, including PA Elks Home Service Program.

Zechariah and Makayla are reading their favorite books, a skill the nine-year-old twins only learned within the last two years.

“They couldn't read or write, didn't know their ABC’s or 123's when they got here,” recalled their grandmother, Angela Clingan, of Mount Pocono.

In 2021, the twins were rescued from a dire living situation in Texas. They could have been placed in the foster care system and separated. But their grandmother, Angela, stepped in and was granted full custody.

“When they came here, they were only seven years old. We didn't realize the issues they had,” she said.

They were soon diagnosed with PTSD, autism, and attention deficit disorders.

Tanya with the Pennsylvania Elks Home Service Program was there to help. The organization provides at-home support and advocacy to people of all ages with developmental disabilities, introducing them to resources, medical benefits, and other assistance programs they likely don’t know about. The program is free to families and available in every Pennsylvania county.

“With all the changes with insurance and the health care system, there are different avenues for getting supplies. If insurance won't cover it and they don't have the money in-pocket, I have connections to other offices to get it,” said Tanya Guyer, LPN.

She adds, “We also provide emotional support. That's what a lot of my clients need, just seeing other people.”

Zechariah and Makayla now have the tools to better manage their diagnoses. And for the first time, they're attending school regularly, playing with other kids, and enjoying homecooked meals.

With funding from the 20th annual Pocono Mountains Community Fundraiser, the PA Elks Home Service Program plans to help 25 new families in Monroe County.