Just a short walk down the hill sits Third Street Alliance, a shelter for women, children and families that has been serving the Easton community for more than a century.
According to their website, the shelter seeks to “inspire and equip women, children, and families with the tools they need to live, learn, and thrive.”
And for Lafayette students, the shelter has inspired many to create connections and relationships that may be needed now more than ever.
In 2020 alone, Third Street Alliance housed 44 adults and 67 children (with two thirds exiting and finding stable housing). 139 children were educated in a high quality environment, 25,493 nutritious meals were served to families in need, 34 scholarships were given to students who identify as low income and 66 students were given a pre-kindergarten education free of charge, according to Director of Development Beth Archer.
In addition to providing shelter services, Third Street Alliance serves as an early childhood education center for children ages six weeks to six years old, as well as a full early childhood education program for children ages six months to thirteen years entitled “The Learning Center.” They also provide eviction prevention services and help at-risk women and children finding housing.
Their overall goal, according to their website, is to help women and their families “achieve their highest level of sufficiency” through client-centered counseling and relationships with service providers and community partners.
Archer is in charge of fundraising for all of Third Street’s programs. The shelter receives support from members of the nearby Easton community, various local businesses and corporations, public grants, private foundations and Lafayette College.
“I have worked in fundraising for many years, and I find it incredibly rewarding to be part of the team at Third Street,” Archer said. “This group of amazing, talented individuals is dedicated to helping at-risk women and children in our community achieve positive outcomes and move toward stable futures.”
Julia O’Malley ’19 was involved with Third Street Alliance throughout all her years at Lafayette, starting as a volunteer and eventually becoming the Program Coordinator. She trained volunteers and had direct contact with Third Street through the Landis Center.
O’Malley explained that she built many relationships with the children at the shelter through cooking, participating in art projects and sitting down to dinner together.
“[Volunteering at Third Street Alliance] requires you to step outside of yourself and put things into perspective and see more so that you’re part of a broader community and not just off yet in the college community but recognizing you are a part of the Easton community too,” O’Malley said.
Allie Bindler ’21, current Meal Program Coordinator, has been with Third Street Alliance since her first year at the college and now has many roles in connecting the Lafayette community to Third Street Alliance. During a typical semester, Bindler arranges for the food trucks to deliver food to Third Street Alliance, plans out meals every week, shops for groceries, gets the children at the shelter involved in cooking the meals and desserts and cleans up.
Bindler recalled a story that demonstrated the power of connecting with members of the Third Street community, in which the volunteers from the college arranged a birthday dinner for one of the children. The child’s mother thanked them for “doing something she never could have.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lafayette students cannot volunteer at Third Street in person for the time being. They can, however, contribute in other ways.
Abby Skidmore ’24 became involved with Third Street Alliance while working with Alpha Phi Omega, the college’s co-ed Service Fraternity, where she helped raise over $500 for cleaning supplies, which were in high demand this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said Third Street Alliance helped her learn more about shelters and their goals, become more ingrained into the Easton community and have professional correspondence from communicating with the leadership at Third Street.
“If we can do something to brighten their day…then I am so grateful to be able to do that,” she said.
In addition, Archer emphasized Third Street’s gratitude for Lafayette’s support, noting that “when COVID restrictions allow us to reopen our doors to the public, we would love to welcome our Lafayette student volunteers back to the Mansion!”
Forms for donations, as well as a wish-list filled with the items they need most, can be found on Third Street Alliance’s website.