Mariah Milani - Extraordinary Give Fundraising Star

Mariah Milani: Putting the “FUN” in Fundraising for This Year’s ExtraGive

For Mariah Milani, the ExtraGive is special.

As an Intake Supervisor at The GateHouse, she understands the importance of Lancaster County Community Foundation’s annual Extraordinary Give (or “ExtraGive” as it has come to be known). It reminds her of the important services The GateHouse provides to the community – providing long-term after care recovery services, including residential extended care, transitional living, family support, and more.

“I love working for a nonprofit,” Mariah said. “I love being able to feel like I’m making a difference, and I feel good about the work I’m doing.”

A native of Phoenix, AZ, Mariah studied at Millersville University and graduated with a degree in psychology. She interned at The GateHouse and another local behavioral health service provider while still in school, but The GateHouse was her favorite. When, after graduation, she learned there was an opening for an intake coordinator, she jumped at the opportunity and worked her way to her current supervisory role.

And while she does have a passion for behavioral health services, something about raising money for her organization gets her excited. So excited, in fact, that for the last few years, she’s been among the top fundraisers for The GateHouse during the ExtraGive.

What gets her excited about it? And why is it so important to donate to The GateHouse during this day of giving?

“The ExtraGive impacts a lot of nonprofits in this area,” Mariah said. “And a lot of them are really great and give back to the community like we do. I think what makes The GateHouse special, though, is knowing that every bit of the money we raise from the event directly impacts our clients.”

In other words, the money doesn’t go into a general fund, where it is allocated administratively. The GateHouse ties its donations directly to the needs of its clients and the improvement of their lives. You can see this in action, right on our ExtraGive page.

“So, it can be anything from helping clients with transportation needs—to get a valid ID, go to work, or obtain a GED—to helping get extra food for the houses,” Mariah said. “Ultimately, when you give to The GateHouse you’re actually giving to our clients, which I think is great to know.”

Given the economic pinch many people are feeling these days, Mariah said she understands why people are being more selective about where they send their contributions this year.

“The cost of living for everyone is expensive right now, so we understand that it’s not always easy to be able to give back as much as people might hope,” she said. “At the same time, it’s important not to lose sight of what the holiday season is all about –giving back to your community as much as you can. And the ExtraGive is great for that because you can donate as little or as much as you can afford.”

The GateHouse is fortunate people understand the importance of the work done here, Mariah said. Every year, The GateHouse hears from people and organizations who help with non-monetary gifts.

“We recently had a real estate agent who was assisting with a home sale and the person selling their house had a lot of furniture to donate,” Mariah said. “The real estate agent had someone close to her who came through our program and so she thought of us. It was really special.”

Businesses, too, want to give back and do so by employing clients of The GateHouse, she said.

“We have a lot of employers close to our houses who work very closely with our clients and provide them with job opportunities and even make donations, which is awesome,” Mariah said. “This year is no different. Many businesses are matching ExtraGive donations as they come in, so when you give this year, companies are helping to stretch your contribution and make it count even more.”

It takes a lot to help people rebuild their lives after experiencing substance use disorder.

“A lot of the clients who come through our program need some help developing life skills,” she said. “They may have been in active addiction for most of their adult life and so this is all very new to them. Think about how much it would cost to rebuild your life and you’ll get an idea of how much it takes for us to help our clients get back on their feet.”

Donations do more than just provide food, transportation, and furniture, Mariah said – especially at this time of year.

“Even for someone who’s not in recovery, the holidays can be overwhelming at times,” she said. “For a lot of our clients, the holidays can be a source of trauma due to strained relationships with loved ones or not being able to be present with them. The little things truly make a big difference.”

What your donations really equate to, Mariah said, is hope.

“One of the coolest things these donations help with is our annual TurkeyThon event,” she said. “That’s sort of our Thanksgiving with our clients. It’s the Wednesday before the holiday and it’s a time for our clients, staff, and administrators to come together and express their gratitude for one another. It’s really awesome.”

Feeling the joy from our clients is “why I do what I do,” Mariah said. “It’s the most rewarding part of my job.”

As an intake supervisor, Mariah said she often sees people at their worst. But she also sees them at their best.

“I’ve seen people admit to us feeling hopeless or lost” she said. “They have their guard up and are not quick to trust the process or our staff. But then I talk to them after they’ve been through our program, and it’s like talking to a whole different person. Recently, I had a client call in because he was just finishing up one of our programs and he was tearing up on the phone. He was like, ‘Wow. This is amazing. Everything is working out how I hoped. I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work, I’ve been doing everything I need to do, and just to see it all come together—’ He couldn’t even finish.”

And that’s where your contributions go, Mariah said. Directly to helping people rebuild their lives.

“It’s not always easy, and it’s not always pretty, but it’s always worth it,” she said. “Always.”


Please visit our Extraordinary Give page on Friday, November 17, and make a contribution. We value and appreciate your support. If you’re looking for help now, give us a call at 717-393-3215 or contact us to get started.

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