Love in Action: Celebrating 50 Years of Champions for Children & Families

That’s a wrap! We want to thank each and every one of you for helping us celebrate not only our 50th anniversary, but our wonderful honorees that many of you had the pleasure of hearing from throughout the evening!
“Love in Action” encompasses everything there is to know about CORA Services, it’s employees, the children and families who we interact with on a daily basis, and the many incredibly selfless individuals who support our mission. We are so incredibly lucky to be a part of your lives.
Here’s to another 50 years!
If you would like to contribute to CORA’s Love in Action mission, you can still do so by visiting:
Please enjoy our final compilation video that was presented on the evening of the Gala!

Rooted in a tradition of care and compassion, the mission of CORA Services is to assist children, youth and families experiencing academic, emotional and social challenges. What started as a small family counseling center in Northeast Philadelphia, in 1971, has grown into a Family Resource Center offering a wide array of high-quality professional services all over the city, impacting more than 20,000 children and families annually. Thanks so all who joined us as we celebrated Philadelphia’s children and families, recognized families who embody the spirit of our foundress, Sr. Charity Kohl, and raised support for CORA’s caring and compassionate mission.

On April 28th, we invited you to celebrate the incredible milestone of our 50th anniversary! All proceeds support the children and families of Greater Philadelphia. We honored:

The Armstrong Family
The Carroll and Lavelle Families
The Cortés Family
The Forst Family
The McElhenney Family
The McGettigan Family
The Minich Family
The Rowley Family
The Sisters of the Good Shepherd Family


Our Love in Action Honorees



One family CORA could not exist without, is the family of Sisters that make up the Congregation of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd (SGS). Nationally and internationally, the SGS are working with women and children, at-risk youth, underserved communities, advocating for societal change, and supporting many other important global as well as local efforts with care and compassion. Everyday these women are spreading all over the world, the kind of Love in Action, that Sr. Charity brought to our Philadelphia community.


The SGS are CORA’s number one supporter, having given more than any funder in our history. The Sisters remain extremely involved with CORA, sitting on boards and committees and attending events, as well as guiding us with love and prayer. The Good Shepherd values of individual worth, mercy, reconciliation and zeal are imbedded in CORA’s service model. As Mission Lay Partners, we are humbled and grateful to be able to lead and advance the Philadelphia Ministries of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.


During our Love in Action 50th anniversary celebrations, we honor the Armstrong Family for being an amazing advocate for children with disabilities as well as victims of domestic abuse. As a victim of domestic violence herself, Sheila Armstrong has faced great personal hardships and overcome. Sheila vowed to instill the same resilience in her children.

She is helping her children find creative roads to success, while ensuring that they understand the importance of giving back to the community. Life throws us all unexpected challenges and obstacles and Sheila has navigated hers with grace and poise. She is teaching her children to be self-sufficient and share their talents with the world. Sheila says, “give your children’s ideas wings to soar”. The kind of love that Sheila exhibits for her family and those in need in the Philadelphia community is truly inspiring and deserving of recognition.

Please help us honor this outstanding example of what it means to be a true hero in our community!

The Cortés FAMILY

Opportunity communities are characterized by increasing prosperity, affordable housing, growing businesses, great schools, safe streets, creative spaces, and an engaged community life. Faith, integrity and excellence are values that describe the community created by the Esperanza organization, but they also accurately describe Rev. Luis Cortés and Rev. Danny Cortés – the heart and soul of Esperanza. In spotlighting examples of Love in Action, we had to highlight these men and the absolutely incredible work they are doing in our city. They are devoted and inspirational leaders improving the lives of so many through their selfless mission driven efforts to create positive lasting change.      

The mcgettigan FAMILY

When looking for CORA families that demonstrate Love in Action, The McGettigans rose to the top of the list immediately. As donors, neighbors, parents of CORA, recipients of our services and volunteers, the members of the McGettigan family deserve recognition.


Mary and Don McGettigan, along with their three children, Don’s sister Mary Kay, and extended family, are often livening up a CORA event and of course helping wherever needed. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the McGettigan Family is that you never have to ask for their help, they are always there to offer first.


Pat Carroll was beloved by the entire CORA community and her devotion to the agency was palpable and contagious. She came to CORA as a reading teacher in the late 70’s and eventually became the Director of Education Services and also the Director of the Fox Chase Early Years program. Pat was one of those employees that left a footprint that will never disappear. Not only was she incredibly knowledgeable about education and the services available to assist children in being successful, but she was always going out of her way to find the best way to serve each individual child and their family. She truly exemplified the CORA way.

Pat was kind and loyal and took staff under her wing to help them develop to their fullest potential. She had very high expectations for staff, but would never ask anything of anyone else that she wouldn’t do herself. She was a wonderful friend and a caring colleague.

When Pat passed away suddenly in 2003, it shocked and devastated the CORA family. However her tradition of dedication to CORA lives on to this day thanks to the incredible generosity of the Carroll and Lavelle Families. There isn’t an important CORA initiative that happens without a significant Carroll or Lavelle effort behind it.

Thanks to their ongoing commitment, CORA is more successful and Pat Carroll’s legacy lives on. Pat’s family helped her whenever she needed it at CORA, and over the past 19 years they have become a pillar of our community.

Whether it be through sitting on advisory boards and committees, sponsoring and attending events to make them more fun, or bringing awesome gift baskets to help us raise more money, you can always count on members of the Carroll and Lavelle families to come through.


When Nick Forst founded Lincoln Investment, he shared the same defining sentiments as CORA. He insisted that people enjoyed themselves when they were at work and built his company on that foundation. He truly enjoyed life and wanted to see others do the same. Nick served on CORA’s Board of Directors and had a special passion for our school services division and the Peer Helper Program.
As many of our honoree stories go, Nick’s children and grandchildren have carried on his legacy by continuing to generously support CORA and ensuring that our Peer Helpers get excellent leadership training and experiences so they can strengthen their school communities.
Thanks to their commitment to CORA, we have been able to enhance our school services programs which include counseling, academic remediation and speech therapy. We have also been able to continue our Peer Helper conferences and provide grants to exceptional Peer Helpers attending area Catholic High Schools.


he Minich family have such deep-rooted history with CORA, and have been chosen as a Love in Action honoree for many reasons – one being, they are CORA’s founding family!
Much like Sr. Charity, the Minich sisters were a force to be reckoned with. When they had a plan, they made it happen, and when they had a goal, no matter how lofty, they achieved it!
Bernadette Minich, who lived a life of community involvement and service to others, assisted Sr. Charity in forming CORA. Her and her husband Charles had three smart, hardworking, civic-minded sons who are all carrying on Sr. Charity’s (or as they called her, “Aunt Jean”) legacy today!


Sr. Charity was infamous for targeting individuals who she knew would be great connections for CORA and she kept them in her sights. She was relentless in her pursuit of intellectual and financial resources for the agency.
She also knew when someone needed CORA as much as CORA needed them. When she found people she believed in, she never let them go. Sr. Charity adored the Rowley brothers. In fact, she persuaded Jim and Kevin to get involved in CORA separately, and a long time passed before they realized they were both part of Sr. Charity’s dream team!
If every charity had caring partners and strategic thinkers like the Rowleys in their corner, they’d be in a much better place! Jim and Kevin Rowley have been vital parts of CORA’s success over the past 4 decades and the next generation of Rowleys are continuing that tradition. CORA is incredibly grateful to Peter Rowley and Abigail Swider for being champions for CORA at NFP.



The McElhenneys witnessed first-hand, the positive impact that CORA has on our communities, schools and families, and they are doing their part to advance that work. They are also aware of how FUN being a part of the CORA community is, and when the McElhenney family is involved, fun it guaranteed!