Eppley-Newman trying to follow God’s plan as she helps others
Paula Eppley-Newman knows that not all things in her life have been as she would have designed.
“It is a journey. It might not necessarily be the path you thought you were going to have, but it was written for you,” she said. “I think it was God’s plan for me with my healing. Everybody is healing from something. We just take a step back and look at what. What to do with my life now. We all get something out of it each and every time. By helping others, we’re helping ourselves. That’s the way God wants us to be — like Jesus and go out amongst the people.”
Eppley-Newman wore many hats through her years in the Hollsopple area. She is a graduate of what was Jenner-Boswell Joint High School and became North Star when she was a junior in high school. She was raised by her mother because her dad was in the VA hospital with multiple sclerosis.
“My mother raised four kids; that’s how I became strong,” she said. “I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I had great role models in my grandparents and uncle.”
She got married and started her family at 18. The marriage lasted 15 years. She’s been married to George Newman for 26 years. They have a blended family of eight children and 17 grandchildren. She said that every couple of years the whole family gets together to go on vacation.
“That’s the best week of the year,” she said with a smile.
She worked for several attorneys and ran some Girl Scout camps so she could have her children with her. She went to Allegany College of Maryland at the same time as her daughters.
She said that she became a professional volunteer, which helped to teach her skills that she needed to do what she’s done in her life.
She was the executive director of the YWCA of Greater Johnstown, then became the executive director of Beginnings Inc., where she’s been for 11 years.
“I do everything from hiring people to cleaning toilets,” she laughs. “I love it. Beginnings is all about early childhood education and intervention. We provide parenting support.
“It’s heartbreaking what’s happening to our kids. Kids are not born with instructions. They need to know that somebody is in their corner. It’s a tough job and I don’t think that the powers that be realize it’s as serious as it is.
“We feel that with early education we can break the cycle.”
After decades of working in the nonprofit sector with vulnerable families and children, Eppley-Newman started Trinity Farms Center for Healing. Trinity Farms is on 132 acres in Hollsopple.
“It was a dream we had and God was bringing us what we needed,” she said. “In January we purchased a house with 15 acres that we’re going to make into a rooming house for men, called Micah House. Another property we’re in the process of remodeling is Hope House for women and their people.
“They are people in need of a community. They need support so they can get their lives together to heal.”
Eppley-Newman said that when Trinity Farms was started, a Commission on Hope committee was formed to look at the needs people have and what funding they were already getting, then determine how this organization could fill in the gaps.
“Recovery is lifelong. People needed a start, somebody to emotionally support them,” she said. “After they receive the initial care and support, what do they do? What is a meaningful skill that we can give them? That’s when we came up with the animals. My uncle said he had property — use it. It started growing from there.”
They started with animals for animal therapy. They were able to get a male goat and eight females. They have strategically picked animals that the farm could also use for income. That includes alpacas for wool and dairy goats for milk to make products such as soap.
“We set goals and help to accomplish them. To nurture something is the quickest way to learn to nurture yourself,” she said. “Our people learn marketing skills and sales. We design a learning experience to initiate a sense of responsibility.”
Eppley-Newman said the next step is getting people in the community to provide education and training for certain skills such as carpentry. That way the residents have a place to go to finish the process of healing and learn a skill.
“Several people have gotten jobs with the skills they’ve learned. Trinity Farms is a safe place to pull your life together and work toward reaching your goals,” she said.
“Being a farmer was not on my bucket list. Farmers work really hard. Sometimes God sends you on a path and you go, sometimes kicking and screaming. I will always keep animals. The children enjoy coming and hanging out with them.”
Eppley-Newman is also on the Chillin’ for Charity committee, which plans an annual winter festival and arctic splash at the Quemahoning Family Recreation Area. It was just held Saturday.
“It’s an incredible community event,” she said. “This is the fifth year of doing it for local charities and it’s raised $140,000.”
Eppley-Newman said everything she does in this life has a purpose, even though she may worry what that is and how she’s going to get it done.
“Letting go and letting God is not that easy for me,” she said. “But God brings it every time. I still get nervous. I wonder how will it happen. But each issue brought to us has been met. By our show of faith, we show others they can fill that gap they’ve been trying to fill. That they can put their trust in God. It’s in God’s time. He brings us what we need when we need it.
“It’s my life. My mother raised me to be of service to others. I continue to honor that. It keeps my family on edge,” she laughed.