If there is a good cause to support in Shippensburg, chances are, Jerome Kater is involved in some way.
The president of the Board of Directors of Katie’s Place and Shippensburg resident was recognized last Thursday for his community service by being named the grand prize winner of WGAL Channel 8’s “8 Who Care” award.
Kater accepted the grand prize donation of $500 live on-air from Katie’s Place, the former Valley Baking Co. facility, on Penn Street. Katie’s Place houses several nonprofit organizations, including Katie’s Place Thrift Shop, Tri County Community Action, the Shippensburg Community Resource Coalition, Christ Among Neighbors and Shippensburg Produce and Outreach. He is also the founder of Responsible Raiders, which is aimed at preventing crime along Shippensburg’s Richard Avenue.
Kater was chosen out of nearly 200 central Pennsylvania residents who were nominated. He was initially picked as one of the final 8 to be profiled on WGAL Channel 8 news.
“It was quite the honor. There is such a connection here in Shippensburg, and I am just one of the links in that chain, so it was easy to say this is what we do here or this is what we do there. We just flow between whatever is going on,” Kater said Thursday. “The hard part to accept is to put all the recognition on one person when you know it is a community.”
He continued, “I was so happy for Katie’s Place to get the type of recognition that it needs, because it has come quite a long way since 2009, when we originally started. That is something that I am really proud of. [Katie’s Place] is just a warehouse that used to be a bake shop and it has evolved into a one-stop shop at the end of Franklin and Cumberland counties.”
Kater was nominated for the “8 Who Care” award by his fellow Katie’s Place board members. One of those board members is Galen Piper, who attended Shippensburg University with Kater in the ‘70s.
Piper recalled Kater leading the nation in kick return yardage one season as a member of the SU football team, but more than anything, he knows him as a friend.
“It’s nice for somebody to recognize someone that didn’t seek recognition,” Piper noted. “Katie’s Place is just one vehicle through which he has applied his skills. For the last so many years, he’s volunteered forever. For everything you can think of, he has somehow volunteered for it.”
Kater participated in a Zoom call between the eight finalists the night before he accepted the award, and was blown away at what the other nominees were doing. The youngest finalist is just 8 years old, and uses his artwork to help patients at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The oldest was still volunteering at 92, knitting baby items to donate to the Lancaster Health Center.
“That is quite an amazing thing when there are so many people in central Pennsylvania that are volunteering and doing what they can in some way,” he said.
According to Kater, he wasn’t always one to volunteer, but being married for 43 years and having a large family can help change your perspective.
“My story was a little different,” Kater said. “When you’re selfish, you don’t think about anyone else, it’s all about you. But it’s amazing what happens when you let go and allow God to plug you in, get you aside somebody to learn.
“As a police officer you come across a lot of things in that job, but then when you get out of that job there are still things out there. You think, ‘Maybe I can help this person,’ or ‘maybe I can help this situation.’ You are not trying to look at it on the large scale, but you at least figure that I can do something. That’s where it happened.
“It just slowly picked up momentum. Before I knew it, I looked back and there is a trail of a lot of things that have taken place because I have pulled up alongside someone else’s idea — they weren’t all my ideas — Responsible Raiders along Richard Avenue was started by me, but there is a lot of other stuff that I am involved in that were already there.
“I just joined the link and got involved.”
Katie’s Place is located at 130 S. Penn St. in Shippensburg. For more information, visit: www.katiesplaceatship.org.