Focusing on Healthhe

Centre County United Way fights for the Health, Education, and Financial Stability of every person in Centre County. These are the building blocks for a good quality of life and a strong community.  In order for a local human service non-profit to be in the United Way network, the programs they receive funding for must focus on at least one of these three areas.

Health impacts every aspect of human life. Addressing the preventative aspect of physical and mental health issues, while also addressing intervention needs, creates opportunities for our neighbors to achieve their optimal health and independence.

Centre County United Way funds programs at the following agencies that focus on physical and mental health.

Strawberry Fields – served 331 of our neighbors in the Mental Health Case Management program and four individuals in the Fairweather Lodge. Mental Health Case Management provides assessments, benefits coordination, advocacy, housing support, crisis prevention and intervention support, and more to children, adolescents and adults who have a mental illness. Fairweather Lodge is a residential home that serves individuals who have made a commitment to support each other in their recovery from chronic mental illness.

Tides – served 115 grieving children, teens, and adults who experienced a significant death of a loved one. Support is provided in facilitated peer bereavement groups where participants can discover comfort through companionship and validation in learning they are not alone. By providing a safe place to share feelings, experiences, and memories, they learn to live without the physical presence of their loved one.

Centre Volunteers in Medicine (CVIM) – treated 550 patients in the dental program. To qualify for free services the patient must be uninsured, living or working in Centre County, and have Income at or below 250% of the federal poverty level. CVIM was able to hire a dentist and ancillary staff because of CCUW funding while also using volunteer dentists to address the high demand for dental care in our community.

American Red Cross Mid-Central PA Chapter – served 620 people in the Disaster Cycle Services program, 36 clients in the Service to the Armed Forces program, and potentially saved up to 75 lives and lessened the blood shortage through 261 blood drives. All of the CCUW funded Red Cross programs provide support and critical assistance to individuals, families, and the Centre County community as a whole during times of crises regardless of income, age, race, or other factors.

YMCA of Centre County – served 2,305 in the Open Doors program, 141 children in the Early Learning and Education program, and 961 students in the Backpack Weekend Food program. Kids, adults, and families who want to be active with the YMCA but demonstrate a financial need for assistance benefit from the Open Doors program. The Early Care and Education program provides educational activities promoting school readiness and align with the local school districts’ curricula while providing a safe and nurturing environment when parents are working or attending school.  The Backpack program ensures that school-age children who rely on being fed at school will have food for the weekend.

Centre Care Volunteers – served the 424 residents of Centre Care (formerly Centre Crest) through a variety of no-cost programs such as the beauty shop, butterfly release, ceramics, welcome bags, Re-Creation Christmas, and more. These opportunities give the senior population at Centre Care something to look forward to each day, a chance to socialize, a boost to their self-esteem, and a reason to get out of bed each day.

The Arc of Centre County – served 26 individuals in the Residential Services program, 50 individuals in the Home and Community Services program, and 54 individuals in the Nittany Employment Services program. The Arc focuses on ways to help individuals with intellectual disabilities attain, maintain, or expand their skills in order to live a more independent and meaningful life within Centre County.

Easter Seals Western and Central PA – served 84 children, ages 6 weeks through 6 years, in the Child Development Center. The center works with children of all abilities in five integrated classrooms. The program focuses on the education of the whole child – supporting the child’s growth in all areas of development including motor skills, cognitive skills, personal/social skills, communication skills, and self-help skills.

Each year thousands of our neighbors are impacted by the programs offered through the United Way partner network. These programs impact their health and overall wellbeing, which in turn impacts our community by making it stronger and healthier. One of our neighbors who is living that impact is Margaret.

Margaret has an intellectual disability and has lived on her own for most of her life. She has a history of trusting people that have used her for the little she has– money, food, or even a place to stay. She has experienced the loss of a child and has survived a life marked with mistreatment, substance abuse, and exploitation. As Margaret aged her health drastically declined and she did not seek medical care. She did not take her medications and barely left her apartment. Life circumstances led her to believe she did not deserve better.

Margaret’s living conditions were unsanitary, her apartment was unkempt, and she was not caring for herself. Her self-neglect left her with few choices. She hesitantly moved to a residential community home believing her time with The Arc would be temporary. She was afraid her past actions would sneak up on her and she would be put out on her own again. Of course, she had ups and downs and adjustments to make but in one short year, Margaret made tremendous progress. Now she attends doctor appointments and is working through health challenges one-by-one. She loves having her hair and makeup done and takes pride in her appearance. She has formed bonds with housemates and trusts the support staff who care for her. She spends her days drawing, watching movies, and enjoying the company of others. She is witty, honest, and bold. She has come to appreciate life and is determined to continue to grow with the help of her community.  For the first time in her life, Margaret has goals. She has looked in to obtaining her GED and is pursuing interests in her Native American culture. She is working on managing her emotions and becoming equipped with the tools and strength to live a safer, healthier, and happier life. She finally feels she is part of the community and is considering participating in support which will enable her to connect with those outside of her home.

Thanks to The Arc and United Way donors who LIVE UNITED, Margaret is living a better quality of life.