By Tammy Gentzel
Take a moment to think about Centre County United Way. What does it represent to you?
Now, please indulge me for a moment while I describe the scope of our work. I believe you will discover that it is infinitely broader and deeper than you imagined — and, without a doubt, indispensable to the culture and success of our county.
First and foremost, we are the people who take part in providing supportive services guaranteed to improve reading skills, the ability to maintain a financially stable household and physical and mental well-being. We are Zane, a 2-year-old, his teenage brothers who both have autism, and his parents, who now have the support they need to make certain Zane succeeds in school. We are Camryn, once a single, homeless mom who through the safety and security offered by transitional housing programs has earned her GED, a job and her own apartment. We are Sean, diagnosed with Usher syndrome and the loss of his vision and hearing, who now knows how to read in braille and live an independent life. We are these folks and thousands more.
Second, we are not an organization that simply distributes money. We are 36 partners — 35 partners who provide direct services and one that serves as a fundraising department for the other 35. As a partnership, we work together to avoid duplication of services and to support entire families as they grapple with the complex issues that arise from lack of education, insufficient income and poor health. Within those families, we work with the newborn, children, youth, adults and the elderly. We work with the disabled, those with mental health issues, the infirm and those who have fallen on hard times. We work across systems and advocate for success. We stand for hope and achievement in the face of incredible difficulty and poor odds.
Third, we are the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors who are united with us in our mission. We are not mere recipients of your time, talent and treasure but we exist because of it; we are part of your desire to live united and to help all succeed.
In the coming weeks, we will wrap up our formal period of fundraising for 2015. If you have already donated, thank you for being a member of our partnership. If after hearing more about the depth and breadth of our work you would like to increase your giving, please do! Finally, if you haven’t taken the time to donate this year, it’s not too late — we need you!
On behalf of the Centre County United Way Partnership, I would like to wish you a new year filled with contentment, prosperity and good health.
Tammy Gentzel is the executive director of Centre County United Way. For more information visit www.ccunitedway.org.