We are often asked — what exactly does Centre County United Way do?
People know the name and often recognize our logo or our mantra to “Live United,” but that doesn’t mean they understand what we do. The answer is simple: We help people. That’s it. That’s our most important goal. To help as many of our neighbors in Centre County have access to programs that focus on the building blocks of a happy and healthy life — education, financial stability and health.
We help babies, kids, teens, adults, grandparents and families. We help people who need shelter, food, a friend. People who have disabilities and illnesses. People who want to make their lives better. People who just need a hand up. People who need hope.
How do we help so many people with so many different needs? Here’s the key — we partner with 28 local health and human service agencies where our neighbors in need go for help, places like the Food Bank, Centre County Library, the YMCA of Centre County, Easter Seals, the Youth Service Bureau and Centre Volunteers in Medicine. Instead of focusing on one single need or issue, we focus on hundreds — helping our community as a whole. So not only does your donation to Centre County United Way go to the need that is closest to your heart, it also goes to the needs that may be less obvious but no less important.
Our partner agencies make sure help is available to provide food and shelter for the homeless, safe places for kids to go after school, personal home care for the elderly, dental visits for the uninsured and so much more. They often work together to make sure all of the needs are addressed. Chances are if someone is homeless, they are also in need of food and possibly medical care. They may need support in finding a job. They might also need to have a place to exercise and focus on self-care.
While the Food Bank can address their need for food, and Housing Transitions can assist them in finding shelter, they may also need help from Centre Volunteers in Medicine, the Centre County Library, and the YMCA. These agencies collaborate to make sure all of the acute needs are addressed, as well as planning for their future success. Centre County United Way makes sure these agencies have the financial help they need to provide all of these vital services, each of which is extremely important to our neighbors who need them.
So how does Centre County United Way provide financial support? Well, that’s where you come in. This level of help is possible because thousands of people and businesses across Centre County generously make donations. And the beauty is the money raised here stays here — in our community — helping the people who actually live here.
And this is where it gets really cool.
In the same way that all kinds of people donate to Centre County United Way and get help from Centre County United Way, all kinds of people decide how the money is distributed to the partner agencies.
More than 100 of our neighbors volunteer their time each year to review these nonprofits in the areas of quality programming, governance, finance, and administration. This volunteer effort makes Centre County United Way extremely efficient — and keeps operating costs low so that more people can be helped.
2020 has been a unique year for all of us. At Centre County United Way we are focused on our mission to help people. We have been adjusting our annual fundraising events to keep people safe. Our next event is the Taste of the Town Tour, which will offer participants delicious deals at local restaurants during the month of November. This is a great opportunity to support our local food service workers as well as the Centre County United Way Partner Network. For more information visit ccunitedway.org.
Megan Evans is the communications coordinator for Centre County United Way.