United Way News
United Way Worldwide has declared February 11th as National 2-1-1 Day. A surprising number of people don’t know about calling 2-1-1. To help increase awareness, February 11 has been designated National 2-1-1 Day. For the last 44 years people of Northeastern PA have been singing the Help Line jingle to themselves to remember the local number for information and referral services. Now you just need to know three little numbers 2-1-1.
Everyday people need help and don’t know where to turn. Many times, when a simple solution is available the wait, unaware, until their small problem turns into a crisis. By dialing a free easy-to-remember phone number — 2-1-1 — callers reach trained caseworkers who can identify their needs and offer them information on thousands of programs and services that specialize in meeting critical basic needs such as food and housing; physical and mental health resources; employment supports; assistance for older adults and people with disabilities; and support for children, youth and families.
Help Line was established in 1972 after Hurricane Agnes; to provide a central resource for vital information for survivors of this devastating disaster. In 1975 Help Line entered into agreements with a number of area agencies to provide twenty-four hour crisis services. Soon after, other agencies signed onto the service and Help Line became the crisis center for many Wyoming Valley social service agencies. Help Line currently provides after hours crisis services for eighteen different agencies covering six counties in NEPA.
Since 1972 Help Line / PA 2-1-1 NEPA has handled over 2.8 million telephone calls, last year over 95,000 calls were handled by the Help Line / PA 2-1-1 caseworkers. The Help Line / PA 2-1-1 web site; www.helpline-nepa.info also received over 15,000 hits.
2-1-1 can be accessed by phone, text or computer twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. By remembering three simple digits, you can dial 2-1-1 and be connected to a Help Line caseworker. You can still dial the Help Line / PA 2-1-1, local number of 570-829-1341 or the toll free number of 1-800-829-1341.
This year to meet changing communication trends Help Line / PA 2-1-1 started a free texting program. By texting your zip code to 898211, you will be in contact with a Help Line / PA 2-1-1 caseworker who will work with you to meet your needs. Basic text and data rates may apply. The PA 2-1-1 database is also accessible from the Help Line / PA 2-1-1 web site, just click on any PA 2-1-1 logo on the web site and you can access available resources from throughout Pennsylvania.
Your donation of $104 or more to Lycoming County United Way will make you eligible to win a 7-Day cruise of your choice on the Norwegian Gem Line, Gem from New York, from AAA North Penn. Increase your donation for more chances to win! See below for official rules and details.
- 7-Day Cruise of your choice on the Norwegian Gem, based on the restrictions stated below
- Port Charges & Taxes
- All meals and entertainment aboard ship
- Transportation to the pier
- Parking fees
- Shore excursions
- Soda and alcoholic beverage
- Items of a personal nature
- Winner must be 21 years of age or older
- No cash value
- Package is based on availability at time of booking
- Non transferrable and non-changeable after reservations are booked
- May not be sold or traded
- Must travel between May through November 2016, excluding holidays.
- Must be booked no later than April 30, 2016.
How often are you watching TV and that commercial comes on that gets you every time? You know the one – it’s the abused puppies and kittens with the heart-wrenching images or maybe it’s the orphaned, malnourished children from a Third World Country. Regardless of what it is that tugs on your heartstrings, it is the desperation of those less fortunate that starts the tears rolling and causes you to want to make the world a better place.
We know the feeling here at Lycoming County United Way. We see, first-hand, the individuals who are struggling with drug addiction, mental health, homelessness, and disabilities – all challenges that create a domino effect around each corner for many living in Lycoming County. And while we may not be able to change the world, we work hard each day to make the daily lives of those struggling a little less difficult.
Campaigning for something you believe in involves many hands. Some may believe too many cooks to be a set-back, but United Way welcomes anyone who wishes to stir the pot into the kitchen.
As workplace campaigns begin to come to an end for this year’s annual United Way campaign, we are thankful for those businesses that afford us the opportunity to invite their employees to help us meet our mission to “mobilize resources to improve lives.” By allowing us to work with in-house campaign managers, local companies are adding fuel to the fire that burns for our less-fortunate friends and neighbors in Lycoming County.
For John Strimple, campaign manager at Springs Window Fashions, the reason to be involved is simple.
“I think, for us, it’s just that we believe in the message of United Way,” Strimple said. “We know that good things are happening because of the money that is raised each year and we want to support that.”
Springs has participated in the campaign for many years and, although things have changed for the business, the campaign has remained steady.
Strimple utilizes the online toolkit offered by Lycoming County United Way on its website. This allows him to run an electronic campaign and eliminate the need to distribute traditional paper materials. This works well for both office employees and the company’s home-based associates.
“Things changed in the way we could present information to employees,” he said. “We don’t have any in-house meetings anymore, so the online toolkit is very helpful. I use it to communicate with the team.”
In the interest of time, the campaign window is open for one week, but includes many opportunities to raise excitement for United Way. Perhaps the most popular incentive for anyone who provides a contribution is an entry into the chance to win a covered parking spot, just a few feet from the exit of the building. He also offers gift cards for local retailers to anyone who donates to the drive.
Julie Stellfox, in-house campaign manager for the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, assisted by Beth Miller, also said the fun prizes included with her campaign helps add excitement to raising dollars.
“Many of the fundraisers we do kind of have built-in incentives in a way,” Stellfox said. “Give a donation and you get to dress down for a day or you get a sandwich or some soup for lunch. But some people seem to be more inclined to pay for these types of things when they know the money is going to a good cause, like the United Way. The chance to win a prize is just an added bonus and everyone who wins always is very excited.”
Some of the fundraisers planned by Stellfox include candy bar and sandwich sales, dress down days and a soup day, which was new this year.
“It went over really well,” she said. “Ten employees made a different soup and we sold it to other employees at lunchtime for $1 a bowl. We made $101 at our first sale and we plan to do this again next year.”
According to Stellfox, anyone who participates in the individual fundraisers throughout the campaign is entered to win different prizes like gift baskets and gift cards to area stores and restaurants. In addition, anyone who participates in two fundraising activities and gives a personal donation using the pledge form is entered to win a grand prize at the end of the campaign.
Abbie Allison also added some excitement to the campaign at Anadarko Petroleum Corporation this year. During the company’s annual Roadway Incident Management Meeting, she hosted a “Dunk the Foreman” event.
“With more than 180 contractors and Anadarko employees in attendance, we saw this as an excellent opportunity to involve our staff members and also the contractors we partner with on a daily basis to help raise funds to support our local community. We had more than a dozen participants willing to be dunked. With the corporate match, we were able to raise over $1,700 in less than an hour.”
The employees, Allison added, get very excited over the campaign each year and the participation rates reflect that without the need for additional incentives. The company also offers a corporate match for employee dollars raised.
“’Servant Leadership and ‘People and Passion” are two of Anadarko’s core values,” she said. “Our employees are more than willing to help our communities. The majority of our employees are Pennsylvania natives and some have relocated to central PA. The United Way provides a great way for us to support people who need it most and give back in a meaningful way.”
Although the Face Story series comes to a close with this final piece on workplace involvement, Lycoming County United Way still is working hard to raise the dollars that will help programs in the community serve those in need. To make a donation, visit www.lcuw.org/give, call 570-323-9448 or text key word “LIVEUNITED” to 50155.
Each year, Lycoming County United Way hosts a Volunteer Appreciation event in honor of those who work hard to raise the necessary funds to provide for more than 30 human service agencies. It is important to take the time to recognize the 100s of individuals who care enough about the community to be a cheerleader for the campaign. Without the Loaned Executives; board and campaign cabinet members; special event volunteers; and in-house campaign managers, leading the campaign would not be possible. Although it is always a challenge for those who work one-on-one with employees at local businesses to garner enthusiasm through advocacy and education, there are a few in-house campaign managers who, this year, have made exceptional strides at their place of employment. While we appreciate the time devoted by all of the volunteers, we highlight one today, who has brought back the spirit of United Way in a new and exciting way and would like to share some of her thoughts on running a successful campaign.
Alyssa Rogers – Recruiting coordinator, Human Resources: Larson Design Group – recently completed her first year as an in-house campaign manager.
UW: How did you become involved with the United Way campaign?
AR: When I came on board to LDG in 2014, our CEO, Keith Kuzio, approached me about leading the United Way campaign. Being a recent graduate from Lycoming College, I was eager to get involved in sub-committees at LDG and increase my community involvement. It was believed that my enthusiastic personality would pair well with being the face of our campaign. While growing up I was taught the importance of stewardship from my parents, Ed and Amy Rogers, both of whom have been loyal contributors to LCUW. When presented the opportunity, I quickly accepted the challenge and honor to lead LDG’s campaign.
UW: What did the company do in the past to raise money for the campaign?
AR: Larson Design Group has always had a strong tradition of giving to the United Way. For several years, our employees have had the option to donate via payroll, as well as give through various in-house fundraisers such as a Chinese auction, Kiss the Pig Challenge, Bake Sales, etc.
UW: What types of things have you done this year to add excitement to the campaign?
AR: With having one year under my belt as LDG’s United Way campaign chair, I approached this year’s fundraising differently. My goal was to engage and educate our employees on the impact of their dollar, while adding excitement across the board. The first step to running a successful, engaging campaign is to call upon employee volunteers. Having 12 offices across five different states, we needed more United Way support presence throughout our offices, driving home the important message of ‘Live United.’ With a great group of volunteers, we were able to plan some exciting in-house fundraisers like our Dunk-O-Rama and Raffle Basket Fundraiser, which brought in over $3,500 in funds for the United Way. 50/50s were also a big hit during our campaign with a bonus challenge we added on. The office/department with the highest employee 50/50 participation won a pizza party. LDG employees love an inner department/office challenge, which, in turn, benefited the United Way. It wasn’t uncommon for the winner to donate their 50/50 winnings back to the United Way, as well!
UW: Can you name a few things that worked and some that didn’t work out so well?
AR: This year, we shortened our campaign length to a little over a month. In years past, our campaign would span across several months, spilling into the holiday season. After attending the United Way volunteer training, I decided to shorten the campaign after hearing success stories from other local companies. We ran our campaign for 33 days and successfully beat our goal! Within those 33 days, we campaigned hard, had enthusiastic energy, educated our employees and executed some spectacular in-house fundraisers. In four hours, we raised $1,400 dollars during a Dunk-O-Rama fundraiser. Eight employees took the plunge for the United Way. As our CEO said, “a splash in the tank is a small price to pay to help support the good programs that the United Way funds in our community.” Another success was the raffle basket fundraiser, bringing in over $2,100. Employees and outside community members took their chances on some amazing baskets donated by our LDG office/department employees. We tapped into our social media outlets, as well as resources at the LCUW office to help spread the word about our fundraiser, which helped generate more participation and money. I was simply in awe over our employees’ generosity in putting together great raffle baskets. It was fun for employees to utilize their break time to take their chance on winning some awesome prizes while benefiting the United Way. In year’s past, we did some simple bake sales and other smaller fundraisers that didn’t pan out as planned. From experience, we’ve learned that organized fundraisers on the larger scale are worth the time and investment to bring in more funds. Multiple small fundraisers can be time consuming and not be as financially rewarding as one or two well-executed larger ones.
UW: Why do you think this year’s campaign was or will be so successful?
AR: This year’s campaign was a success because of the employees at LDG. With the help from my great United Way committee volunteers, we were able to educate our employees on what a hard-earned dollar can do in their community. We made the campaign engaging and had all hands on deck. Whether it was tapping into our IT departments’ resources to allow the Dunk-O-Rama to be streamed live over a YouTube channel for our employees in other states to see, or connecting with multiple United Way agencies for promotional material to distribute, we have experienced the true meaning of ‘Live United.’ LDG employees continue to practice one of our core values of Stewardship through their commitment to their community.
UW: What is one thing that you did this year to increase contributions or dollars raised?
AR: We focused on educating our employees and providing goal status updates. With more than 60 new hires in 2015, we wanted to bring up to speed every new hire on LDG’s long history of giving. By providing status goal updates, it helped drive momentum throughout the campaign. Being an engineering, architecture and survey firm, it’s well noted that our employees love numbers. Breaking down the monetary goal figure by the number of employees and pay periods helped realistically paint a picture of what donation is needed to reach our goal and impact community programs.
UW: Why do you think it is important for local businesses to participate in the United Way campaign?
AR: I think it’s important for local businesses to participate in the campaign so workplaces can collaborate to tackle our community’s most difficult issues. No one person or organization can do it alone, but with leaders and businesses on board, we have the ability to make a stronger, more positive impact.
UW: What was your goal and how much was raised this year?
AR: LDG’s 2015/2016 goal was to raise $42,500 in employee contributions. We successfully raised $43,729 from employee contributions, with a total of $54,229, which includes our $10,500 company contribution.
For more information about LCUW, visit lcuw.org or call 570-323-9448.
More than 500 coats; 200 hats, gloves and scarves; and additional blankets and other winter wear were donated to the Catch-All Coat Drive, an effort to help shield Lycoming County from the cold. The drive, hosted by Lycoming County United Way and Catch-All Self Storage, lasted two weeks and donations filled a storage unit at the business. The items will be disbursed through funded partners of Lycoming County United Way before cold weather grips the area. Here, Matthew Rodgers, manager at Catch-All, left, and Carolyn Hawk, LCUW director of funding and community relations, deliver some of the coats to the Rev. J. Morris Smith, Shepherd of the Streets.
Danika K., 3, of Williamsport, is a happy-go-lucky preschooler. Typical to most young children, she never indicated to her parents that she was having trouble with her vision. But when Danika had a vision screening, provided by North Central Sight Services, Inc., at her preschool in May, the results showed differently. Danika had anisometropia. Her eyes each have a different focusing power.
“When the vision results paper came home from school, I was really surprised because Danika never said she was having an issue,” said Angela, Danika’s mother. “Though now I realize it is common for children because they have no baseline with which to compare how they can see.”
Danika also has hearing loss in both ears and wears hearing aids. So, Angela assumed Danika was using her vision fully, especially to compensate for her hearing loss. When she realized this wasn’t the case after seeing the screening results, she immediately made an appointment with a local optometrist for a full vision exam, where they confirmed the condition.
“Within the month, Danika had glasses,” Angela said.
The young girl’s gross motor skills also have improved significantly, especially her running and jumping.
“She definitely moves with more confidence and assurance,” Angela said.
The adjustment to wearing glasses was minimal, although through the initial challenges Angela did wonder how was this going to work. Thankfully, Danika put her glasses on the next day and hasn’t fussed since. Now, she specifically asks for her glasses and comments that she can see her sister now.
“The prevention program provided by NCSS is fabulous because I now realize Danika would have developed much differently had her vision issue gone undiagnosed,” Angela said.
NCSS screens and educates more than 1,400 children and adults in Lycoming County as part of its Prevention of Blindness Program, a United Way funded program.
“Normal. What is normal?” reasoned Scott N. Lowery, LCUW executive director. “For most all of us, we judge normal to be something for which we personally routinely experience in everyday life. For Danika, ‘her normal wasn’t normal.’ Without the vision screening provided by North Central Sight Services it may have been several more years before Danika’s condition was detected. Detecting the problem at an early age is helping Danika experience a brand new ‘normal,’ thus enhancing one of life’s grandest gifts – the gift of sight.”
Lycoming County United Way is proud to provide $33,185 to North Central Sight Service’s Social Services and Prevention of Blindness programs. But we cannot do it without you. Help us continue support by making a contribution today. Call Lycoming County United Way at 323-9448 or visit www.lcuw.org.
Thinking about what you will have for dinner tonight? What you will wear today? How you will get to where you need to go and where you will sleep tonight? No? That’s because these are all pretty easily answered for most of us. Often running on auto-pilot, these are things we put little thought into, but for the overwhelming population of the underprivileged in Lycoming County, the answers to these questions are unknown.
Thank goodness someone is willing to provide an answer.
The Rev. Velinda Smith runs Sojourner Truth Ministries, 501 High Street, supported, in part, by Lycoming County United Way. Sojourner Truth, born as Isabella Baumfree in 1797, was a slave in New York and Pennsylvania. She was freed in 1822 by the Pennsylvania Legislature. Upon receiving her freedom, she became a Methodist preacher and changed her name, preaching against slavery and women’s rights.
Rev. Velinda, along with her husband and a countless number of volunteers and staff, open the doors to the building seven days a week to “the disenfranchised, the homeless, and lonely of any age or culture.”
Sojourner’s mission is to provide lunch seven days a week, while offering friendship and assistance for local individuals, and ministries that arise from the needs of those who come through the doors. A worship service is provided through the mission church service Sunday afternoons at 1:30 p.m., along with weekly services designed for both men and women.
In addition to a continental breakfast served at 8 a.m. weekdays and a hot breakfast Saturday and Sunday; a free, healthy lunch is served each day at 11:30 a.m. A Saturday Café is served by the local church communities of faith. And on Sundays, a full Sunday dinner is shared after the 1:30 p.m. worship service.
Perhaps what sets Sojourner apart from other food providers is the way in which the 80 to 100 visitors are treated each day.
“We are not a soup kitchen,” Rev. Velinda said. “We are a café. We serve all the food. And on Fridays, we do takeout so if there are any leftovers, people can take it along with them.”
“From Our Hands to Yours,” open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., offers free adult and children’s clothing.
“Once a month, an individual or family can get six outfits or 12 items,” Rev. Velinda said. “If there are four children, each will get three outfits, and two pairs of shoes and socks. We really appreciate all of the community support. We are in desperate need of men’s clothing all the time.”
Sojourner has also established a help desk, offering social services to its patrons. Two social workers, one Rev. Velinda’s daughter, Derecia, offer a listening ear, ministry and referrals for emergency housing shelters, health and dental care agencies, pregnancy care centers, food distribution centers and other local agencies.
“We have seen everything,” Derecia said. “Clothing, housing needs, food, help applying for jobs – we helped a girl get an ID and another who was starting a job the following Monday who lost her car keys. It cost too much to get new ones so we helped her track down a way to get her car running.”
And, Derecia added, she and her co-worker do a lot of listening.
“We do a lot of talking to people and a lot of scripture sharing,” she said. “Not too long ago, there was a girl who came in and you could see all over her face that something was wrong. As she was telling me what was going on, I gave her some scripture that I was being drawn to share. She said, ‘How did you know? I just feel so much better.’ When you see someone broken — spiritually, physically — you help them walk away with a smile.”
But Sojourner doesn’t stop there. On Tuesdays, fresh produce is given out at 10:30 a.m., and on Wednesdays at the same time, bread and pastries are provided.
On the third Friday of each month, a nutrition class is offered and also once a month, dental necessities are provided to those who need them.
“You see, we don’t want to just help people. We want to teach others how to help themselves,” Rev. Velinda said.
“Rev. Velinda and her associates are providing more than a temporary sanctuary for those she serves,” said Scott N. Lowery, LCUW executive director. “Each day meals, socialization, life skills and educational training are entwined in the mission of Sojourner Truth. Human dignity uplifts the spirit in all of us and is a prime motivation in the activities Sojourner is providing to those they serve.”
Food and clothing donations are accepted on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until 8 p.m. For more information about Sojourner Truth Ministries, visit www.stmwilliamsport.org.
Lycoming County United Way is proud to provide $10,000 to Sojourner Truth Ministries. But we cannot do it without you. Help us continue support by making a contribution today. Call Lycoming County United Way at 323-9448 or visit www.lcuw.org.
There is a local agency that lives up to its name each and every day. Hope Enterprises, Inc., not only provides a multitude of services to people with intellectual disABILITIES, but it also provides hope to those individuals and proves that we all have the ability to lead productive lives.
35-year-old Missy was born with Down syndrome. For the past 15 years, she’s been attending the many programs offered at Hope. There, she not only has a positive learning experience, but she has fun doing so among her peers.
“Missy is fun-loving, she likes to do things with the other individuals and she’s just a happy-go-lucky person most of the time,” said Julie Stewart, a trainer in Missy’s group. “She’s got a lot of friends. I love working with the individuals. I could be having the worst day of my life, and I come in here and they make me smile.”
Missy spends her days in the gardening and outdoor group, under the supervision of Julie and Macey McBryan. One of her favorite things to do with the group is to put puzzles together, but perhaps the most fun she’s had recently involved making popsicle and watermelon crafts.
“We cut up watermelons out of, like, green, and you put dots on them for seeds,” Missy said. “We take the seeds out when we eat (real watermelons).”
According to Julie, the group has an outdoor garden at the facility and also participates with a community garden, traveling there three days a week to plant and water their crops.
Hope provides multiple services to people with intellectual disABILITIES from infancy through adulthood. United Way funds support the agency’s transportation program, which is critical to linking clients to appropriate services. Vehicles transport clients to and from group homes, the rehabilitation workshop, and other day programming on a daily basis.
Missy utilizes these transportation services every day and said she enjoys riding the vans to and from the facility.
Thanks to Hope Enterprises, she and her friends thrive on the interaction and activities offered specifically for those with disabilities. By providing a place for both one-on-one and group interaction, the agency is changing “disabilities” to “hopeabilities.”
“For Hope Enterprises, ‘hopeability’ is much more than a catchy slogan,” said Scott N. Lowery, Lycoming County United Way executive director. “The lives of clients like Missy are enriched everyday via the rehabilitation and vocational programs Hope provides. Funding from our United Way enables individuals the access to transportation services, getting them from home to Hope on a daily basis. This transportation provides a level of independence and accessibility that otherwise would not be provided.”
Lycoming County United Way is proud to provide $45,544 to the transportation program at Hope Enterprises, Inc. But we cannot do it without you. Help us continue support by making a contribution today. Call Lycoming County United Way at 323-9448 or visit www.lcuw.org.