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United Way News

Prominent figures lead this year’s United Way campaign

Piper.sawyer (800x578)


Following successful careers informing and educating the public, radio personality Ken Sawyer and educators John and Margaret Piper are applying their proven life skills to the vital volunteer efforts in leading this year’s Lycoming County United Way campaign. Sawyer, the 2015 campaign chair, and the Pipers, serving as co-campaign vice chairs, are ever-mindful of the important role the annual United Way campaigns play in improving the lives of thousands of Lycoming County residents facing personal crises in their daily lives.

“During my years on the radio I interviewed many individuals and leaders of causes who were dedicated to making positive changes in people’s lives. I was always impressed by their passion, yet sometimes dismayed by the obstacles cluttering their paths to success,” noted Sawyer. “I later learned, through my involvement on the Boards of North Central Sight Services and the American Red Cross, that no matter how noble the cause, that for the organization to succeed it was imperative that the general public had an understanding and a buy in to what the charity was trying to accomplish.”

“For me, the beauty of United Way is that it is not one cause. It is one organization with a mission to improve lives involving 34 very important human service programs all represented by a single cause. It’s been said ‘strength is in numbers’ and we are indeed fortunate to have hundreds of dedicated volunteers giving of themselves to improve the lives of others. I believe that is something the community can and should support. That’s why I got involved.”

Lifetime educators, the Pipers share Sawyer’s commitment to community. Margaret served as a Special Educator with the Loyalsock Township School District, Head Start and Hope Enterprises. John retired as Lycoming College Dean in 2007, an institution he served since 1969 and held pastoral positons at several local churches from 1975 – 2004.

They have established an impressive resume of volunteer service including Margaret’s presidency of the YWCA, Valley View Nursing Center, and the Loyalsock Township School District Board. She has also served as a high school Biology teacher and adjunct Biology instructor at Lycoming College and Pennsylvania College of Technology. John, a noted local historian, has served as Board chair for the Lycoming County Historical Society, the Children’s Development Center and the West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission.

“We believe United Way is a crucial part of our community’s health and well-being. The sharing of dollars and services helps reach a multitude of people in need who could not be reached by our individual efforts. We’re proud to assist Ken and our many volunteers in raising these much needed funds; stressed John and Margaret.”

“We are extremely pleased to have their guiding hands leading this year’s campaign,” said Scott N. Lowery, LCUW executive director. “They have a wealth of knowledge of the Lycoming County community and are well respected by those who live here, they understand and support the mission we serve, and are undaunted by the challenges we face. We have more than 400 volunteers playing active roles in helping the campaign to achieve success. Ken, John and Margaret are providing positive leadership to the volunteer team as we all strive for the needed funding in support of the vital human service programs so necessary right here at home.”

Assisting Sawyer and the Pipers in campaign leadership roles are the members of Lycoming County United Way’s Campaign Cabinet who serve as Division Chairs in the campaign structure.

Combined Federal Campaign – Carolyn Hawk, Lycoming County United Way

Corporate Division – Amanda Wallace, Susquehanna Health

County Division – Anne Tiberia, M&T Bank

Education Division – Jeannette Carter, community volunteer

Employee Division – Dennis Correll, Pennsylvania College of Technology

Energy Division – Marty Muggleton, community volunteer

Human Service Division – Dr. James Campbell, Hope Enterprises, Inc.

Leadership Giving – Ron Frick, M&T Bank

Loaned Executive Division – Ashlie Gittens, Kelly Services

Professional Division – Michael Wiley, Esq., McCormick Law Firm

Public Service Division – Timothy Mahoney, community volunteer

State Employees Campaign Appeal – Deb Machamer, Lycoming County United Way

Special Accounts Division – Scott N. Lowery, Adrienne Wertz, Lycoming County United Way

Williamsport Small Business Division – Garrett Sanner, M&T Bank

Williamsport Residential Division – Mary Engel, community volunteer

Last year’s campaign co-chairs Tim and Jill Bair also serve on the Campaign Cabinet in an advisory capacity.

To gain further information about this year’s campaign or to make a donation, contact the Lycoming County United Way office, 570-323-9448 or visit their web page at


YWCA Northcentral PA turns lives around for victims of abuse

Woman with sad expression; Shutterstock ID 134828411

Being on the receiving end of abuse is terrifying and for many domestic violence victims, like Danielle, escaping emotional and physical abuse can create its own set of nightmares and challenges.

This is her story.

Danielle moved to the Williamsport area many years ago from another state. She was a young adult setting off on an ordinary adventure to discover what life was like beyond her childhood community.

While here, she met a man who would later become her husband and father of their two children.

Danielle’s husband began to emotionally and mentally abuse her. Like many abusers, he began with small comments that he attempted to justify as “just being frustrated with work,” among other excuses.

But over time, hateful and demeaning comments about her intelligence, emotions and body broke Danielle’s spirit. She began to feel worse and worthless as his comments intensified and she was forbidden to work or interact with her friends and family. After years of increasing torment, Danielle knew she had to return home to escape his mind control and abuse.

This was heartbreaking for Danielle because she had to leave her children with him. He was not abusive to the kids and he was able to provide housing and food for them while keeping them in school – necessities Danielle could not provide while seeking her own mental health and safety.

While taking steps to rebuild her broken heart and spirit, Danielle met a man who promised to keep her safe and happy. He quickly broke his promise and began to manhandle Danielle and beat her severely.

After she was hospitalized as a result of his abuse, Danielle returned to Williamsport to be close to her children, whom she missed terribly. She got her own place and began to share custody of her children with her now ex-husband.

But quickly his mental and emotional abuse reared its ugly head again – with more intensity and threats than before, forcing Danielle to seek a Protection From Abuse order and fight for full custody of her children.

“She couldn’t take it any longer and came to Wise Options to find safety and solace from abuse,” said YWCA Wise Options Manager Amber Morningstar. “She was determined and knew she needed help to rebuild her life and create a strong future for herself and her children.”

Wise Options is Lycoming County’s only 24-7 comprehensive service center that cares for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and violent crimes – providing a safe place to stay and emotional support for women, children, and men experiencing the torment of abuse. Professional staff guides victims of domestic violence and rape to build independent lives of security through counseling, advocacy and unconditional support.

Danielle stayed in Wise Options for 30 days and met regularly with counselors.

“Everything she said she wanted to accomplish, she did,” Amber said, adding that Danielle knew she had to stabilize her own life in order to regain custody of her children and create a stable future for them.

During her one-month stay in Wise Options, Danville bought her own car. She then transitioned the YWCA’s Liberty Options program, a special subset of Liberty House for women who are homeless as a direct result of violence.

While completing the intensive case management and education of Liberty Options, Danielle regained full custody of her children and enrolled in college so that she and her children have a strong foundation to build a safe, happy, bountiful life together.

“None of us knows what goes on behind the closed doors of others, but we certainly expect someone’s home to be a safe sanctuary,” said Scott N. Lowery, LCUW executive director. “For Danielle, that wasn’t the case and she didn’t feel she had a safe place to turn. But thanks to the United Way-funded YWCA programs, she has achieved full custody of her children and is putting her life back together. These are the kinds of investments we are proud to be making and thanks to our donors we are able to do so.”

Lycoming County United Way is proud to provide $103,000 to the YWCA Northcentral PA’s Wise Options and Liberty House 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




Jersey Shore Brick House program turns lives around

Brick House

Dyllan is one of the stand-out students at the Brick House, Jersey Shore YMCA. This is not because he is the perfect student or model participant; it is because he was the exact opposite.

“Dyllan had a rough start when he first began to attend Brick House three years ago,” said Laura McMahon, executive director. “He often butted heads on the basketball court with other participants, which resulted in poor choices of words or actions. In generally, Dyllan was opposed to anything that even remotely resembled rules or authority.”

An invaluable asset to the Jersey Shore community, the Brick House program provides a safe, supervised environment for local youth and teens – generally 12 through 18 years old – to attend during the school year each day following dismissal until 6 p.m. The program offers a positive, nurturing environment that provides various opportunities for physical activity, participation in community events and volunteerism, and educational components, and ultimately steers youth away from potentially harmful or dangerous situations that commonly occur during the vulnerable hours following the end of the school day. Over the course of the year, Laura said the program saw about 171 local youth and teens participate in the program.

At the beginning of the past year, in combination with family issues, Dyllan made some ‘no-so-smart’ choices while wandering the streets with his friends after school. Unfortunately, he received mandatory community service from the court system as his punishment. Due to his attendance to the Brick House program, Dyllan was able to complete his community service during program hours and work with the staff at the Y to learn many valuable life lessons.

“Recently, nearly all of the staff at the YMCA has recognized a noticeable change in Dyllan’s behavior and attitude,” Laura said. “He is often one of the first to arrive each day and is the last to leave. Without prompting, he will ask if there is anything he can do to help and has stepped up when it comes to mentoring his peers on appropriate behavior.”

Cori Amrom, program director, believes the Brick House program helped Dyllan’s negative behaviors because he is in an environment with uniform, consistent expectations and follow-through by staff to correct the issues, as well as helping him understand why certain actions and behaviors are not acceptable.

“With his tumultuous home life at the time, one of the things that Dyllan was lacking was consistency in his actions and choices,” Cori said. “The mentors in the Brick House program helped to provide this to him and they were able to guide him on how to act appropriately in certain situations.”

Dyllan will be the first to tell you his attitude has changed.

“I used to come just to play basketball, but lately I come just because I’m happy when I’m here,” he said. “I got in trouble when I didn’t come here after school. Since I’m here, I can’t get in trouble with the cops. Sometimes the people who work here have to tell me to be good, but that’s better than the cops doing it. Eventually, I learned what I can and can’t do and I get in trouble less.

Dyllan’s community service included cleaning at the Brick House.

“It was frustrating because I did it at the same time that Brick House was going on and I saw everyone having fun but I had to clean,” Dyllan said. “I was happy to be able to play again. I knew how hard it was to keep things looking nice, so I tell people to stop making messes now.”

“At one time or another we’ve all heard young people complain that ’there is nothing to do,’” said LCUW executive director Scott N. Lowery. “The Jersey Shore YMCA Brick House program provides a wonderful antidote to that malaise. Investing in our youth helps eliminate idle time, which often leads to trouble. The Brick House program does a lot more than fill time as it prepares youth and teens for success in life through activities that build self-esteem and teach important life skills.”

Lycoming County United Way is proud to provide $24,000 to the Jersey Shore branch River Valley Regional YMCA’s Brick House program. 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

YMCA Senior Wellness Program helps older adults keep active

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Gerald and Linda Zarzyncny began attending the Williamsport branch of River Valley Regional YMCA in February. Gerald, 67, had gained 25 to 30 pounds due to inactivity since October 2014, and needed to lose some weight.

Upon application to the Healthy Senior Program, the family was awarded a 55% scholarship, allowing a membership to be affordable for the couple. The senior wellness offers older adults an opportunity to stay active, healthy and mentally fit by participating in health-related activities and age-appropriate programs. The program decreases loneliness and alienation, and encourages social interaction and physical activity, enabling seniors to remain productive members of the community.

“In addition, their granddaughter was enrolled in the Child Watch program, making their weekly visits possible,” said Rachel Bryant, Wellness Director.

Gerald suffered a heart attack four years prior and was diagnosed with COPD two years ago. At the time of the heart attack, he was put on oxygen at night, and at diagnosis of COPD, increased his oxygen usage to full-time.

“Knowing a lifestyle change needed to happen, Gerald and Linda made a decision to be consistent in attending the YMCA two to three times per week,” Rachel said. “While at the Y, they participate in the Active Older Adult classes two times each week, as well as working out in the fitness center on the strength machine circuit, the treadmill and arm bike.”

In the four months since they joined, Gerald lost 20 pounds, his blood pressure decreased, he’s been able to do light activity up to 45 minutes without his oxygen, and has increased his mobility. He can even bend over to pick objects up from the floor, can put on his own shoes and socks, and easily stand back up when seated in a chair.

The couple plan to continue their weekly exercise regime, knowing it’s making a difference in Gerald’s present and future quality of life.

“It is not something folks think about every day, but ultimately everyone hopes to experience a retirement graced by good health,” said Scott N. Lowery, LCUW executive director. “For Gerald and Linda, the YMCA senior wellness program has been an important part of that goal. The United Way dollars offer seniors an opportunity to stay active, healthy and mentally fit, as well as encouraging social interaction.”

Lycoming County United Way is proud to provide $12,500 to the Williamsport branch River Valley Regional YMCA’s Senior Wellness program. 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

Need a vacation?

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.


This sparkling cruise ship is the perfect choice for year-round cruises from New York; taking our guests to the Bahamas & Florida, the Caribbean, up the coast of Canada and New England, and to the cool summer breezes of Bermuda. From a chic, four-lane bowling alley to tons of dining choices and Freestyle Cruising, Norwegian Gem has it all. Chill out by the pool, get lucky in the casino, unwind at the spa, and make the kids happy with our water slides, Wii games and lots more. Accommodations range from the luxurious multi-room or romantic suites to spacious and affordable staterooms.


Package Includes:                                                                

  • 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


Not Included:

  • Transportation to the pier
  • Gratuities
  • 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.

$1.625M campaign begins!

Media Day logo 9.9.15

Trumpeted by the collective support of the county’s media outlets, led by the chairmanship of veteran radio personality Ken Sawyer and aimed at providing human services to improve the lives of thousands of Lycoming County residents, today marks the kickoff of Lycoming County United Way’s 94th annual fall campaign.

A campaign goal of $1,625,000 has been set.

“Throughout the day, the media sources will be providing readers, listeners and viewers with information highlighting the campaign and its importance to the community,” said Bernard A. Oravec, Williamsport Sun-Gazette publisher. “I am pleased that Webb Weekly, Backyard Broadcasting I-Heart Radio, Lamar Advertising and Comcast have joined the Sun-Gazette in raising our collective voices in support of a Lycoming County fall tradition that improves the lives of so many facing difficult times.”

Sawyer brings a long history of service to the community that has included memberships on the boards of the American Red Cross and North Central Sight Services and his many years as the community’s “Master of Ceremonies” for a wide variety of events and causes.

“The task before us in the next three months is formidable and highly important,” Sawyer said.

More than 400 volunteers and United Way staff will combine their efforts to raise funds to support 34 human service programs provided by the 34 programs affiliated with the local United Way, he said.

“Our mission goal is to raise as much as we can to support the work of our program partners. That is what is expected of us and what we should be doing,” Sawyer said. “Regardless of the amount of money raised each year in previous campaigns, it has never been enough. We have our sights set on a $1,625,000 target which in itself couldn’t satisfy the need. So we are going to do our best to achieve the best result possible. To do that, we’ll need everyone’s help.”

United Way is asking those with the ability to help to respond either today through a direct contribution or through workplace campaigns in the coming months. Contributions may be made online at, via email at, or by calling the United Way office at 570-323-9448.

Agencies with programs receiving United Way funds include Children’s Development Center, Hope Enterprises, Jersey Shore YMCA, Williamsport Branch YMCA, Clearinghouse (human services data collection, Diakon Family Life Services, American Red Cross, American Rescue Workers, YWCA, Nurse Family Partnership, Susquehanna Valley CASA, PA 2-1-1, North Central Sight Services, Saving Grace, The Learning Center, Journey House, Central PA Food Bank, Family Promise, Shepard of the Streets, Sojourner Truth Ministries, Susquehanna Community Health & Dental Center and outreach programs serving East Lycoming, Montgomery and Muncy summer reading and school health, and summer reading programs in Jersey Shore and Montoursville.

Statistically, the 24,820 individuals helped by United Way during the past year represent 21 percent of Lycoming County’s population. By contrast, only 12 percent of the county population made a contribution to last year’s campaign, according to Scott N. Lowery, United Way executive director.

“Those 12 percent were magnificent, helping us raise $1,432,233. If we could raise that participation number to 18 percent, we’d have the potential of raising $2 million, which would provide our program partners with the needed funds to keep their programs afloat,” Lowery said. “We are asking for individuals to be among those 18 percent. That’s pretty simple math. It will be a gift that will do much more than make you feel good, it will improve lives.”

North Central Sight Services empowers woman

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Routine surgery leads to vision loss, total life change.

Suellen Porter never would have thought a corrective surgery on her eyes would leave her legally blind – no one really would. But three years ago, that’s exactly what happened.

Suellen went in for routine lasik eye surgery in 2012. She spent weeks telling her eye doctor that something just wasn’t right, only to be told that her age – 49 at the time – was causing her to take longer to heal.

But one particular day, she lost vision in the lower part of her eyes. She could no longer see her feet. That’s when she insisted that something was wrong. She was right.

“I went in and they did a glaucoma test on me and realized my glaucoma pressures were in the 50s, which was extremely high,” Suellen said.

After weeks of being told to be patient with the healing process, Suellen was finally told to stop the required steroid drops. An allergic reaction was suspected. Although her pressure went down, Suellen insisted that something still just wasn’t right.

“After 6 to 8 months of this, they finally realized that I still had – or that I did have – permanent damage to my optic nerve,” she said.

Now declared legally blind, Suellen contacted WillsEye Hospital in Philadelphia, where she said she got the best care possible for her situation. She continues to receive follow-up care at the facility.

She also called North Central Sight Services, Inc., a not-for-profit agency based in Williamsport that provides blindness prevention education, vision screenings, services and employment to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Not only did North Central Sight Services provide her with the support she needed to get through her sudden vision loss, but they also offered her employment.

Now employed in customer service and order processing at the agency, Suellen said she was happy to not only be able to contribute to her household again, but also to connect with other individuals.

“At my previous jobs, I was very active in the community,” she said. “Ironically, I was a United Way volunteer for a long time and I loved it, I had such a good time doing that. And I did Leadership Lycoming and things like that. I was always on the go and very independent. To lose that independence has just been hard. It was very … life changing … you don’t realize how much you take your vision for granted and when you can’t see and you can’t do some of the normal things, it’s hard.”

At 53, Suellen has been told she has the vision of a 90-year old glaucoma patient. North Central Sight Services, a Lycoming County United Way Program Partner, has afforded Suellen the opportunity to overcome the challenges associated with vision impairment. From the agency’s low-vision store, to its transportation services, kitchen classes, prevent of blindness and social service programs, Suellen has become empowered by employment at NCSS.

“During the many years Suellen dedicated her time and efforts helping our campaign raise funds to improve the lives of others, she never imagined that those campaign funds would one day be of help to her,” said LCUW executive director Scott N. Lowery. “Suellen’s story explains the very nature of what we do each and every day – work in conjunction with our Program Partners to improve lives. NCSS provides the tools necessary to help clients remain as independent as possible. Seeing literally is believing.”

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

2015 Campaign Underway!

Media Day logo 9.9.15

Trumpeted by countywide Media support, the 2015 LCUW fall campaign kicks off September 9! The Williamsport Sun-Gazette, Webb Weekly, Backyard Broadcasting, I-Heart Radio, Lamar Advertising and Comcast have joined forces to heighten campaign awareness of the 94th consecutive  community event. Campaign proceeds support the human service work of 34 Program Partners, which during the past year have been used by 24,820 Lycoming County residents.

Contributions can be made through the workplace campaign of the employee, on-line (, via the mail  or by calling the LCUW office 570-323-2462.

Live United, Give United ! 97% of the contributions received stay right here in Lycoming County!

David Stone: The Johnny Cash Experience

david-stone-headerToday is the day!! Tickets go on sale for David Stone: The Johnny Cash Experience on Friday, November 13, 2015 at 7:30pm at the CAC! This is a wonderful fundraising event for Lycoming County United Way and a great night of entertainment. Hope to see you there!

It’s happening soon!

Get ready! September 9 will be here soon.Media Day logo 9.9.15