Bonnie Tatterson | United Way agencies join forces to create safety net

December 14, 2013 

Many hands make light work.

The health and human services community in Centre County created a partnership in 1996 to ensure that available resources are used efficiently and effectively to assist those in need.

That commitment resulted in the formation of the Community Safety Net, a collaboration of nonprofit organizations and public-sector agencies providing emergency services programs in Centre County.

Nnine United Way partner agencies are active members of the Community Safety Net.

The group’s mission is to raise awareness of the need and availability of emergency services programs in Centre County.

They also focus on working with member agencies to identify available support for our neighbors in need. More often than not, one agency cannot meet the variety of needs in any given situation.

By joining forces, the Community Safety Net agencies successfully address hunger, homelessness, domestic violence and other basic needs.

Regular communication and cooperation among member agencies result in rapid and comprehensive problem-solving and limit duplication of services.

Recently, Community Safety Net worked quickly and closely to marshal resources for victims who lost their housing and their possessions to fires in Bellefonte and State College.

And the compassionate response to the homeless individuals in our community fueled the Out of the Cold Centre County program, one of the newest Community Safety Net efforts.

Overall, individuals and families who need assistance are helped when agencies work together to insure that all suitable resources are made available.

The following story is a testament to the impact of collaboration and caring.

A young, single mother with a 6-year-old son and infant twins was struggling to find affordable housing while going to school and caring for her children on her own.

On the verge of homelessness and financial crisis, she sought help from the community’s helping agencies. A case manager with Housing Transitions worked with her to locate affordable housing, and with financial support from Interfaith Human Services, she was able to afford the costs of securing the apartment.

Community Help Centre’s Basic Needs Case Management Program collaborated with local organizations and churches to provide continuing financial support and to budget counseling for this young woman, while helping her seek local resources for food, clothing and affordable child care.

Because of community collaboration, this hard-working single mom is now completely self-sustaining and able to provide a stable and healthy home for her children.

The woman in this example required services from six United Way agencies — along with local churches and faith-based organizations that are active safety-net members. Not only did this family receive immediate assistance for their needs, but this mother was also given a greater gift — a gift of hope for a successful, sustainable future for her family.

Your contribution to Centre County United Way helps fund a wide net of programs that keep families and individuals safe.

United, we can build a stronger community.

Bonnie Tatterson is the Executive Director of Community Help Centre, a United Way partner agency and Community Safety Net member.

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