In 1972, the Community Help Centre started its mission of service and support.
In 2017, it’s continuing, but with a different name.
After 45 years of connecting people with the hands they need, the organization is re-branding itself with a name that cuts to the heart of the matter: Centre Helps.
Executive director Bonnie Tatterson called the move a celebration that also heads in a modern direction.
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“Originally it was a group of community members interested in making sure people had access to information about recreational drug use,” she said.
As it approaches five decades of helping Centre County residents, the nonprofit has grown to help on many more levels, but connecting people with the information they need remains at the center of it all.
Take Allen, a guy who was having knee surgery. But then his girlfriend got sick. They were both out of work. Things snowballed and it wasn’t long before they were in danger of losing their home.
But then Maryrose Yerger came into the picture as their caseworker.
“She had it covered. She did all the legwork. She called people we didn’t even know about,” Allen said.
His story isn’t a new one to Yerger, who says most of the cases she sees are medically related. She personally sees about 300 clients a year, helping steer them through the sometimes confusing network of services and agencies that provide different help in different ways.
Centre Helps is also the parent of a countywide hotline (237-5855 or 800-494-2500) that is there to listen around the clock, no matter the crisis. The line takes about 10,000 calls a year.
On top of that, the program is an on-ramp to the State College Food Bank, making referrals for clients to get the food they need.
Sometimes there isn’t anything to be done, but Yerger said even if they can’t do anything else, they are there to listen.
Allen says that is what matters most.
“You’re a godsend,” he said. “When Maryrose said, ‘It’s going to be all right,’ those were the most important words.”