Good Life

United Way agencies collaborate to promote financial stability

Centre County United Way Executive Director Tammy Gentzel speaks during the 2016 United Way campaign kick off event on Sept. 20 at Housing Transitions.
Centre County United Way Executive Director Tammy Gentzel speaks during the 2016 United Way campaign kick off event on Sept. 20 at Housing Transitions. Centre Daily Times, file

Editor’s note: This is the final installment of a four-part series on the new focus and goals of United Way’s annual campaign.

You know what they say — time flies when you’re doing a comprehensive overview of locally based charitable organizations.

This is the fourth and final entry in the CDT’s series on the United Way’s 2016 campaign.

The weeks prior have focused on the areas of health and education and how the agencies involved are approaching the same goal from multiple angles, often overlapping in their quest to help a single client.

When it comes to financial services, the story remains more or less the same.

When people are facing major obstacles in their lives, one agency will most likely not fulfill all of the person’s needs.

Wendy Vinhage, executive director of Interfaith Human Services

“When people are facing major obstacles in their lives, one agency will most likely not fulfill all of the person’s needs,” said Wendy Vinhage, executive director of Interfaith Human Services.

Interfaith Human Services works with clients who are experiencing financial difficulties. Their approach is educationally based, with a focus on money management skills.

Vinhage understands that when it comes to financial duress, better accounting practices can only get you so far. Sometimes other resources need to be brought to the table.

“When people come to Interfaith Human Services after falling behind on utility payments, we often partner with Catholic Charities to get the person caught up on his/her bills. We are constantly working with United Way partner agencies to provide the best quality of service to those in need,” Vinhage said.

United Way funding has helped Catholic Charities to continue to offer services in the areas of housing stability, shelter and emergency financial assistance.

In working with clients, Sharon Felson, of the Catholic Charities Bellefonte office, said that the organization also attempts to keep the bigger picture in mind. This enables them to treat the ailment instead of just the symptoms.

“We take a holistic approach in working with our clients; to that end we are able to address the financial needs of our clients and are made aware of causal or contributing factors to the client’s economic situation,” Felson said.

Colleen Ritter is the program coordinator for the State College Community Land Trust, an organization that helps people buy affordable homes in the borough.

Working in a collaborative environment will be essential to preserving resources and right-sizing our efforts. In our opinion the CCUW is situated as the organization that can move us forward to serve those individuals and families in need.

Colleen Ritter program coordinator, State College Community Land Trust

She said that the SCCLT takes pride in being part of the Centre County United Way and believes that collaboration will help secure the future of all human service agencies.

“Working in a collaborative environment will be essential to preserving resources and right-sizing our efforts. In our opinion the CCUW is situated as the organization that can move us forward to serve those individuals and families in need,” Ritter said.

Brent Frank, regional manager of MidPenn Legal Services, echoed those sentiments. The organization provides civil legal assistance to low income families and in the past has collaborated with agencies like the Housing Transitions, Centre County Women’s Resource Center

“No one agency or program can be the end-all to solve issues single handedly, but together we have greater ability to address ongoing and newly arising needs. Through our partnership with United Way and other agency partners, we can help affect change in entities outside of the United Way as well,” Frank said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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