Living Columns & Blogs

IHS works to create lasting change

People in need of urgent financial assistance call Interfaith Human Services every day. Earlier this month, a couple was facing an impending utility shutoff. Both work in restaurants, where their shifts change weekly, making it impossible for them to get second jobs to improve their financial situation. IHS helped and a crisis was avoided.

While we help people facing such circumstances, our programs go further than offering a solution to an immediate problem. Our programs support low-income Centre County residents by providing guidance and resources to move them toward financial self-sufficiency.

Financial Care Program: Sometimes we are approached by the same person repeatedly. This is an indicator that help in money management is essential. Our financial care case managers work individually with people to help them eliminate debt, pay bills and create a long-term budget. One client was so grateful for the help, she texted her case worker saying, “You have been a blessing to me and my family, so thank you for everything and being in my life and caring for us.”

Free Furniture and Appliance Recycling Program: Many of our neighbors do not have the financial resources to acquire appliances and furniture. Families are forced to make tough decisions; pay for the groceries or buy their child a bed; pay the electric bill or get a table and chairs. IHS’s Free Furniture and Appliance Recycling Program provides household items at no cost to hundreds of Centre County residents each year. The generosity of people in the community, who donate gently used appliances and furniture, makes this program possible.

Centre County Fuel Bank: The Centre County Fuel Bank is an emergency heating assistance program for people who struggle to heat their homes during the winter months. IHS administers the program, which provides an educational component through a partnership with Interfaith Power and Light. Clients must attend an emergency conservation or money management class before they can receive fuel. Class participants have said that they have saved as much as 50 percent on their heating costs after applying concepts they learned in the class.

IHS puts neighbors in need on road to stability

Whether we are reacting to an emergency or working with a family long term, we work to create lasting change. If we can provide more people with a basic financial education and teach them to plan for their future, we can help people become self-sufficient and less reliant on limited local nonprofit and government resources.

Wendy Vinhage is the executive director of Interfaith Human Services. Contact her at 234-7731 or