United Way: Centre House offers more than shelter

Everyone needs a support system. Ideally, the foundation of that support are family and friends who nurture and help us grow. Those who love us guide us to lead independent and productive lives. The foundation is even stronger when it involves a community that offers additional resources to uplift its members.

What happens if we do not have that foundation? What happens when we feel isolated and don’t know where to turn, even when we are surrounded by a resource-rich community? What if we don’t know where to begin because we have never received any guidance?

Centre House shelter can be the beginning of a better life for people who are struggling. The staff provides guidance, coordination of the resources within the community and a foundation of support that some have never experienced, like Camryn.

Camryn found Centre House when she was a teen mom with a crumbling support system. The father of her children was not active in his family’s life and Camryn was on her own. She reluctantly accepted help and was able to secure a spot for her and her two daughters at the shelter. Camryn was able to get her girls in daycare and slowly able to get on her feet. She started classes at South Hills School of Business and Technology and got a car. She felt free for the first time.

Things began to go downhill when Camryn left Centre House to move in with a new boyfriend. Their housing situation was unstable and she could not get assistance because they were moving around so often. After two years of not knowing where she would be sleeping each night, Camryn realized this was not the life she wanted for her children. She turned to Centre House. The staff welcomed her back and provided positive support and a safe place for the family. Camryn has since earned her GED, found a job and moved in to an apartment through the transitional housing program. She is getting a car so she will be able to travel to Harrisburg to obtain her pharmacy technician certificate.

“The biggest thing is that there was a point in time that I didn’t want to live anymore because I didn’t think that I was going to be able to find a place to live for my kids. Being around positive people that are there to help me, support me and give me options to help myself has made all the difference.”

With all Centre House has to offer its neighbors, like Camryn, they are able to move forward and enjoy independence and a happy life.