These programs, identified and vetted through United Way's Community Impact Process, are proven examples of how, united, we can create lasting change for the community. Our Annual Campaign provides more than $750,000 to fund these programs. Other services, and our Grant Writing Initiative, combine for an overall community impact of more than $4.5 million.
Our Partners and Funded Programs
CORE INITIATIVE PROGRAM: Beginnings, Inc. and the Family Center implements the Parents as Teachers program in Cambria and Somerset Counties, respectively. It's an evidence-based program that ensures kids are socially, emotionally and academically ready for kindergarten. From speech development to grab-and-grasp dexterity and group play, trained staff members are making sure participating children are meeting United Way's infant, toddler, and early childhood developmental benchmarks. It's one of our core-initiative programs in early childhood development and parental engagement. The program provides for transformational change for participating families.
CORE INITIATIVE PROGRAM: Nurse-Family Partnership provides a registered nurse to about 150 first-time, income-eligible moms in Cambria and Somerset Counties. The nurses provide physical screenings for mom and baby, starting at 28 weeks before birth until age 2. The nurse also provides advice and information regarding the child's development. "As soon as they are born, we are assessing," RN Lisa Miller, one of the nurses who works with the moms, said. Nurse-Family Partnership is part of the United Way's Early Childhood Pathway. Along with other programs, participating families have 98% up-to-date immunizations, 100% referred to annual development screenings and 90% transitioned into early learning development programs.
UNITED WAY OF THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS PROGRAM: Our Grant Writing Initiative has delivered nearly $13 million during the last seven years for community projects. Our grant writing often supports our allocations process, providing crucial funding for Partner Agencies that deliver our core initiatives, health and human services and Diaper Bank programs. Grant funding comes from local, state and federal programs. It's part of the way we delivered more than $4.5 million in total community impact in 2022.
UNITED WAY OF THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS PROGRAM: The United Way of the Laurel Highlands Community Impact Process is a volunteer-driven system that identifies emerging community needs. Panels filled with community-minded volunteers help us to find the best programs to fund or implement to meet those emerging needs. As a result, United Way helps more than 58,000 people a year through transformative programs.
UNITED WAY OF THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS PROGRAM: United Way staff members and leadership are at work each day building coalitions to address emerging community needs. Through research, including the Community Health Needs Assessment and The ALICE Project, we can better understand the problems faced by the community's most vulnerable populations, and work toward transformative solutions. Our outreach includes advocating, fundraising and organizing volunteers for specific projects in the community.
PROMOTING HEALTH AND WELLNESS: About 10 million people experience domestic violence each year in the country, according to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. That includes 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 7 men. Victim Services provides a menu of services for victims of domestic violence and abuse -- both to men and women. These services include emergency housing, advocacy, crisis counseling and children's grief counseling, to name a few. In 2022, there were 2,354 survivors of crimes and sexual violence helped with supportive services funded by United Way.
CORE INITIATIVE PROGRAM: United Way funds the Botvin LifeSkills program in school districts throughout Cambria and Somerset Counties. The proven program, which is nationally recognized, was taught to more than 7,000 students during the last year. The program fosters youth development by teaching personal coping skills, general social skills, and skills for resisting pressures to smoke, drink, use drugs, and engage in other risky behaviors.
PROMOTING HEALTH AND WELLNESS: The mission of Highlands Health is to provide free and charitable medical, pharmaceutical, and wellness care to the low-income, uninsured, and under-insured in the Laurel Highlands region. The work is important as United Way and its partners work to address the top 7 community health concerns identified in the recent Community Health Needs Assessment, including substance abuse, obesity, mental health, access to health care, jobs/education, violence/abuse/safety and childhood development. More than 4,200 people received medical and mental health care, or COVID vaccines, according to the latest program audit.
HELPING CHILDREN AND YOUTH SUCCEED: United Way continues to fund high quality preschool and afterschool programming within the community. Investments in these programs helps children develop socially and emotionally, and contributes to academic success. Through our Partner Agencies, children continue to receive the care they need to learn, grow and thrive. We fund Small Town Hope to provide high-quality learning experiences for children in Northern Cambria.
PROMOTING SELF-SUFFICIENCY: A stable place to live is a cornerstone of a healthy life. The center is providing counseling and other resources to people facing eviction. The Community Help Center is a housing hub for people facing eviction or unstable housing. Landlord negotiations, referrals and financial literacy are part of the services offered. The center has 27 beds for emergency housing for women and children, as well as 10 apartments for men or women. The apartments are longer-term living quarters for people to stay as they transition to a permanent place to live.
HELPING CHILDREN AND YOUTH SUCCEED: The Learning Lamp provides high-quality preschool programming across Cambria and Somerset Counties. Funding from the United Way supported expanding preschool services in the Portage region. In addition, funding supports their Early Childhood Mental Health program, which supports educators who work with children who are experiencing difficulties in early childhood classrooms. The program supports healthy self-regulation and behavioral improvements in children who are at-risk of preschool expulsion. The educators and the families they serve learn how to best redirect and reinforce pro-social behaviors.
UNITED WAY OF THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS PROGRAM: Comprised of local organizations as mandated by Congress, the United Way of the Laurel Highlands Food and Shelter Committee distributes funds from the Emergency Food and Shelter/FEMA grants and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. The United Way of the Laurel Highlands is proud to be the administrator of this grant for Cambria County.
PROMOTING SELF-SUFFICIENCY: Addressing the issue of homelessness in Cambria and Somerset Counties has quickly become a priority area for our United Way. To address this growing need, United Way invests funding in two separate shelters in the region — the Martha and Mary House, operated by Catholic Charities in Cambria, and the Next Step Center in Somerset. Combined, these agencies serve more than 130 individuals annually.
HELPING CHILDREN AND YOUTH SUCCEED: We continue fund high quality afterschool programming within the community. Investment in these programs help children to develop socially and emotionally, and contributes to academic success. Through our Partner Agencies, children continue to receive the care they need to learn, grow and thrive. We fund Flood City Youth Academy to provide their afterschool tutoring and mentoring program, on average, to 170 students each weekday. Each student also receives a meal.
UNITED WAY OF THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS PROGRAM: PA 211 is non-emergency helpline dedicated to connecting individuals who are in need of health and human services with local information and resources that can help assist them during their time of need. PA 211 is available to all residents in Cambria and Somerset Counties free of charge, and is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Annually, PA 211 receives more than 1,700 total contacts from Cambria and Somerset County residents seeking help for health and human services related to:
- Utility Assistance
- Rent Assistance
- Medical Assistance
- Drug & Alcohol Support or Treatment
- Mortage Assistance
- Employment Assistance
- Transportation Assistance
- Food Assistance
PROMOTING HEALTH AND WELLNESS: Supporting mental health programs is important to sustaining the health and well-being of the community. In doing so, United Way invests in the Peer Empowerment Network, which annually sees more than 1,400 individuals within Cambria County at the Drop-In Center. The center is a safety net for vulnerable residents with mental health issues. It not only provides a safe place for people to spend the day, it's also a direct link to services so they can start on a path to a more stable life. The center has visitors of all ages, from 18 to 60 or older.
PROMOTING HEALTH AND WELLNESS: United Way supports people facing immediate basic needs. In Cambria County, Catholic Charities receives $14,000 annually to provide emergency financial assistance to individuals seeking vital support.
HELPING CHILDREN AND YOUTH SUCCEED: The Boys & Girls Club of Somerset County’s Power Hour program has become a community asset for advancing student learning in grades K-5. Funding from the UWLH gives the club the ability to secure volunteers to assist students with one-on-one tutoring.
HELPING CHILDREN AND YOUTH SUCCEED: This unique program provides free vision screenings for children in preschools, daycare centers and schools. The test checks for common eye conditions, including near-sightedness, far-sightedness, astigmatism and lazy eye. A color-blind test is also completed. The vision screening, on average, takes about 30 seconds. A unique camera focuses on the child's pupils, taking a picture. Once the test is complete, a report is printed out for the parent if a referral to the eye doctor is recommended. If needed, the parent is encouraged to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor. The findings are confirmed by the optometrist 99% of the time. The process includes some fun for younger children, including a puppet named Seewell.
PROMOTING SELF-SUFFICIENCY: As part of our work to address food security in the region, we fund the planting of 6 acres of produce in the village of Edie. The produce is delivered to residents throughout Somerset County during the mobile food bank's distribution program.
PROMOTING HEALTH AND WELLNESS: This program helps people who are having trouble paying utility bills keep the heat on during the winter. In Somerset County during the 2021-22 season, funding from Operation Warm Hearts helped 32 individuals and families.
UNITED WAY OF THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS PROGRAM: This program makes SNAP benefits useable at the Downtown Johnstown Farmers Market. During the pilot period last year, about $9,700 in new revenue was spent at the market. As a result, more people had access to fresh, local produce. It's a win for SNAP users, and for local farmers.
UNITED WAY OF THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS PROGRAM: About 1 in 3 families fall short by about 25 diapers a month. As a result, we started the Diaper Bank, which distributes diapers across a network of locations from southern Somerset County to Northern Cambria. Last year, the bank provided more than 34,000 diapers to families.