226 South Maple Avenue Greensburg, PA 15601
Check back often for news and events from Westmoreland Community Action. WCA holds fundraisers, summits, classes, workshops and more throughout the year.
News and Events at WCA
Circles The Westmoreland Community Action Circles Initiative held two noteworthy, well attended events in April. Circles, part of a national campaign, aims to end poverty through grassroots advocacy and building relationships across class lines.
The New Kensington Visioning Project brought out more than 70 residents, community and business leaders who are interested in reviving the area. “When people live in poverty, they live in the moment. They don’t look back at their ‘future story’. What we want here, today, is for everyone to look at the future story – where we want to be,” said Scott McMannis, Circles Community Engagement Specialist.
The event was held in conjunction with Smart Growth, Penn State Cooperative Extension, WedigPA, The New Kensington/Arnold Clergy Association, The United Way of Westmoreland and The Parnassus Preservation Partnership.
Forty community members attended the Circles discussion held in Latrobe to raise awareness on poverty in the community. Currently, 14.9% of Latrobe residents and 19.1% of Derry live below the poverty line. Several current Circle Leaders spoke about their experience with the initiative and how they were given the tools necessary to change their lives. “We want to show them how to be independent – how to go from just getting by to self-sufficiency,” said Lisa DeLong, a Circles Coach with the initiative.
For more information on Circles, please call Kate Romano at 724-837-6339, ext. 25 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Head Start Granted ACT 48 Provide Status
Westmoreland Community Action Head Start was recently granted ACT 48 provider status. All training now qualifies as credit for certified teachers towards Pennsylvania ACT 48 requirements to maintain teaching certification. This accomplishment has further strengthened our commitment to ensuring qualified staff and teachers are invlolved in our program, and benefiting our children and community.
PNC Contributes to Improvement of Head Start Classrooms
Recently, several employees of PNC met with Westmoreland Community Action’s Karen Brinker, Director of Children Services, and Tay Waltenbaugh, CEO, to present the agency with a check for $25,000. Our Head Start program wanted to be able to improve each of the classrooms that have not been rated by the Keystone STARS system so that all classrooms would be able to obtain a score of 5.25 or higher, thus providing them with a level 4 STAR rating. Head Start assessed the individual needs of each classroom and with the help of this grant will be able to provide them with necessary materials or training to improve the quality of the classroom and their Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale (ECERS) score.
Some of the items that will be purchased with this grant include:
Being able to purchase materials and provide training for classrooms and staff will result in 360 children receiving a higher quality of early education. In addition, 54 classroom staff will receive training in areas of individualized need. The results of the training will improve the future education of hundreds of children each year.
Thank you PNC!
Shop Demo Depot Benefits from the Day of Caring
On Wednesday, September 12, Westmoreland Community Action’s new eco-friendly social enterprise, Shop Demo Depot, was the beneficiary of United Way’s Day of Caring. Seven staff members from the University of Pittsburgh and 13 employees of ABB in Mount Pleasant chose to spend their day helping our agency.
The staff from Pitt sorted and organized material outside and in the warehouse.The employees from ABB, in addition to sorting and organizing items, removed brush near the retail store as well.
Chief John Aguilar, owner of Chief’s BBQ in Mount Pleasant, generously donated lunch for the volunteers. Those in attendance enjoyed BBQ chicken and pork, potato salad, beans and bread.
We would like to extend a sincere “Thank You” to Chief Aguilar and all the volunteers. Your kindness and bighearted efforts that day made a lasting impression and we are truly grateful to share a community with such giving people!
Click here to visit the photo gallery for this event.
Poker Run Fun
Well, second time turned out to be the charm for Westmoreland Community Action’s 2nd Annual Poker Run. After having to reschedule from an original date in July due to the weather, we had a nice turnout and everyone had a great time.
After a blessing of the bikes by Flora White, WCA Board President, the riders set off on a course through Westmoreland and Indiana Counties including stops at Golden Pheasant in Kent, Rayne Drop Inn in Marion Center, Rumors Bar & Grill in Punxsutawney, and Hodak’s Lounge in Clymer, with a final stop at Geo’s Restaurant & Lounge in Latrobe.
Congratulations to our winners, John Garlow and Ted and Ginger Brant! They went home with $50 and $25 gift cards, respectively, from M&M Leather.
We are especially thankful for our great sponsors this year:
And a big thank you goes out to those who donated items:
Hope to see everyone again at our next event!
Please click here to view the photo gallery!
Parents Who Host Lose the Most Comcast Interview
Circles Initiative in the Valley News Dispatch
Check out the article from the Valley News Dispatch about the Circles Initiative and one of its Circle Leaders here.
Mothers Making More (M3)
Are you a single mother looking for financial security? Consider Mothers Making More (M3) -- a program from the United Way of Westmoreland County in partnership with the Westmoreland-Fayette Investment Board, Westmoreland Community Action, Westmoreland County Community College, Seton Hill and Excela Health.
The goal of M3 is to assist single mothers complete their college education with a network of supports in place that will assist them overcome barriers that have prevented them from completing college in the past. Participants chose an approved education program that trains them for a high demand career which offers a family sustaining wage, such as Nursing, Radiology, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Clinical Lab technician and more.
Participants must be single mothers with a child(ren) under age 18 and have an income less than $25,000. Participants complete a 4-week Economic Stability class and a Federal Financial Aid Application; earn a min. of 12 credits annually while maintaining a GPA of 2.5 or higher, and meet regularly with the program coordinator.
Resources are available for additional needs related to continued education and your career pathway advancement progress. For more info, contact Kate Romano at 724.837.6339 ext. 25.
Circles Ally Training Announced
(June 13, 2012) Greensburg, PA – Westmoreland Community Action Circles™ Initiative is having a training for community members interested in becoming an Ally to individuals working to get out of poverty. The Ally Training will be Wednesday, July 18 from 6:00-7:30 pm at the Gethsemane United Methodist Church (213 N. 3rd Street, Jeannette).
Westmoreland Community Action, a non-profit community action agency, serves low-income individuals and families. Their mission is to strengthen communities and families to eliminate poverty. Circles is a community strategy that empowers people to permanently transition out of poverty. Using a unique model, Circles involves not only under resourced families, but local community agencies, the faith community, businesses, community leaders, and volunteers who want to support their neighbors and their communities in getting out of poverty.
An Ally forms a circle of support with one to three other allies and a Circle Leader, who is working to move forward and improve their financial and life situation. The goal of the Circles Ally is to:
To register for the training, please contact Rebecka Andrae at 724-837-6339, ext. 20.
Local Poverty Initiative Awarded Heinz Endowment Grant
(June 6, 2012) Greensburg, PA – Westmoreland Community Action (WCA) is pleased to announce it has received a $200,000 grant from The Heinz Endowments. The grant is to support WCA’s Circles™ Initiative, which assists families in their emergence from poverty while inspiring communities to commit to long-term solutions that address this persistent issue.
The grant will enable WCA’s Circles Initiative to develop into a Regional Training Center that will expand the number of low-income individuals completing the Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’ By World™ curriculum as well as the number of community members receiving Bridges Out of Poverty training. Circles will also build relationships with employers in Westmoreland County to integrate the Circles model and educate businesses on the most effective practices in working with and retaining low-income staff.
“We are very excited that the funding from The Heinz Endowments will allow us to continue to grow our Circles Initiative. Since the initiative began, we’ve continually grown the number of community partners who represent a cross section of those that must be involved in every community in order for Circles to succeed and poverty to be eliminated. WCA is proud to have The Heinz Endowments be a part of our community,” said Tay Waltenbaugh, Chief Executive Officer, Westmoreland Community Action.
Westmoreland Community Action, a non-profit community action agency, serves low-income individuals and families. Their mission is to strengthen communities and families to eliminate poverty. Circles is a community strategy that empowers people to permanently transition out of poverty. Using a unique model, Circles involves not only under resourced families, but local community agencies, the faith community, businesses, community leaders, and volunteers who want to support their neighbors and their communities in getting out of poverty. Circles Initiative sites are currently located in Jeannette, Greensburg, Latrobe, New Kensington and Lower Burrell.
The Heinz Endowments supports efforts to make southwestern Pennsylvania a premier place to live and work, a center for learning and educational excellence, and a region that embraces diversity and inclusion. Their mission is to promote progress in five program areas: Arts & Culture; Youth & Families; Education; Environment; and Community & Economic Development.
Seton Hill Students Hold Fundraiser for WCA
When Dr. David Droppa’s Senior Integrative Seminar Class was planning their service project this year, they knew they wanted to help people in need. They contacted social service organizations in search of an agency dedicated to helping the low-income community. What emerged was a collaboration between these civic-minded Seton Hill University students and Westmoreland Community Action’s Head Start program.
Dr. Droppa’s class organized a fundraiser to benefit children’s literacy; on April 28, the Seton Hill “Not Ready for the SHU-PAC Players” performed A Very Potter Musical. Proceeds from the ticket sales and various pre-show Harry Potter activities were donated to Head Start.
On May 9, six of the students, along with Dr. Droppa, presented a check to Head Start for $2,200! These funds will be used to enhance childhood literacy in Westmoreland County. Words cannot express how grateful we are to Dr. Droppa and his wonderful class. From the bottom of our hearts, Thank You!
Westmoreland Community Action Hosts Wine Tasting
Anyone looking for good food, good wine, and a good time were
not disappointed at Westmoreland Community Action’s 10th Annual
Wine Tasting Event at the Westmoreland County Courthouse on
Friday, April 13.
Guests enjoyed sweet piano sounds courtesy of Lara Provance
and soothing jazz by James T. Boggs. Jennifer Miele from
Excela Health graced everyone with her presence for the seventh
year as celebrity guest hostess.
The evening’s featured wineries included Greenhouse Winery,
Christian W. Klay Winery, Sybarite, LLC and Laurel Highlands
Meadery. Pepperwood Grille, Mama G’s Diner, Szechuan
Garden, and Sophistications provided excellent food to
compliment the wine. And who could forget the delicious
sweets and cookies provided by One Tuff Cookie, Baby Cakes,
Steel Penny Cakes, and The Chocolate Shoppe? For those
craving coffee during the evening, Starbucks provided the tasty
If you missed this year’s event, don’t worry. Westmoreland Community Action plans to offer a great 11-Year Wine Tasting Event in 2013!
To view our photo gallery of the event please click here.
Westmoreland Community Action Honored by HUD
On Thursday, March 1st 2012, the White House and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development honored Westmoreland Community Action along with ten other housing counselors and HUD-approved organizations as “Champions of Change” for their hard work, perseverance and dedication to their communities.
Every HUD-approved housing counseling agency received a Certificate of Appreciation signed by Secretary Donovan. “The Department owes a debt of gratitude to all housing counselors that are making a difference in the lives of so many individuals and families in communities across the country. We appreciate your commitment to this important work,” says HUD.
The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.
To learn more about HUD’s Champions and watch video of the event, go to: www.whitehouse.gov/champions
To view the Certificate of Appreciation please click here.
Joplin Relief Poker Run a Success
A big "Thank You" to everyone who participated in our Poker Run to benefit the victims of the Joplin, MO tornado. Joplin suffered destruction of epic proportion on Sunday, May 22, 2011 when hit by an EF5 tornado. At least 20-25% of Joplin was completely devastated. More than 100 members of that community lost their lives, while 750-1,350 received injuries.
With your support, we raised over $1,200 from the Poker Run, which will go to our sister community action agency who is fighting poverty in Joplin - the Economic Security Corporation of Southwest Area (ESCSWA).
Thanks to the generosity of those in our community, we have already given ESCSWA a check for $14,000. These funds were used toward the purchase of two of seven lots to rebuild homes for families in the Joplin area as part of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition show. This project begins October 19th.
Please click here to visit our photo gallery for the event.
CEO Tay Waltenbaugh and past Board President Barry Gaetano traveled to Joplin, Mo to deliver the donations the community raised with Westmoreland Community Action. Your support enabled us to deliver $13,000 and a tractor trailer truck full of supplies to help families in the Joplin area. This footage shows the unbelievable devastation that is 2 miles wide and 13 miles long in downtown Joplin. We heard so many dramatic stories, stories of loss, courage, volunteerism and faith. At any time, if a group would like us to present our experiences first-hand, please call me at 724-834-1260 ext 105.
CEO Tay Waltenbaugh to Joplin, MO in early July to deliver the $13,000 in donations plus the supplies we have collected to the victims of the Joplin tornado. We hope the victims will be able to use our assistance to reach recovery. We thank everyone who contributed and helped out!
PKSA Karate in Greensburg graciously contributed to our Joplin Relief Fund. Here's a video from when they stopped by the agency!
1st Annual Poker Run a Success
We held our first annual Poker Run on Saturday, June 11, 2011. It turned out to be such a great turnout!! We are planning on holding another run this fall! Thank you to everyone who participated! It is greatly appreciated!
Westmoreland Community Action Partners with the National Children's Study
The National Children's Study is the largest long-term project following children's health, growth and development ever conducted in the United States, and it has begun recruiting women in Westmoreland County. Study researchers from the University of Pittsburgh seek to enroll women in communities like Mt. Pleasant, Greensburg, the Ligonier Valley, and Hunker; women who are pregnant or may become pregnant in the next few years and who live in a study community may be eligible to participate.
The National Children's Study in Westmoreland will follow 1,000 children from before birth to age 21 to learn how the environment influences children's health, development and quality of life, and does not involve any medications or treatments.
Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the next few years should call 866-315-7125 to see if they are eligible to participate. Additional information about the National Children's Study in Westmoreland can be found at www.ncsinwestmoreland.org or by e-mailing email@example.com
Circles Initiative Honors Area Graduates
The Greensburg site of Westmoreland County's Circles' Initiative held a graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 1 at 4 p.m. at the main office of Westmoreland Community Action (WCA). The six graduates completed twenty-two workshop sessions geared toward making positive changes in their lives so they can begin to move towards self-sufficiency. Community involvement is one of the basic constructs of the curriculum devised by Phil DeVol of aha! Process, Inc. and the graduates have grown in their knowledge of their community during the course of this class.
The Circles' national campaign comes to us from the Move the Mountain Leadership Center (Scott Miller, co-founder) and has over 60 local initiatives nationwide. Westmoreland County is one of those initiatives and currently operates with five sites throughout the county with Westmoreland Community Action as the lead agency for the community-driven initiative.
The graduates, consisting of both men and women, were David Adair, Linda Adair, Dawn Adair-Myers, Pamela Brooks, Christopher Myers, and Patricia Yuhas.
The ceremony started with a Welcome by Rebecka Andrae, Westmoreland Circles Coordinator, followed by Acknowledgements by Tim Lewis, Westmoreland Circles Coach. Tay Waltenbaugh, CEO of Westmoreland Community Action, addressed the graduates with a message of inspiration and encouragement. The Honorable Christopher Feliciani, Family Court Judge and CASA advocate, was the Keynote Speaker.
Certificates were presented by Bill Connolly, Director of Community Supports at WCA, and the Rev. Ken Bossart and the Rev. Rebecca Patterson, both Circles Guiding Coalition members.
A reception with refreshments and cake was enjoyed by all those attending the ceremony.
To see pictures from the event, click here. (5/6/2011)
PANO Announces Standards for Excellence Class of 2011 at Annual Conference
16 nonprofit organizations successfully completed the rigorous certification program known as "Standards for Excellence", the country's premiere nonprofit self-regulation program.
The Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO) honored the latest cohort of organizations to earn the Seal of Excellence as part of the Standards for Excellence program during a special recognition ceremony at their Annual Conference held on April 4 & 5 at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel in Harrisburg, PA.
The Standards for Excellence program was designed to increase the public's trust in Pennsylvania's nonprofit, or community benefit, sector by demonstrating organizations' willingness to act ethically and be accountable in their operations, governance, human resources, financial management and fundraising practices. The first of its kind to promote self-regulation in the sector, the Standards for Excellence program provides nonprofits with clear guidance on best practices in operations while also helping them to achieve the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness. The Standards for Excellence code requires strict adherence to eight guiding principles and 55 rigorous benchmarks.
"From a recently completed Impact Evaluation Study on the certification process, we have compelling evidence that the certification process creates stronger organizations. We commend these organizations for making the commitment to engage in this process," says Tish Mogan, PANO's Standards for Excellence Officer.
PANO's Standards for Excellence program recognized three newly-certified organizations for 2010-2011 and 13 recertified organizations, which included Westmoreland Community Action.
PANO's Standards for Excellence Program
The hallmark of PANO's Standards for Excellence program is the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector, which guides nonprofits through a rigorous voluntary certification process to implement sustainable high standards by using educational resources, technical assistance, a network of replication partners, and licensed consultants.
For more information contact Tish Mogan, Standards for Excellence Officer for PANO, at 717-236-8584 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Standards for Excellence program, which just celebrated its 13th anniversary, was conceived by Maryland Nonprofits, and is known nationally through the Standards for Excellence Institute. Today, the Institute has ten licensed replication partners, including PANO. To learn more about the Institute, visit their website.
PANO is the statewide membership organization serving and advancing the charitable nonprofit sector through leadership, advocacy, education and other services in order to improve the overall quality of life in Pennsylvania. PANO helps charities become more efficient and effective through collaboration, cooperation and the sharing of resources and information. PANO's mission is to lead Pennsylvania's Community Benefit Sector to achieve its fullest potential. Learn more about PANO at their website: www.pano.org.
Local man receives statewide award for accomplishments
Because of his drive and determination, a Greensburg man was named a 2011 Self-Sufficiency Award winner by the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania (CAAP) in Harrisburg. Ed Miller was one of 32 recipients from throughout the state to be honored for overcoming the obstacles that stood in his way of achieving self-sufficiency. CAAP presents the Self-Sufficiency Awards each year to recognize those who have worked with their local Community Action Agency to overcome significant socio-economic barriers to achieve success.
Ed contacted Westmoreland Community Action (WCA) in July of 1993. At that time he found himself unemployed and living at home. He enrolled in the Individualized Intensive program for Independence, whose main component was a Job Search Workshop where individuals learned resume and cover letter writing skills, interviewing techniques, and educational exploration. Ed soon enrolled in Residential and Commercial Electricity training at a nearby school in Uniontown.
After successfully graduating from the school in 1994, Ed found a job with a local electrical contractor. Subsequent to gaining valuable experience with this job, he went to work for the Sony Corporation in New Stanton as an electrician/maintenance man. He held this position until 2003 when he decided to become self-employed.
Ed started his own electrical contracting company, aptly called Ed Miller Electric, and in 2008 was reintroduced to Westmoreland Community Action. Not as a client this time, but as an electrical contractor. Ed was hired as part of the rehabilitation of the office space currently occupied by the agency. This was his first venture into the commercial area of wiring.
Westmoreland Community Action is the agency taking the lead against poverty locally. With 43 agencies covering all 67 Pennsylvania counties, Community Action Agencies fight poverty wherever it appears. CAAP's mission is to assist its member agencies by acting as a statewide voice for local Community Action Agencies and low-incoming citizens, addressing policy issues of importance to them. CAAP presents the Self-Sufficiency Awards each year in order to illustrate how barriers to self-sufficiency can be overcome when individuals accept the challenge of pursuing the opportunities provided by Westmoreland Community Action and their community. (04/07/11)
WCA Elects New Board President
In January 2011 Westmoreland Community Action (WCA) witnessed a first in its history, the first female President of the Board of Directors was elected. Ms. Flora B. White replaced Mr. Barry Gaetano, thereby starting her three-year term and becoming the 6th person to hold this title.
Flora has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2005, but has been involved with the agency for a much longer time. Approximately 20 years ago, Flora and her second daughter, Angel, enrolled in Westmoreland Community Action's Early Head Start Program. Early Head Start offers many services to help pregnant women and families with children under the age of three meet the medical, physical, emotional and developmental needs of their infant or toddler. Upon turning three years of age, Angel graduated to the agency's Head Start Program. Head Start is an educational child and family development program promoting the well-being of children and families. This program addresses the educational, nutritional, health, social service, and disability needs of preschool age children and their families.
Several years later, Flora enrolled in Westmoreland Community Action's Women's Entrepreneurial Program and created a business plan for a new venture. At the time, her dream was to open a sandwich shop. But life took Flora in another direction and she accepted a position working for the agency in the Head Start Program.
Although Flora is no longer an employee of Westmoreland Community Action, it was through these programs that she got to know and believe in the mission of the agency. In Flora's words, "WCA talked the talk and walked the walk. That's why I'm still here."
Flora, the single mother of two daughters, Janese and Angel, is now the Founder and Senior Pastor at Victory in Christ Ministries, Inc. on Sidney Street in Greensburg. She has been in ministry for 48 years and a pastor for five. In her spare time, Flora likes to read religious books, as they enhance her ministerial passion.
Flora's goal as President of the Board is to help people be all they can be. This philosophy has followed her her whole life because her mother felt the same way. "I want to help impoverished people become the greatest they can be, because there is potential that you have to tap into within every individual," says Flora. "Someone enlightened me that there is more. My goal is to pay it forward."
Please join Westmoreland Community Action in welcoming Flora to her new role at WCA. Great things await. (04/01/11)
WCA receives recognition as a Top 100 organization
Westmoreland Community Action was recently chosen as one of Pennsylvania Business Central's Top 100 Organizations of 2010. For 20 years, Pennsylvania Business Central has recognized 100 organizations "from very large businesses in the region to smaller non-profits" that achieved outstanding performance, received awards or enjoyed an overall extraordinary year.
The number of nominations this year from the 16-county region exceeded those in previous years. Suggestions and nominations were received from chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and other leaders in the business community. In addition, Pennsylvania Business Central staff search through their pages to uncover organizations that have received awards or that were recognized in some way during the past year.
Much like last year's list, the 2010 Top 100 Organizations list includes many of the top places to work in Pennsylvania. The list also includes solo entrepreneurs who took a risk and created an organization that had a positive impact in the area in which it operates.
With more than 55,000 organizations scattered throughout the 16 counties that comprise the Pennsylvania Business Central's readership area: Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Northumberland, Snyder, Somerset, Union and Westmoreland inclusion in the list is a high honor. (02/25/11)
Head Start receives grant from PNC
The Westmoreland Community Action Head Start Centers have been benefiting from a PNC Growing Up Great With Science Grant. This grant has enabled our Head Start program to partner up with the Carnegie Science Center for two years. The staff, children, and families have been involved in many wonderful learning experiences connected to Science. The Carnegie Science Center has provided our classroom with many Science materials for the children to explore and discover. They have also delivered professional development for our teachers on an on-going basis.
This grant hosted Family Science Nights at various locations around the county in the Fall of 2009 and will do it again in the Spring of 2011.
Last year, the children had the experience of attending a viewing of a sky show in a mobile planetarium. Also, there were free passes to visit the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. Science on the Road programs, provided by Science Educators from the Carnegie Science Center, visited each classroom with presentations geared towards young learners. We are very grateful for the many opportunities this grant and partnership have provided to our Head Start Program.
Science has always been a part of the Head Start Curriculum so, this partnership has been helpful in strengthening this important part of our program. Children have a natural curiosity about the world around them and hands on Science activities provide many sparks to learning! (02/11/11)
(Click on title to see complete article)
Comcast Local Interviews Tay Waltenbaugh
Each month, Westmoreland Community Action hosts a radio program on WCNS, 1480 on the AM dial. Broadcasts can be heard on the fourth Saturday of each month at 8:00 a.m. Below are the links to an archive of these programs. Just click on a link to hear the broadcast. To hear 2012's broadcasts click here.