Westmoreland Community Action
by Karen Fetter
The mission for Westmoreland Community Action (WCA) is to eliminate poverty by strengthening communities and families in Westmoreland County. Far more than words on paper, the WCA is dedicated to that mission and the community feels it. With a variety of programs in seven different categories, residents of Westmoreland County are seeing solutions to problems that otherwise didn’t seem solvable.
“We are needed here and we will respond. We will find a way, especially now when times are difficult,” said Tay Waltenbaugh, chief executive officer of Westmoreland Community Action.
WCA has been combating poverty for 30 years and offers services to nearly 15,000 residents annually. The outreach to families in need has been tremendous. The areas in which WCA works include early childhood education, mental health programs, emergency services, community services, housing programs, employment programs, and financial services.
Westmoreland CA’s Housing Program
The impact is evident in the Housing Program where homes are revitalized and built for people in poverty. In addition, there is a home resource center that provides credit enhancement workshops, pre-closing classes, and homebuyer education. Graduates of these programs are then eligible to purchase a new home developed by the Revitalization Program if they meet certain criteria.
What makes the WCA effective is the fact that they are not just supporting residents but educating them, which is what is really turning around lives in Westmoreland County.
“Our staff is so committed to this project and to educating the people involved in it,” said Tay. “We have built and sold 450 homes in Westmoreland County and you can see the changes a stable environment can bring.”
Currently WCA is building 25 new homes in Jeannette and have done so in communities throughout the county as part of the Homes Build Hope program, which is the only program of its kind in this area.
The Housing program also helps people who already have homes keep them. Assistance is available with mortgages and taxes if there is a financial hardship and there is a possibility of losing the home. Furthermore, there are funds to assist individuals and families who are risk of becoming homeless so they can be provided with permanent, stable housing.
Shop Demo Depot
One of the newest programs developed by WCA is Shop Demo Depot.
This program will resale and reuse building materials and surplus building supplies. WCA will collect these materials from new construction, remodeling or demolition projects and then sell it at the Shop Demo Depot, which will be located in Smithton. This will help reduce landfill waste while financially supporting Community Action initiatives that help those in need.
People can call 724-552-0491 and someone will come to them to pick up their used or surplus materials, or materials can be dropped off at the warehouse. Donators will help the environment while also gaining a tax-deductible donation. The program supports Washington, Westmoreland, Greene, and Fayette counties in addition to homeowners, remodelers, builders, and craftsmen of all kind who need a resource for finding low cost materials. Items that can be donated include cabinets, counter tops, hardware, faucets, vanities, sinks, tubs, toilets, wood, ceramic, flooring, lighting fixtures, pipes, windows, doors, lumber, stone, fencing, etc. For a full list visit www.ShopDemoDepot.com.
Tay Waltenbaugh added that with this program WCA is able to provide 12 to 15 people full time employment working for Shop Demo Depot. This employment helps heads of households make an income to support and sustain their families while performing a job that aids the community.
Pay it Forward
This type of help coming full circle is something that Tay has experienced many times in his years with WCA. He has seen people who have been helped by the program later become volunteers and workers. That was the story for Board of Directors President Flora B. White, who also is the first woman president for WCA.
Flora began her experiences with the organization 20 years ago through the Head Start program. This program is one of the most helpful programs because it works with educating young children. Head Start strives to address various needs such as educational, nutritional, health, social service, and/or disability needs. The program serves children in 12 different areas and families who can qualify need to meet income guidelines and have children age 5 and under.
Flora used the services when her second daughter was born and continued her work with WCA as an employee of Head Start. While she no longer works with Head Start, it was how Flora learned the positive work WCA does for the community and she wanted to stay involved.
“Someone enlightened me that there is more. My goal is to pay it forward,” said Flora. Paying it forward is what WCA does on a daily basis. With major fundraisers throughout the year that include a golf outing, wine tasting, and a poker run, WCA is able to contribute funds to programs and projects that need it.
To learn more about the programs or events that WCA Offers:
Westmoreland Community Action
226 South Maple Avenue,
Greensburg PA 15601