Community Action, Inc.
Primarily Serving Clarion and Jefferson Counties, Pennsylvania

Penn State Master Gardeners Donate Plants to Clarion Food Pantry

For the fourth consecutive year, the Clarion County Penn State Master Gardeners donated vegetable plants to Community Action, Inc. last week for distribution to consumers at the Clarion Food Pantry. The vegetable plants were grown by the master gardeners at their horticultural resource center, AKA: greenhouse and demonstration garden, located at the Clarion County Park. The regional coordinator from Penn State Extension provided the master gardeners with seeds, soil, jiffy pots, hoses, and a wheelbarrow. The gardeners supplied the loving care to grow the plants, which included a variety of tomatoes, cabbage, pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, and various herbs. The Master Gardeners also planted an extended demonstration garden with tomatoes, peppers, onions, beets, beans, and carrots, as well as flowering plants like nasturtiums, sunflowers, and marigolds. When individuals come to the Community Action, Inc. Food Pantry, they will be offered plants. In addition to growing their own food, families can get children involved watering the garden, picking the veggies, and looking for worms and bugs. A small hobby for the whole family with encouraging results and fresh produce to eat. Penn State Master Gardener trainees are required to participate in a minimum of 40 hours classroom training, score 80 percent on the midterm and final exam, and fulfill 50 hours of volunteer service. Those interested in learning more about the Master Gardener Program may contact the Penn State Cooperative Extension office at (814) 223-9028 or the Cooperative Extension office in your county.

USPS Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger

Thank you to the Clarion Post Office and their 32nd Annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive held last week across northwestern PA for donating to our Clarion County Food Pantry, and thank you to our RSVP volunteers for helping to sort the donation!

Exciting Career Readiness Collaboration!

We are excited to announce our partnership with the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce and the Punxsutawney Area School District in an effort to empower our students with Career-Ready Programs, by helping to provide work-based learning with the support of our local businesses and partnerships with local agencies. In the coming weeks we will be reaching out to local businesses with a survey to gauge interest in participating in career readiness programs. If you are a local community organization and would like to partner with us on this mission, please send an email to [email protected] or call 814-938-7700, ext. 2.

PA Homeowner Assistance Fund

The Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund (PAHAF) has reopened for homeowners struggling as a result of pandemic-related financial hardships. Eligible homeowners may receive relief for mortgage and housing-related expenses to address delinquency and avoid default, foreclosure or displacement from their homes. Interested PA homeowners may visit www.pahaf.org for more information, or call 888-987-2423 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Click the image above to find out if you are eligible.

Contractors Needed

ERAP Accepting Applications

The ERAP (Emergency Rental Assistance Program) is currently accepting applications! See the flyer above for additional information, and click to access the PA Compass website and fill out your applications. For questions contact Community Action, Inc. at 814-938-3302 ext. 251, or send emails to [email protected].

IRMC and PAH Community Health Needs Assessment for 2024 Survey

IRMC and PAH Community Health Assessment Survey

Click the image above to go to the IRMC and PAH 2024 Survey.
Punxsutawney Area Hospital is currently in the process of conducting a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). The assessment includes collecting information from the community regarding what they feel are the health needs of the community, in addition to looking at other secondary data that is available. All of the data collected during the process will be shared with a steering committee, who will then determine priority areas to focus on over the next three years with all the information that is gathered.

Volunteer! Bring out the Best of America

The AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) pairs volunteers aged 55 and older with organizations seeking to strengthen and make changes in their communities. You volunteer where, when and how often you want. You can share life-long experiences and skills, attend recognition events, and receive free excess automobile, accident, and personal liability insurance. Community Action, Inc. sponsors the RSVP program in Clarion, Indiana, and Jefferson Counties. Call 814-226-4785 ext. 104 to find volunteer opportunities in your area or email [email protected].

First Commonwealth Bank’s Successful Share the Warmth Campaign

(Pictured l to r:) Dawn Martin presented checks to Robert A. Cardamone totaling $3,835 in 
community donations received and a matching $3,835 gift from First Commonwealth Bank from 
their recent “Share the Warmth Campaign”.

(Pictured l to r:) Dawn Martin presented checks to Robert A. Cardamone totaling $3,835 in community donations received and a matching $3,835 gift from First Commonwealth Bank from their recent “Share the Warmth Campaign”.
Community Action, Inc. raised $7,600 through First Commonwealth Bank’s “Share the Warmth Campaign” held during the month of November 2023. Robert A. Cardamone, Executive Director, commented, "Community Action, Inc. truly appreciates the community’s donations and First Commonwealth Bank’s matching funds. These funds will be used to help families make the transition to financial self-reliance which is a ‘win-win’ for our consumers and our communities.” Cardamone stated, “First Commonwealth Bank not only speaks about community partnerships but provides resources and invests in the communities they serve.” Dawn Martin, First Commonwealth Bank Vice President and Punxsutawney Branch Manager stated, “We are proud to partner with Community Action, Inc. and to financially support their vision and activities to solve social and economic problems. First Commonwealth Bank is about community partnerships and giving our time and resources in the communities where we live, work and bank.” For more information regarding Community Action, Inc., please visit www.jccap.org; call (814) 938-3302; or visit Facebook.com/JeffersonClarionCAP

'Look for the Helpers' at Americorps RSVP

RSVP Volunteers Recognized at Trinity Hall, Fairmount City, PA

RSVP Volunteers Recognized at Trinity Hall, Fairmount City, PA
CLARION, Pa. (EYT) - Fred Rogers once offered some famous advice “to look for the helpers”. Mr. Rogers could have found plenty of helpers at the recent 2023 volunteer celebration held by AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP and Community Action Inc. “AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP is the largest senior volunteer program in the nation,” said Cheryl Shellhammer, AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP Director. Since 1971 RSVP has dedicated itself to solving problems in our local communities and is an effective means to help our neighbors.” A total of 276 RSVP AmeriCorps volunteers serving Clarion, Indiana, and Jefferson Counties donated 23,056 volunteer hours in 2023. “RSVP Volunteers monitors fields and streams; knit, sew, and crochet for those in need; help in food pantries and deliver home-delivered meals to alleviate food insecurities; and perform a variety of services at hospitals and other non-profits,” Shellhammer said. “Volunteers also make possible the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), and in 2023, prepared 1642 federal tax return. Finally, this year we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the New Bethlehem Valley Thrift Shop and their 50 volunteers.” “On behalf of Community Action, Inc., the Corporation for National and Community Service; the AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP Advisory Council; and the Commissioners of Clarion, Indiana, and Jefferson Counties, thank you for your caring and your service; you have and continue to make a difference in our communities.”

More than 60 RSVP Volunteers Honored at Luncheon

Carla Sweitzer was recognized for being a superhero for RSVP for five years. Presenting her certificates were (from left) Commissioners Scott North and Jeff Pisarcik, and state Rep. Brian Smith.

Carla Sweitzer was recognized for being a superhero for RSVP for five years. Presenting her certificates were (from left) Commissioners Scott North and Jeff Pisarcik, and state Rep. Brian Smith.
Photo and Caption Courtesy of Patti Slaughter and Courier Express/Jeffersonian Democrat, read more at the link below.

Penn State Master Gardeners Donate Plants and Fresh Vegetables to Clarion Food Pantry

Pictured above (L to R): Clarion Master Gardeners presenting vegetables to Community Action, Inc. are Pam Hufnagel; Stephanie Wilshire; Susan McElhattan; Crystal Walter, Community Action, Inc. Case Manager; Cheryl Shellhammer, AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP Director; and Alice Thurau.

Pictured above (L to R): Clarion Master Gardeners presenting vegetables to Community Action, Inc. are Pam Hufnagel; Stephanie Wilshire; Susan McElhattan; Crystal Walter, Community Action, Inc. Case Manager; Cheryl Shellhammer, AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP Director; and Alice Thurau.
The Clarion County Penn State Master Gardeners donated more than 300 vegetable plants to Community Action, Inc. last week for distribution to clients at the Clarion Food Pantry. The vegetables were grown by the master gardeners at their horticultural resource center, AKA: greenhouse and demonstration garden, located at the Clarion County Park. The regional coordinator from Penn State Extension provided the master gardeners with seeds, soil, jiffy pots, hoses, and a wheelbarrow. The gardeners supplied the loving care to grow the plants and vegetables. For the third consecutive year, fresh vegetables are available at the Clarion Food Pantry located at 30A South Sheridan Road at the Community Action, Inc. office. Some of the plants donated were a variety of tomatoes, cabbage, pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, and various herbs. The Master Gardeners also planted an extended demonstration garden with tomatoes, peppers, onions, beets, beans, and carrots, as well as flowering plants like nasturtiums, sunflowers, and marigolds. Vegetables from the garden will be donated to the Community Action Food pantry regularly as the vegetables are harvested, the same as last year. When individuals come to the food pantry, they will be offered plants. Children of clients can also get involved, watering the garden, picking the veggies, looking for tomatoes, and looking for little worms and bugs. Penn State Master Gardener trainees are required to participate in a minimum of 40 hours classroom training, score 80 percent on the midterm and final exam, and fulfill 50 hours of volunteer service. Those interested in learning more about the Master Gardener Program may contact the Penn State Cooperative Extension office at (814) 223-9028 or the Cooperative Extension office in your county. Individuals in Clarion County in need of assistance with food may contact Community Action, Inc. at (814) 226-4785 or via [email protected].

CNB Bank Employees Support Those Experiencing Homelessness

The CNB Bank employees at the Clearfield Main Office recently participated in a donation drive to support individuals and families experiencing homelessness. One of the recipients from the CNB donation drive was Community Action, Inc.’s Crossroads Project, serving homeless individuals / families impacted by domestic violence. Pictured are (L to R):  Becky Misko, Crossroads Coordinator; Taylor Butler, CNB Employee Resources Assistant; Leslie McGonigal, CNB Health & Wellness Specialist; and Tracy Johnson, CNB Employee Resources Assistant with one of the baskets of donated items.

The CNB Bank employees at the Clearfield Main Office recently participated in a donation drive to support individuals and families experiencing homelessness. One of the recipients from the CNB donation drive was Community Action, Inc.’s Crossroads Project, serving homeless individuals / families impacted by domestic violence. Pictured are (L to R): Becky Misko, Crossroads Coordinator; Taylor Butler, CNB Employee Resources Assistant; Leslie McGonigal, CNB Health & Wellness Specialist; and Tracy Johnson, CNB Employee Resources Assistant with one of the baskets of donated items.
“CNB Bank employees at the Clearfield Main Office recently participated in a donation drive to support individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Each month, the Bank’s Employee Resources team has a goal to support a local organization and contribute to a community project. The team recognized the need to support the homeless population in the area, considering the limited resources currently available to them. Donations of coats, clothing, and blankets were given to a local mission in Harrisburg and a church's homeless mission closet, the Closet of Hope,” explained Taylor Butler, CNB Employee Resources Assistant. Ms. Butler went on to explain, “Due to the increasing need, the team also chose to collect items for local homeless projects and shelters during April 2023. After donating to a local men's shelter, the team looked for an organization to focus on providing aid for both women and children in Clearfield County; Community Action's Crossroads Project, which assists families with emergency shelter and housing assistance through social service resources, was selected as a beneficiary.” The Crossroads Director, Suella Himes, and Coordinator, Becky Misko, were very happy to provide the team with a list of items needed by their domestic violence shelter and the CNB Bank team got started collecting laundry and household cleaning products, hygiene items, non-perishable food, and flashlights. “Donations and projects such as CNB Bank’s enable Crossroads to provide victims of domestic violence a safe place to stay and basic daily necessities while they establish plans for a safer future,” noted Ms. Misko. “Donations also provide encouragement to victims that someone cares and wants them to have a brighter day and future,” added Ms. Himes. The Crossroads Project enables individuals and families affected by domestic violence up to 30-days emergency shelter (with meals) while Crossroads staff provide free and confidential services including: safety planning; information and referral; and legal advocacy. Crossroads also provides a 24-hour domestic violence prevention hotline and support group activities. “The CNB Bank team believes that helping individuals can have a positive impact on their lives, and perhaps even the world,” added Ms. Butler. Andrew Gifford once said, "You can't change the world. You can change a person's world. The more people you help, the more worlds you've changed.” For more information on CNB Bank community involvement, visit your local branch. Those seeking help or more information on domestic violence may contact the Crossroads Project at 1-800-598-3998 or [email protected].

Junior Girl Scouts Earn Bronze Award

Junior Girl Scouts from Troop # 46777 created 30 care packages for children impacted by domestic violence while earning their Bronze Award, the third highest award in Girl Scouts of the USA.  Delivering the care packages are:  Lydia Geist, Serena Elbel, Jaysa Barenchik, Bailey Schneider, Isabella Valkosky, Danielle Davis, Abigail Richards, and Anna Bishop.  Missing from the photo is Bailey Griffith.

Junior Girl Scouts from Troop # 46777 created 30 care packages for children impacted by domestic violence while earning their Bronze Award, the third highest award in Girl Scouts of the USA. Delivering the care packages are: Lydia Geist, Serena Elbel, Jaysa Barenchik, Bailey Schneider, Isabella Valkosky, Danielle Davis, Abigail Richards, and Anna Bishop. Missing from the photo is Bailey Griffith.
Junior Girl Scouts from Troop #46777 recently earned their Bronze Award while collecting and providing 30 care packages for children impacted by domestic violence in the local area. Scout Leader, Leslie Geist, explained the Bronze Award (third highest award in Girl Scouts of the USA) involves junior girl scouts (grades 4 or 5) selecting a team project to make a difference in their community. They work as a team to create a plan of action, spread the word and involve others, and work together to make a positive impact in the community. Scout Leaders Kira Elbel and Cheri Barenchik also assisted with the project. Ms. Geist stated, “They knew they wanted to help other kids. Their project evolved into collecting blankets, coloring books, crayons, books, and stuffed animals. Then using proceeds from their cookie sales, they purchased and decorated pillow cases to place each care package into, before donating to the Crossroads Project for domestic violence.” “We are so proud that these young girl scouts thought of children in need and wanted to offer encouragement and comfort to children impacted by domestic violence,” stated Suella Himes, Crossroads Director. The Scouts’ care packages bring smiles, comfort knowing others care, and provide something that is their very own for the children in shelter,” added Ms. Himes. “The girls were excited to know their care packages would go to kids who needed it the most,” added Ms. Geist. The Crossroads Project provides free and confidential services to victims of domestic violence including: 30-day emergency shelter; safety planning, information and referrals; legal advocacy; and a 24-hour domestic violence hotline. “Crossroads congratulates the Junior Girl Scouts for earning the Bronze Award and challenges the community to carry-on the Scouts example of making a difference in your community,” concluded Ms. Himes. For more information about domestic violence and services available, please contact Community Action, Inc.’s Crossroads Project at 1-800-598-3998 or [email protected].

Community Action Inc. Welcomes Jefferson County Fair Volunteer Station

Community Action, Inc. (CAI) is pleased to welcome the Jefferson County Fair as the newest AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) station in Jefferson County. AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP is one of the largest volunteer efforts in the nation engaging people age 55 and older in volunteer activities throughout their communities. Volunteers have the opportunity to share their skills, knowledge, and companionship with others while helping their neighbors and community. The Jefferson County Fair offers many opportunities for senior volunteers, including: building preparation, monitoring, accepting exhibits, assisting with judging, and manning concession stands. There is also flower planting, lawn care, and record keeping activities. There’s something for everyone! If you are age 55 or older and would like to sign up to volunteer at the Jefferson County Fair in July 2023, please contact AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP at Community Action, Inc. (814)226-4785, ext. 104; toll free 1-800-997-7661; or via email at [email protected]. Additional volunteer opportunities are also available.

Valley Thrift Shop Celebrates 40 years of Volunteerism

April is National Volunteer Month and how better to kick-off the celebration of volunteering than with the Valley Thrift Shop Volunteers.  (L to R:) Judy Jacklin, Carol Morgan (sitting), Debbie Silvis, Virginia Young, and Phyllis Hollobaugh.

April is National Volunteer Month and how better to kick-off the celebration of volunteering than with the Valley Thrift Shop Volunteers. (L to R:) Judy Jacklin, Carol Morgan (sitting), Debbie Silvis, Virginia Young, and Phyllis Hollobaugh.
Valley Thrift Shop recently celebrated their fortieth anniversary in service to the New Bethlehem community. The occasion was marked with an open house, door prizes, and refreshments on March 23 and 24. Valley Thrift Shop began in 1983 as the mission of local churches to help those in need. Donations of clothing and household items were offered at reasonable prices and all proceeds above rent and utilities were used to support local non-profits. Through the years the community has supplied donations which are welcomed to stock the store and the inventory has grown to include decorative pieces, books, holiday items, jewelry, games, CDs, and DVDs. All profits continue to support the local charities. Valley Thrift Shop is completely operated by volunteers. Co-directors Debbie Silvis and Judy Jacklin are currently assisted by 51 volunteers; but there have been hundreds of volunteers over the past 40 years. Many of them are members of AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP Program, sponsored by Community Action Inc. April is National Volunteer Month. Community Action, Inc. thanks the Valley Thrift Shop volunteers for their tireless efforts in making a difference in people’s lives and their community. Valley Thrift Shop is located at 224 Broad Street, New Bethlehem, PA and is open 10 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Donations are accepted during store hours. If you are interested in volunteering or are looking for volunteer opportunities, contact Community Action, Inc.’s AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP Program at (814) 226-4785 or [email protected].

Seneca Resources Donates to Victims of Domestic Violence

Safety and reliable service are two of the top priorities for gas and utility companies; but recently, the staff at Seneca Resources Company, LLC (Brookville, PA location) expanded their concerns to include victims of domestic violence in Jefferson and Clearfield Counties.  Pictured (far L & far R) are:  Seneca Resources staff, Deborah Morris and Rachel Hannon presenting a corporate donation plus delivering boxes of donated items to Crossroads Counselor / Advocates, Tina Haskins and Greg “Bo” Stiver.

Safety and reliable service are two of the top priorities for gas and utility companies; but recently, the staff at Seneca Resources Company, LLC (Brookville, PA location) expanded their concerns to include victims of domestic violence in Jefferson and Clearfield Counties. Pictured (far L & far R) are: Seneca Resources staff, Deborah Morris and Rachel Hannon presenting a corporate donation plus delivering boxes of donated items to Crossroads Counselor / Advocates, Tina Haskins and Greg “Bo” Stiver.
The Seneca Serves Committee from the Seneca Resources, Brookville location, chose to help area victims of domestic violence by collecting and donating needed items to Community Action, Inc.’s Crossroads Project, which covers Jefferson and Clearfield Counties. Seneca Serves staff collected and donated two truckloads of clothing and shoes for all ages; bedding, towels, dishes, pots and pans, personal hygiene items, and household items. The staff went the extra mile to sort, box, and label the donations for easy storage and distribution at Crossroads locations in DuBois and Punxsutawney, PA. “March is Women’s History Month and we wanted to do something as an office to benefit women within Seneca Resources’ operating area. We chose to support Crossroads because of the profound impact it has on the people it serves, not just women, but anyone who is impacted by domestic violence. It’s our hope that through our donation these individuals will have the resources they need to recover,” explained Rachel Hannon, Environmental Engineer for Seneca Resources. Additionally, Seneca Resources provided a $1,000 donation to Crossroads to “help sustain Crossroads locations and services plus purchase food, help with housing or relocation needs, and the many needs involved with surviving and re-establishing safety and security after domestic violence,” noted Ms. Suella Himes, Crossroads Director, for Community Action, Inc. Heather DuBose Huska, Sr. Representative, Content Management, Seneca Resources Company, LLC, stated “Community is a core value of Seneca Resources, and we are committed to the health and vitality of our local communities. Our employees live and raise families here, so it’s important that we give back and hold ourselves to the highest standards of corporate responsibility. This commitment to our local communities established our “Seneca Serves” program enabling our employees to volunteer or donate to employee-selected local charities and groups to aid and strengthen their home communities.” The Crossroads Project of Community Action, Inc. provides many services to victims of domestic violence in Jefferson and Clearfield Counties, including: 30-day emergency shelter; prevention and option information; legal advocacy; and a 24-hour domestic violence prevention hotline. “We really appreciate Seneca Serves staff and the Seneca Resources Company, LLC for supporting domestic violence victims and families in Jefferson and Clearfield Counties through our Crossroads Project. Their enthusiasm and collections not only help with immediate and household needs; but provide encouragement and empower domestic violence victims with the knowledge that others care and want them to be safe,” concluded Suella Himes, Crossroads Director. For more information about Community Action, Inc.’s Crossroads services, domestic violence prevention, or volunteer opportunities, please contact Crossroads at 1-800-598-3998 or [email protected].