Our mission is to strengthen communities and families to eliminate poverty in Westmoreland County. This is accomplished through housing, counseling, support, education, intervention, collaborations, partnerships, information, referrals, and networking. Families often struggle to make ends meet. Single parents and single-income families can’t stretch their paycheck far enough to cover their children’s needs. Low-income workers can’t always provide for their families.
Since 1980, Westmoreland Community Action (formerly Westmoreland Human Opportunities) has made Westmoreland County a better place to live by helping struggling families improve their standard of living and become more self sufficient. Through housing services, emergency assistance, mental health programs, employment programs, child development and more we have helped thousands of Westmoreland County’s disadvantaged residents.
We strive to educate the community and local employers to raise awareness of the plight of the lower income families in our area. Our mission is to strengthen communities and families to eliminate poverty. This is accomplished through housing, information, referral, support, collaboration, networking, intervention, counseling, education, and partnerships. Westmoreland Community Action’s leadership is essential to community service agencies, churches, businesses, civic groups and local governments in Westmoreland County. We are one of 43 Community Action agencies in Pennsylvania.
Formerly known as WHO
Formerly known as WHO (Westmoreland Human Opportunities), Westmoreland Community Action officially changed their name in May of 2008 to better reflect the mission of the organization.
The decision to change the agency name was recently made the Board of Directors to better align with National and State Community Action Programs, said Tay Waltenbaugh, Chief Executive Officer.
Westmoreland Community Actions new mission statement, strengthening communities and families to eliminate poverty, continues the agency’s dedication to assisting those in need, but also focuses on the need for communities to do more to help the less fortunate in the county.
Community Action has been in Westmoreland County since 1980. Westmoreland Community Action still administers social service programs to alleviate and eliminate the conditions of poverty and assist the County’s disadvantaged populations. With more than 35 years of experience, Westmoreland Community Action has learned to meet the changing needs of children, adults and families by setting outcome-based goals and using solid case management in conjunction with supportive service programs.
Board Of Directors
|President||Ms. Amy Emili||Community Representative|
|Vice President||Mr. Barry Gaetano||Gaetano Insurance Services|
|Secretary||Ms. Janice Gebicki||Community Representative|
|Treasurer||Ms. Nancy Golden||Community Representative|
|Solicitor||Mr. Dan Pagliari||Paletta, Pagliari, Vigilante|
|Commissioner Charles Anderson||Sean Kertes, Proxy|
|Commissioner Gina Cerilli||Don O’Brien, Prox|
|Commissioner Ted Kopas||Dante Decario, Proxy|
|Mr. Clyde Bittner||Community Representative|
|Ms. Lucy Bittner||Community Representative|
|Ms. Denise Flannigan||Community Representative|
|Mr. Scott Guldin||The Guildin Group|
|Representative Ted Harhai||Lori Lambie, Proxy|
|Mr. Wayne Hewitt||Community Representative|
|Mr. John Kirkling||County Assistance Office|
|Ms. Joyce Long||Community Representative|
|Ms. Sarelle McSwiggen||Community Representative|
|Congressman Tim Murphy||Lou Lazzaro, Proxy|
|Representative Mike Reese||Jordan Frei, Proxy|
|Mr. Terry Roberts||Elliott Group|
|Mr. Scott Sistek||Community Representative|
|Mr. Frank Van Horn||PNC|
|Senator Kim Ward||Dottie Staffen, Proxy|
|Tay R. Waltenbaugh||Chief Executive Officer||724-834-1260 ext 105|
|Jeffrey D. Diehl||Chief Financial Officer||724-834-1260 ext 104|
|Tammy Patterson||Director of Children’s Services||724-834-1260 ext 126|
|Jack Brown||Director, Community Services||724-834-1260 ext 151|
|Stacey Sennett||Director, Mental Health Programs||724-834-1260 ext 137|
|LaQuicha Anderson||Manager, Human Resources||724-834-1260 ext 101|
|Jennifer Kemerer||Executive Assistant||724-834-1260 ext 153|
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History of Community Action in Westmoreland County
In 1980, Westmoreland Human Opportunities is incorporated as a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. The Westmoreland County Commissioners designate the agency as Westmoreland County’s Community Action Agency. Mr. Richard Hunger is appointed the interim Director. Our agency started with a few key services including Head Start, Weatherization, Homemaker Services, Manpower Employment, Youth Development and Visiting Nursing Services.
Over the next five years (1981-1985) under the leadership of Executive Director Bill Patterson, WHO expands to provide even more employment, training, and family development services. From 1986-1988, WHO loses several major programs and the Westmoreland County Commissioners assume control of the agency, relieving the Executive Director Steve Zacks. Interim Director Bill Josefczyk and later Executive Director Diane Marks move the agency to offices in Jeannette, PA and continue to maintain the programs. Current Executive Director Tay Waltenbaugh is hired in 1990 to lead WHO. In just two years, Waltenbaugh rebuilds its reputation with funders, the community, and the Commissioners. The agency continues steady growth through the ’90s, regularly expanding services and budget. In 1995, WHO expanded and moved into offices on Westmoreland Avenue.
A successful Dialog on Poverty (a series of town forums in 1996) gave WHO an opportunity to learn the most pressing issues in local communities and triggered changes in the services offered. An overwhelming need for housing services, WHO began providing the Home Buyer Resource Center to help lower-income families acquire skills and support to become homeowners. Other changes were needed as a result of Welfare Reform. The Supported Work program was formed to answer that need. In 1996, the mental health programs were started as well. Housing services continue to expand. In 1997, WHO purchased and rehabilitated the first house in the City of Jeannette. The agency also took control of the Next Step Supportive Housing (transitional living) to help homeless
families with children.
WHO is recognized with several major awards over the next few years. WHO receives the PNG Community Reinvestment Award for the collaborative nature of the Housing Counseling & Money Management Center and the Neighborhood Revitalization Program in conjunction with Operation Outward Reach. WHO and Westmoreland County receive the US Dept of Housing and Urban Development Blue Ribbon Award for Best Practices in the Continuum of Care category for the efforts to save the Transitional Living Program (Next Steps Supportive Housing). WHO also received its largest private foundation grant: a $200,000 grant from the RK Mellon Foundation to start a Community Building in the City of Jeannette and New Kensington.
Programs, services and budget continue to expand as we transitioned to the 21st Century. A computer network and website help WHO keep pace with technology. In 2003, WHO hosts its 1st Annual Wine Tasting Event, one of the major fundraisers each year. Neighborhood Revitalization expands to New Kensington along with programs in Greensburg and Jeannette. Head Start continues to expand and receives a “Caring Act of Kindness Award” from the Caring Foundation for their commitment to enrolling eligible children in the CHIP program.
In 2005, celebrating its 25th Anniversary, WHO’s programs and services continue to grow. With Head Start celebrating 40 years, WHO develops their first year-round classroom and opens a classroom in a local school district. The Housing Counseling & Money Management Center administers the American Dream Downpayment Initiative program (ADDI) funds for the County and becomes a Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) housing counseling agency. Working with the City of Jeannette, WHO begins two major revitalization projects – the South 6th Street Project and Chestnut Street Project.
In 2008, WHO officially changed their name to Westmoreland Community Action to better reflect the mission of the organization. The agency continued to reach new territory when they became the first Community Action program to receive the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO) Seal of Excellence. This Seal designates successful compliance with the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector and is granted to well managed, responsibly governed organizations that are deserving of the public’s trust.