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History

Community Action in Westmoreland County

In 1980, Westmoreland Human Opportunities, Inc. became a non-profit organization and was designated Westmoreland County’s Community Action Agency by the County Commissioners. Richard Hunger served as the interim Director. Initially, our services included Head Start, Weatherization, Homemaker Services, Manpower Employment, Youth Development, and Visiting Nursing Services.

Under Executive Director Bill Patterson’s leadership from 1981 to 1985, WHO expanded employment, training, and family development services. However, between 1986 and 1988, we lost some programs, and County Commissioners took control, replacing Executive Director Steve Zacks. Interim Director Bill Josefczyk and later Executive Director Diane Marks moved the agency to Jeannette, PA, while maintaining programs.

In 1990, Tay Waltenbaugh became the Executive Director, quickly rebuilding our reputation. Through the ’90s, we grew steadily, moving to new offices on Westmoreland Avenue by 1995.

In 1996, the Dialog on Poverty identified local needs, leading to changes in services, including the launch of the Home Buyer Resource Center, Supported Work program, and mental health services. Housing services expanded, including the purchase of the first house in the City of Jeannette in 1997 and management of Next Step Supportive Housing for homeless families with children.

During this period, we received awards such as the PNG Community Reinvestment Award, the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development Blue Ribbon Award, and a $200,000 grant from the RK Mellon Foundation.

In the 21st Century, we embraced technology, hosted the first Annual Wine Tasting Event in 2003, expanded Neighborhood Revitalization, and received recognition for Head Start’s commitment to enrolling eligible children in the CHIP program.

In 2005, we celebrated our 25th Anniversary. Head Start introduced year-round classrooms and partnered with a local school. Our Housing Counseling & Money Management Center managed ADDI funds and became a PHFA housing counseling agency.

In 2008, we changed our name to Westmoreland Community Action and earned the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO) Seal of Excellence, signifying ethical and accountable practices.

In 2019 Mandy Welty Zalich joined the agency as CEO. Mandy grew the agency by over 7 million dollars and expanded programming to include youth and transitional young adult, welcome centers and continues to expand existing programs.

In 2020, we celebrated our 40th anniversary and our current focus is on connecting services to the community to meet people where they are.