Communities combine to bolster children’s learning

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Lycoming County United Way is proud to serve the community we call home. Through this column, which will be published on the third Sunday of each month, the organization wishes to bring to light the many definitions of the word “community.”)

Community is an often used word, but what does it really mean? Somewhat like describing beauty – its definition may rest entirely with those uttering the word.

The accepted authority on such matters, Webster’s Dictionary, hedges its bet a bit listing four alternatives for the reader’s selection:

A group of people residing in the same region and under the same government;

A class or group with common interests;

Likeness or identity;

Society in general.

Communities themselves can look inward or outward in conducting their business and addressing the needs of those they serve. For Lycoming County United Way (LCUW), the ongoing mission to improve lives of community members often is achieved by blending the two in a unified approach that nibbles from the varied menu choices of Webster’s smorgasbord of definitions.

The reality of commonality reveals throughout central Pennsylvania concern exists that improving preschool learning and enhancing reading skills are important tools for achieving educational success.

To address the growing need, LCUW is reaching beyond its community borders to join with other area United Way organizations in the Susquehanna River Region to put age-appropriate books in the homes of preschool youngsters across the region.

“For the past few years we have been working with the United Ways in Columbia County, Berwick, Danville and Greater Susquehanna Valley to establish the Women’s Leadership Council,” said Scott N. Lowery, LCUW executive director. “Through these efforts we have identified early childhood education as a priority human service need throughout the region.

“With an expressed goal to better prepare youngsters for entry into the school systems, the WLC has been working with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to introduce the world of reading to preschoolers,” Lowery said. “Participating youngsters (up to the age of 5 years old) will receive books, at no cost to them, mailed directly to their homes each month. Through this program, hundreds of youngsters are being introduced to the world of reading, while at the same time strengthening the parent/child relationship.

“By any definition this is a true community initiative,” he added. “Imagine the excitement each month when a youngster receives a book in the mail with his or her name on it. It is something that belongs to them and at the same time whets their appetite to read and learn.”

Individuals, organizations or businesses can sponsor a child or multiple children for $25 per year, per child. Sponsorship information can be obtained by contacting the Lycoming County United Way, 570-323-9448 or by email to

The United Way Women’s Leadership Council of the Susquehanna Valley River Region invites the collective community to attend a Dolly Parton Tribute performance Sept. 12 at the Community Arts Center. The show, direct from Las Vegas, features Sandy Vee Anderson whom Dolly Parton describes as “the best tribute to me … She even fools my family.”

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are on sale for $25. Ticket information can be obtained by calling the CAC box office, 570-326-2424 or visiting

Wertz is the director of resource development for Lycoming County United Way.