Central Pennsylvania has seen a lot of changes the last few years due to the development of Marcellus Shale. The symbolic over-sized white pickup trucks and water-hauling tankers can be seen throughout our region, hotels and restaurants are often full, retail sales have increased, and new companies seem to appear every day.
This thriving industry has brought countless new businesses and jobs to our community and along with that has come a wave of generosity and compassion.
Lycoming County United Way (LCUW) has seen an increase in volunteerism as well as campaign participation through gas and gas-related companies.
"We have a 'Natural Resources' division of campaign now specifically for the Marcellus and related businesses, run by volunteers who work in the industry," explained Kate Pacacha of LCUW. "This nine-person team is led by Marty Muggleton, of Larson Design Group. It is a group of very bright, talented and kindhearted people who sincerely want to help our neighbors."
Kendall Simon is one of those volunteers.
"Stallion has made a donation to United Way and designated the gift to assist the homeless in our community. Due to the increasing population in Williamsport and the major flood last fall, we are well aware of the ever- increasing need for affordable housing for all Lycoming County residents," said Simon, office manager at Stallion Oilfield Services and an active community volunteer. "Part of the product line for Stallion is providing homes for employees living on the wellsite locations and we would like our emphasis on accommodations to resound in our community donation as well."
Simon and her husband, Cameron, moved to Williamsport four years ago with Stallion after living in Texas, Alaska, and Wyoming.
"We are happy to be here and be an active part of the community, we really love it here," added Simon. "In addition to working with United Way, we are involved with several other volunteer efforts."
Another avid community volunteer and LCUW team member is Sandy Spencer, of Patterson & Wilder Construction Co. Inc. Pipeline Contractors.
"We live in such a wonderful community," she said. "I'm happy to work in the Marcellus industry and welcome the new neighbors, families and friends the industry has brought to us. By volunteering with United Way, I can help to show them our tremendous spirit of taking care of one another and they are glad to offer what they can."
According to Muggleton, some of the gas-related companies that have donated this year are Allison Crane & Rigging, American Peak Production, Anadarko, Chief Oil & Gas, Fairway Laboratories, Folse Land Service, Halliburton, McTish Kunkle & Associates, Newalta, Patterson & Wilder, Pennsylvania General Energy, Quandel Group, Range Resources, Red Oak Water Transfer, Rigmaids, ROC Service, Sooner Pipe, Stallion Oil Field Services and TerrAqua Resource Management.
"When we tell people that 97 percent of the funds raised stay right here in Lycoming County to help our neighbors, they are impressed," said Muggleton. "They trust United Way to meet the most pressing community needs."
One of the first gas companies to get involved with United Way was Chief Oil & Gas in 2008.
"Chief has been operating in Lycoming County for five years. We have always focused on community outreach in areas of our operations, not only to be good corporate citizens," said Daria Fish of Chief Oil & Gas. "Most of our employees are from the local area and we want to help our friends and neighbors. This was especially important after the flooding. We are proud to partner with the dedicated team of the LCUW."
The Marcellus development also has created opportunities for entrepreneurs. David Pfleegor started a new business in Montoursville called Rigmaids, a professional cleaning service dedicated to the natural gas and oil industry.
"We saw a need that wasn't being met in the industry so we developed Rigmaids," Pfleegor explained. "Our staff is specially trained to be able to work on the rig sites. We adhere to all safety requirements, and we meet all insurance levels needed to be on site, which you don't usually find in a cleaning service.
"I enjoy volunteering with United Way and having the chance to give back to our community as well as sharing what I know about the human service programs with others in the gas business," added Pfleegor. "Rigmaids just gives me another avenue to help the United Way."
Throughout the United Way campaign, more than half of the money raised comes through employees giving in the workplace. In the Natural Resources division, Anadarko held a robust employee campaign that the corporation matches dollar for dollar.
"We know the most effective way to create positive change in our community is through United Way," stated Mary Wolf of Anadarko and a member of the LCUW board of directors. "The company match doubles the good United Way can do not just here in Lycoming County, but also in Centre and Clinton counties where we also operate." She added, "that it is more than just donating funds, it is also about being a part of the community through service and matching employee volunteer interests with agency volunteer needs."
"LCUW funds 43 local human service programs throughout Lycoming County and we couldn't do it without the kindness and generosity of folks like this," concluded Pacacha. "They exhibit a personal commitment of pride and dedication helping to make Lycoming County a better place for all of us to live, work and raise our families."
For more information on LCUW, call 323.9448 or visit lcuw.org. Lycoming County United Way also now ison Facebook.