The Wise Options program of YWCA Northcentral PA is a safe haven and source of support for the people of Lycoming County, giving help and hope to women, men and children surviving domestic violence, sexual assault and other violent crimes.
Free and confidential services are provided by Wise Options 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trained staff and volunteers provide immediate support and information to help clients with crisis and offer follow-up assistance to cope with ongoing related issues.
Wise Options services include emergency shelter, crisis intervention, court accompaniment, hospital accompaniment and community education programs.
Lycoming County United Way believes in the mission of the YWCA and sees the impact the programs make on a daily basis.
"Aided by our community needs assessment surveys, we are continually seeking to direct the campaign funds provided us by the community to addressing the most important human service needs of Lycoming County residents," said Scott N. Lowery, LCUW executive director. "The Wise Options program provides confidential services to victims who have experienced, witnessed, or had a family member involved in domestic and sexual violence, or other violent crimes. Wise Options provides a safe haven for those facing some very stressful times in their lives."
Donors to the United Way campaign, he added, who are interested in helping these three YWCA programs can be assured that their contributions will be applied directly to assisting those in need.
"It is a simple fact of life that the human service needs being faced here in Lycoming County are increasing," Lowery said. "We are accountable to our donors and the YWCA is accountable to us in providing and maintaining these vital programs."
According to Anna Thompson, communications and development manager at the YWCA Northcentral PA, one of the main sources of support to the YWCA and Wise Options are the dedicated volunteers.
"It is through their dedication and passion for the clients and services that we provide, that we are able to reach over 3,000 men, women and children through Wise Options education and programming," Thompson said.
Two volunteers, Radecka Appiah-Padi and Brian Brooking, have become active volunteers with the local YWCA. There seems to be a common theme between Appiah-Padi, who works in the higher education field, and Brooking, who works in finance: both wish to give back to the community.
"There is more to life than earning an income," Appiah-Padi said. "What can I do to give to others? Wise Options for me is like a lifeline. Every day they are giving women and children a second chance at life, and I wanted to be a part of that. It's great getting to watch people turn their live around. Who wouldn't want to be a part of it?"
Brooking said he first learned about Wise Options through United Way after serving on review panels and volunteering in various capacities.
"I was able to learn in-depth about the program and the impact it can have on someone's life," Brooking said. "We are too busy to do things just to do them. I wanted to make a direct impact. As time's gone by, I've met people who have been affected by domestic violence and I don't know how to help them. When I became a Wise Options volunteer, it gave me the opportunity to grow and share the knowledge that I've learned."
Now, he said, when people say to him, "Did you see in the paper about this case of domestic violence," he can say, "Did you know that one in four women have been victims of abuse?"
"We have that knowledge," Brooking said. "And I think it's our responsibility to share that. It's in our back yard."
Lycoming County United Way not only provides financial support to all three YWCA programs, but also an opportunity to meet and work with new and dedicated members of the Lycoming County community, Thompson said.
"Through their educational outreach, they provide the YWCA and Wise Options the chance to reach a diverse group of people through unique channels, educating on the services we provide and volunteer opportunities available," she said.
"Our United Way funds programs, not agencies," Lowery said. "The funds we provide are used for specific human service programs and must be accounted for accordingly. In addition to Wise Options, we provide funding for two other programs housed at the YWCA. They include Liberty House, a housing shelter program for women and children and CASA, which provides specially trained volunteers to advocate in the interest of abused or neglected children. These three programs run at the YWCA are all important to the well-being of our citizens and worthy of support."
Please consider giving to Lycoming County United Way campaign this year. The affects of your donation reach neighbors in your community like those helped by YWCA Northcentral PA, who may find themselves facing a hardship. For more information, visit www.lcuw.org.