It is hard to believe that the holidays are upon us. When the streetlamps in downtown Williamsport are adorned with wreaths, we can be sure that the sound of bells is just around the corner.
It seems appropriate that just before many people put up Christmas trees, surrounded with gifts of all shapes and sizes, that we are given the opportunity to consider the many things for which we are thankful.
To some, Thanksgiving Day is a time of family, friends, food and warmth, but to others in our community, blessings are far and few between.
Each year, Lycoming County United Way is faced with the challenge of evaluating the needs in the community. The area's human service agencies are diligent in addressing many of the challenges facing community members, but as demonstrated by last year's LCUW allocation results, the struggles continue to rise.
Although last year's campaign total was the highest in the history of Lycoming County United Way and more than $1.3 million was distributed to assist with 38 programs in the county, a shortfall in funding still was apparent.
The American Rescue Workers reported that it assisted 598 unduplicated individuals who asked for assistance.
Its Comprehensive Emergency Assistance Program, which receives funding from LCUW, provides emergency material assistance in the form of food, clothing, shelter and other essentials such as prescription medication, rent, utilities, transportation, medical equipment and eyeglasses to people in crisis those things we often take for granted.
Let us be thankful for our daily necessities.
Five hundred eighty-four of the area's senior citizens were able to preserve their independence and remain active in the community thanks to Step Office of Aging.
United Way funds support the Home Delivered Meals Program, which delivers a complete and balanced hot meal to seniors who are homebound and cannot cook for themselves, and also the Congregate Meals Program that provides socialization and a balanced meal served in community senior centers.
Let us be thankful for our family, friends and ability to prepare the Thanksgiving feast.
Domestic abuse and homelessness often go hand-in-hand.
The community is fortunate to be able to offer a safe haven for victims of domestic violence. YWCA Northcentral PA supports the area's women and children who find themselves in difficult situations with its Liberty House, Wise Options and CASA programs.
Liberty House is a housing program that provides shelter to female-headed families and transitional housing for single women. Participants receive individual case management services that detail how they will meet their identified goals that include economic stability, emotional regulation and educational needs.
The Wise Options program provides confidential services to victims who have experienced, witnessed or had a family member involved in domestic and sexual violence and other violent crimes. The victim center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and includes a 24-hour hotline for intervention and support and emergency shelter with 17 available rooms.
Liberty House and Wise Options provide shelter for 30 women and 30 children. YWCA's Court Appointed Special Advocates provides specially trained volunteers to advocate in the best interest of abused and/or neglected children, which will lead to placement in a safe, nurturing, permanent home. CASA is serving 40 children.
"As we gather with family and friends, share their company, enjoy the tradition of the Thanksgiving meal and take the time to read this article, we should also reflect on the blessings we enjoy and understand there are so many others in our community who for them Thanksgiving is just another day of struggle and strife," said Scott N. Lowery, LCUW executive director. "The support the community has given our United Way enabling us to help others has earned our heartfelt thanks. Let us be thankful for the comfort and safety of our loved ones."
At this time of year, when many of the workplace campaigns in support of Lycoming County United Way are coming to a close, consider making a contribution to help those neighbors who may be facing a hardship.
LCUW is grateful to the donors and volunteers who make it possible to give those in need something to be thankful for.
For more information, visit the LCUW website or call 323-9448.