Penn State Wilkes-Barre, United Way continue annual partnership

The Penn State Wilkes-Barre logo next to the United Way of Wyoming Valley logo
Credit: Penn State

DALLAS, Pa. — Penn State Wilkes-Barre supports numerous local organizations through the United Way of Wyoming Valley, which funds 27 programs through 18 agencies helping children and adults in the region.

Each year, the campus holds an annual campaign for the United Way of the Wyoming Valley. This year’s campaign kicked off with a CommUNITY Breakfast for faculty and staff with a theme of sustainability.

“Our focus was sustainability because we saw it as the thread between the United Way’s mission and our campus goals and strategic plan,” said Alyssa Ellsworth, marketing communications specialist, who served as United Way co-chair on campus along with Alex Ellsworth, associate director of admissions, and Gina Miale, administrative assistant. The co-chairs organized the event with the collaboration of the campus Sustainability Council, chaired by Erin Brennan, assistant teaching professor of business, and Sue Gross, assistant to the chancellor.

“We wanted to encourage our colleagues to support the United Way because support for the United Way means support for our community,” Ellsworth said. “One of our campus’ strategic priorities is sustainability. When you support the United Way, you are helping to grant children access to education, meet their health needs and connect them and their families with a variety of resources that support them as they grow. The socioeconomic impact promotes sustainability in the area we all call home, and that furthers our campus goals while propelling our community forward.”

Those attending the breakfast heard presentations from the United Way; Valley Youth House, one of the United Way’s partner agencies; and Brennan, who provided information on Penn State Wilkes-Barre and sustainability.

Sustainability was incorporated into the breakfast in various ways. Posters of United Nations’ sustainability goals — including quality education, no poverty, sustainable cities, and communities and partnership for the goals — that Penn State Wilkes-Barre and the United Way are helping meet through their collaboration were displayed on the fireplaces. A “Giving Tree” was set up for attendees to exchange items from their homes, and a fresh wreath raffle was held courtesy of Helen & Ed’s Tree Farm in Wapwallopen.

The campaign ended on Dec. 20, but the spirit of giving isn't limited to the winter holidays at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. Members of the campus community are involved in volunteer activities throughout the year. During one of those events last semester, students volunteered at a haunted attraction with all proceeds benefitting the United Way of Wyoming Valley.

Students Jenna Rose Vincenti, Cherry Pisaneschi and Joanna Renee Shaw volunteered as actors as part of the production, tour guides for the patrons of the haunted walk and other staff roles at Gravestone Manor in Wilkes-Barre after the United Way asked Penn State Wilkes-Barre to recruit volunteers early in the semester. 

“The Gravestone Manor production that the United Way puts on each year raises money for their continued charitable efforts. We were glad to be able to rally student volunteers to help with this initiative, which also, in turn, got them to engage with the local community in a unique way,” said John Vito Powell, student activities coordinator. “The opportunity was also beneficial for the students as they had past experiences and interests in theatrical arts and drama. This initiative was a perfect fit for them to enhance their skills and interests outside of the classroom.”