July Success Stories in PA
July Success Stories in PA
Agency spotlights
July 2021 Newsletter
Success Stories That Shine
Program Success Story Aiding Veterans
Rita Wasnick (left) with Kelley Peters from Senator Wayne Langerholc’s Office and Ed Cernic Jr. (son of Ed Cernic Sr.)

Rita Wasnick Awarded

The Veteran Community Initiatives (VCI)

Ed Cernic, Sr. Community Support

Recognition Award  

Spotlight On Community Action Partnership of Cambria County (CAPCC)
Rita Wasnick is a passionate volunteer helping Veterans.  Her father, Ron, is a Vietnam War Veteran and she knows that so many people want to help Veterans but have no clue where to begin. She came up with the idea of helping Veterans through "The Back Pack" project for homeless Veterans entering homeless shelters, and the "Stuff The Boot" campaign for aiding Veterans with financial needs..
When I tell people what I do and how we use the money to help Veterans - for instance to purchase a new water heater, a bed, or to pay for an auto repair (or even groceries) - they are amazed and want to be a part of it. They will hand me $100 and tell me to put it to good use," explains Rita.
Rita wanted to get together hygiene bags (shampoos, toothpaste, toothbrushes and deodorant) to get Veterans started into the local shelter or their own place.  She wanted them to save money to buy things that are important, like clothing for job searches.  She sought donations from employees and people in the community.  People were starting to send in different types of products, and then they started to submit monetary donations after she wrote letters to local clubs. 
Jeff Vaughn, CAPCC Executive Director, shares, “The people of the community and our Board of Directors are super impressed because this started off very grass roots. Rita had a great idea and I got in touch with the Veterans Leadership Program to set up the backpacks."
A paper boot Rita cut out and one of Rita's friends, Ronald Lunt's, boots - a retired Army Veteran who donated the boot to get the fundraiser started in support of the Veteran Back Pack Program and emergency financial support.
Back in 2019, the local First National Bank donated $5,000 to give the Back Pack Program a "shot in the arm", giving Veterans help with short-term emergency needs. As the supply closet filled, Rita also got the idea of seeking donations from people in the community and she began the "Stuff The Boot" Campaign. 
CAPCC Executive Director, Jeff Vaughn, nominated Rita for the award because people didn't know how both the campaign and program got started. People should know that it's Rita, CAPCC's Human Resources Director, who took this project on, on her own in 2017.  It has become so successful that she handed the program off to CAPCC's Community Services Program.  What started off as a few boxes of supplies, has turned into a full supply-closet full of blankets and items, along with financial support that Veterans need to get started and settled.
Veteran Community Initiative (VCI), who gave Rita the award, is a non-profit charitable organization whose purpose is to enhance the lives and well-being of community residents - focusing on Veterans and the Veteran families.  VCI learned they had a connection to Rita and her father, Ron.  The President/Director met Ron Wasnick back in 1993 when Ron was an early client of the VCI program.  CAPCC is proud of Rita's initiative, as it continues to provide a designated avenue for Veterans to seek help in Cambria County.  Thank you, Rita!

About CAPCC Back Pack & Stuff The Boot Program In Cambria County

  • 50-60 backpacks are handed out by CAPCC annually.
  • To date they have raised over $9,000.
  • CAPCC works with Hope For Tomorrow, which is a transitional housing and service Center for Veterans in Cambria County.
  • Bills, medication, small car repairs, gas money and broken appliances are some of the most requested items by Veterans.
  • CAPCC tries not to duplicate support services for Vets that other organizations run. Oftentimes, Veterans may qualify for CAPCC services, regardless due to income eligibility or circumstances.
3-Generation Client Success Story

Head Start & Local Support Allow a Father to Focus on Employment

Spotlight On Community Progress Council of York County (CPC)

A 2nd & 3rd Generation Success Story In York County

Roger & his Son, Noel
They are a 2nd and 3rd generation of clients benefiting from Community Action.  Roger's mother also received CPC's help when Roger was young.
As a single father, Rogelio "Roger" Colon knows all too much about the struggles to balance life’s commitments and the needs for his 5-year-old son, Noel.  He’s incredibly proud of his son but worries about his own capacity to provide Noel with what he needs most.

Roger, as he’s more commonly known, credits Community Progress Council with helping with some of his biggest necessities – the emotional nurturing of his son who’s enrolled in CPC’s Head Start program in York, PA.

The teachers, staff, and family engagement specialists have embraced Roger and Noel, and often provide some of that care that Roger knows his son greatly needs in his life.  Roger humbly, but proudly, talks about how Noel interacts with other children and works to include his classmates and friends into playtime and other social activities.
"Noel has been part of CPC’s Head Start program only since August 2019, but has already flourished in his emotional and social well-being," Roger said.  Both are key components of the early childhood education program. “There’s a big sense of relief,” said Roger, 30. “Head Start is planting a seed.”
Roger’s engagement with Community Progress Council started when he himself was just 9 or 10 years old, and his mother connected with counselors who worked with her to get help with employment and housing. He remembers how excited his mother was that CPC’s staff could provide her with the resources she needed … in Spanish.

Roger lives in York with Noel and his mother, but he’s largely responsible for his son’s needs and takes that role seriously. He’s excited to get some much-needed support from CPC and sees the growth and progress in Noel.

Today, Roger – when he’s not looking after his son – works in a kitchen at a restaurant east of York, a job he’s held for the past year. Knowing that CPC is helping him and his son in other areas of his life, Roger feels that he can focus a little bit more on his employment.

Having both his restaurant work and recent ServSafe training certification now, food has become not only a way to pay the bills, but has led to an interesting philosophy on life.
“Life is like food,” Roger said. “You have to spice it up, and add ingredients to make it the way you like it.”

Snapshot Tool For Assessing Clients

"211 Counts" For Real-Time Data

The 211 Counts real-time data from PA 211, publicly accessible and searchable, can help give Agencies a snapshot of the needs you are getting contacts for in each community.  This may also be helpful for doing needs assessments for your local communities.

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We would love to honor your agency's successes, partner- ships, clients and accomplishments in this monthly news-letter. Your stories will also be featured on CAAP's website and in social media posts that help celebrate your successes, praise your partnerships, and educate the public on how individuals and families benefit from Community Action.  
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