Penn State Student United Way recognized as national model

March 20, 2008

University Park, Pa. -- The United Way of America has recognized the Penn State Student United Way as a national model for the formation of similar groups.

Pam Long-Stellabotte, communications director of the Centre County United Way, said the Penn State group, which has been at University Park for seven years, is the only student-run United Way in the country. The national group recognized this achievement by Penn State students and is using their program as a pilot program for other college campuses to form their own student-run United Way chapters.

"This is a positive impact in many ways," said Long-Stellabotte. "They learn about the United Way while they're here and how it impacts communities -- they have a good understanding of the organization and how it plants a seed for their involvement wherever they land as young professionals and whatever they end up doing. At a later point in life, they might not have as much time to give but they can always donate."

Other campuses looking to start their own United Way chapters -- such as the University of Texas in Austin, Florida State, Brigham Young University, Ball State and eight other schools -- will soon be contacting Penn State students for help in building their own successful programs. Jennifer Reedman from Yardley, Pa., who is president of the Penn State Student United Way and a senior criminal justice and sociology major, said advice she'll pass on to the other schools includes the importance of getting volunteers -- through involvement fairs, ads in the paper and postings on Web sites like Craigslist -- and the value of determination and not giving up.

Reedman said she got involved with the group her sophomore year in an effort to do more community service, something she has always done.
"I would love to see the schools start similar programs like Centre County United Way’s Jeans for Teens program, which is similar to Toys for Tots but for older kids who are also needy, from ages 11 to 17," she explained. "As a volunteer, you actually get to meet the kids and take them shopping. It's great when you get to see firsthand who you are helping and how lucky you have it."

Steve Perun, a senior finance major from Allentown, is vice president of the Penn State Student United Way. His neighbor and friend from home recruited him his freshman year at University Park, and he has made a lot of great friends and enjoyed the many different events he has participated in while volunteering with United Way: Habitat for Humanity jobs during spring break, the student-run winter Trash to Treasure sales, chaperoning teen dances at the Moshannon Valley YMCA and helping Hope For Kids, a United Way partner agency, throw holiday parties for foster children.

"You get to see the impact you've made on these people's lives, and it's not that much work, maybe three hours on a Sunday, which is no big deal at all," he said. "And it's nice to say you're a part of the only student-run United Way in the country."


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009