By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — It was like Christmas in October on Friday for three Union County human-services programs, which will share nearly $300,000 in grants from the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way through a bequest from the Arvilla J. Campbell Arnold Trust.
Each year for the next three years, the trust money will benefit these agencies:
n The Lycoming-Clinton Parent-Child Home Program through STEP Inc., which will receive $66,000 per year.
n The Union County Treatment Court Program, which will get $20,000 per year.
n The Early Care & Education Coalition, which will get $11,000 per year.
The Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way will administer the funds, said Chief Executive Officer and President Keri Albright during a gathering in the Country Cupboard.
The Arnold trust bequeath originally went to the Union County United Way, which merged with the Greater Susquehanna chapter last year.
“When a small, at-risk child is afforded quality care or when an addict can recover, work and never return to prison again, we all win,” Albright said.
The grant funds were more good news for Steven Diehl, adult probation officer and treatment court coordinator for Union County, who said the program this week received accreditation from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Union County’s program is only the fourth in the state to earn this distinction.
“This (funding) will help us bring more people into the program,” Diehl said, “helping us turn around more lives and, ultimately, saving the taxpayers more money.”
Union County started a drug treatment court in 2008 and DUI treatment court in 2010. Both aim to help nonviolent, repeat offenders overcome their addictions and become productive members of society again.
Diehl said the Oct. 17 graduation ceremony in the Union County Courthouse saw the 40th treatment court participant successfully finish the program.
“Drug treatment court not only saves money, it saves lives,” Albright said.
Lycoming-Clinton Parent-Child officials said the money will help them reach out to more families with 2- and 3-year-old children who have poverty, literacy, low-education issues or language barriers.
“Our programs assist parents as well as children” in Union County, one of 20 central Pennsylvania counties it serves, said program Supervisor Rose Williams, there with program Coordinator Laurie Erb.
The program has trained home visitors who go to residences and teach parents to assist in their children’s education.
The Early Care & Education Coalition continues early childhood education programs in Union County as well as Northumberland and Snyder counties. State funding for these programs was eliminated in July.
“This will help United Way to make sure these very important early education programs will continue” for children from infants to age 5, said Sara Lauver, community investment director for the United Way.