WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – If there is strength in numbers, then there are more than one million reasons why a local community is now even stronger. It all comes down to an investment in children who come from struggling households. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains how those kids will benefit.

The school day was done on Tuesday but the learning continued mid-afternoon inside McGlynn Center at Boulevard Townhomes. Dozens of first through 12 graders who live in public housing and need extra education help participate year round in this after-school program. “We wouldn’t be able to exist and provide all of the services we do to the children who come here without the funding we get,” said McGlynn Center Executive Director Peggy Nork.

McGlynn Center now has $60,000 more to work with thanks to a United Way of Wyoming Valley grant. Ms. Nork explained, “It helps with making sure we’re up to date with our computers and all of the learning aids that it takes to help these students stay on the right path for their education.” 

The United Way chapter doled out $1.2 million total to 21 non-profits with a particular mission in mind. United Way of Wyoming Valley President/CEO Bill Jones said, “Our focus has changed a couple of years ago to focus on the issues of childhood poverty.”

Mr. Jones considers the allocations critical use of donor money in northeastern Pennsylvania. “If we can get kids, you know, improve our graduation rates and get kids graduating on time, the world could be different for them and for our community,” he said.

While much of the funding supports programs that exist by themselves in the community, some of it supports programs that come right into the home. Maternal and Family Health Services just received more than $40,000 in United Way Funding for its  Nurse-Family Partnership. The program provides in-home health education and screenings, counseling and life skills training for first-time, low-income expectant women and their babies. 

The funding is sort of seed money to growing a better society. Mr. Jones said, “We know over the course of time, we’re going to be able to move the needle on helping families, helping children and changing lives.”

United Way of Wyoming Valley funded programs that impact education, financial stability, health or what it calls “the safety net”.