Community Help Centre is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization in downtown State College that is dedicated to providing the residents of Centre County, PA with a wide variety of resources and assistance to any person who needs it. Their services include things such as alcohol and drug referrals, support groups, emergency food, shelter and transportation, human resource informational and referrals and a 24-hour hot line that helps with all of these services as well as providing emotional and crisis support and counseling.
I realize that all of that can be quite a lot to process, and after getting to know the organization intimately through my project, I found that the easiest way to summarize the Community Help Centre (CHC) is that if there's not an organization out there doing it all ready (or at least in a way that can be afforded on a budget) or if they're closed, CHC is there, 24-7, 365 without fail. The motto and mantra is literally “Any Problem, Any Time”. And they live by that. I've even heard of a hot line counselor dragging a phone out the door when the office building they were located in was on fire in order to stay on the line and receive calls from those who needed it.
While it is without a doubt in my mind that this organization is a wonderful community asset, a true diamond in the rough if you would, others don't always see it as such and worse yet, some don't even know about it. Right before I started my project, around the first time I’d ever heard of CHC, I learned that they had had one-third of the budget cut out in a single year. To an organization that isn’t out there to make money, and quiet frankly really doesn’t, that kind of blow can be devastating. They had originally been on two floors of small office building, but when I came into the picture, they were constantly moving around furniture to make all their services and workspaces fit into a space smaller than my parent’s, my brother’s and my bedroom combined, while still providing the privacy and one-on-one contact necessary with most of their clientele. All of the paid staff (I could count them all on one hand and still have fingers left over) all willingly took pay cuts, and were debating if they would need to drop some of their services in order to still offer quality service in the areas the would retain. In addition to their budget problems, there was the problems of them reaching all the people who needed them and getting the word out, since publicity on a large scale was not exactly something they could afford, and finding more volunteers, since most are college students and relatively transient and seasonal.
As far as funding went, they received large portions of their funds from the Centre County government as well as the United Way, but this also meant that they had to undergo yearly evaluations so that both could figure out their appropriate distribution of funds – which is why their funds got cut. They needed impress the evaluators in order to at least maintain their current funding, if not increase it, in the coming year. While those two operating bodies gave them large portions of their funding, as I mentioned it did not fully cover their expenses, and 30% of their budget they have to raise on their own, which comes largely from donations and their annual fundraiser.