Funding at Its Finest


Scranton, PA, 4-Oct-2021 -- What started off as a casual checkup turned into a lifesaving encounter for a Lackawanna County resident.

                The ROAM (Remote Older Adult Monitoring) program has visited local parks due to COVID-19 indoor restrictions, throughout Lackawanna County since this past April thanks to the organizing of the Lackawanna Area Agency on Aging.  ROAM is a sponsored program of the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties that focuses on older adults’ blood pressure and blood oxygen levels.  Each week a collaborative of volunteers and staff meet with residents of various healthy aging campuses while a registered nurse serves as the supervisor of all routine checks. 

                On the first Friday of the program in April, one of these routine checkups turned out to be a lifesaving one.  A volunteer noticed a higher-than-normal blood pressure of a resident and informed the nurse on site.  After the nurse took the resident’s blood pressure again, she noticed the number was even higher.  She advised the resident to take the ambulance that was already on the way, over to the hospital for a more in-depth diagnosis.  Once the resident arrived at the hospital, her blood pressure was even higher than the previous two readings.  Luckily, she was able to get immediate treatment and was prescribed blood pressure medication to help regulate her newly diagnosed high blood pressure.  The following Friday rolled around and the resident came back to the park to thank the staff and the nurse who were involved, for possibly, saving her life.

                ROAM is one of the many programs the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties funds each and every year as they focus on improving the quality of life for the people of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties.  “Our goal is to help our seniors remain active and independent while maintaining a healthy life-style. This program is by no means intended to replace regular medical visits but rather, augment and assist our seniors in taking control of their own continued well-being,” said Gary Drapek, President & CEO of United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties.

                This is just one example of the funds raised through the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties’ campaign placed directly back into the community.  Last year’s campaign was able to allocate over 1.3 million dollars to local agencies in Lackawanna and Wayne County.  Agencies like the United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Women’s Resource Center and the Boys and Girls Club of Northeastern Pennsylvania to name a few.

                Even though times were tough and programs were challenged by various health and safety mandates, programs funded by United Way were still able to make a positive impact to those they served from pivoting their plans to continue to provide needed services in the community.  The Women’s Resource Center was able to still provide shelter during the numerous lockdowns.  United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania provided countless groceries through their Lifting Barriers program and they were even able to keep their Illumination Arts program up and running through virtual sessions.  Another example of charitable funds being placed back in NEPA is the Boys and Girls of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s remote school program which provided internet and laptops for students to participate in the classroom throughout the unique 2020-2021 school year.

                With the changing times, the United Way has decided to expand their reach within both counties to all qualified 501-c3 health and human service organizations.  “The United Way needs to be more adaptable to the needs of the community, not just the issues that exist at this time, but for the needs that will one day exist in the future,” noted Dr. Patricia Dunleavy, Volunteer Chair Community Impact for the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties.

                “There’s so many crucial programs throughout Lackawanna and Wayne Counties that are essential to the most vulnerable in our community.  Opening up to a more diverse group of organizations will help broaden our reach and impact in the community,” added Drapek.

                United Way’s campaign officially kicked off in the beginning of September and are proud to have already raised a little over a million dollars, however, there’s still more work to do.  The goal for the 2021-2022 Campaign is set at $3,225,000 and Campaign Chair Debbie Kolsovsky, PNC Bank, has her eyes on hitting that number.

“We should care about the communities we live in because you never know if you or your family will be the recipient of the dollars raised by the United Way.  I want to make sure the people I care most about, if they need anything from the agencies the United Way funds, they are there for them,” Kolsovsky added.

To find out more on the expansion of allocating community funds, head to