The WE In South Central PA

Visiting York and Cumberland Counties

Though I paused in our reporting to reflect on our training in Westmoreland County (see blog post Growing Gains—Not Pains), I now want to reflect on conversations we had with two focus groups in Central Pennsylvania.  On March 7, we stopped in both York and Cumberland Counties.  Two groups, two personalities which added their ideas to the collective wisdom.  They also noted what they are most proud of in their communities.


Laurens Phone 436

York County stated that, as a community, they believed that collaboration is integral to meeting their missions and more important to changing people’s lives.  They are moving to proactively focusing on solving problems rather than focusing on challenges—a strategy which may provide a bridge to solutions in other areas.

Laurens Phone 428

Cumberland County noted their plethora of:

  • Dedicated volunteers
  • Generous donors
  • Strong support network of organizations working together to meet identified community needs

They specifically made note of the cohesion that exists in their community, and their ability to partner and collaborate with other.  They also noted that they work with a strong sense of integrity.

Laurens Phone 452

Both communities noted that they would be happy to showcase what they are doing well.


Following are the things we heard as issues from one or both groups, listed in no particular order.

Need for community dialogue on complex issues.

  • For example, how do we actually solve community problems (e.g. getting people out of poverty)?

Desire to learn more about sharing services/expertise between organizations and perhaps even sectors

Desire to learn about other organizations and successes around the state

  • Noted feeling isolated without knowledge of what may be happening in other communities and expressed the desire to learn about models that are working elsewhere
  • Isolation goes both ways.  For example, others outside Cumberland County perceive their community as being wealthy, but they are actually facing a growing level of need. Thus, the need for communication from inside to outside the community.

Need to understand how to pass on critical relationships to successors

Retention of quality staff

Need for time for leaders to think strategically and to consider their vision for their organizations

  • This is difficult to do when leaders are engaged in fixing computers, running to the bank, etc.

Desire to work effectively with others outside immediate community

Desire to work with others “across the river” but not having the time or knowledge for how to do this

Understanding generational difference

  • In the workplace, different generations need to find common values, common ground
  • In philanthropy, different generations give differently

Transformative capacity-building, including staff training

  • Rather than doing the same thing, and expecting different results

Advocacy on funding issues, to address reduced funding across the board

  • Reduced government funding
  • Philanthropy is more competitive for fewer resources
  • Advocate for equity in funding formulas


A special shout-out to PANO board member, Doug Berman, who hosted and sponsored the York County group at the RKL offices, and Jeanne Troy and Bets McManus who coordinated and participated in the group that met in Cumberland County at New Hope Ministries.

And as always, a special thanks to Maher Duessel, CPAs for partnering with PANO to make this Listening Tour Possible!


If you want to see the results of other conversations, please visit the posts from Pittsburgh and Northeast Pennsylvania.

If you want to join the conversation and participate in some way, don’t want to wait until we come to your community.

At PANO, WE are not interested in PANO—we are interested in what WE can do with all of you.  Join us.  Join the WE!

Anne L. Gingerich, MSW
Executive Director

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