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Jerry Fisher: Second Mile Children Can Be Served by Other Agencies

by on January 10, 2012 8:05 AM

OK, now we have a football coach and the Penn State football team is getting itself back on track with the things it needs to do in order to restore the glory to our beloved team.

One area that some are trying to restore are the services and programs that the Second Mile organization provided to thousands of at-risk youth across the commonwealth.

Some current and former members of the board of directors of the Second Mile, as well as some concerned citizens, are looking into putting together another organization to try and salvage some of these programs. This small group of people met in Harrisburg on Saturday, with the hope of beginning this process to allow this to happen. The outcome of this meeting and their direction is unknown but I do applaud their efforts.

The Second Mile is also reportedly seeking an outside entity to come in and try to continue its services. A Texas agency is looking into this possibility with its CEO, a native of nearby Altoona.

I have spoken with several leaders of local agencies that could be of assistance when these at-risk children need some help in whatever manner that might be. After some of those discussions, I have come to the conclusion that an organization like the Second Mile just might not need to be in existence to assist these young individuals.

These organizations include the Centre County Youth Service Bureau which has outstanding programs such as a crisis hotline for youth, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a runaway shelter, prevention programming across Centre County, drop in centers in Bellefonte and Snow Shoe and more. Also the Centre County Women’s Resource Center providing sexual abuse prevention programming, rape crisis hotlines, access to counseling services to assist victims young and old and more. The Centre County YMCA provides programs and services for young people of all ages and also provides a safe and secure environment, too.

I feel I have just touched the surface of what these agencies and organizations can do to help those that may be without the assistance of the Second Mile’s programs, but I also feel there may be an easier and less costly solution to meet those needs.

On a statewide basis, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel that the Second Mile was, why not have each county that has children the Second Mile assists look at trying to fill that void by investing in long-standing local organizations that have been helping children for decades. As a former Second Mile volunteer and board member, I loved what the Second Mile did for the kids it served, but finding a more economical, prudent and immediate solution seems to be the wiser choice at this time.

The Second Mile operates primarily on dollars donated through its many and varied fundraising efforts of which I have been a part at various levels through the years. The benevolence of the people across the state to this organization is amazing and they are to be commended for their kindness. But after saying that, couldn’t those dollars be used for other needy organizations, like those previously mentioned, as well as others, such as the United Way, food banks, Meals on Wheels, the Red Cross and more.

There are organizations in place to help children affected by the downfall of the Second Mile, they are professionals, they are wonderful people and they would jump in and help any child of any age with anything they might need.

Just something to think about the next time you’re thinking about making a donation to a very worthy cause.

Jerry Fisher hosts "Centre County This Morning," appearing weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on 970 WBLF. He is now a regular columnist for, as well.
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