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Interfaith Human Services reaches 50-year milestone

by on February 22, 2018 9:31 AM

STATE COLLEGE — Interfaith Human Services will celebrate 50 years of service to the Centre County community with an event honoring the agency's early founders and highlighting its accomplishments. Foxdale Retirement Village will host the event from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, April 12, and the public is invited to attend.

IHS has served the community members in need since 1968, always stress its aim is “Neighbors Helping Neighbors.”

Fifty years ago, according to the recollections of early volunteers Sue Smith and Mary Lou Bennett, four local congregations — University Baptist, Diakonia (United Presbyterian), Park Forest United Methodist and Sycamore Community — united to address the need for social services in Centre County. The pastors of these churches and their congregations were concerned with mental health services, drug abuse, incarceration, food shortages, heating needs, transportation for medical appointments, affordable housing and emergency housing.

Representatives from the early group went around to other congregations to enlist their help in forming this Christian Mission group, as it was known. Two husbands “volunteered” their wives to administer a newly formed Emergency Fund for Christian Mission. Bennett and Ky Johnson were those wives.

“We started with $300 in that fund for the first year,” said Bennett. “Home heating oil at the time was between $.11 and $.17 a gallon and the oil companies would fill a half tank for those whose tanks were empty. A bag of groceries was around $15.”

Bennett and her husband both chaired the organization at various times. Names and specific programs changed over the years, but main goal always has been to help neighbors in need.

IHS currently is made up of 32 congregations and churches, but interested community members may also join the organization and its board of directors. Some of the programs currently offered by IHS are the Centre County Fuel Bank, a financial care program, a free furniture and appliance recycling program and funding for emergencies.


Connie Cousins covers Centre County for the Gazette.
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