Resource Fair Draws Crowd to Downtown
Community organizations gathered together at the State College Municipal Building to provide Centre Region citizens with information about the services they offer at the seventh annual Community Resource Fair on Oct. 13.
More than 25 area organizations participated, including Alpha Fire Company, American Red Cross, Community Diversity Group, Penn State and State College Police and Bridge of Hope Centre County.
Other local organizations like Tides and the Women’s Resource Center set up tables along Allen Street, as participants in the Downtown State College Fall Festival.
Steve Hayes, co-chair of the committee for the resource fair, said having all the resource and service organizations in one place provides new and lifelong area residents with the opportunity to learn what the Centre Region has to offer.
“The whole purpose of having the fair is to teach them (residents) about resources that they didn’t know about. As they walk through the fair, of the first and second floor (of the municipal building), they may come by a table that may have a topic that they never thought about,” he said.
Carol Eicher, co-chair of the fair committee and founding member of the Community Diversity Group, said the fair is about creating a feeling of camaraderie for community residents, while providing organizations with a tremendous amount of networking.
“It’s to get people inside, see what’s available and provide the services,” she said.
Sherry Gensemer, a member of the board of directors for Bridge of Hope Centre County, said the resource fair gave her the opportunity to raise awareness for her organization and its mission.
Gensemer said as a community resource that helps women who are at risk of becoming homeless or are homeless, Bridge of Hope Centre County looks forward to the networking opportunities the Community Resource Fair provides.
“We wouldn’t necessarily have a person that would be a participant in our program come through here, but we might,” she said. “But (participating in the fair) raises awareness, so we are networking. I might learn something about another booth or they might learn something about our booth and run into that situation in their own lives or in a friend’s life or someone they hear of and think of us.”
Like Gensemer, Linda Feltman of Penn State Small Business Development Center enjoys the networking opportunities at the fair.
“Some of the people participating in this particular fair are also working with people that maybe are interested in starting a small business and just didn’t know where to send them, so I’m glad we are here. It’s been a great opportunity for us to reach out to a different market that we normally wouldn’t be able to see,” she said.
Because the Penn State Small Business Development Center provides free one-on-one consulting for small businesses throughout Centre and Mifflin counties, the resource fair allows the organization to have one-on-one conversations, informing area residents on how businesses can start small, grow and prosper in the Centre Region.
Hayes believes this opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with organization members is one of the greatest benefits of attending the resource fair.
“You may not need a particular service today, but who knows if you need a particular service in three months or six months or even a year from now. Here, you develop a relationship and connections because you are talking to a live person,” he said. “That person will be able to respond to questions that you may have at their table so you get a clear understanding of the services that are being provided for not only you and your family, but for your neighbors as well.”