Gannon, United Way To Collaborate on Massive Human Services Directory Project

Posted: August 9, 2013

For the past 26 years, students from Gannon University's social work program have collected information on all Erie County social service agencies and support groups for the Gannon University Human Service Directory that has been an invaluable resource for persons seeking assistance.


Times have changed and so has the way information is accessed, so the directory will be developed into an online resource thanks to a partnership between Gannon and United Way of Erie County that was announced today.


When the directory was last published in 2010, it weighed-in at 229 pages, with entries for hundreds of agencies and programs.  This year, through an independent research class in Gannon's College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, the directory will be updated and placed on the Gannon website to allow free and easy access by all Erie County residents who need it.


"This signature project supports one of the goals in our Strategic Plan, which is to engage in the community," stated Gannon President Keith Taylor, Ph.D. "We are responding to a need in the community - quick and easy access to supportive services that are readily available to help build a stronger neighborhood.  This project is also a perfect fit our Erie-GAINS (Erie-Gannon Alliances to Improve Neighborhood Sustainability) initiative.  The community gains and our students gain by using their research skills to provide a document that will impact the community in a positive manner."


Simultaneously, United Way of Erie County is working to bring PA 211 service to Erie County and NW Pennsylvania in 2014.  PA 211 is a free telephone hotline that provides confidential information about food, housing, employment, mental health services, healthcare and other health and human services.  PA 211 is part of a nationwide 211 network that now serves 90% of the nation's population.  Information from the Gannon directory will be a major source for the 211 database. 


"The need for a better way to link Erie County residents to available programs and services has consistently been mentioned as a priority in countless local meetings by both social service professionals and residents alike," said Bill Jackson, United Way president & chief professional officer.  "Today, Gannon University and United Way of Erie County are taking a major step forward in meeting this important community need."


Data collection for the new edition is underway, and county social service agencies will be asked to submit information about their organization, including an agency profile and list of programs and services offered.


Organizations should receive this request via email or via U.S. mail.  If an organization does not receive the request, they may contact Gannon University's Social Work Department at (814) 871-5574 to begin the data entry process.


Agencies are encouraged to complete their information by Friday, August 30, 2013.