Share This Page

$10,000 grant 'a big surprise' to Westmoreland Community Action official

| Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Westmoreland Community Action was one of 10 groups in the nation to be awarded a $10,000 grant from the first day of Wal-Mart's “12 Days of Giving” campaign.

“This was a big surprise,” said Tay Waltenbaugh, CEO of the Greensburg nonprofit human services agency. “When we got the call, I didn't know anything about it. We have no idea who submitted (us). Whoever recommended us, we thank them for that,” he said.

A representative of Wal-Mart serves on the agency's board of directors.

Westmoreland Community Action was among the first day's award winners in the category, “Feeding Our Children.”

The agency's mission is to strengthen communities and families to eliminate poverty, according to its website.

“It's kind of like a windfall for us. What we'd like to do is use one half for our Head Start program and work on health and nutrition,” Waltenbaugh said.

That will include education on the national issue of childhood obesity, he said.

The other half is expected to go toward the agency's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

Started about four years ago, VITA offers free tax preparation assistance to anyone whose annual income falls below $50,000.

“Our budget (for the program) is $21,000. We recruit a lot of volunteers, from college students to community residents. We have one support staff member at each site,” he said.

Last year the program assisted about 800 people, a number Waltenbaugh hopes will double in 2013.

“With the economy and people struggling, this way people don't have to pay for tax preparation. And there is no refund anticipation loan that they can't afford to pay back,” he said.

Last year's effort resulted in just under $2 million being returned to the community through refunds, savings on tax preparation fees and application for all qualifying tax credits, Waltenbaugh said.

The Wal-Mart campaign will give more than $1.5 million to 140 grant recipients across the country over 12 days. Winning nonprofits were selected from nearly 22,000 nominations submitted in November by Facebook users.

“The number of nominations from around the country this year was truly extraordinary — nearly four times as many nominations as last year's campaign,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Walmart Foundation president, said in a release.

“We were inspired by the support from thousands of people around the country who took the time to nominate organizations they felt needed assistance this holiday season. By helping us to identify those organizations doing great work, we will be able to make an impact in the local communities that need it most,” Burwell said.

Wal-Mart associates performed initial reviews of submissions, and a foundation panel selects winning organizations that focus on providing basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing, as well as services including medical care and job training.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.