When we lift communities to a more equitable status with their neighbors, those hardships are replaced with opportunities.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania provides leadership and advocacy for Erie region’s residents and builds partnerships to develop opportunities for personal growth and neighborhood revitalization. Their Neighborhood Network Program (NPP), supported by Highmark, serves some of Erie’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, which historically suffer from decay, lack of community organization, low educational attainment, high poverty rates, and high crime rates or the perception of high crime.The program was a natural fit for Highmark, which has a long history of supporting efforts to reduce housing instability.
As part of a group of NPP funding partners, Highmark made a six-year commitment to improve housing stability and beautification in areas surrounding Allegheny Health Network’s St. Vincent Hospital, which was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph. In that period, SSJ purchased and renovated six blighted homes for use in the Genesis Homeownership Development project (three single-family homes and three multi-family) to create and support affordable housing. Additionally, they purchased and removed 12 blighted properties — replacing them with green spaces — added 29 public art installations, and implemented a complete neighborhood façade improvement project, resulting in updated appearances to 69 properties.
The goal was to improve housing stability in Erie’s historic Little Italy, and to make it a more attractive place for current and new residents, businesses, and visitors.
Central and Northeastern Pennsylvania
Our veterans dedicate years of their lives through their service, but their sacrifice often extends far beyond the base or battlefield. Among the many obstacles America’s veterans face is hunger. A recent USDA report found greater than 1 in 10 veterans aged 18 to 64 live in households facing food insecurity, and the risk of food insecurity is 7.4% higher among veterans than nonveterans. The figures, unsurprisingly, increase in low-income households.
It is our duty to ensure that those who give so much of themselves can live healthy lives upon completing their service.
Highmark supported Central Pennsylvania Food Bank MilitaryShare and senior programs in late 2022, building on a long history of support for the organization through senior food boxes, backpack programs and other efforts.
Not unlike a well-organized armed forces operation, MilitaryShare is an efficient mobile pantry, bringing food for distribution to armories, VFWs, American Legions, and other veteran- and military-affiliated locations across the region. The locations create a welcoming culture of respect, inclusion and belonging, as veterans serve veterans. At the monthly distributions, families receive approximately 60 pounds of food items, including fresh produce, fresh milk, eggs, cheese and shelf-stable pantry items, such as soup, pasta sauce and cereal. When available, families also receive fresh meat, fish and poultry products.
Our latest donation came just ahead of the holiday season, underwriting the cost for two distributions. Even better, Highmark employees participated in a Lycoming County distribution where 500 veterans and families received meals.
— A retired veteran named William said in a video posted by the food bank