Making Happy Valley an “extra-special” place to live and work


By Holly Riddle 

As we’ve covered in the past, there’s no shortage of nonprofits in Happy Valley. Organizations like Clearwater Conservancy, Centre County United Way and The American Association of University Women add to the area’s livability through efforts to protect Happy Valley’s resources and people, while simultaneously pushing the region to new heights.

Despite the area’s breadth of nonprofit organizations, it’s not always easy for new residents to plug into those organizations, especially if they’re looking to contribute in a non-financial way. A new platform called Volunteer Centre County hopes to change that.

Centre County has a strong culture of providing valuable services and a strong culture of people wanting to give back to make Centre County an extra-special place to live and work

“Our platform helps people find ways to give back non-monetarily in Centre County,” explained executive director Dr. Ann Echols of Volunteer Centre County, in a recent HappyValley Industry survey. “We support over 80 Centre County nonprofits by posting their needs for donated goods and volunteer service to social media, and to our website and app. Previous to our existence, new residents, in particular, had no idea of where to donate used items in good condition or how to find an opportunity to volunteer, so we closed that gap by creating Volunteer Centre County.”

Volunteer Centre County has been a long time coming. The idea for such a solution was first broached at the Intergenerational Ideas for Enriching Quality of Life in Centre County summit at Millbrook Marsh, in 2018, where it was identified as a high priority. The process of creating Volunteer Centre County was delayed by challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, before the website was finally launched in 2022, with Stage 1 development of the app and website fully completed in the fall of 2023. Currently, the organization is in its promotion and advertising stage, to become a known resource across the county.

Today, if visitors go to the Volunteer Centre County website, they’ll find a straightforward platform with clear direction toward volunteer opportunities, as well as donation needs. Search features allow users to look for opportunities aligned with the causes most important to them, search for opportunities suitable for court-ordered service or find opportunities with particular organizations.

Echols is confident the organization will succeed in its mission.

“Centre County has a strong culture of providing valuable services and a strong culture of people wanting to give back to make Centre County an extra-special place to live and work,” she said. “Volunteer Centre County's mission is to provide a free, user-friendly website and app that enhances community engagement through promoting nonprofits’ needs for volunteer service and donated goods, thereby increasing the quality of life in our community, while helping to build a stronger Centre County, Pennsylvania.”

Learn more about Volunteer Centre County — and find volunteer opportunities and donation needs — at


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