Media Toolbox

Recent Press Release

Date: February 11, 2019 2:00PM
For Immediate Release

On PA 2-1-1 Day, United Way of Pennsylvania Announces Statewide 2-1-1 Availability by end of 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Today, United Way of Pennsylvania and PA 2-1-1 are standing united to recognize February 11th as PA 2-1-1 Day and celebrate a significant milestone.  All Pennsylvania residents will be able to contact 2-1-1 for help by the end of 2019.  
2-1-1 is the free, confidential, 24-hour information and referral service that currently connects 97 percent of Pennsylvanians with all the health and human services available to help.  In 2018, over 202,000 people turned to 2-1-1 in Pennsylvania for help. 
“For more than a decade, United Ways, county governments, and other supporters have been building the 2-1-1 service, region by region.  The first-ever state investment in PA 2-1-1 in the 2017-2018 budget played an instrumental role in completing the statewide network,” said Kristen Rotz, President of United Way of Pennsylvania. 
2-1-1 information and referral specialists are trained to listen, assess the situation, ask the appropriate questions, and then refer the caller directly to the human services that will comprehensively address their needs. The 2-1-1 specialist also explains how to access those services, availing a translation service for over 170 different languages, if needed. 
“Statewide coverage is a very necessary step on the path to harnessing the full potential of this public-private partnership, which provides any Pennsylvanian with help when they need it.  PA 2-1-1 is committed to everyone having the same quality of service no matter where they contact 2-1-1 or what the need is,” Anne Fogoros, PA 2-1-1 Operations Director, said.  
People contact 2-1-1 to find information on basic needs, such as utility assistance or to find the closest food bank.  However, 2-1-1 also provides callers with everyday information like where to take their child for developmental screening, or how to locate job training. 2-1-1 is part of coordinated entry systems for housing and homeless services in 36 counties. 2-1-1 has even been activated in critical times to respond to various emergency situations facing Pennsylvanians, such as a damaging flash flood in the fall of 2018 where PA 2-1-1 partnered with PEMA and local VOADs to gather damage assessment information and registered 69 callers into Crisis Cleanup.  
“As we celebrate, we keep planning for the future.  Health starts where we live, go to school, work and play.  The strength of the 2-1-1 and United Way partnership is authentic local connections to resources in communities across our state.  We want to make that information available to help Pennsylvanians wherever they come into contact with social services or medical providers,” Rotz concluded.  
Pennsylvania became a part of the national 2-1-1 program after it was launched by United Way in Atlanta over 20 years ago. The user-friendly, three-digit 2-1-1 number now serves more than 283 million Americans—more than 90% of our population—in all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.
United Ways have been long-standing supporters and the national leader of the 2-1-1 movement in Partnership with AIRS (Alliance of Information and Referral System). As the largest private funder of the 2-1-1 network in Pennsylvania, United Ways continue to strengthen and support 2-1-1 as another way to build stronger communities and create opportunities for all. 
To reach PA 2-1-1, dial 2-1-1 from your phone or text your zip code to 898-211.  

Date: January 22nd, 2019 3:00PM
For Immediate Release

As Some Federal Government Employees go without a second paycheck, Pennsylvania Labor Movement, United Way and PA 2-1-1 Launch Emergency Response System for Furloughed Federal Workers

(HARRISBURG)  Through PA 2-1-1, the United Way of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, and the American Federation of Government Employees District 3, have launched a text code initiative which will provide information and updates aimed to help impacted workers cope with the shutdown.  This service will connect federal government employees and contractors who are impacted by the partial federal government shutdown to community resources such as assistance with food, utilities, housing, etc. launching an initiative today to support. This initiative will be available throughout the shutdown.
Beginning Friday, January 18, people should text FEDSD to 898-211 to receive updates and information through 2-1-1 via text. The text code will be active throughout the shutdown. When FEDSD is texted to 898-211 it will direct subscribers to specific resources and how to connect with a 2-1-1 center if their need is urgent. 2-1-1 is a 24/7/365 service that connects people to community organizations who can help with their health and human service needs.
Statewide and/or regional resources are also being collected by this coalition and are available on the Government Shutdown Resources web page.  
“The Pennsylvania Labor Movement is working with our community partners to rally around our brothers and sisters impacted by the government shutdown. This text code is one more way of making sure they receive the help they need. The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO encourages union members across the Commonwealth to volunteer with their local food banks and central labor councils,” remarked PA AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale.
“The federal workers and contracted employees hit by this partial federal government shutdown, are working class people with families to support.  Unions and community service organizations are coming together to ensure that they are not alone in this crisis,” added PA AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder.
“We are so appreciative of the organizations assisting federal employees in this difficult time.  Making these resources available through text, makes access easier and faster for our members,” American Federation of Government Employees, National Vice President for District 3, Philip Glover.  
“United Way and 2-1-1 strive to make it easy for Pennsylvanians to find help from their community when they need it. We are happy to be of service in a time of need for thousands who are impacted in our state, and we want to thank our partners in labor and the many nonprofits and companies who are stepping up to do what they can to help. 2-1-1 is committed to be here for impacted employees through the duration of the shutdown,” Kristen Rotz, President of United Way of PA, concluded.
Media Contact:
Kristen Rotz,, 717.448.1663
Samantha Shewmaker,, 717.917.0538






Date: September 13, 2018 8:30AM
For Immediate Release

United Way of Pennsylvania Presents Keystone Spirit of the United Way Award to Erie County Resident Thomas B. Hagen

Harrisburg, PA – United Way of Pennsylvania presented its highest annual award, the Keystone Spirit of United Way award, to Erie County resident Thomas B. Hagen at a celebration hosted by Erie Insurance on September 12, 2018.
The Keystone Spirit of United Way Award was created by the United Way of Pennsylvania to recognize exceptional and sustained volunteer and philanthropic leadership. The criteria for selection of an honoree reflect a philanthropic impact and personal commitment of time and talents reaching across community borders to highlight the interdependence and opportunities of the United Way network across Pennsylvania. The winner shows exceptional and sustained engagement with United Way in their own community, personal commitment to the voluntary system of human services as demonstrated by gifts of time and financial resources, with United Way being the main focus of his or her efforts, and a quality of performance that inspires others to serve.
“Mr. Hagen’s impact in Erie County has been far-reaching, from fighting against poverty and for affordable housing, to mentoring young leaders. But he has always been steadfast in his commitment to investing in the community through United Way. This is what made him stand out in a very impressive field of nominees,” Kristen Rotz, President of United Way of Pennsylvania, said.
United Way of Pennsylvania (UWP) presented the award at an event hosted by Erie Insurance Company on September 12, 2018 in Erie, PA. Timothy NeCastro, CEO of Erie Insurance, introduced Thomas Hagen to the assembled crowd and gave an overview of his achievements.
“Tom is a friend and a mentor,” said NeCastro. “The impact of his leadership extends beyond our company, our community and our state. Through his selfless giving of time, talent and philanthropic support, Tom has lifted the lives of so many and his work is leaving an indelible mark that will have influence far into the future.”
Hagen was nominated for this award by United Way of Erie County President Bill Jackson, who said, “Tom started as a United Way campaign volunteer decades ago and as he rose in the ranks of leadership, he never stopped being a tireless ambassador and advocate for United Way. As Chairman of the Boards of both Erie Insurance Group, where he is a former CEO, and Custom Group Industries, he has promoted a spirit of giving to United Way as part of the corporate social responsibility for these companies.”
The Honorable Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf sent his congratulations, stating, “Tom’s passion and commitment to the United Way is improving the lives of thousands of his neighbors, and it is making Erie County stronger. As a member of the Tocqueville Society of United Way of York County, I am proud to join the United Way of Pennsylvania in honoring Tom for his generosity and leadership.”
Bio of Thomas B. Hagen, 2018 Keystone Spirit of United Way Award Winner
Thomas B. Hagen is the current Chairman of the Board of Erie Insurance Group. He began his career at Erie Insurance as a part-time file clerk in 1953 and retired 40 years later as Chairman and CEO. Erie Insurance is the largest employer and the only Fortune 500 Company headquartered in Erie County. He is also Chairman of the Board of Custom Group Industries, the collective name for the three Erie, Pennsylvania based manufacturing companies in which he has had an ownership interest since 1997: Custom Engineering Co., Venango Machine Company and Lamjen, Inc.
Hagen is a Tocqueville Society member from United Way of Erie County and was awarded the prestigious Keystone Spirit of United Way Award for his generosity, advocacy and commitment to improving the lives of Pennsylvania residents.
Hagen and his late wife, Susan, have been Tocqueville Society members since 1992. Tom has been a tireless ambassador and advocate for United Way for decades. As Chairman of the Boards of both Erie Insurance Group and Custom Group Industries, he has promoted a spirit of giving to United Way as part of the corporate social responsibility for these companies.
Hagen began volunteering in the annual United Way Campaign over 50 years ago and since then has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the United Way and its work to improve lives.
Hagen has volunteered to speak to United Way’s Young Leaders Society members about his belief in United Way’s mission and encouraged others to support United Way’s work. He has helped establish relationships between United Way representatives and numerous community leaders over the years, serving as an invaluable resource to grow United Way’s network of support throughout the region.
Hagen has received numerous honors for his tireless volunteerism, including the naming of the Thomas B. Hagen History Center, Pennsylvania Governor’s Patron of the Arts Award, and the United Way of Erie County Tocqueville Award for community services. He was recently honored by Behrend College with its highest award, the Behrend Medallion, and by the Pennsylvania Society naming him a Distinguished Citizen of the Commonwealth. And, most recently, Hagen was named the 2018 recipient of The Erie Community Foundation’s Edward C. Doll Community Service Award.
A retired U.S. Navy Captain, Hagen served on active duty during the Cold War as Supply Officer of the Atlantic Fleet destroyer USS Harwood and on Reserve duty with the logistics staff of the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet for a total of 30 years of service.
Born in Buffalo, NY, Hagen was raised in Erie, where he attended public schools and graduated from Strong Vincent High School. Hagen attended Penn State Erie, The Behrend College and graduated in 1957 with a BS Degree in Business Administration (Insurance) from The Ohio State University, where he was a Griffith Scholar, President of the Insurance Society and Treasurer of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity.
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania conferred on Hagen the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service in 1996 “In recognition of [his] leadership in the cause of civic and social responsibility…” and Mercyhurst University conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 2016.
In 2015, Hagen established the Susan Hirt Hagen Fund for Transformational Philanthropy at The Erie Community Foundation with a $10 million gift on behalf of the Hagen family in memory of his wife, Susan Hirt Hagen. In 2016, this Fund granted $1.5 million to support a joint effort of United Way of Erie County and Erie’s Public Schools to increase access to coordinated health, social services and after-school programming by utilizing the nationally-renowned “Community Schools” strategy.

Hagen, with his late wife Susan who was a prominent community leader, is the parent of two grown children and three grandchildren.

Photo featuring (left to right) Kristen Rotz, President of United Way of Pennsylvania, Thomas B. Hagen, Award Recipient, Tim NeCastro, CEO of Erie Insurance, and Bill Jackson, President of United Way of Erie County. The painting in the foreground is an original of Tom Panei, a Pennsylvania Artist, that was presented to Thomas Hagen. Susan Hirt Hagen, Thomas Hagen's late wife, is featured in a portrait in the background. For full version of photo, click here

PDF Press Release