Help from UW and Friend, Inc. Inspires Man to Help Others

 Whenever Stephen Werner goes clothing shopping, he keeps an eye out for deals. He isn’t just a savvy shopper – – when he buys a coat or a pair of shoes for himself, he often buys a couple more, in different sizes. He has no idea who will be wearing the items, he just knows they will go to someone who really needs them – – a “friend.”

There was a period when Stephen’s life began to unravel after a series of serious health complications. He lost his job, went through a tough divorce, descended into alcoholism and even contemplated suicide. With help, he fought his way out of despair and Friend, Inc. Community Services, a United Way agency partner, was an important part of his support system.

During difficult times, his family didn’t go hungry because of Friend’s Kutztown food pantry. The organization also made sure his son and daughter had something under the Christmas tree.

Today, Stephen is working, remarried, sober and committed to helping others.

Friend, Inc. case worker, Laura Moyer, said Stephen’s ongoing support helps the organization in a big way. “One day he came in here with coats, and another time with really nice lunch boxes. It is just so awesome.”

Last year, more than 2,300 people received help from Friend, Inc. in the areas of Fleetwood, Brandywine and Kutztown, with the support of United Way funding.

Stephen shared, “I give back because I know there are people going through what I went through. Friend, Inc. helped me get back on my feet.” He hopes those who are struggling and don’t want their family to go hungry, know the agency is there for them, too.

Providing help and hope — this is what United Way and agency partners do.