Voice of Westmoreland Organizer: Spend ARP funds on housing and mental health resources
The new organizer of Voice of Westmoreland, a group of progressive citizens’ activists, wants to redouble its efforts “to hold our local officials accountable”.
Voice of Westmoreland, or VOW, wants Westmoreland County Commissioners to spend some of the $105 million the county received under the U.S. bailout on initiatives to improve mental health resources and for the affordable housing, said Amanda Rose Piern, 38, of Hempfield, who has been an organizer since mid-February. She succeeded Celina Culver, who left the post last year.
The group met with commissioners Doug Chew and Gina Cerilli Thrasher to advise on how some of the federal funding should be spent to help those in need, Piern said.
She credited her involvement with VOW and fellow members for helping her follow a different path since becoming an active volunteer with the organization in 2020.
“I found a real passion. They inspired me to do something different,” said Piern, who was a medical coder in the healthcare industry. She attended Westmoreland County Community College and intended to pursue teaching.
Now Piern is a paid staff member of Pennsylvania United, a grassroots organization based in Pittsburgh with local chapters in the area, including Westmoreland.
Piern was chosen as the new organizer because of her passion for the job and her experience with VOW, said Robert Errett of Greensburg, a member of the group.
Prior to becoming VOW’s organizer, Piern coordinated his efforts for the Greensburg election last year as part of the “Our Communities Can’t Wait” campaign sponsored by Pennsylvania United. He endorsed two candidates for Greensburg City Council and one for Greensburg Salem School Board. With little name recognition, they were able to get more than 1,000 votes, Piern said.
Although the efforts did not produce winners, Errett said it was equally important to become more active in local elections.
Piern is the daughter of two career military officers and remembers traveling a lot while her parents were posted to different places. She frequented the Greater Latrobe area for part of her time in middle school and high school.
After being forced to move several times growing up, Piern said she was able to learn from a variety of people and communities, which helped her in her new position.
“It allows you to meet more people and gives you the skills to build relationships with people,” she said.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .