Cathy Brown / Executive Director
When one thinks of CentrePeace located on the Benner Pike, they first think of the resale shop…with over 10,000 square feet of very cool vintage and antique treasures along with well-loved used furniture and household goods. Everything from upholstered and wood furniture for every room in the home to large and small appliances, dishes and glassware, crafts, toys, sporting goods, pictures, seasonal items and literally thousands of other items. We frequently say,
But…the store is just a part of the CentrePeace story.
For 27 years and counting, CentrePeace, a non-profit organization, has operated under a very simple philosophy: The more barriers we knock down to make reentering our community less stressful for incarcerated individuals, the greater chance of not reoffending. It all started with teaching job skills and treating individuals with kindness and respect. The CentrePeace store serves not only as our fundraising vehicle…it is also, in part, how we carry out our mission. All items sold at CentrePeace are donated by local individuals and businesses. Those items are then cleaned, refurbished, upcycled, repurposed, or refinished by staff and trainees from Centre County Correctional Facility. CentrePeace employees work shoulder to shoulder with our trainee co-workers teaching skills in the workshop, our store, and on our furniture donation pick-up and delivery truck.
In support of our mission, CentrePeace funds and operates 13 different programs, five of which are partnerships with other organizations or entities, such as the ReStart Seed Fund, a micro loan program providing funding to formerly incarcerated individuals wanting to start their own business. Our newest program, Leadership Reentry began the first week of October. In partnership with Leadership Centre County, this program is geared towards permitting reentering incarcerated individuals to feel a part of our community through education and inclusiveness.
To understand the vast difficulty of reentry in Centre County you must understand the conundrum of Reentry. Three critical components: employment, housing, and drug & alcohol counseling / mental health therapy are needed for success. Most services are located in State College, yet individuals cannot afford to live here due to the high cost of living. While business owners recognize the employment crisis, finding jobs for recently released individuals is difficult, with the jobs they might secure paying less than a livable wage. With every barrier, the odds of reoffending increase. To that end, the future for CentrePeace will see more focus on housing and expanding educational and employment opportunities for our returning citizens.
To all who shop in our store and donate items, we thank you. Through your generosity, we continue to thrive! To learn more about CentrePeace or to make a donation of furniture or goods, please visit CentrePeace.org.