One man’s legacy: a statewide vision for connecting people with resources

“He was instrumental in bringing 211 to life. I don’t think he ever realized the impact he was making.”

Of the many things people will tell you about Ty Christy, there was one recurring theme. He did not take “no” for an answer.

“Ty recognized the power of United Way,” said Leslie Osche, former executive director of United Way of Butler County and current Butler County Commissioner, “He saw the impact we could make when we brought together the right players and the right partners.”

In July 2018, Ty Christy lost a long battle with cancer. And the community lost an advocate for programs that benefited tens of thousands. During Ty’s life, he sat on the boards of both United Way of Southwestern PA’s Butler County office and United Way of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated himself to seeing the success of United Way’s PA 211 Southwest.

“We were trying to get 211 going. Ty was the vice chairman for the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC), and he recognized that United Way could convene the right partners to see this through,” Leslie explained.

Ty saw the value of a resource like 211 and took it upon himself to bring everyone together – various United Ways across the state, the PUC, utility providers, agencies, and more. “He wanted to make sure this was sustainable,” Leslie said.

Because of this dedication and collaboration, United Way of Pennsylvania, with early leadership from United Way of Southwestern PA, was able to get 211 up and running, helping people find access to resources for food, shelter, utility assistance and more. Even after 211 was established, Ty worked tirelessly to continue improving the system and connecting with the right people in the community.

“Count the number of callers to 211 in the last 10 years, and you’ll see the impact that Ty has had on this community. He was so humble and quiet. Behind the scenes, we know the difference he made,” Leslie explained. “It was Ty’s hope to see 211 be accessible statewide. He was dedicated to bringing in more partners and connecting with more counties to try and see this through.”

While Ty did not have the chance to see 211 be fully operational statewide before he passed, that dream has become a reality. Thanks to the dedication of many community partners – especially Ty Christy – PA 211 Southwest has grown into the community lifeline it is today.

To learn more about PA 211 Southwest, visit pa211sw.org.