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History of Our Agency

Old Serve Building

In 1967, a group of individuals known as the Bradford County Association of Retarded Children, made up of parents and educators, determined that a local sheltered workshop needed to exist for the benefit and employment of individuals with a disability who reside in the Bradford County area. At that time, the sheltered workshop was the model program that emphasized the productivity and value of the ability of these individuals to productive and valued citizens.

In 1969, the determination of this core group of individuals came true through the efforts of Joyce Beck, Serve’s first Director, and Eleanor Outwater making arrangement with Rev. Harry Ferguson to lease the Wysox Presbyterian Church Social Hall for $1.00 per month. With the help of community volunteers and a $2000 donation from the Towanda Lions Club to purchase a new multi-lith printing press, the building was prepared for its new use and opened on October 6, 1969. Craftwork and printing were the first of Serve’s industrial endeavors.

In an effort to formalize Serve within the legal system and to achieve non-profit status, Serve formally and legally became Secure Rehabilitation and Vocational Enterprises, Inc. on March 10, 1971. The Board of Directors and those responsible for the incorporation of Serve, Inc. were Vincent Chiola, Cecil Berry, Fred Gerrity, Fowler Tuton, John J. Griffin, and Mildred Sweet.

The initial years of Serve, Inc. were lean years, with stories from the staff that they often voluntarily left their paychecks uncashed for weeks at a time until funds were available to cover them.

Under the direction of William Gannon, Executive Director of Serve, Inc. at the time, local industry began supporting the agency through providing subcontract work for the individuals with a disability. At the same time, Mr. Gannon positioned Serve to meet and follow federal and state guidelines making them eligible for support funding.

In the early 1970s, it became apparent the Wysox building was becoming too small to accommodate the growing contractual work and the number of employees who were working for Serve, Inc. A fund drive was initiated to build a new building to be placed on property in Monroeton that had been donated by Citizens and Northern Bank. The new building was completed and dedicated in March 1978, with Robert Cerniglia serving as the Executive Director.

Five decades later, Serve, Inc. has grown by leaps and bounds. An addition to the building in the 1980s provided opportunity for expanded programs and contractual work from local businesses, including DuPont, Ingersoll-Rand, Arrow United (now Mestek), Paper Magic, and many more local supporters of our unique workforce. Through the years, Serve has purchased additional adjoining properties which has allowed for program expansion and desperately needed warehouse space. This additional space became a life-saver to Serve, Inc. when the main building was destroyed by a fire on December 19, 1991. The additional space allowed Serve, Inc. to assume full productivity within one week of the fire’s destruction. In July 1991, a newly renovated Serve was dedicated and reopened. Serve was tested by fire and came forth as GOLD!

Throughout the decades since its inception, Serve, Inc. has been a leader in services to individuals with a disability in both Bradford and Sullivan Counties, as well as some aspects in the region and state. While we continue to operate an affirmative industry employing individuals with and without a disability, we have expanded our services to meet the ever-changing priorities of funding sources as well as the unique needs of the people we serve.

Serve, Inc.’s current Chief Executive Officer, Donald Black, has been a leader with the agency for nearly thirty years. Under Mr. Black’s leadership and direction, Serve has grown to the quality programming agency it is today and continues to grow each and every day. Mr. Black acknowledges that Serve’s success is a team effort and would not be possible without exceptional staff.

Today’s Serve, Inc. provides day program services to individuals who are unable to or choose not to participate in work-related activities. Serve’s Community Participation Supports Program (CPS) serves approximately 30 individuals, offering training in a variety of adaptive skills as well as opportunities to experience community outings and recreational activities.

In the 1990s, a program was developed under a Federal Sweep Up Grant to provide students work and independent living experiences to develop their strengths and identify areas they enjoy and in which they may wish to seek further training. Serve’s Work, Academic and Transition Program (S.W.A.T.) is a student focused program providing services to students throughout Bradford and Sullivan Counties. The SWAT program also assesses and trains school age children in activities of daily living such as handling money, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. to provide skills necessary to live as independently as possible when they become adults. Some students also receive academic instruction in the core subjects by Highly Qualified teachers, Special Education certified teachers, and specializing in Adolescent Education.

New Serve Building

All of Serve’s programs provide opportunities for the people we serve to feel a sense of accomplishment as well as a sense of belonging. They are given challenges but also receive the support to meet those challenges and be successful. Most importantly, they are valued and treated with respect.

Serve, Inc. was founded on those beliefs and now 50 years later, we are celebrating the fact that we continue to function successfully due to keeping these beliefs as our vision and mission, always in the forefront of our goals.

We cannot begin to acknowledge all the people, businesses, civic and fellow non-profit agencies that have helped us develop over the past 50 years. We have been the beneficiary of supporters who have done so much for Serve, including cleaning the building and providing services to our individuals as well as providing free banking, legal advice, engineering and architectural services. Financial support for our mission has come from internal fundraising and contributions from the Bradford County United Way. We are so thankful for our blessings of having your support and prayers over the years.