DuBois man ends long career in social services
DuBois' Hugh Daly has worked in the social services field since 1972 and will retire as Central Pennsylvania Community Action Inc.'s executive director on Sept. 25. (Submitted photo)
Saturday, June 2, 2012
By Josh Woods Staff Writer
Central Pennsylvania Community Action Inc. Executive Director Hugh Daly is scheduled to retire on Sept. 25 after 12 years on the job. The retirement would be the fourth or fifth of his social services career, a trend that is seemingly lifelong for the DuBois resident. After all, there will always be someone in need.
Daly intends to always be there to assist them.
Daly earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree in communication from Clarion University, and served four years in the U.S. Air Force at the beginning of the Vietnam War. His social services career with the Department of Public Welfare began in the 1972. He met his wife of 39 years, Alice Harkleroad Daly, at Dimeling Hotel on his first day on the job. Ironically, Daly would later manage the rehabilitation of the Dimeling all the way through its reconstruction phase during his time at Community Action. "My first retirement was in 1996 from the Clearfield County Board of Assistance where my last job was administrator I/manager," said Daly. "I knew about Community Action during my time at DPW and admired their work.
Ready for retirement - Central Pennsylvania Community Action Executive Director Hugh Daly will retire in September after 12 years on the job. Daly plans to continue his involvement in the social service field, teach photography classes, and go on lots of camping trips. (Photo by Josh Woods)
"They had senior centers and community centers. Community Action served our seniors well before the state had an Aging Department and created Area Agencies on Aging, and it continues to serve them through a meals program at Houtzdale Family Service Center."
When Daly took over at Community Action he had just finished two short part-time terms as an administrative law judge/hearing officer with Pennsylvania Board of Hearings and Appeals in Erie. Community Action called Daly in 2000 while conducting a search for a new director.
"I've always been interested in helping people," said Daly. "From what I could see at DPW, Community Action was doing a good job at that. I admired the work they did training people for jobs and operating senior centers."
Community Action is the official anti-poverty agency of Clearfield and Centre Counties, Daly said. There are 43 Community Action agencies statewide, and approximately 1,100 nationwide. Daly said each agency is different, and his is a "ground up" organization that tries to assess the needs of communities and provide programs that help families and individuals better their lives.
"Our mission is to strengthen communities in Centre and Clearfield County by helping families and individuals become self-sufficient," said Daly. "Our motto is ‘helping people, changing lives,' and that's what we continue to strive to do."
Daly said he's proud of Community Action's weatherization, housing and family service departments. The organization has weatherized more than 700 homes in the last two years and more than 2,000 since Daly began as executive director. Its housing department operates more than 200 rental units for low- to moderate-income families, Daly said, and strives to offer them at below market rates.
Community Action operates family service centers in Clearfield, Houtzdale, Philips-burg, Bellefonte and Millheim. The family services department runs a medical assistance transportation program for Clearfield County and clothing stores in Houtzdale and Millheim.
Other pieces of the family services pie are the PA work wear and winter coat programs that offer gently used clothing free of charge to the public and a public computer lab. The idea of the work wear program is to offer dressy clothes to motivated individuals who are about to embark on job interviews, Daly said, The computer lab is open at the Clearfield office Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment.
"I'll never forget my first day on the job with Community Action," said Daly. "There was a computer on my desk with a black and white monitor. It had an external 5½-inch disk drive that held a grand total of 360 kilobytes of data and used a DOS operating system.
"I had done a good bit of computer systems administration with Department of Public Welfare, and couldn't quite believe what I had to work with at Community Action. My computer was a real dinosaur."
Community Action's Stone Age computers were quickly replaced under Daly's watch. Community Action secured a grant from the state Depart-ment of Community and Eco-nomic Development to help bring its technology up to speed. Today it has 85 desktop computers and 20 laptops, and a full-time computer technician on staff.
Thirty-nine years and 360,000 travel miles into his social services career, Daly has decided to hang it up as Community Action's executive director. He plans to stay involved with the agency, though his latest retirement would allow him more freedom to dabble in other areas of interest.
Daly and his wife operated a photography business for 25 years in DuBois where he gave private photography lessons. He has taught photography classes at Penn State DuBois and DuBois Business College, and he recently taught a digital photography course at Elk County Council of the Arts in Ridgway.
There will also be plenty of time for camping and canoeing; Daly has served as Scoutmaster of Boy Scouts of America Troop No. 28 in DuBois for the past 16 years. He has guided his troop on a number of canoeing adventures on the waters of the West Branch of the Susquehanna, Allegheny and Clarion rivers, the longest of which was a 96-miler on the West Branch of the Susquehanna along the Chinklacamoose designated waterway.
Daly teaches wilderness survival and photography merit badges for Boy Scouts, and hopes to one day take up cabin residence as an on-site supervisor at Camp Mountain Run. Both of his sons are Eagle Scouts.
When Daly is not out photographing sunsets, camping or doing both simultaneously, he has plenty of other tasks to keep him occupied. Former Gov. Tom Ridge appointed him to the Clearfield County Board of Assistance where he has served as board chairman since 2000, and he is vice president of DuBois Redevelopment Authority, and a member of North Central Workforce Advisory Board. He is an advisory board member at DuBois Business College and Clearfield County Career and Technology Center.
Rest assured, Daly will continue to help others.
Maybe one day we'll be celebrating his sixth or seventh retirement.