In 1933 members of the Unitarian Society of Germantown established a home for the elderly – in an old Victorian mansion in the Germantown section of Philadelphia – that provided quality retirement service that was not available for UUs. USG was soon joined by 8 other UU congregations in the former Joseph Priestley District, including First U. In 1998 the UU House merged with Lycoming House and began the Outreach Program. This program continued when the UU House, a non-denominational retirement community, had to close in 2010. Outreach now assists residents aged 60 and older of NW Philadelphia to safely remain in their own homes as long as possible by identifying and accessing resources and strategies to age in place. Most Outreach Program clients are African American women living alone; all have fixed incomes, and many are in need of support. Outreach staff has worked with more than 850 individuals since 1998, and currently serve about 320 clients. The service is free and due to its small size the program is very individualized and as inclusive and non-bureaucratic as possible.
It is governed by a board of trustees, most of whom are nominated by UU congregations in the former Joseph Priestley District. Our trustee is Bill Hardham. In the past, Peggy Cairncross, Barry and Barbara Marrs, Marj Mabrey, Ruth Mette, Lois Kaylor, Phyllis Wynn, Sally Hamburger and Stu Pratt have served UUH.
The collection benefits the Client Assistance Fund (CAF), which provide small grants to clients for particular needs, such as food, utilities assistance, medication co-pays, medical supplies, and other necessities. Every dollar donated to the CAF is distributed to clients; the program takes no administrative fees. Outreach conducts an annual holiday food drive and participates in the UU MLK Day of Service every year. The small staff consists of the executive director, social services supervisor, registered nurse, service coordinator, and administrative assistant. Salaries are covered by the Lycoming endowment. At least half of the program board members are UUs. Many student interns are placed at the agency from a variety of disciplines, which brings an intergenerational dimension to the work.