Ty Christy / 2-1-1 Story


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

“He was instrumental in bringing 2-1-1 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.”

Last July, 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 2-1-1 Southwest.

“We were trying to get 2-1-1 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 2-1-1 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 2-1-1 up and running, helping people find access to resources for food, shelter, utility assistance and more. Even after 2-1-1 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 2-1-1 in the last 13 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 2-1-1 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 2-1-1 be fully operational statewide before he passed, that dream will soon be reality. By the end of 2019, 2-1-1 will officially be accessible to all counties in Pennsylvania, thanks to the dedication of many community partners. Especially Ty Christy.

To learn more about PA 2-1-1 Southwest, visit pa211sw.org.