SOMERSET COUNTY— It’s a familiar story: a person grows up in a small town, goes to college, gets a job, and moves away.
For Joe Harned, his story is similar. But he’s never forgotten where he’s from, even when he was living on the other side of the country.
“I grew up in Ursina, down by Turkeyfoot Valley in Somerset County,” said Joe. “I spent my first 16 years there.”
Although Joe now lives on the West Coast, the Turkeyfoot community still holds a special place in his heart. That is why he frequently returns and jumps at the opportunity to give back. Joe, who will soon celebrate his 98th birthday, has established a number of funds through the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. Most recently, Joe even helped the Kingwood Church of God by acquiring and then giving them the former Kingwood Elementary School.
Since 2005, the HC “Joe” Harned Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $345,000 in post-secondary education scholarships for Turkeyfoot Valley High School seniors. The Turkeyfoot Valley Historical Society Fund supports the ongoing efforts of the Society.
“Without this money it would be difficult to pay our bills, especially our electric because that’s how we heat the building,” said Lisa Hall, President of the Historical Society.
Lisa said Joe came to town for a visit and mentioned he wanted to do something to give back and to keep the history of the town alive.
“It’s our mission to preserve the history, which is disappearing very quickly as the older generation is disappearing,” said Lisa.
“Makes me glad, real glad, to do it. I am just happy to help,” he said.
Lisa said the Historical Society decided to put Joe’s name on the building as a way to help thank him for his generosity and to show the town’s appreciation.
“Made ol’ Joe feel good. I guess they liked what I did,” he said.
Joe Harned is just one of a number of people who have set up funds to give back to their community, even when they are no longer living locally. If you’re interested in setting up a fund or scholarship, call the Foundation at 814-536-7741 to learn more.
*Photo courtesy of the Daily American.