Heading Hope Hamony
HUNTINGTON — Bill Rosenberger says he has always had a passion for helping others.
“I grew up in a small town, just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,” he said. “In my family we were taught to help others.”
Today, Rosenberger is the director of development for the Cabell Huntington Coalition for the Homeless, the parent company of Harmony House in downtown Huntington. Harmony House operates transitional housing for homeless people in the Huntington area.
Rosenberger says the organization’s mission is to serve as a day shelter that aims to meet any need a homeless person may have, such as assistance finding employment or medical attention.
“We are an organization seeking to end homelessness in the Huntington area through permanent housing and supportive service programs, along with acting as a collaborating body for multiple service agencies in the area,” he said.
The nonprofit affirms the right of all people to have adequate food, clothing, shelter and healthcare.
“We believe these are human rights and should be available to everyone,” Rosenberger said. “To that end, the mission of Harmony House is to provide basic resources and housing to the homeless and formerly homeless of the Huntington area, and to collaborate with partner agencies for the provision of these basic resources.”
Each year. Harmony House serves about 1,000 different people in the day shelter on 4th Avenue through one of the organization’s many programs.
“That means offering someone a shower or opportunity to do laundry, opening the donation room for people seeking coats or clothing, handing out basic hygiene supplies, providing nourishment thanks to volunteers making donations to Facing Hunger Food Bank and getting more folks back into the workforce with our Jobs First program. It also means helping individuals and families get into a home through our Rapid Rehousing program,” Rosenberger explained.
Rosenberger says he feels like he has achieved his career goal of helping others through his work at Harmony House.
“I feel blessed to be working for such an outstanding organization that helps so many people in our community who are either homeless, at-risk of becoming homeless or formerly homeless,” he said. “The need is great, but the Huntington community has proven generous to help meet those needs time and time again.”
However, Rosenberger’s career journey began in journalism.
“I can remember in the eighth grade having a conversation with a friend about what I wanted to do when I grew up and my dream was to become a sports journalist,” Rosenberger recalled. “I really pursued that in high school and in college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.”
Rosenberger says although he thought of himself as introverted at the time, while in college he did his own morning show on radio called “Bumping Billy in the Morning.”
“There was something about the media that allowed me to be comfortable and put myself out there with the public,” he said.
It was around this time he met his wife, Frances.
“We met online, before it was cool” Rosenberger said with a smile. “We talked in a chat room for several months and decided to meet. She was attending Marshall University in Huntington and I was still at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.”
The couple fell in love and have been together ever since.
“That was in 2000, so for two years I finished school up there and she was
here in Huntington,” he said. “Then I moved here and stayed with her parents in Charleston.”
Rosenberger says it was tough at the time because he hadn’t yet launched his career.
“I worked in retail and I was miserable because it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life,” he said.
As he pondered his next step, he eventually decided to go back to school.
“I moved back to Pittsburgh and went to graduate school at Point Park University,” he said. “So for two years Frances and I did this every other weekend relationship,” he said. “It wasn’t easy.”
In 2005, Rosenberger earned a master’s degree in journalism. His wife had graduated from Marshall with a degree in education, so in July of that year the couple married and moved to Bradenton, Florida.
“I worked at a newspaper there for two years and my wife worked in childcare,” Rosenberger said. “We had our first son, Christian, there as well.”
Then an opportunity came that would bring Rosenberger and his family back to the Mountain State.
“It was around the Fourth of July and I interviewed with The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington and they hired me and I started in August of 2007,” he said.
Rosenberger stayed at the newspaper for over six years.
“It was a great time covering Marshall academics, the local school board and state Legislature among other things,” he said. “I made some great memories there.”
Rosenberger said in 2013 he was asked to work for the Wayne County Board of Education as a consultant in the public communications office.
“I just jumped into doing consultant work full-time,” he said.
In addition to the Wayne school board, Rosenberger also worked for Heritage Farm in Huntington.
“I also worked on Delegate Sean Hornbuckle’s successful campaign in 2014,” he said. “And some other smaller projects. I taught at Marshall for a couple of semesters as well.”
In 2014, there was a vacancy in his district on the Huntington City Council.
“I threw my name in the hat and was appointed to fill out the remaining two-year term,” Rosenberger said.
In 2016, he ran for council in District Two, which is in West Huntington, but lost.
“I was disappointed, but all of these life experiences help to shape him in a way that has allowed me to be successful,” Rosenberger said. “The journalism background, the public relations work, the work with the public on city council and being on the board of directors of Kiwanis Day Care all helped me with my career today.”
Rosenberger says in October he will be president of the board at the day care.
“All three of my children have gone through Kiwanis Day Care,” he said.
In 2015, Rosenberger says Bob Hansen was the executive director for the Cabell Huntington Coalition for the Homeless and had announced his retirement. The board selected Amanda Coleman to be his successor. Around that same time, the organization posted a director of development position.
“Everything I had done in the past had built my skill set to be successful in a position like this one,” he said.
Now in his mid-30s, Rosenberger said the director of development position was the kind of job he was looking for to achieve his career goal of helping others.
“I just feel better about my life when I am helping people,” he said.
Rosenberger has been with the organization for the past three years and says he loves his job.
“I continue to build on the relationships in the community and look at how I can tell the Coalition for the Homeless and Harmony House’s story well,” he said. “Over the past three years those are two things that I have been able to do really well.”
Rosenberger says when you are excited and passionate about your work others can feel it.
“It then becomes something they want to get involved in,” he said.
Rosenberger believes telling more success stories about Harmony House has been key to the success and continued growth of the organization.
“Telling our success stories is one of the things I truly love and it leads to more volunteer and donor growth and participation” he said.
Rosenberger said he was proud to be part of Huntington’s largest solar project, in which 115 solar panels were installed on the roof of Harmony House. There are three separate entities in the one building.
“We have the Vanity Fair apartment complex, the shelter, and our administrative offices,” Rosenberger explained. “This will zero out our electricity costs for the administrative offices for the entire year.”
He estimated the solar panels would save the nonprofit as much as $130,000 in electricity costs over 25 years.
“This really ensures a healthy financial outlook for the agency for the next 25 years ” Rosenberger said. “This savings can help us do what we do best, which is helping the homeless.”
Rosenberger added that he is a devout Christian and attends Redemption Church in Huntington.
Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.
“Telling our success stories is one of the things I truly love and it leads to more volunteer and donor growth and participation.”
Director of Development, Cabell Huntington Coalition for the Homeless
CHILDREN: Christian, Grace and Alex
HOBBIES: Watching Pittsburgh sports teams
FAVORITE MOVIE: Avenger movies
FAVORITE QUOTE: “Philanthropy is the market for love. It is the market for all those people for whom there is no other market coming.” — Dan Pallotta