A new center will help families in rural Cambria County learn how to live a healthy lifestyle.

As a nurse, Mandi Paronish has traveled all over, helping kids in developing countries.

But when she came back home to Northern Cambria, she felt the need to help kids in her own backyard.

“I came home and saw them in the grocery store…and my old teacher and…I wanted to give back to that,” said Paronish.

That’s why she started the non-profit Small Town Hope three years ago, a Health and Wellness Center that offers affordable & convenient daycare, school & after school programs for local families, especially working, single, or foster parents.

This Spring, Small Town Hope is expanding. They’re building Austin’s Treehouse in Hastings, a Health and Educational Resource Center.

Its funded by a $176,000 grant and donations from local businesses. On Wednesday, Rutter’s President Tim Rutter donated $25,000.

“Community means a lot to us and we’ve decided that children are our future,” said Rutter.

“Whenever you’re raising a family in a small rural community, you do have to focus on every dollar,” said Paronish.

Paronish says the treehouse will be a fun place to teach an important lesson…that healthy communities…start with healthy kids.

The treehouse is expected to open in February or March.