Much appreciation goes to the caring group of friends and family who shared of their blessings to reach out and help those who are struggling.
Much appreciation goes to the caring group of friends and family who shared of their blessings to reach out and help those who are struggling.
When that day arrives here in York County, you’d be hard pressed not to notice the hardworking groups of people in their Live United tee shirts, shoulder to shoulder with co-workers and others, who’ve caught the volunteering spirit.
Our experience with Day of Action (and, formerly, Day of Caring) volunteers has always been terrific. Cheerful responders to the call typically arrive early, ready to roll up their sleeves, and put their minds and backs into whatever task is at hand. They dig in, rip out, lather up, wash down, put together, heave and ho until the job is done.
Last year’s volunteers get extra points in our book, coming out in the midst of a miserable heat wave that left many of us in puddles of perspiration, yet they perservered. Check out photos of the groups: York County MH/MR, Isaac’s Restaurant South York, Wagman Companies, Glatfelter Insurance Group and Liberty Mutual Insurance, First Energy Corp, and C. S. Davidson.
Bell’s 2013 Day of Action projects, which include a couple vehicle washes, some landscaping, and a shelf- building project, are listed on the United Way of York County’s web site. Grab a couple co-workers, talk to the boss about getting the morning off to do some good stuff, and sign up. We’ll see you on June 21!
In the early days of Bell, when we were still known as The Bell Club, our board of directors consisted of equal representation of three members each from the several local organizations who initiated the birth of a social gathering space for people living with mental illness who were being released from long-time stays in State institutions.
In the forty plus years following the humble beginnings of Monday night programs and Sunday night suppers, a revolving number of people have been engaged to lend guidance and support, leading the way through myriad changes and growth to what Bell Socialization Services is today.
Our current board of directors brings a diversity of experience, networks, and know-how to the task of navigating us safely through the sometimes choppy waters of today’s challenging human services environment, overseeing our mental health, intellectual disability and shelter service departments and administrative operations to assure quality on all fronts.
Today’s Volunteer Appreciation Week post salutes those community members who have in the past and continue to give of their time and talent to advance Bell’s mission confidently into the future.
Our current Board of Directors is: Rev. Robert L. Anderson, George Cramer, Dr. Mel Davis, Rev. Brenda Ferree, Rees Griffiths, Esquire, Mark I. Jacobs, Timothy Klimchock, CPA, CCIFP, Eric Lau, Dr. Robert Lease, Jr. (chair), Dr. Annette Logan, Aimee Miller, Abel Santiago, Jr., Rob Tracy, and David Welber, CPA.
If you or someone you know are looking for an opportunity to serve your community in a meaningful way and might consider a position on Bell’s board of directors, please contact our executive director, Ike Hileman at 848-5767, ext. 500.
Some of them are bursting with energy; ready to get started. Others appear shy; unsure of what to expect. Some seem less willing than others at first to be fully present, lowering their eyes and dragging their feet a little. Some fire question after question to better understand what we do and who we serve. Yep, they’re teenagers.
Every year, young people come to Bell to fulfill volunteer service hours, whether individually or in an organized group. Thanks to an ongoing partnership with several civic, school, and faith-based organizations, we are able to share a Bell experience with dozens of area citizens under the age of 18.
Over the years, we’ve welcomed lots of engaged young people from the Future Leaders of York group to Bell. They used to simply arrive for a brief overview and tour the main building. Some of them, like Katelyn Miller and Jordan Carey, followed up by coordinating fundraisers for the agency. Both projects brought in more than $1,200 to the agency; Katelyn’s by placing baby bottles in the community to collect donations, and Jordan’s through a piano recital he played.
Now, the group partakes in direct service through the Communities in Action component of their FLY involvement. Kristine Marino, Program Coordinator, Future Leaders of York, shared some quotes from students regarding their service and visit to Bell:
“Communities in Action was my favorite session. Not only did I see the many nonprofits of York, but I was able to help a great organization like Bell Socialization and see how important volunteering is.”
“My favorite session was the community service session.”
“ The students are always so excited to visit nonprofits, says Kris. “They always comment how much they learn and how impressed they are with all of the employees and volunteers who are working to make York a better place for all.”
Another perspective regarding student volunteer engagement at Bell comes from Pat Geoghan:
“From weeding the exterior, to cleaning out the basement, to painting murals, my experience with volunteering at Bell Socialization Services has been great! For the past three years, I have chaperoned a group of teens from Ignite – the youth ministry of St. Joseph and St. Patrick churches – during our week of service in the city. One of the unique things about working at Bell is the welcoming staff and their willingness to share with our teens what their mission is and how they work for the betterment of the city.
The first year we worked at Bell, we filled trash bag after trash bag with weeds and trash from the parking lots. As the days grew warmer in the afternoon, we moved our efforts indoors helping some of the staff with tasks that they just didn’t have time to do themselves.
Our most interesting assignment was to assemble and sort Christmas trees that had been donated to Bell and clean out the storage rooms in the basement of the building. We had a great time sorting the trees and deciding which pieces fit together. Our Christmas in July experience continued when we helped clients in the day program to bake cookies, sing carols and do other Christmas themed activities. Watching the teens interact with the clients was a priceless experience for me. I always knew they were wonderful, kind people with a real willingness and desire to help others, and our experience at Bell confirmed this for me.
My third year of volunteering at Bell had the teens designing and making signs for the front window, advertising a job placement service [vocational rehabilitation program]. They also chose and designed inspirational sayings for the walls on one floor of the building. The teens loved being creative and being part of something that would be there for a long time.
Being involved with Ignite for the past few years has been very rewarding for me. I have to say that spending time with the staff and clients at Bell Socialization Services is one of my favorite activities all year. We have amazing kids involved in Ignite and I enjoy the chance to show them off to the community. Thanks to the staff at Bell for welcoming us each year.”
Bell volunteer coordinator, Janel Fox, makes regular trips to Central York High School as a presenter for their Diversified Occupations / Community Service class. Teacher Lisa Cornbower does more than “talk the talk” when encouraging her students to volunteer (whether to meet their community service requirements for graduation or not), she also ”walks the walk” by volunteering herself as a tutor at Bell Family Shelter.
If you know a teen or group of young people looking for service opportunities, please contact Janel to discuss available opportunities.
There are volunteers, and then there are Volunteers.
We appreciate every hour of involvement people offer in mindful service to Bell. Sometimes even half of an hour of time can mean a great deal when someone pitches in to help.
So when people volunteer and then come back again and again like clock work, it can make all the difference in the world.
Today, to kick off our posts related to National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we’d like to spotlight three volunteers who are really invested in their commitment to Bell. Each of these women includes volunteer time to Bell into their schedule, into their lives, and have done so on a regular basis over the course of years. When personal circumstance requires a temporary absence, their presence is missed. And when they return, we welcome them back with open arms and grateful hearts.
Nancy Leister shares her time at Bell in sort of a ‘package deal’ kind of way: her visits to Bell’s Adult Training Facility (aka Bell at the Village) on the grounds of the Brethren Home Community in New Oxford are done in accompaniment with her faithful friend, therapy dog Layla.
The two were, in fact, joint recipients last year of Bell’s Margo Atwood Community Service Award, presented at our annual meeting in October.
Nancy and Layla make a special point to bring a cheerful aire of festivity with them every month when they visit the individuals in the ATF program, making the most of holidays with themed treats, activities, and in Layla’s case, the cute accessories she wears. Service users smile when they see Nancy and Layla arrive, hugs typically ensue. Nancy sometimes also brings financial contributions with her from a group with which she’s involved, Sweet Charities, to help with special equipment to aid individuals in their development.
Joyce Lehman has done a little bit of everything in the offices at Bell over the years. Steadfast and true, we can count on Joyce to show up every other week (she used to come weekly until her “retirement” job added more hours) to assist with clerical duties like filing, shredding, organizing, cutting, laminating, and whatever else needs doing. She’s become a pro at mailings, efficiently coordinating envelope stuffing and labeling, sorting, and stacking to meet postal requirements and our deadlines.
It’s not unusual on Wednesday mornings around 10 o’clock to hear “Yay, Joyce is here!” echoing through the administrative offices on the fifth floor. Even when the job at hand means heading to the basement for two hours, Joyce doesn’t grumble. She simply grabs her coffee cup and disappears. A little while later she’s back to report the task is complete and she’ll see us again in two weeks. It could be the big hugs she gets that keep her coming back, we’re not sure, but we’re always happy to see her.
Lori Weaver fought back tears once or twice when she answered our questions recently about why she volunteers at Bell. She recounted a story about a young father who came into the office at Bell Family Shelter – where she volunteers four days every week – bubbling over with excitement because his diligent efforts to secure a place to live for his family had finally paid off. His joy was contagious and soon he and Lori were doing a “happy dance” to celebrate. It lifted her heart to hear him later telling other families in the kitchen that she’d rejoiced with him.
Success stories don’t come easy for homeless families, and not nearly often enough as far as Lori’s concerned. Too many times she’s answered the phone to the desperate pleas of a mother trying to escape a less than desireable situation, knowing she has to share the bad news that the Shelter is full to the maximum. ‘There’s no room’ is a very hard thing to tell someone who’s trying to get help, who’s trying to take that first, hard step to turn their life around.
When Lori hears her friends and acquaintances complaining about one thing or another in their domestic life, she’s been known to ask them, “Do you have a roof over your head? Do your kids live under a bridge? Does your husband have a good job?” She encourages them to rethink, to be grateful for their blessings, and to remember they have neighbors who are struggling not only to make ends meet, but to get off the street.
“I get so much from volunteering at the Shelter,” Lori says. “It’s not a financial reward; I don’t need that. But it is very rewarding.” She knows what she does to pitch in around the office, answering calls, accepting donations, working closely with staff and doing what she can to help families, makes a difference, and she does it with lots of heart.
Today’s “Did You Know?” tidbit: According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, women continue to volunteer at a higher rate than men across all age groups, educational levels, and other major demographic characteristics. Nearly 30% of American women shared some amount of time volunteering last year.
If you’d like information about volunteering at Bell, contact Janel Fox in the community engagement office at 717-848-5767, ext 515.
Bell Socialization Services, Inc.’s executive director, Ivan “Ike” G. Hileman, (second from right) accepts a $5,000 donation from Mutual of America, presented by representatives of the company’s Blue Bell office, from left: William H. Thames, Charles P. Bagley, and Anthony DePiero.
The gift will help the us further our mission to provide support and empowerment to help local residents living with mental illness, intellectual disability, and homelessness improve their quality of living.
The York chapter of the Raider’s Boosters - a group of sports enthusiasts with an affinity for the Oakland Raider’s football team – saw umbrellas were on our wish list and collected more than four dozen to help keep Bell service users dry in rainy weather.
Members of the group are pictured here with Bell in-kind donations coordinator, Janel Fox (lower left), who received the bumbershoots at a recent meeting of the club at their regular hang out, Brennan’s Pub.
Every year for the past seven years, March 24 has been “adopted” by the friend of a woman who entered Bell Family Shelter with her children on that day in 2002. Finding out about her situation a few years after it transpired, his generous annual donations in her honor help other families who are “going through a rough patch,” trying to put the pieces of their lives back together. While he wishes not to share his name, he agreed to a picture, expressing his appreciation in his own words.
Bell’s Adopt-a-Day program provides an opportunity for community members to help meet the daily budgetary needs of keeping York County’s only 30-day emergency shelter for homeless families open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The $600 per day fee is roughly the amount the nonprofit agency needs to raise through donations to cover what is not provided through governmental funding sources.
Employees of York’s Standard Register company keep an eye on the Bell wish list here on the web site to see what they might be able to do to help.
Pitching in as a group, they collected a bevy of hygiene items to satisfy personal needs of Bell service users.
When donations coordinator Janel Fox picked up the boxes of goodies, the group presented a check as well.
And PS, congratulations on our 100 year anniversary!
Once again, the young people at Aldersgate United Methodist Church have chosen Bell as the recipient of proceeds from their annual fundraising party. Attendees from years past raved about the great time they had. Your chance to get in on the fun is coming on May 3. Tickets are available for purchase online. CLICK HERE.