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ODC Small Group Participants Go To Work In Mount Joy January 15, 2019

Daryl Strine, direct support professional with Occupational Development Center (ODC), 640 Martha Ave., Lancaster, is very proud of the crew he takes to Kinsey's Inc., in Mount Joy, two to three days a week as part of ODC's small group employment program. He cannot say enough about the ODC participants' skills and work ethic.

At the warehouse, part of Strine's job is to move the boxes groups of up to four participants make as one of a variety of duties they complete, from the area where they are constructed to another location in the warehouse. The more boxes the participants complete, the more trips Strine makes. "They keep me moving," he said. "On a busy day, I do 20,000 steps in four hours."

According to ODC executive director Gregg Richards, the program is designed to give participants a chance to work in an integrated environment. "Small group employment is a crew of program participants who go to a workplace with a program supervisor and work side by side with employees of the local business, (where they) are paid at minimum wage or above," explained Richards, who added that businesses may utilize a crew for seasonal work or on a regular basis.

Strine said that ODC participants were carefully selected for the program based on skills. Over the course of a year, Strine worked to cull a list of 40 possible participants down to eight workers and four alternates. "They were competing for positions," noted Strine, who added that the participants work four hours per day, clocking in and out and working alongside other Kinsey's employees.

Ken Mueller, public relations and development manager for ODC, said that the skill set of participants has been a good fit with the Kinsey's, which makes archery supplies and outdoor gear. Mueller added that many businesses have a vareithy of tasks that might also be a good fit for ODC individuals, including light assembly, collating mailings, and putting kits together. Strine noted that the ODC participants in the small group program have also folded and packed items such as T-shirts, archery equipment, traps, and gloves.

Emerson, one of the small group participants, said that his favorite job is making boxes, especially the large boxes. "We try our best (to make as many boxes as we can)," said Emerson, who also folds T-shirts. Emerson appreciates the excitement of meeting new people, but he said he does get nervous sometimes when talking to people he does not know.

That is where Deb Russell, who serves as a liaison between Kinsey's and ODC comes in. "Our crews interact throughout the day and during lunch breaks," said Russell, who first suggested ODC participants help with box production in early 2016 based on her sister's 40 years of experience at ODC. "The crew from ODC arrives with a positive attitude that's contagious throughout the building," Russell continued. "The way they support one another to accomplish the goals we've laid out for them is inspiring. We should all learn a lesson from them." Strine complimented Kinsey's employees, saying, "Interaction between Kinsey's employees and participants has been excellent," he said.

According to Mueller, integrating participants into community businesses is an ultimate goal for ODC. Strine agreed, saying, "All (participants) have designated disabilities, but I like to look at what they can do." Russell added that ODC crew members have been willing to try new tasks, following instructions compiled in a binder. "The binder was made up so that each crew could work independently, making the final projects consistent for Kinsey's and giving (the participants) a feeling of success and independence," said Russell. "We're so proud to be working with such a wonderful organization," said Russell.

Emerson said he likes the work, but he also enjoys receiving a paycheck. His favorite thing to spend his money on is pizza.

ODC is actively seeking more employers who could benefit from the talents and abilities offered by participants. Readers who would like to learn more may visit or call 717-397-4269.


Home-Based Head Start Offered In MTSD January 11, 2019

Twins Jeremiah and Joshua Philemond worked Head Start home visitor Jessica Gordon to build with brightly colored, interconnecting blocks on the floor of the living room in their Manheim Township School District (MTSD) home. "It's a tall tower," cried Jeremiah, gesturing to the nearly three-foot-high structure.

Gordon visits the twins weekly to provide parenting support to their mother, Kettia. "I help the parent give lessons to their children," said Gordon, who noted that children ages 3 to 5 residing in MTSD whose families meet certain income requirements qualify for home visits. "The idea is to work with the child academically."

Gordon explained that many people have heard of Head Start classrooms, but they may not be aware of the home visit program. "Home-based (Head Start offers) benefits for families (that) may have transportation issues or younger children that make it difficult to get out of the house or a special family situation that makes it hard for them to get to the classroom," she said. "We do all the same things Head Start does (in the classroom, but at home)."

According to Gordon, each home visit includes two segments. The first segment involves the home visitor working with the parent and the children. "I support the parent as we work through an activity with the child," said Gordon. "We work on all of the school readiness activities, and I help the parents understand the ways (the activity) is beneficial," said Gordon. "We complete assessments and give (parents) the tools they need in the areas that are lacking," added Gordon. Gordon can also offer assistance with behavioral issues. She noted that a team is available to help the children who have challenging behaviors to get the support they need when they start school. "We call in our behavior team and make those referrals," she said.

The second part of the visit focuses more on parental needs. "It's a parent support time," said Gordon, noting that discussions with parents often include how to register a child for kindergarten or ways to make the bedtime routine go more smoothly. "We help with community resources, health support services, dental screenings, and vision and hearing testing," said Gordon. "We encourage (parents) to make sure the children are on track with well child checks."

In addition, twice monthly social events are scheduled for families receiving home visits. Currently, the events are held at PA CareerLink Lancaster County, Liberty Place, Lancaster, on the second and fourth Tuesdays from 1 to 3:30 p.m. "We offer the children a meal during the social time," said Gordon. "That opportunity is a chance for (children) to be in a classroom setting and parents to connect on a support level," said Gordon, who added that guest speakers may come in to talk to parents about services such as WIC or area food pantries. "It's an opportunity for families to connect, which they may not have chances to do if they don't have transportation. Some may not see another parent all day long," she said.

In addition to the social gatherings, Gordon noted that community events can be planned for the children and parents. "If (parents) want to get (children) out to do something fun, we can meet at a park," said Gordon, who hopes to have up to a dozen families take part in the program.

"Our home-based (program) is very parent driven," said Gordon. "If (parents) need support in an area, that's where I work (with) them. Everything is very parent driven because the goal is to help them be the best parent for their child."

Readers who think their children may qualify for the Head Start home-based program may call the program enrollment manager at 717-299-7301, ext. 3012.


Room To Grow January 11, 2019

Service Dog Program Moves To Larger Facility

When UDS Foundation moved from its previous home in Greenfield to 2270 Erin Court, Lancaster, the space available for the service dog program more than doubled. The new facility includes a kennel with space for 12 dogs, a cuddle room for puppies, and a large training room.

According to Lori Breece, UDS service dog program manager, 12 puppies per year are brought into the program, which takes several years to turn an eight-week-old ball of fluff into a dog capable of giving a person with a disability a chance for greater independence. In addition to serving individuals, many UDS dogs are being sent to schools where they provide student support. "Since we have been here (in the new location), we have added several clients in less than a year, including three or four schools," said Breece. "We are so pleased with the pups-in-the-classroom opportunity. Our vision would be a dog in every school or at least every district."

In schools, dogs serve students with multiple disabilities, but they also serve in learning support classrooms. Kristy Smith, service dog program coordinator with UDS, said that dogs help with physical therapy or with fine motor skill issues, but they also aid students struggling with "the emotional aspects of school and life's challenges." Breece added that in some classrooms, time with a dog can be an incentive. "For some of those students who are more challenged, it's a calming influence, and they can work toward time with the dog as a reward," she said.

Smith noted that currently UDS dogs are present in Cocalico, Ephrata, Penn Manor, and Northern York County school districts. "Each dog has a teacher or principal they go home with each night as the main handler, but we ask the schools to have a group of handlers," she explained. Having a group of handlers allows a dog to work in multiple rooms.

Breece noted that having a dog in a school affects the atmosphere of the building. "It changes the lives of the faculty by changing the environment behind the cement walls," she said. "We'd like to see more dogs in schools."

A service dog's training begins when it becomes part of the BARKS Prison Program, through which it is trained by an inmate at a Pennsylvania correctional facility. Puppies live with their inmate handlers around the clock, learning up to 50 commands. At the age of one year, the dogs return to Lancaster. For the next six months, they live in a volunteer puppy home. "(The dogs) attend weekly outings and training sessions, and they will go out in the community so they can get socialization," explained Breece. At the age of 18 months, the dogs are sent to trainers for six months of specialty training.

Smith explained that many of the tasks the dogs perform are extensions of actions that come naturally to Labradors, such as retrieving and tugging, which make up 95 percent of the working service dog force. "A lot of the main job is retrieval from the floor or the counter or helping pay," she said, adding that dogs tug open doors, carry bags that are too heavy (for their client), and remove articles of clothing, such as socks. "They push elevator buttons and handicapped-accessible buttons and turn light switches on and off."

The newest puppy in the UDS program has been named Sully in honor of the yellow Labrador that served President George H. W. Bush and was photographed lying near his master's casket during the funeral services in early December. UDS' Sully is in need of a sponsor, which can be a local individual, organization, or business, to cover his two-year training. Breece is also looking for a sponsor for the dog program's new training room.

Readers who would like to learn more about sponsorship and volunteer opportunities with UDS may visit


Writing A Way Through Trauma January 11, 2019

Writeface, a local nonprofit organization that offers free writing workshops to veterans, has announced its 2019 winter/spring schedule. Folks do not need to be a writer or an artist to participate. Writeface strives to provide a safe space for veterans, in the company of other veterans, to explore their inner landscape by using proven writing techniques to become reacquainted with aspects of themselves that were lost in battle.

"Our goal, first and foremost, is always to create a safe environment for veterans to explore and address any difficulty they may be experiencing in their present life that may have roots in the past," said Annie Ginder, who co-founded Writeface with Scott Hower and serves as a facilitator. "The workshops we offer seem to naturally create a sense of camaraderie that many veterans say they haven't been able to recapture in civilian life. (The) Writers on the Storm (workshop) specifically uses the metaphor of a storm in each of their classes to help teach specific writing and journaling tools that can be used for the rest of their lives to help manage issues that come up in civilian life."

Starting on Thursday, Jan. 17, and continuing through Thursday, March 28, Writers on the Storm will be held at the Transitional Living Center, 105 E. King St., Lancaster. The workshops will run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. No class will be held on Thursday, Feb. 14. Additionally, Writers on the Storm will be offered as part of Millersville University's Lifelong Learning Institute, which will begin in March. For more information and to sign up for the workshop at the college, readers may visit

Workshops for veterans will be held at the Columbia Creative Factory, 247 Locust St., Columbia. Sessions will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays from Jan. 21 through March 25. The workshops will combine writing with different art media. Parking will be paid for by Writeface, and free lunches will be provided to all veterans who participate.

For more information or questions, readers may contact Ginder at 717-799-0154 or or Hower at 717-209-0410 or


Support Group To Meet January 9, 2019

A Susquehanna Valley support group, sponsored by Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, will meet on Thursday, Jan. 17, at 2 p.m. at Susquehanna Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 745 Old Chickies Hill Road, Columbia.

The support group will be conducted by a trained facilitator with the purpose of providing a safe place for caregivers, family and friends of persons with dementia to develop a support system; exchange practical information on caregiving challenges and possible solutions; talk through issues and ways of coping; share feelings, needs and concerns; and learn about community resources.

The group meets on the third Thursday of the month at 2 p.m. For more information, readers may contact MJ Musser at 717-495-3456 or To learn more about caregiver programs and resources, individuals may visit or


Memory Loss Group To Meet January 9, 2019

The Memory Loss Support Group for Caregivers will meet on Tuesday, Feb. 5, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Community Room at Mount Joy Mennonite Church, 320 Musser Road, Mount Joy.

Dr. Ken Brubaker will discuss "The Seven Stages of Memory Loss."


Caregiver Support Group Sets Meeting January 9, 2019

Green Hills Manor at The Heritage, in conjunction with the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, will host a monthly support group for caregivers of individuals with dementia. The first support group meeting will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 16, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Meetings will be held on the third Wednesday of every month at Green Hills Manor, 10 Tranquility Lane, Shillington. The group sessions are free and open to the public. The support groups will be conducted by trained Alzheimer's Association facilitators.

For more information, contact Melissa Oley at 484-755-3228 or


Heart Disease Support Group Slated January 3, 2019

WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women With Heart Disease has announced that WomenHeart of Lancaster County will begin its fifth year of the Support Network for women living with heart disease, hosted by WomenHeart Champion Jerri Anne Johnson, at Lancaster General Health Suburban Outpatient Pavilion, 2100 Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster. The first meeting of 2019 will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 9, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Meetings will be held in the third-floor conference room near Cardiac Rehab and are open to all women living with heart disease, as well as their caregiver. Meetings will take place on the second Wednesday of each month except July, August, and December. The program is offered through a partnership with Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health.

Johnson became a WomenHeart Support Network coordinator after attending the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium at the Mayo Clinic in October 2014. There, each year since 2002, women heart disease survivors have gathered to be trained to become volunteer community educators and Support Network coordinators in an effort to help women live heart-healthy lives and receive the support they need to do so.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. More than 800 women from across the country have become national volunteer WomenHeart Champions. These women are available to speak to community, state, and national audiences about heart disease. In addition, WomenHeart advocates for prevention, early and accurate diagnosis, and proper treatment of heart disease, and WomenHeart Champions lead a national community-based, patient-led network of support groups for women living with heart disease.

WomenHeart was founded in 1999, and the Science and Leadership Symposium at Mayo Clinic was founded as an integral part of WomenHeart in 2002. For more information, readers may contact Johnson at 717-799-5442 or Information about this support group can also be found by visiting and clicking on Classes and Events and Support Groups.

More information about WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is available at


Memory Loss Group To Meet January 2, 2019

The Memory Loss Support Group will meet on Monday, Jan. 14, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the third-floor conference room at Lancaster General Health Suburban Outpatient Pavilion, 2100 Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster. Joel Kroft from Country Meadows will speak on "Talking to Children and Teens About Dementia."

For information, readers may call Shelby Swartley at 717-544-3539.


Dementia/Alzheimer's Support Group To Meet January 2, 2019

Dover Bethany United Methodist Church (UMC), 4510 Bull Road, Dover, will host a dementia/Alzheimer's support group meeting on Monday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. Individuals who who like more information about Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, as well as how to care for loved ones who have dementia, are welcome to attend.

The group meets on the second Monday of each month. Readers with questions may call the church at 717-292-2716.


Support Group Sets Meeting January 2, 2019

The Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute Bladder Cancer Support Group will hold a meeting on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 10 a.m. at Hershey Medical Center, 500 University Drive, Hershey, in room T2500. Attendees should use the main entrance and go upstairs to the meeting room.

Dr. Matthew Kaag will be the guest speaker.

All Penn State Cancer Institute bladder cancer patients and family members are invited. For more information, contact Theda at 717-531-3028 or email


Aaron's Acres Gears Up For Summer Camp December 27, 2018

Aaron's Acres is recruiting campers and staff for its 2019 weekday summer camp at the Manheim Community Pool and Memorial Park. The camp has programs for children, adolescents, and adults with developmental disabilities ages 5 to 21.

The first session will run from Monday, June 17, to Friday, June 28, and session two will be held on Monday, July 8, to Friday, July 19, both with options of half-day hours from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and full-day hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A third session scheduled for Monday, July 22, to Friday, Aug. 2, will offer half-day hours only. "That third session is usually made up of new families who want to try it out for the first time," noted Aaron's Acres executive director Risa Paskoff.

Interested individuals may register at by Sunday, March 31. Scholarships are available. New families will be scheduled for a face-to-face meeting in order for everyone to get acquainted and for staff to become familiar with the camper's strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities.

Having professional staff, including special education teachers and a nurse, as well as a 1-to-1 or 1-to-2 staff-to-child ratio, enables Aaron's Acres to accept any child, regardless of medical or behavioral challenges. "Having that individualized attention makes for a great relationship and experience for the child," Paskoff stated.

Counselors are needed, and interested individuals age 18 and over may apply at by March 31. Paskoff noted that serving at Aaron's Acres summer camp is great for undergraduate and graduate students studying subjects such as social work, special education, occupational therapy, and physical therapy, but the organization is also thrilled to have anyone with a heart for the campers.

"We love when people without those majors do it and get comfortable interacting with our campers," added Paskoff. "It's great hands-on experience for people who want hands-on experience, and they're always supervised by professionals."

Unpaid positions are also open to high school students age 14 and up who would like to volunteer as buddies at camp. Buddies act as positive role models for campers under the supervision of the group leader.

Activities at camp include swimming every day, music therapy, therapeutic horseback riding, arts and crafts, group games, and sports. "The staff give 200 percent, and they always say they feel like they learn more than they feel the campers do," Paskoff stated. "They are really energetic, passionate people who will do whatever it takes to make (camp) an exceptional experience."

"We take every moment, and even though you think of it as just camp, we're working on socialization and other skills at all times," added Paskoff.

Special activities, theme days, and community service are other significant aspects of camp. Through the Aaron's Acres Acts of Kindness Program (AAAOK), campers ages 13 to 21 have the chance to take part in community service projects such as running an Alex's Lemonade Stand, playing bingo at Pleasant View Retirement Community and Danner Home, and having a car wash to raise funds to donate to a local nonprofit selected by the campers. Optional programs for parents are also offered during camp, ranging from guest speakers to pampering days with manicures, pedicures, and massages.

Aaron's Acres has hosted its summer camp in Manheim since 2013. It merged its Dauphin County camp site with Manheim in 2017 and its Berks County site in 2018. Transportation to camp from Dauphin and Berks counties is available.

Aaron's Acres is currently in the process of looking for a property or space to purchase as a permanent centralized facility for its offices, summer camp, and year-round programming.


Epilepsy Support Group Will Meet December 26, 2018

The Epilepsy Foundation Eastern Pennsylvania will hold a meeting of its Lancaster County Support Group on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Community Meeting Room, Kohl's Wing, at Park City Mall, 142 Park City Center, Lancaster.

For a complete list of support group dates, readers may visit For more information, readers may contact Kerri Michnya at or 717-449-1872.


Support Groups Schedule Meetings December 19, 2018

Garden Spot Village, 433 S. Kinzer Ave., New Holland, has planned several support group meetings. The meetings are free and open to the public.

The Living With Loss Support Group will meet on Wednesday, Jan. 2, from 10 to 11 a.m. in the board room. This month the group will focus on the question "Who am I now?" The Living With Loss group is for persons who have experienced the death of a spouse or family member. The group's focus is support and education. For more information, readers may call Jenny Snyder at 717-355-6259 or email

The Essential Tremor Support Group will meet on Thursday, Jan. 10, from 10 to 11 a.m. in the board room. This month's program will include an open discussion on "Caring and Coping." Individuals with essential tremors and their families and friends are invited to attend and share challenges and victories, ask questions, and offer each other support and suggestions. This quarterly support group is affiliated with the International Essential Tremor Foundation. For more information, readers may call Sherilyn Lapp at 717-355-6264 or email

The Low Vision Support Group will meet on Jan. 10 at 3 p.m. in the Garden Towers. Dr. Dan Strybos will present "Macular Degeneration Update." The Low Vision Support Group is designed to provide information and support to enhance independence for persons with any kind of visual losses. For more information, readers may call Mary Beth Villafane, independent living social worker, at 717-355-6010.

The Alzheimer's Association and Garden Spot Village co-sponsor a support group for family caregivers of those with dementia, which will meet on Monday, Jan. 14, at 10 a.m. in the Concord Room. The meeting will include a presentation by Marian Harnish, Garden Spot Village associate chaplain, titled "Spirituality and Memory Loss." Harnish will share thoughts on how to minister to a person's spirit when there are cognitive challenges. Upon advance request, free respite care in Adult Day Services is available during this group meeting time if currently enrolled. Those who will be attending the support group for the first time are asked to contact Marcia Parsons at 717-355-6239 or


"Paws For Warwick" Campaign Launched December 14, 2018

The Warwick School District is looking to man's best friend as a tool to overcome concerns such as daily anxiety, depression, grief, and suicidal thoughts by launching a Facility Dog Program in Warwick schools. The Warwick Education Foundation (WEF) is leading the fundraising campaign.

The WEF has created a giving platform, called "Paws for Warwick," where community members can securely make tax-deductible contributions. The goal is to raise $30,000 for the purchase and provision of three facility therapy dogs.

According to WEF executive director Barbara Mobley, facility therapy dogs were successfully utilized in Warwick High School in response to the recent tragedies involving students. District administrators saw the peaceful benefits of facility therapy dog interaction with students in times of crisis. That experience, coupled with previous extensive research, accelerated the timing to launch a district-wide program.

The school district currently has funding for three facility dogs. The new campaign will support three additional dogs, allowing for placement of a facility dog in each Warwick school building.

According to district representatives, research has shown that therapy dogs can provide a sense of connection in challenging situations; reduce symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety; and improve self-esteem and motivation. However, unlike service dogs, these animals do not offer specific support for a physical challenge such as sight or hearing difficulties.

Many schools and colleges are adopting these programs as a cost-effective means of providing social and emotional support for students and promoting learning. Some people have been said to have experienced increased attendance and academic productivity after incorporating facility dogs in their educational programs.

For more information or to donate, readers may visit Details about the WEF, which has provided more than $1.7 million for student education since its inception in 1997, are available at


Support Group Will Not Meet December 13, 2018

The Memory Loss Support Group for Caregivers will not meet on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, due to the New Year's Day holiday.

The support group usually meets monthly at Mount Joy Mennonite Church.


Support Group Will Meet December 12, 2018

A Susquehanna Valley support group, sponsored by Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, will meet on Thursday, Dec. 20, at 2 p.m. at Susquehanna Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 745 Old Chickies Hill Road, Columbia.

The support group is conducted by a trained facilitator and aims to provide a safe place for caregivers, family and friends of persons with dementia to develop a support system; exchange practical information on caregiving challenges and possible solutions; talk through issues and ways of coping; share feelings, needs and concerns; and learn about community resources.

The group meets on the third Thursday of the month at 2 p.m. For more information, readers may contact MJ Musser at 717-495-3456 or To learn more about caregiver programs and resources, individuals may visit or


Support Groups Slated December 6, 2018

Masonic Village, 1 Masonic Drive, Elizabethtown, will host two support groups. The Dementia Caregiver Support and Education Group meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18, will be a potluck social. The group meets every third Tuesday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., and there is no cost to attend.

Also, the monthly Bereavement Support Group will meet on Thursday, Dec. 20. This group meets every third Thursday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Refreshments are served, and there is no cost to attend.

For more information, call 717-367-1121.


Support Group Meeting Posted December 5, 2018

Dover Bethany United Methodist Church (UMC), 4510 Bull Road, Dover, will host a dementia/Alzheimer's support group meeting on Monday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. Individuals who who like more information about Alzheimer's disease or other form of dementia, as well as how to care for loved ones who have dementia, are welcome to attend.

Readers with questions may call the church at 717-292-2716.


HIT Will Hold Celebration November 30, 2018

On Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., the Hershey Indivisible Team (HIT) will hold its two-year anniversary celebration at Hershey Public Library, 710 Cocoa Ave. It will feature Mikhel Harrison, Pennsylvania's Indivisible state organizer.

A short business meeting will be followed by the main presentation. The public is invited to attend and admission will be free. For more information about HIT, readers may email Marlene Kanuck at

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