Going into this experience, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I get fit in at the program? Would I be able to carve a niche out for myself and make a difference in this specific community? Would I feel challenged? Yes, yes and yes. I can honestly say that this summer has been one of the most interesting and challenging of my life thus far. I have learned more things about community action, social change and myself in the past month than I could have ever hoped for. This summer I am working with SCCAP’s Family Development Services with Lisa Connolly, the program coordinator. A component of the South Central Community Action Programs, Inc, Family Development Services (FDS) is devoted to impact wide-ranging change in the larger Adams County community, one individual at a time, by focusing on persons affected by homelessness, poverty and unemployment.

At first I was a little uncertain of my role in the program and wasn’t sure exactly what I was supposed to be doing. However over time I have gained confidence in my ability to effectively adapt to the program and the staff and have actually grown quite comfortable in my role as a GED tutor, coordinator of fundraising, Life Skills assistant and office aide. The people I have met, the clients I have served and the relationships I have formed have truly made this experience much more than I expected it to be. I knew what kind of program this was but I had no idea about the hands on experience I would get actually helping people to change their lives by encouraging self-reliance and healthy interdependence. Everyday I go to the center very assured of the positive work I am doing and well aware of the impact of my community work with individuals facing such daunting issues.

Lisa Connolly, the program coordinator of Family Development Services, is the unsung hero of this program and is one person I have truly grown to respect and admire. This work is her life’s work and she goes over and beyond what is required to assure the success of this program. Her dedication, passion and sincere desire to help people is visible every single day and I am so very lucky that I was placed in this program to work with her. The responsibility and trust she has placed in me runs contrary to the role I thought I would be playing in the program: merely doing paperwork and making copies. She has given me a role and told me to run with it, putting full faith in my ability to do what needs to be done. The experience that has come from this faith and responsibility has surpassed my greatest expectations and is undoubtedly a long-lasting and beneficial contribution to my understanding of how society, individual responsibility and collective action interconnect and overlap.

John Carney, Heston Intern: Gettysburg – SCCAP’s Family Development Services