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York human services agencies network for a cause

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When Jess Abrams Schrodel started working in York County last year, she noticed an opportunity to improve communications among social service agencies.

Schrodel had come from Lancaster County, where her work with a nonprofit led her to join a Lebanon County networking group that had been meeting for years to share stories and tips among service providers.

By September, the York County Council of Human Services Agencies had been formed, said Schrodel who works for the Penn State University Educational Opportunity Center in York.

The council now includes about 25 people from 15 to 20 agencies. They meet the second Friday of each month for lunch at the Lyndon Diner off Route 30. There are no dues or bylaws, just like-minded people getting together to discuss issues and ideas over a meal, she said. The gatherings also serve as a support group for people who do work that can be emotionally draining.

“A lot of times, it’s really easy to feel isolated,” she said of work in the social-services fields. “Or to think that the work we are doing is not making the difference that we would like it to be.”

One idea the group has developed is to seek funding for Spanish lessons, so more bilingual social-services workers are available countywide.

Holly Dolan, vice president of the Lebanon County Council of Human Service Agencies, said she worked with Schrodel so that the York County group didn’t have to start from scratch.

She said the Lebanon council formed about 35 years ago. It, too, started informally but eventually evolved into a formal group with bylaws, officers and annual dues of $25.

Her group now has about 50 members. They meet monthly over lunch, where a guest speaker gives a presentation. The dues are used for a $500 scholarship, as well as awards given each May for a volunteer of the year and a human-service professional of the year, said Dolan, who is director of education and outreach for Lebanon Family Health Services. The Lebanon-based agency provides education, nutrition and reproductive health services to uninsured and underinsured families in Lebanon County.

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