Community connector partners with YCEA to highlight, expand cultural programs
A York County woman who is well-known for her altruistic contributions to the community's cultural and educational landscape is joining forces with the York County Economic Alliance.
JJ Sheffer joined the YCEA as the director of community programming Jan. 7, a move that will allow her to focus exclusively on the programs she has crafted over the years, except now she will be paid to do it.
The three programs that will now fall under the purview of the YCEA include Kable House Presents, a concert series hosted in York’s Central Market; York Story Slam, an open mic storytelling series and SkillSwap, a barter-based education series.
“All I ever wanted to be doing was these programs because that’s how I felt I could have the biggest impact on the community,” Sheffer said.
Sheffer operated the programs pro bono as president of New Muse Entertainment, a company that produced special events. She launched New Muse in 2010 after working for several years in fundraising, public relations and event planning.
However, Sheffer was growing tired of working a full-time job and devoting her evenings to the equivalent of a second full-time job.
“It was simply not sustainable for me to continue this work pro bono. It was not financially feasible to continue, and the programs weren’t getting the level of attention they deserved,” she said.
For the past three years, she worked with a mentor to find an organization she could partner with to sustain her programs and allow them to grow.
Last fall, she met with Kevin Schreiber, president and CEO of YCEA, to discuss the future of her programs, and they both walked away feeling that the partnership was a good fit.
“We believe in the work that JJ has done for many years in York,” Schreiber said in a news release.
“Her work to create and grow ‘people connecting programs’ has been driven largely altruistically and based almost entirely upon sweat equity, friendly volunteers and her passion for the community,” he said.
Sheffer also benefitted from the support of an anonymous benefactor who will be funding her salary for the next two years. Although there are no current plans in the works, she hopes to expand each program throughout York County by introducing them to a variety of community organizations, she said. Any leftover funding from her benefactor will be used to cover program costs, she said.
“Two years is a good start,” she said.
Sheffer also plans to continue generating ideas for more programs that will benefit the community, with the support of the YCEA.
“When I see something I would like to see in my town, I do it,” she said.