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There are hundreds of people looking out for the very young, elderly, poor and disadvantaged in Lancaster County.
Participants in the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Lancaster program became more familiar with these helpers and the agencies they represent during Leadership’s most recent information day March 13.
Since November, a group of professionals have met once a month to spend an entire day learning about a particular facet of the community. The belief is that exposure to such information will allow them to become stronger county leaders.
Past days touched on local history, education, heath care and economic development.
On March 13, the group began its social services day at the Chester/Lancaster Disabilities and Special Needs Board office on Camp Creek Road.
Staff there provide an array of services to help residents with physical and mental disabilities live as normal and independently as possible.
The office serves nearly 430 people in Lancaster County and more than 120 people in Chester County.
Patricia “Cookie” Maners, an early-intervention supervisor, said her job is rewarding. She works with special-needs children and their families.
“I’ve enjoyed it for the last 15 years I’ve done it,” Maners said.
‘Things just happen’
After visiting Disabilities and Special Need, the Leadership group stopped by GoldenCare on West Meeting Street, which provides adult day care and in-home personal care.
They then visited the S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Department office in Lancaster.
The office helps locals with disabilities hone skills in order for them to attend college or enter (or re-enter) the workforce. “We make sure they are competitively ready,” said Tina Stuber, director of the local office. “It’s individuals just like you and me – and things just happen.”
Those “things” are sometimes random accidents that leave people with physical limitations.
The office has more than 400 partners across the state, allowing participants to receive on-the-job training within dozens of industries.
“A lot of people don’t know about us,” Stuber said. “We don’t advertise. We’re a well-kept secret.”
During lunch, Leadership Lancaster heard from Sally Sherrin, executive director of Lancaster County Council on Aging.
In addition to its programs geared toward county senior citizens, Sherrin spoke of the Lancaster Area Ride Service (LARS) – a transportation service that’s been in place here for a few years.
LARS was first only available for medical appointments, but now the general public is able to ride. Rides still must be scheduled in advance, though.
After lunch, the Leadership group ventured over to the Founders Federal Credit Union headquarters. One of the rooms inside served as the location for express presentations by members of other service agencies in the county.
Participants divided into small groups of three or group. Each group spent 10 minutes at stations manned by a representative.
Agencies included United Way of Lancaster County, CareNet, Lancaster Children’s Home and Counseling Services of Lancaster County. In all, about 15 agencies were represented during the speed sessions.
Chris Simeral, an official with the Red Cross, spoke of that group’s mission to provide assistance during disaster. Through drives, the agency also provides 40 percent of the country’s blood supply, he said.
“We can ship and move blood to where it’s needed most,” Simeral said.
Leadership Lancaster participant Matt Nichols said he was amazed by the number of service agencies in the county.
He added that Family Promise stood out. That organization provides housing for homeless families in the county.
“I found it interesting how there’s a program like that to help people get back on their feet,” Nichols said. “There were a lot of different agencies I wasn’t aware of.”
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152