I was raised in Cumberland County and graduated from Big Spring High School Class of 1991. I graduated from Harrisburg Area Community College and Penn State Harrisburg with a Bachelor’s degree. In 2002, I graduated from Penn State Harrisburg with a Master’s of Education, Health Education. Also in 2002, I graduated from Hood College with a Master’s of Arts, Human Science-Thanatology. Through my experience as a hospice volunteer, I realized that I liked helping families in crisis and being part of a care team.
I worked throughout my schooling and during my early career as a contract Mobile Therapist and Behavioral Specialist with PA Counseling Services, Youth Advocate Programs and Diakon Lutheran Services. I worked with youth referred through Children and Youth Services and Juvenile Probation in Cumberland and Dauphin Counties.
I moved to Simsbury, CT in 2009 and helped open a new hospice at Hebrew Healthcare, West Hartford. I authored the bereavement program and worked with dying patients and grieving families towards hospice goals. I also facilitated bereavement support groups.
I returned to Cumberland County in 2012. In 2014 I started a job as an Independent Living Coordinator at George Junior Republic. In 2014, I was promoted to supervisor and oversaw county contracts in 4 surrounding counties and supervised 11 therapists. I worked collaboratively with Children and Youth Services and Juvenile Probation in Cumberland, Dauphin, Juniata and Snyder Counties. Through this work, I could see a large gap in housing for children aging out of the foster system and/or involved in the Independent Living Program of PA.
To respond to the unmet needs of this population, I started researching evidence-based interventions that included housing. I talked to my network and friends about what we could do in Cumberland County to assist. During this time, I watched as my caseload exited the system and I watched them struggle and often fail. They simply did not have the adult support system to launch into adulthood successfully.
Bethany Wheeler, Rob Frey and I are opening the Launch Pad Newville. We purchased the 7000 square foot apartment building in July 2019. We are currently restoring the building and it should be open in January 2020. We hope through this endeavor to offer a safe and supportive environment for youth in care to transition to the adult world by offering life skills training, educational and employment opportunities.
In addition to my professional work, I have been an active volunteer. My first volunteer experience was with Pinnacle Health Hospice in 1994. I served as a “Big Buddy” at Camp Dragonfly for Bereaved Children and, eventually, as a hospice patient volunteer. I volunteered with Pinnacle Health Hospice for several years, including 4 years at Camp Dragonfly.
I served one term on the Board of Directors at the Carlisle Family YMCA from 2014-2017.
I have donated photography services for gala events at: Mary’s Place, Carmen Funeral Home, YWCA Carlisle Purse Auction and the CenturyLink Purse Auction.
I volunteered at Heartland Hospice and Hoffman Funeral to facilitate a support groups for grieving children.
During 2007-2017, I visited hospice patients with 2 my therapy dogs.
Together with Seth Roper, I serve as a grief counselor for Carlisle SHINES, a support group for grieving Carlisle High School students. We meet 12 weeks per year during the school day and have one full day community service project with the students. We also organize Children’s Grief Awareness Day for the district. I have volunteered since 2015.
In 2018, I was awarded the Pennsylvania State Education Association Southern Region “Friend of Education Award” for my volunteer work with grieving students at Carlisle High School.