We stumbled across Britta during a networking social for the York Young Professionals (YYP) at Maewyn’s in York, Pennsylvania, and she quickly became our primary POC for our partnership with Bell Socialization. She played an integral part in our connection with Averie Clark, the Marketing Chair at Bell. And we must say – her flare for laughs and winning smile sure caught our eye (but this one belongs to Britta)!
After engaging with Britta, we felt that someone this dynamic must certainly have quite a few gifts and talents to offer the non-profit sector, and we got curious about what she might have to say about it herself… so we asked her some questions about exactly that:
Introducing the interview between YAFCA and Britta! In the interview, you not only get the inside scoop on Britta, but on what’s happening at Bell, and learn how to get involved, and make a difference!
1 ) Tell us a little bit about yourself before we get started. What do you like to do? Hobbies, family?
“I LOVE to be outside and enjoy nature……in my free time I can be found reading, kayaking, hiking and when I have extended free time, traveling. My family and friends are very important to me, and are supportive of the work I do. When I was growing up (along with my family) I did a lot of volunteer work, helping others has always been something very important to me and part of the story as to how I came to be employed at Bell.”
2 ) Can you tell us a little bit about how Bell got it’s start?
“Bell Socialization Services, Inc. began in 1966 as “The Bell Club,” a social gathering for people being discharged from local psychiatric hospitals into the greater York, PA community. The agency began simply as a place for people with mental illnesses to gather together and share in social activities such as community dinners, movie theater trips, and camping trips. Over time the agency developed and expanded to where we are today.”
“Currently, Bell offers mental health, mental retardation and shelter services. Each year in some capacity we meet the housing, recreational, vocational and basic living skills building of more than 1000 people. All of Bell’s services follow the psychosocial rehabilitation model, which focuses on assessing individual strengths and needs, setting personal goals, and providing an environment that encourages growth and development. Bell’s ultimate goal is to help its consumers live as independently as possible in the community. Bell Socialization Services, Inc. is a private, non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization funded in part by federal, state, and local governments, as well as grants and tax-deductible donations.”
3 ) What do you do at Bell, and how does it help Bell function as a whole?
“I work in the Human Resources Department as the Human Resources Coordinator. In my position I primarily function in the following areas; hiring employees, benefits administration, wellness programs, employee relations, internships in my department, and recruitment of great employees! One of my personal beliefs is if an employee’s satisfaction in the work place, encouragement to succeed, support and (hopefully) a feeling of empowerment are linked to how they will in turn support our consumers (service recipients) in short, it is my hope that if an employee feels supported and empowered, they will in turn carry that support and empowerment to the consumers with whom they are working.”
4 ) What’s the most important thing people can do to help get the word out about Bell, and the services you offer?
“First, I think it would be helpful for someone who is interested to check out our website at www.bellsocialization.com to learn more about what we do. We have pages on Facebook (Employment at Bell Socialization) on Facebook, Linked In, and we are also on Twitter (@BellSocServices). On our website an interested person can be connected to employment, internship and volunteer opportunities, as well as other ways to support the work we do such as financial contributions, in -kind donation gatherings of personal hygiene items, games, books, household items, as well as fundraising opportunities for individuals and groups.”
5 ) What is your favorite thing about working at Bell, and why?
“I feel we offer vital services to the community; such services as housing, vocational, recreation, case management, crisis diversionary and many others can contribute to a person “getting back on their feet” and building skills to grow as a person, and live as independently as possible in the community. I feel grateful to participate in what we do in my own, small way.”
6 ) What is your background? How did you end up working at Bell – how were you connected at the beginning?
“I became connected with Bell Socialization Services when I did an in-kind donation collection of new toys, books, games and personal hygiene items for a few local non-profits including Bell Socialization Services. When I went to Bell to deliver the items and meet the Community Relations Director, she encouraged me to return after I graduated to do an internship and learn more about the services and programs Bell offers. I did, and fell in love with the mission of the agency and how I saw the mission being “lived” in one of the recreational programs for people with intellectual disabilities as I interned within the departments of Bell Socialization Services I was able to see the entire program and that was an important learning opportunity for me. I finished my internship and after a few years became reconnected with Bell as I was interested in working in the human service field due to some college and volunteer experiences I had. I took a position with Bell Socialization Services as a Mental Health Caseworker and then later as the Human Resources Coordinator, the position I am currently in.”
7 ) If there was one change you wish you could make at Bell, to help it improve, what would it be, and how can readers help?
“I would like to see more funding for the programs we provide for the community; I think most non-profit representatives would also say the same thing. In addition to the funding we need caring and compassionate community members to join us in this work. For some, that might be as a volunteer, a mentor, an employee, a community donor, or as a board member. We are very open to community support, and would welcome ideas from the readers of this website as to how they would like to support Bell Socialization Services and the people we serve in our mission to provide an environment of support and empowerment where people can improve their quality of living. ”
8 ) How does Bell network with other organizations in the York area, and how does Bell benefit?
“Bell Socialization Services is actively engaged in the York and Adams County community. From this engagement we are connected to many civic, faith based, non-profit and community organizations. The benefits really, are endless I believe. Most connections begin from interested persons having information available to them, and we are happy to oblige! Some natural connections occur by way of our funding sources, employees, consumers, board members and other caring community members.”
9 ) Is there a way people can volunteer their time at Bell if they are not licensed counselors, and if so, how?
“Yes! We welcome volunteers in all of our departments. Many opportunities are listed on our website www.bellsocialization.com and beyond that, an interested person can be connected to our Volunteer Coordinator who is able to match a volunteer with opportunities to suit their schedule, skill level, and interest. We also have employment and internship opportunities for those seeking educational or paid opportunities.”
10 ) What is the biggest impact Bell has had on you directly as a person, and how does that impact reflect on your service to Bell?
“I have grown a lot as a person during my employment here and by working with our consumers (either directly or indirectly) I have developed a greater understanding of the difficulties our consumers face, but also a greater appreciation for the human spirit and the ability to be empowered to overcome those difficulties with respectful, supportive care.”