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A Day with June

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*Disclaimer: The following names of the children visited have been changed due to privacy policies.   This past summer I got to spend the day shadowing a therapist from Excentia’s S. June Smith Center. June Gehman-Deane has been with Excentia’s S. June Smith Center since 2006. She graduated from Neumann University with a Masters of Physical Therapy. June and I spent the day traveling all around Lancaster County visiting families in their homes, which is one of the unique features about the services that Excentia’s S. June Smith Center provides.   [caption id="attachment_614" align="alignleft" width="257"] June Gehman-Deane[/caption] “My favorite part of my job is getting to work with families and giving them the tools they need to assist their children in achieving motor milestones through daily routines such as diaper changes and play activities. I love Lancaster County because of its diversity… I go from Latino homes to Hindi homes to Amish homes to wealthy suburban homes as well as economically challenged homes… the list can go on and on,” said June.   Our first stop of the day took us to Columbia where we met with a little boy named John. June sees him every two weeks and has been working on making sure he can walk on his feet flat and not up on his tiptoes. June assisted the family in process in getting a prescription and referral to an orthotist for a pair of orthotics. The orthotist came to the session so that the family, June and the orthotist could work together to determine the best option for John. After the orthotist measured and casted John for the Molded Ankle Foot Orthotics, John’s mom shared that she was worried about the fact that John will climb up the steps but doesn’t know how to get back down them.  She shared that he has fallen once or twice from the bottom steps.  June suggested making a game of sliding or backing down off of the sofa as the first step at learning to back down the steps. Soon John was enjoying this activity and we all joined in to create excitement and make the activity more fun for John.  Next session they will try it on the stairs unless he has already mastered the activity with the help of his parents.   After spending an hour in Columbia we headed in the opposite direction to Ephrata. Here we met with Lucas, the most adorable little blonde boy who was the happiest baby of the day! Lucas and his mom were pleased to show off how easily Lucas can now climb both up and down the stairs in his home. Because he had mastered the last skill in his goal, this was likely his last session with June. Paperwork was completed sharing his successful completion of six months of therapy with June. He will be moving onto Speech Therapy another service offered by Excentia’s S. June Smith Center as his mother was now concerned about his development of spoken or expressive language.   My favorite part of the day was our third stop, Park City Center where we met with Liam. His mom asked for help in finding a pair of shoes for him to wear with his new Molded Ankle Foot Orthotics (MAFO’s). We went to Payless, Footlocker for Kids and Journeys Kids. The winning pair of shoes though were a pair of converse hightops which complimented the MAFO’S perfectly. His mother was concerned about how they looked as she didn’t want her son to look different.  I loved this particular visit because I am really into shopping and it was really nice to actually feel involved while shadowing June. [caption id="attachment_1723" align="alignright" width="225"] The shoe that we chose for Liam[/caption]   Our last stop was actually at a local daycare where we met with Emma who needed to work on standing up to help strengthen her legs and also to begin to transition from crawling to walking as the routine of choice to get around the daycare center. On this particular visit June said that Emma was extra cuddly which was so cute to see! While June was working with Emma using song time as a motivator, I was being approached by the other children in the class. One little guy in particular kept putting a cowboy hat on my head and then laughing, which really topped off the entire day. June also made sure to collaborate with the staff and checking in about how Emma was participating in the class and making suggestions about how best to encourage working on walking from place to place with support (hands held) and also work on following directions as the special instructor had suggested.  The staff found it hard to do both these needed routines at the same time.   Shadowing June was an experience that I will never forget. I only got to see her interact with four children but it was evident the time and work that she puts in with each family is crucial to their development. As I have said before, I am the service and giving chair for my chapter of Alpha Sigma Alpha and being able to see what happens behind the scenes really puts all of the fundraising into perspective.   I would like to personally thank June for allowing me to spend the day with her and broadening my knowledge on the many developmental tiers that are out there. And a special thank you to her for giving quotes and insight for this blog post.   If you are interested in starting a career with Excentia’s S. June Smith Center visit this link https://www.ourexcentia.org/careers/.    Alpha Love and Mine, Lexis

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Events with the SJSC

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Last week I had the opportunity to visit two of Excentia’s S. June Smith Centers for fun filled days. On Thursday I visited the Ephrata preschool for their Olympic games and then on friday I headed to the Lancaster location for a preschool graduation. One thing that I noticed at each preschool were that the connections between the students and teachers were strong, pure and unbreakable.   Thursday When I first pulled up the Ephrata preschool I could tell we were in for an eventful morning because all of the olympic themed games were already set up outside. As I entered the main building classroom the sound of laughter and play filled the room. The kids were having playtime and snack time until the other classroom would join us. Once the other class showed up the real fun began. We all circled around a parachute, the colorful one that most of us remember playing with in gym classes when we were little kids. The kids started pulling up and down while I added beach balls into the mix, but since all of the children were different heights many times the balls would fall right to the ground. After the opening ceremony parachute game we split up into two groups -- one inside and one outside. The children who were outside played games such as the mini beach ball toss, wet sponge toss and water blaster archery with balloons. While the outdoor activities took place the other group was inside golfing, having a beach ball toss and even an ocean themed scavenger hunt. Though there wasn’t any competition among the kids during the olympic games they all still received gold medals at the closing ceremonies.                         Friday On friday I was invited to the lancaster preschool graduation which really excited me because the last preschool graduation I attended my own. When I approached the classroom the first thing I noticed were the beautiful decorations that the teacher and staff had made to make the room more lively and interactive. As I navigated through the sea of parents for my seat the sound of live music filled the air from violinists in the center of the room.   While waiting for the graduation to start myself and about 30 people were greeted by Sally who is the classroom teacher. After her opening words a woman from Earth Rhythms, a local business, handed the soon to be graduates instruments and had the entire room join along in clapping and song. As the children were getting ready for their official graduation ceremony we continued to sing songs.   After a few moments the room filled with the sound of the official graduation music played by the violinists. Each child walked back into the room but this time they all had on graduation gowns and caps, which made every parent’s face light up. After they all sat down they were presented with their diplomas and artwork that they had completed in anticipation for the big day. One thing that grounded all of us was when a diploma was presented to a family who had just lost their child the previous week.   Attending the preschool graduation and olympic games made me very thankful for the position that I am in with Excentia. I wouldn’t have these opportunities otherwise to meet and interact with the teachers, families and students who are directly impacted by Excentia’s S. June Smith Center.   If you would like to watch the lancaster preschool graduation you can watch it below.         Alpha Love and Mine, Lexis

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ASA #GetTheFlockTogether

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Excentia’s S. June Smith Center has this awareness campaign called “Get the Flock Together” or just “Flocking.” They chose to use flamingos because when they are born they aren’t pink, they are white and the environment they grow up in is what changes their colors and allows them to flourish. This goes hand in hand with what they do at Excentia’s S. June Smith Centers for children up to age five because they want them to flourish and give them the best possible environment to do that in. When I first learned about flocking I was at the Be the Change event and a guy in a flamingo costume approached me asking if I knew what flocking was and if I wanted to get a picture. Of course I didn’t know anything but after learning about I knew a tabling event was in the future. For starters a tabling event is when you book a table or two in a certain spot on campus, set up your fundraiser or awareness campaign and get students involved. The hope and outcome of tabling events is usually raising money and making sure that people are aware of what your organization does. This past spring semester I decided to hold a tabling event in April, the official flocking month, where pink feather pins were made and sold to bring awareness to Excentia’s S. June Smith Center. The months leading up to the tabling event I had sisters and potential new members create the pins during recruitment week, so not only were the feathers being made, but flocking was being talked about.  Check out the video at the bottom of this blog to see step-by-step just how easy this process can be! So when April came around all I had to do was buy a pink tablecloth, make an awesome trifold with a flamingo and set out all of the premade feathers on the table. When students and professors would walk by most were intrigued by the flamingo, which was a great conversation starter because it lead right into why I was selling the pins. Feather pins were sold for $1 and I would make sure to pin each one sold on someone’s backpack because on campus that is what gets the most attention. I also took various pictures of students doing the flamingo pose, which was suggested by the marketing team at Excentia and made for a fun group shot!  At the end of my two hour tabling slot over $40 was raised, which means that 40 people were now walking around campus with our pink feather pins and bringing awareness to our cause. It’s amazing to see how something as little as a pin can get the conversation going. If you want to host a flocking tabling event, flash mob or fundraiser check out the video above or send an email to ekserviceandgiving@gmail.com for more information.  By the way, Millersville University isn't the only campus who has "Flocked", check out Saginaw Valley State University and their Flocking Fun!  Alpha Love and Mine, Lexis      

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Scrapbooking Event

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Super Saturday Scrapbooking   The biggest event that my chapter holds is a scrapbooking event each semester where all the money raised goes directly to Excentia’s S. June Smith Center. This past semester I quickly learned how much time and effort goes into planning and executing a ten-hour scrapbooking day.   Pictured: Lexis Lipko at Spring 2017 scrapbooking event   I wanted it to be the most successful one yet. My first task included meeting with advisor Paula Foreman, who fun fact actually is the reason Excentia’s S. June Smith Center is a philanthropic partner of Alpha Sigma Alpha. Paula has been running the event alongside service and giving chairs for many years and still is actively involved today.   The scrapbooking event takes place at Stayer Hall on Millersville University’s campus. Participants in the event pay $20 for a ten hour time period where a light breakfast, lunch, goodie bags and car to seat service are provided. Throughout the day they are able to take a walk through the hallways to see what vendors are selling, such as Thirty-One gifts or Pampered Chef. Their final destination is usually the raffle table and this past semester we had well over 60 raffle items available.     Leading up to the event is very frustrating at times though. Paula and I meet months in advance to discuss what the food will be and where we will ask for raffles at. After that initial meeting we are going business to business looking for donations because we strive to make sure that we aren’t spending any money on the event, which allows all money raised to go directly to the cause.   After food is picked up and raffles are retrieved, the set up begins. The night before the big event you can find the sisters of my chapter moving tables, placing name cards and goodie bags in the classrooms of Stayer Hall in preparation for the busy morning set up ahead. When 7 a.m. arrives we are frantically getting the raffle items set up on the tables and making sure that food is placed in the correct order and drinks are being chilled.   Pictured: A room full of scrapbookers!   Once set up is complete the real event begins. This past semester we had over 110 women, the most ever to attend the event, who we had to get inside and to the right places. Once a majority of the ladies are placed at their tables the scrapbooking begins for them and down time begins for us, until lunch of course. Pictured: The Raffles available       Since we take care of providing lunch we let the women choose what they want for dinner, meaning that my sisters and myself become delivery drivers. They call out for their food and we go and pick it up, allowing the women to keep scrapbooking until they are ready to leave. And just like in the beginning of the day we pick up their items, load up their cars and tell them we will see them next semester.     The day is a lot of work for my chapter but all of the time and effort that we put into the day of operations really pays off in the long run. This past semester over $4,000 was raised for Excentia’s S. June Smith Center, the largest amount ever raised at one of our scrapbooking events. Pictured: Sisters helping out with Raffle Ticket sales   When I finally have a moment to relax, all I can do is think about how thankful I am. Without my sisters or Paula it would not be possible to raise such a large amount of money for an organization, but then I remember that I get to do it all again next semester and I am hoping to raise even more.     Alpha Love and Mine, Lexis P.S. This year's event is on September 30th in Stayer Hall at Millersville University!  Want to register to join in the fun?  Email ekserviceandgiving@gmail.com and a representative from the event will be in touch with you with all of the details.

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How to live the good life.

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With the current political climate at a constant rolling boil, the morning news can be a pretty depressing start to the day.  Mix that in with local stories of a fire or an arrest and you can start to think that we are doing it all wrong.   But there are two gentlemen that I’ve recently had the privilege to meet, who have restored my faith in humanity.  Bret and Ryan are the first Lancastrians to enter into a program called TRAIL offered by Excentia.  They are learning all of the basic life skills and practices to live independently as employed adults in Lancaster- despite the obstacles and challenges life has dealt them. I got to catch up with them at their house to talk to them about their progress and to witness their preparations for a dinner party they were throwing for their families.  They were making a spaghetti dinner, complete with homemade meatballs, salad, and garlic bread.  Smiles were abundant that day and you could see that both of these fine men were confident and making great strides towards their goals of independence.   In my next conversation with Elizabeth Ortiz, the program instructor for TRAIL, she excitedly shared with me that Ryan and Bret would like to throw another dinner party.  This time, they wanted to offer their cooking and host skills up to the community and they wanted to do it to benefit the S. June Smith Center.  May 18th Excentia’s S. June Smith Center held the Sips, Sweets, & Supports Event at Tellus 360- there were eight auction items that evening- a private yoga session, Phillies tickets, private cooking lessons with a local chef- all brought in great money.  When all the bidding was completed, one local auction item shone brighter than the others.   Bret and Ryan’s offer of a home-cooked spaghetti and meatball diner brought in $1,000 for Excentia’s S. June Smith Center.  These two gentlemen, who are working so hard to make strides in their own lives, found the time and the desire to help others in their community.  They are giving of themselves without hesitation, without direction or prodding, without question of what they will get in return. The next time that you are feeling that the world around you is full of sadness, corruption, or dishonesty- I would urge you to think of Ryan and Bret.  Follow their example and their spirit and be the change you want to see in our community.

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Lexis joins Excentia

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My name is Lexis Lipko and I am currently a Junior at Millersville University located in Lancaster, PA. I am studying for a degree in Speech Communication with an option in Public Relations. At school I hold a few positions such as secretary/treasurer for Panhellenic Council and service and giving chair for my sorority, Alpha Sigma Alpha. I am interning with Excentia’s marketing team this summer and have happily taken on this blogging experience to connect our community to happenings going on within our wonderful organization. With that being said, I want to give you a little insight on what I do for Excentia’s S. June Smith Center when I’m at school and not in the office.     Summer vacation is all about relaxing but sorority philanthropy chairs all over the country are already getting their fall semester calendars together, because the work never truly stops. Planning and organization are two very important things to keep in mind when taking on such a large position in a chapter. I took on the position in December 2016 and thus far it has brought joy to my life, because I know with each fundraising event and time spent volunteering we are making a difference.   In my sorority, Alpha Sigma Alpha, the service and giving chair is in charge of organizing volunteer opportunities and fundraising events for chapter members. We are fortunate enough to have three philanthropic partners: Excentia’s S. June Smith Center, Girls On the Run and Special Olympics. In my chapter we tend to volunteer with Girls On the Run and Special Olympics the most then focus on raising money for Excentia’s S. June Smith Center. Having three philanthropic partners makes it easy to quickly add local events to the calendar, which can keep us involved with one or more of the organizations at least once a month.       One unique thing about my chapter in particular is that we are located in the same county as Excentia’s S.June Smith Center. Being so close allows my chapter to attend events such as the Extra Give phone-a-thon and Road Rally where money is raised and then distributed among Excentia’s many programs. It is also easy to set up restaurant nights and get the community involved because Excentia’s services affect individuals right here in Lancaster County. Other chapters around the country tend to have tabling events, restaurant nights and even purchase items such as toys off of the Amazon Smile account to show their support. Some of my favorite tabling events include having a simple bake sale or a Flocking table where pink feather pins are sold in support of Excentia’s S. June Smith Center.   Of course with every position or job there come mild frustrations and hiccups. I’m sure other service and giving chairs can relate to setting up an event and not having enough ladies willing to sign up for the cause or ladies saying they need to study. My biggest frustration though is deciding what I can do to raise the most money effectively. When I first got this position I told myself I wanted to raise the most money ever in a semester and I am well on my way to making that happen within my chapter.   Pictured: Alpha Sigma Alpha, EK at Extra Give 2016   Having the opportunity to serve my chapter and Excentia’s S. June Smith Center with this fundraising position has been hard but fun work. Each event we attend or that I come up with allows monetary funds to be raised for the advancement of learning and furthering the education and lives of many individuals.   For more information about Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority and Excentia’s S. June Smith Center head over to    www.ourexcentia.org.   Alpha Love and Mine, Lexis      

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Greystone Manor Therapeutic Riding Center

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Like nearly every pre-teen girl in the company of a horse, the young ladies riding around the ring are smiling and making an occasional sigh or giggle.  The two girls on this breezy May afternoon at Greystone Manor are not just there to assuage their overwhelming horse obsessions- as is often the case with girls.  These young ladies are receiving equine therapy with lead instructor, Karen Weber-Zug and four volunteers. [gallery link="none" ids="1567,1568,1569,1570,1571,1572,1573,1574,1575,1576,1577,1578,1579"] It is quite a ratio, two volunteers per girl and a teacher split between them.  Both of these riders are advanced and only require a leader and one side spotter.  For beginners, there would be a side spotter on both sides of the horse.  Bringing the ratio up to three dedicated volunteers per rider plus the instructor.  That may seem like a lot of manpower for a therapy session, but everyone involved will tell you that it is absolutely worth it.   Greystone Manor Therapeutic Riding Center on Hartman Station Rd is a lovely property and was once used by local riders to board show horses that were pampered and preened for Hunter-Jumper events and Steeple Chase.  These days the horses are much more laid back and docile.  The horses that Heather Mitterer, director of GMTRC, searches for are ones that can walk, trot, and canter but can also handle lots of human contact, loud noises, and the unpredictable movements that some of the riders may make during the therapy sessions.   Providing six six-week sessions every year from February through November is no small feat for this small non-profit group.  The company charges $350 for a rider to take part in a six-week session and many of the riders continue to come back session after session.  Heather has witnessed rider after rider find a deep sense of self-confidence through the therapeutic riding sessions.  Everything from better posture and muscle control to more intangibles like wearing brighter colors or a new bold hair style begins to manifest in the students.  This sentiment was echoed by one of the young rider’s mothers, “We don’t do any other therapy at this point, it is just the riding now.”   The young ladies couldn’t contain their smiles as they walked the horses back to the stables after a brief walk around the outside grounds.  As the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services rolls out a new service for Music, Art, & Equine Assisted Therapy on July 1, 2017, it is without question one of the highlights for those with disabilities in the Commonwealth.  The Equine Therapy can be provided to individuals of any age as it is not covered by Medical Assistance.  The state would cover about $40 per one hour session, so a total of around $240 towards the $350 fees that the Greystone Manor Therapeutic Riding Center charges for the six-week session.   If you are interested in adopting a horse (cover the cost of boarding, feed, and medical care), making a donation, or attending one of the GMTRC events, please go to www.greystonemanortrc.org for more information.  Excentia has several riders who frequent Greystone and ride in the annual horse show.  Excentia hopes to get even more of the people we support involved in the Equine Therapy programs at Greystone.  Join us in our excitement and support this valuable therapy.

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When is a Sock-Hop more than just a dance?

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Flashback to the 1950’s at a Sock-Hop.  “The Stroll” is playing and you grab your dance partner and line up across from them as the music fills your ears and the feeling of being part of something fills your entire being.  Your eyes are greeted with smiles and you hear giggling and chatting from all around you.  You are part of something wonderful, something enviable, something that tells your soul that everything is going to be alright and you are right where you are supposed to be. Two weeks ago, Excentia’s Sock-Hop event was thrown to create opportunities for increased socialization with peers for people living in the homes managed by Excentia.  It was a cookout and dance, to spend time getting to know others, and to dance the day away.  A chance to belong and make friends that will last a lifetime. You may have a family cookout, that you invite the people closest to you, it was like that only it was the Excentia RES family.  Finding ways to connect with each other is an important piece of socialization and a first step on the path to community integration. “The Sock-Hop theme was just for fun as we love to dress up and have a great time (the Halloween being one of our biggest events and the individuals loving to go shopping and get all dressed in costume).  Next year we are looking at having an event that invites family members of those we support as a way to build positive relationships with families and the company.” shared Anna Edling, Assistant Director of Residential Services. If you would like to learn more about Excentia’s Residential Services, please contact Anna Edling or June Johnston on our website. https://www.ourexcentia.org/about/#team-and-board

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