Students’ Community Service Serves Often-Invisible ‘Community’

Applied human services majors in Rob Cooley’s Service Learning in Sociology class raised public awareness – and more than $1,200 – to help Family Promise of Lycoming County Inc. aid local residents experiencing the challenges of homelessness. The students set up a temporary “city” of cardboard boxes outside the Lycoming County Court House on Friday evening/Saturday morning, collecting more than $600 in cash. An online campaign at gofundme.com raised roughly the same amount. They also collected a large supply of clothing, toiletries and food items for Family Promise, whose executive director Melissa Magargle brought her two daughters and stayed the evening. From 6-10 p.m., the group enjoyed live acoustic music by Students of Musical Development (a Penn College campus organization); singer/songwriter Shawn Strickland; and Craig A. Miller, assistant professor of history and political science. “It was fantastic,” said Cooley, an assistant professor of anthropology/environmental science. “We also helped two homeless people who came to our event get shelter for the night. An individual from the community who had once experienced homelessness in Wlliamsport, but who now is employed and has a home with his family, spent the night with us, too, and shared his story.”

– Photos by Marc T. Kaylor, student photographer

Takin' it to the streets are (standing from left) faculty member Rob Cooley and applied human services students Tyler R. Mausteller, of South Williamsport; Gretchen T. Chambers, of St. Peters; Eve A. Allen, of Williamsport; Andrea K. Grande, of Williamsport; Ashley N. Myers, of Williamsport; and Brittany L. Ohnmeiss, of Muncy. Kneeling are Lacy D. Schoonover (left), of Williamsport, and Rachel K. Young, of Montgomery.

Takin’ it to the streets are (standing from left) faculty member Rob Cooley and applied human services students Tyler R. Mausteller, of South Williamsport; Gretchen T. Chambers, of St. Peters; Eve A. Allen, of Williamsport; Andrea K. Grande, of Williamsport; Ashley N. Myers, of Williamsport; and Brittany L. Ohnmeiss, of Muncy. Kneeling are Lacy D. Schoonover (left), of Williamsport, and Rachel K. Young, of Montgomery.

The "box city" takes shape before sundown.

The “box city” takes shape before sundown.

Boxes beckon to prospective inhabitants.

Boxes beckon to prospective inhabitants.

Students assemble their overnight accommodations.

Students assemble their overnight accommodations.

Rob Cooley is interviewed by Williamsport Sun-Gazette reporter Joseph Stender.

Rob Cooley is interviewed by Williamsport Sun-Gazette reporter Joseph Stender.

Musicians entertain passersby and participants.

Musicians entertain passersby and participants.

Linda S. Yarison (left), a college employee and Mausteller's mother, drops by to support the effort.

Linda S. Yarison (left), a college employee and Mausteller’s mother, drops by to support the effort.

With her class assembled behind her, Lacy D. Schoonover goes on camera for WBRE Eyewitness News reporter Valerie Tysanner.

With her class assembled behind her, Lacy D. Schoonover goes on camera for WBRE Eyewitness News reporter Valerie Tysanner.

A cardboard box, what passes as "home" for some, offers little shelter and less comfort.

A cardboard box, what passes as “home” for some, offers little shelter and less comfort.

Donation bin calls attention to a seldom-seen community problem.

Donation bin calls attention to a seldom-seen community problem.

Gift bags and T-shirts help spread the message.

Gift bags and T-shirts help spread the message.