Human services students see firsthand example of civic impact

Human services students and faculty engaged in an enlightening educational outing on Friday with a visit to the Hazleton One Community Center, which was launched by Hazleton native and beloved Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon.

Human services students and their chaperones gather outside the Hazleton One Community Center.

Touring the center, students view a lab equipped with Mac computers donated by an individual inspired by the project’s vision.

Central to the center’s mission is the Hazleton Integration Project, which aims to foster respect and connection among the area’s diverse ethnic cultures.

The center, which opened in 2013, offers opportunities for economically challenged children to participate in a variety of no- or low-cost educational, athletic and cultural activities.

HIP has received national and international media exposure as well as accolades – including the 2018 Renewal Awards, a nationwide competition celebrating nonprofit organizations’ social innovations.

A quote by the late author Maya Angelou speaks to the organization’s diversity mission.

Curry shares insights with the Penn College entourage.

“I thought this was an excellent example of community mobilization and change that our students should see. Often, it’s best to see it beyond a textbook,” said Elizabeth E. Winder, assistant professor of human services at Pennsylvania College of Technology. “The Hazleton One Community Center has definitely impacted its community in positive ways.”

Students enrolled in the college’s HSR 120 (Introduction to Helping Skills and Process) and HSR 311 (Community and Organizational Change) had the opportunity to participate in the field trip; some were unable to attend due to other classes.

Winder and Katrina A. Sinclair, assistant professor of humanities, served as chaperones, and Robert “Bob” Curry, founding president of the board, head of finance and grant writing for HIP (and Maddon’s cousin), provided a tour of the center’s facilities and an overview of HIP’s story, vision and nonprofit fundraising strategies.

Students (from left) enjoy a pizza party in the center’s cafeteria: Taquicha Ottley, of East Stroudsburg; Skylar L. Bartholomew, of Kempton; and Bryssa A. Dunkleberger, of Williamsport.

“Through baseball, Joe was used to bringing together people from different cultures and forming teams and getting the best out of each individual,” Curry said of the organization’s origins.

He noted that Hazleton’s burgeoning Latino population reminded Maddon of growing up in an Italian family and the prejudices that early Italian immigrants faced in the borough.

“People’s differences are far smaller than what we share with our common humanity,” Curry added. “We should be celebrating our differences.”

He shared a variety of advice to assist the Penn College students in their efforts to create positive community change, including guidance on engaging philanthropic partners.

Hall of Fame quarterback (and western Pennsylvania native) “Broadway Joe” Namath is scheduled to visit Hazleton on Dec. 14, headlining a fundraiser for HIP at a downtown eatery.

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