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Patricia Goebel





The experience I have had thus far as a Program Coordinator at the Center for Public Service is unlike any other I have had before. After three years of volunteering for many of the various organizations that CPS works with, I decided that I wanted to try something new, to see a different side of the Gettysburg College community, and although I was getting into it a little later than most other students do, I knew it was going to be a worthwhile experience. I have always been involved in community service and service learning activities, and as a Program Coordinator I wanted to continue this public service and continue to strengthen the already-tight bonds between the college and the surrounding community.

I have gained so much just from this single semester as a Program Coordinator. Not only have I continued to develop professionally by having the opportunity to manage a group of volunteers and serve as a liaison between the volunteers and my community partner, but this experience has opened my eyes to so many of the social justice issues that are present in the Gettysburg and Adams County community. In addition, I know that I will use this experience as I am student teaching in the Gettysburg community next semester to have a better understanding of my students and their families.

As the Program Coordinator for Re-Entry Services, I recruit volunteers to give of their time to provide case management, counseling and life skills services to individuals involved in the Adams County Criminal Justice System, including both non-violent offenders who are incarcerated and their families. In addition, I also work with the clients, complete paperwork, and attend some training sessions and meetings with the professional staff at Re-Entry. Similarly, at Coalition for Community Care, I recruit volunteers to tutor students at the drop-in center.


Community partnerships, the core of Center for Public Service programs, strive to be mutually beneficial – fulfilling both a community-identified goals and providing a learning experience for students. Program coordinators serve as liaisons between the Adams County and campus communities to ensure a solid partnership. 


Through my community partnership with Re-Entry Services, I have had the invaluable opportunity to meet and interact with a completely different group of people.  For someone who had always volunteered with programs that tutored or mentored children, this experience has been completely different.  I have had the opportunity to work with clients on case management, which includes finding out what a client needs and helping them get it, whether it be their GED, a job, a home, or transportation.  I have sat in on life skills classes, completed case notes, attended a training session and tutored for the GED.  I have helped clients who have just entered the criminal justice system and I have seen clients who have graduated from the program and are giving back to their community.  Above all, I have built a strong and trusting relationship with the program director, and the knowledge and experience that she has provided has been incredibly helpful in guiding me through my own work.   In addition, my community partnership with the Coalition for Community Care has given me the opportunity to work with children in the community, helping them with homework and building friendships.


The learning that I have taken from my experiences with these community partnerships is unparalleled to other experiences.  As always, it is incredibly rewarding to work with the children at the Coalition for Community Care, learning about them as individuals and providing the resources and assistance necessary to guide them through their academic studies.  Working with Re-Entry Services has been a constant learning experience, from the moment I was asked to do case management and job searching with a client and had to ask every few minutes if I was completing the task correctly.  In addition, getting to know the individual clients has allowed me to learn so much more about our community and the various roles of its members. 






 Learning Circles aim to bring people from diverse backgrounds together to develop trust, understand each other's experiences, explore social issues and work together for long-term change. For 2008-2009, there are two groups focused on race and class. Patricia focused on class and participated in a community initiative named Circles.


Although my experience with Circles of Support has been shorter than the others who also attend this learning circle, it has been a truly valuable experience. Since the first day that I attended and introduced myself to the group, it has become something that I look forward to each week. It is a great time to come together with other PCs and people from the community to take a break from our busy schedules to share a meal and learn something “new and good”. The group’s focus on keeping a positive mentality about some of life’s most frustrating and difficult situations by sharing “what’s new and good” in our lives each week is so important and has become something that I have shared with roommates and other friends outside of the learning circle.


I have learned so much in such a short time through my learning circle, the Adams County Circles Initiative Support. By attending an Ally training session with the director of SCCAP, I had the opportunity to learn about the issue of class that overwhelms our society and how poverty affects so many lives in our nation and worldwide. This training session was crucial to understanding the lives of the families that were a part of Circles, and was so important in getting to know them. The most important thing that I have learned over the time that I have attended the Circles meetings is the true meaning of community. I have had the incredible opportunity to witness first hand how everything in the Gettysburg community connects. I’ve seen some of the women who attend Circles working at SCCAP and then picking up their children from the Coalition for Community Care tutoring center at the Public Library. I’ve seen the Campus Kitchens prepare meals to be shared by the families and students at Circles. I’ve seen Circle Leaders working at the College and then picking up their children at Wee Care before heading to our weekly meeting. By coming together with members of the community to share a meal at Circles of Support, I have truly learned the meaning of community and how important it is to have that community support to get from one day to the next.

 Through the Center for Public Service, Program Coordinators support student volunteers through education, training, reflection, communication, logistical coordination and the fostering of community/campus partnerships.


Throughout this semester, I had the unique opportunity to work with two separate agencies and was responsible for recruiting and managing the volunteers at these two agencies. I led these volunteers through the orientation process, providing the best background I could for each program to ensure that each volunteer would have a successful experience. It was challenging for me at first because I was new to both of these programs this semester, in addition to CPS, so when volunteers turned to me to ask questions or for guidance, I wasn’t always able to provide it. I was learning as the volunteers were learning. However, this proved to be sort of a good thing as it promoted the community spirit that each of these programs is founded on. We work together to meet the needs of the clients at each agency, and by working together, we get those needs met. This sense of accomplishment has provided all involved with a greater sense of confidence as we learn and develop as student leaders spreading awareness of these worthwhile programs to others in our school and community.


Although I’ve held leadership positions before both in high school and here at Gettysburg College, the experiences that I’ve had in those positions is nothing compared to the experience I have had thus far working as a Program Coordinator for CPS. While this position required leadership skills in taking charge to recruit and maintain communication with volunteers as the semester went on, it also held me accountable for educating my volunteers on the issues of social justice related to each of the agencies that I was working with, so they in turn could share their knowledge and experiences with the college community. In addition, my community partner has strongly encouraged me to take ownership of the programs that I coordinate volunteers for, reminding me often that the program, volunteers, and clients are just as much mine as they are hers. Through this advice, I have developed greater confidence in myself as an advocate for social justice and an influential member of this community.

 Through experiences with the Center for Public Service, Program Coordinators have the opportunity to connect with community, develop professional skills, and find a supportive environment to discover their voice in social change.


Working as a Program Coordinator for CPS has allowed me to grow so much as both a person and as a professional. My experience has included working with a variety of people in a variety of settings, from a computer lab to a small office to a commercial kitchen to a classroom. At each program that I’ve worked with I have tutored clients in every subject ranging from elementary school social studies to high school math and English to GED preparation, experiences that have supported my development as I prepare for my student teaching semester in the fall. My education class this semester has taught me how to determine what a student needs and how to plan instruction to meet those needs, which has been crucial in my participation of each of these programs as a volunteer. In addition, I have worked with my community partner to spread awareness of our program through both fundraisers and speaking engagements, namely at the Juvenile Detention Center.


One of the most important things that I have learned through my professional experience with CPS is to be both flexible and open-minded. I have had the opportunity to work with all different kinds of people from all different backgrounds, who have all brought different experiences to the table, yet who are working towards the same goals and objectives that I am. As a professional, I have learned how to deal appropriately with situations that may be frustrating, doing the best job that I can personally do to contribute positively to each program. In the same respect, I have learned how important it is to put everything aside, including my own reservations and insecurities, in order to adapt to the situation whether it be a new environment, new client, or new service, and work efficiently to meet the needs of that particular client at that moment.

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