12 YEARS AND COUNTING: Northern Dauphin Human Services Center Keeps Growing and Adapting to COVID-Related Challenges

Overcoming COVID-related restrictions, limitations and unprecedented hardships on communities, the Northern Dauphin Human Services Center (NDHSC) has proven to be more vital than ever before.

Recently celebrating a 12-year anniversary, NDHSC staff has adapted to meet the needs of many during an unconventional past year presented by COVID-19, when depression, anxiety and substance abuse were aggravated by the changes to daily life routines, along with isolation, uncertainties of job stability, and other stressors.

The Northern Dauphin Human Services Center at 295 State Drive in Elizabethville is home to 14 agencies under one roof providing an array of services and supports, including mental health and drug and alcohol counseling, a food pantry, and other agencies that serve families, seniors, and veterans.

The center is also a bank of information and referral services, and applications for assistance with food, insurance, housing, and utilities.

The center opened Jan. 14, 2009, with direction and support from Dauphin County Commissioners.

NDHSC is a backbone of rural northern Dauphin County, a much-needed central location for services in a region where access to the greater Harrisburg area can be difficult.

The center’s initiative of “Valley Strong” has banded together and empowered the communities it serves.

Valley Strong involves looking out for neighbors and families in your community,” Dauphin County Commissioner George P. Hartwick III said.

While lobby hours at the center are weekdays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the agencies have various hours (to include some evening appointments), to accommodate as many people as possible.

“Our Human Services team has applied the “Valley Strong” credo to the work they do every day to reach residents in need, overcoming restrictions and challenges from the pandemic,” Dauphin County Human Services Director Randie Yeager said.

Looking back, we are proud of what we accomplished and the many lives we impacted during an unprecedented past year.

The Northern Dauphin Salvation Army Unit has helped numerous families, providing nearly 1,000 food boxes at a drive-through event hosted by The Valley Lighthouse in Lykens.

Volunteers worked the NDHSC community garden – a 30-by-60-foot plot – to provide free fresh produce to their neighbors.

SCOPE medical students, along with Community Health and Pennsylvania State Police Troop H Lykens, held a unique National Night Out, which included virtual and in-person activities over five days in October. The Valley Lighthouse and Sky-Vu Drive-In hosted the events.

During Harvesting Health, hosted by Penn State SCOPE and Penn State Community Health, about 200 people participated to provide fresh produce, flu shots and information from health care providers and vendors. A 35-mile parade of emergency responders highlighted the event, with the parade ending at Sky-Vu Drive-In in Gratz for movie screenings with proceeds benefitting local emergency responders.

In January, Penn State Community Health and SCOPE offered Red Carpet to Healthy Living, providing free health screenings and information – including virtual interactions with pharmacists for questions about medications. The Valley Lighthouse also hosted this event. Future clinics are being planned for the spring.

“It truly is amazing all that was accomplished during the past year,” County Commissioner Chair Jeff Haste said.

We are excited about several ongoing and upcoming projects.

Project Prom Wear is assisting numerous students from area school districts with free dresses, suits, and accessories for prom events. Clothing can be donated throughout the year. (Appointments can be made to shop by calling Bonnie Kent at 717-905-2700.)

Upper Dauphin Area High School’s work for the Step-Up project is featured at the Services Center. Students Liz Strohm (an artist) and Isaiah Wenrick (an author) designed a Converse sneaker display, titled, “Resilience.”

Our Northern Dauphin Salvation Army Unit and The Valley Lighthouse will partner for upcoming Getting Ahead in a Just Getting by World classes, which provide resources and tools to find financial stability. Registration is required and class size is limited. Call Bonnie Kent (717-905-2700) to register. (Childcare and meals are available.)

“These classes will offer vital information to help residents so they can better provide for their families,” County Commissioner Mike Pries said.

The Northern Dauphin Human Services Center is located at 295 State Drive, Elizabethville and serves the Halifax, Millersburg, Upper Dauphin and Williams Valley Area School Districts.

You can call 717-905-2700 for information or to participate in any of the programs. You can also visit Northern Dauphin Human Services Center.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett Hambright, Press Secretary, 717-780-6311; bhambright@dauphincounty.gov.