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Building Relationships in Southern Lancaster County

     The southern end of the county can seem far from everything. If you are traveling down this way and not just passing through, you are probably doing so because you have family here or maybe you’ve discovered BB’s and found it’s worth the trek. Those that live here have probably done so for many generations, and the roots are deep. To some, the distance from resources can be a barrier, but to those in the Solanco community this barrier is often met with the opportunity to be a good neighbor. This mentality, interwoven with a solid faith-based community, has built a foundation for a network of individuals, organizations, churches and schools to collaborate and serve the Solanco community.

The Solanco Family Life Network has provided a structure to the organic relationships that have formed over the years. Monthly meetings where partner organizations discuss barriers and opportunities that the area faces have been occurring consistently for the last 6 years. The group focuses its goals on issues related to poverty, education and community health. The Network meetings act as an ongoing conversation to address these issues through the strategic plan that was collectively developed.  The goal is to help ‘Love, Lift and Launch’ families in the southern end to become sustainable and thriving members of the community.

Love meets people where they are and addresses basic needs such as food, clothing, housing and heating, etc. Lift provides support services for individuals and families who are seeking assistance beyond the basics (for example, mentoring, parenting programs and job skills training). Launch is the pillar that contributes to the community by volunteering and giving of time and resources. These strategic components are meant for each member of the community, at any point in their lives.

Because the needs continue to grow, so does the Network.  SFLN works with the United Way of Lancaster to accomplish bold goals addressing poverty and education.  It does this by trying to fill the gaps in services in the southern end, providing resources that were previously unavailable.  For example, the Network noticed a need for High School Equivalency (HSE) and ESL courses.  Through partnerships with the IU-13 and Literacy Council, these classes are now being held and have had successful graduates. We have seen Love, Lift and Launch work firsthand, when a volunteer from Solanco Neighborhood Ministries (Launch) noticed the flyer for HSE classes and told her daughter about it (Lift). Her daughter went through the courses and completed the exam, obtaining her certificate!

Another way the Network meets local needs is through relationship building.  It relies heavily on the trust and relationships built around the table, ensuring a warm hand-off for families as they are referred from one service provider to another. During meetings, it is common to see someone raise their hand with a problem and be provided with a solution on the spot. Through the partnership with the United Way, SFLN created a website and assigned a kiosk at the local Quarryville Library. Those needing help of any kind or those who are looking to volunteer can fill out a contact form through the website and be connected to an SFLN partner.

By building relationships and bridging the gap for necessary resources, the Solanco Family Life Network serves as a hub for families and individuals in the southern end to meet basic needs, foster personal growth and participate in meaningful community life.

Hannah Linde

Community Support Specialist

Solanco Neighborhood Ministries