Penn College Hosts Human Services Conference
The event carried the theme "EmPOWerment: People, Opportunities and Well-Being." It featured a keynote address by Monte Meier, a member of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, and 20 workshops by college and university faculty and human services professionals from across Pennsylvania, as well as New Jersey and New York.
Among presenters were Penn College faculty members William J. Astore, associate professor of history; LaRue R. Reese, assistant professor of human services and social sciences; and Richard Sahn, instructor of sociology and psychology.
Astore presented the workshop "State Empowerment, Macabre Calculus, Assembly-Line Murder: Euthanasia and "Racial Hygiene' in Nazi Germany." His talk focused on the Nazi regime's murder of the handicapped, disabled, mentally ill, aged, infirm and babies born with birth defects during the Holocaust; what made health professionals cooperate; and lessons learned.
Reese, filling in for a presenter due to special circumstances, presented "Adventure as Empowerment," during which participants enjoyed play with a purpose, learning about one another and discussing the many shapes and forms of adventure and the roles it plays in the human service field.
Sahn's workshop was titled "California's Self-Esteem Act: Empowering Clients, Students, Employees Through Ego-Enhancing Techniques." During the session, he addressed the "Self-Esteem Act" that was approved by the California Legislature in 1986 and required all public institutions in California to provide means for raising the self-esteem of their employees and clients. He discussed what happens when peers and authority figures are required to say, periodically, positive things about one another.
Presenters also included several alumnae of Penn College's human services associate- and bachelor-degree majors who are now practicing professionals.
As a prelude to the conference, five current Penn College human services students, all enrolled in the course "Service Learning in Sociology," ran an Assistive Technology Expo in the college's Field House. The expo featured providers and manufacturers of services and equipment to assist individuals with disabilities and was open both to conference attendees and the community.
Students who volunteered and served as an essential part of the conference and the expo were Zachary Q. Bechtel, Williamsport; Amber L. Geckle, Lewistown; Jodie L. Kilmer, Muncy; Julie L. Leljedal, Forksville; Alesha M. Love, Williamsport; Kelli J. Murphy, Williamsport; Anthony M. Rudinski, Williamsport; Mallory N. Scheller, Saylorsburg; Paula C. Schreck, Jersey Shore; Holly B. Snauffer, Linden; Jesse J. Winstead, Williamsport; and Megan E. Yaple, Williamsport.
Reese took the lead in organizing the conference and was joined by Debra Q. Bechtel, human services program specialist; Elizabeth L. Meyer, associate professor of human services and social sciences; and Susan Slamka, assistant professor of human services and psychology.
For more information about the academic programs offered by the School of Integrated Studies at Penn College, call (570) 327-4521, send e-mail or visit online .