Originally a ferry outpost town along the Susquehanna River, Harrisburg has served as the capital of Pennsylvania since 1810. Harrisburg is known as the “cultural, historical, entertainment, recreational, financial and governmental hub of Central Pennsylvania”. However, even with such accolades, Harrisburg has been a struggling community. Listed as the second most distressed city in the nation in the early 80’s, Harrisburg has been slowly working to renew its standing as a successful community. With a median income well below the national average, many families live in poverty. Harrisburg is a community in the midst of transformation. While the city declared bankruptcy in 2011, many local non-profits and civic groups have taken the initiative in continuing to provide needed resources for their neighbors. As funding is cut to public schools, local organizations offer art programs, after-school tutoring and enrichment programs. Local churches are feeding their neighbors, partnering with service organizations to keep people warm in winter, and leading the fight for adequate and affordable housing and to keep their neighborhoods clean and safe of dilapidated homes. Harrisburg is a community where the underdog knows nothing can be done alone, that just like a sign in the midst of Allison Hill states, “it is the heart of the community that will bring change and transformation, neighbors working together for change.”
Serving in Harrisburg
- Partner with local organizations to meet ongoing needs in the community.
- Serve through painting, cleaning, yard work or other simple work projects.
- During the week, students may serve at one or more of the above service options.
In Harrisburg, you and your youth will engage with the community in a variety of ways. Minister to struggling families and community members by spending time with children at a local summer camp or visiting residents at local nursing homes. Assist the elderly with home repair projects, help paint homes in the community, or get your hands dirty by working in a community garden. In Harrisburg, YouthWorks groups have the unique opportunity of seeing the cycle of food distribution from community gardens to local farm stands to packaging and organizing food bank deliveries. Some of the food our groups help package will travel all over the world from a local distribution center! In the evenings, visit Hershey’s Chocolate World for a chocolate tour complete with singing cows, attend a youth service at a local church, and share a meal with many friends you’ll make during the week at a cookout in Allison Hill. You and your group will also have the chance to visit Gettysburg one evening, taking a self-guided tour through the battlegrounds and learning more about this important historical landmark.
YouthWorks was invited to Harrisburg by a longtime trip participant who was serving as County Commissioner in Harrisburg. He saw that YouthWorks volunteers could be well-utilized by various non-profits in the area, and was persistent in inviting YouthWorks to come. As a result, Harrisburg was first on the list when YouthWorks looked to add new sites in 2010. We have received a warm and consistent welcome there ever since.