Connie J. Hammann, The Advocacy Alliance
Sharing Life was created to offer community opportunities to individuals who had been discharged from Allentown State Hospital due to its closure. The idea came from Sue Krasley a Nurse who had worked at ASH and a parishioner at St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Allentown. Connie Hammann, who had been providing advocacy services at ASH, has been supporting these individuals since their discharged and had identified a real need for reconnection back to their community. The plan was to offer a lunch and an activity so that individuals would have an opportunity to meet with peers who many haven’t seen for a while, make new friends as well as reconnect with faith based communities. Our first event was held in September 2011. The turn out was disappointing, to say the least, with only 12 individuals attending, that number included staff that assisted with transportation. Over the next few months we experienced an increase in numbers and in December, for our Christmas event, complete with an adopt-a stocking campaign, served in excess of over 100 individuals. In 2013 we began offering weekly activities on the off weeks of our luncheon events. Currently we offer on-going knitting and crocheting classes held on the 2nd Wednesday of every month as well as crafts such as candy making, herb gardening, etc. held on the 1st Wednesday. Also in 2013 we reached out to Wernersville State Hospital so as to include those individuals who had been transferred after the closure keeping them connected to their home community. Since then WeSH has been attending regularly. We recently hosted our second annual Summer Carnival and served over 140 individuals. St. Mark’s has graciously opened their doors to these events as well and continue to offer their support. Their parishioners offer help during the events, providing wonderful desserts, assisting in guided crafts and most importantly offering acceptance to all. The beauty of this all is that not only are the individuals benefiting from these monthly events but our committee members, parishioners and our community are as well.
With recent cuts to our mental health dollars many programs that provided opportunities for socialization in the past have been closed leaving some of our most in need individuals with little opportunities to meet with peers, activities to engage in or the ability to reconnect with their faith based communities. Our hope is to help grow this model throughout our other faith based communities and have been meeting monthly with a task force that is looking into creating such opportunities.
A proud partner of