Faces of our Touchstone Community- Celebrating our 25th Anniversary

On July 1, 1999, Community Hospital of Lancaster was sold to HMA Associates, and the sale proceeds created the Lancaster Osteopathic Health Supporting Organization. Lancaster Osteopathic Health Foundation became Touchstone Foundation in 2022. For 25 years, we have supported our Lancaster County community with scholarships, training programs, and advocacy for youth mental wellness.

As we reflect on the importance of our mission to elevate the mental well-being of youth and children in Lancaster County, we invited our program participants to share their experiences. Here we highlight some of the faces of our Touchstone community. Their words and voices reflect our commitment to improving youth mental wellness for at least the next 25 years and beyond.

Have you participated in programs with us? Maybe you received a scholarship from Lancaster Osteopathic Health Foundation (1999-2022), grants, our Rise Above youth summit, or “A Moment to Breathe”? We welcome you to complete this short survey to share your experiences. We will continue to share more Faces of our Touchstone Community throughout 2024.

Arzu Dede

Why did you decide to join this specific Touchstone Foundation program?

I was faced with a lot of hurdles in my educational journey. My husband supported me during my nursing school. I applied for this scholarship because my husband had a heart attack. I was very helpless with my two children. I had to look at the big picture and make sure the decisions I was making would have a positive impact on my children. And there were many days when I wanted to give up and be complacent with my life. It was very difficult for me to work because my school was full time. I had to finish my school successfully to support my family. 

 

What work do you do now and does this relate to Touchstone?

I work as an RN. I will start to study in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program at Millersville University in August 2024. Touchstone supports young mental health. I want to work with them after finishing school. I really want to help young people as a mother of two teenage children.

How did you hear about the Touchstone Foundation?

I heard from my friends and my academic advisor.

What is your experience with the Touchstone Foundation and our programs? Have our programs impacted you?

Touchstone Foundation has changed my life. I came to the US a couple of years ago with my two children from Turkey because of political issues. I was a registered intensive care unit nurse in my country where I worked for 15 years. When I came here, I did not know English and I wanted to work as a nurse because this was the best thing I did. I went to school again and studied at Penn State University Nursing Program. Touchstone supported me financially during my school. They helped me regain my future life, hope and self-confidence. As a nurse, now on my feet again, I want to help other people so that they can look at life with hope again, like me.

What is one thing you want people to know about the Touchstone Foundation?

Touchstone Foundation elevates and supports the mental well-being of youth, children and their family in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

A “touchstone” is a standard or criterion by which something is recognized. it can be a pivotal time, a point of reference, an important person, experience, or lesson learned. What is your touchstone?

My touchstone is my previous experiences and my struggles because they helped me embrace life with more hope again, I feel that I am much stronger thanks to them.

Alaina Fithian

How did you hear about the Touchstone Foundation?

I had heard about the touchstone foundation through a coworker of mine, Erin Sell. She promoted the idea of touchstone in a way that felt seamless for us to collaborate to help our youth. 

What is your experience with the Touchstone Foundation and our programs? How have our programs impacted you?

Being new to the Boys and Girls Club and after school programs in Lancaster City, this was my first experience with Touchstone Foundation and the programs offered. The programs offered provided great resources to our kids. Although, in the silver lining; the programs offered through Touchstone Foundation allowed for more time gained with our youth to learn their stories and be able to create a strong relationship. In turn, I can help them in their preparation for the future they see in themselves.

Why did you decide to join this specific Touchstone Foundation Program?

Touchstone Foundation Program is a great program that I feel relates to our kids and the community we serve. Mental health can be such a stigmatized conversation that is important for us as mentors and educators to teach to our kids. Our values align in creating a space for access to mental healthcare, especially for the most vulnerable and at-risk populations. Our youth is our future, and it is our job to protect them and allow them to become healthy caring citizens.

What work do you do now and does this relate to Touchstone?

I am the Director of the Hill Boys and Girls Club on Water Street, downtown Lancaster. The work my staff and I provide daily is all for the betterment and future of the kids in Lancaster city. Not only are we mentors for the youth but role models to show the children there are multifaceted opportunities that present just for taking care of yourself, working hard and being kind. Our mission relates deeply to touchstone as we share the same values of providing care for those who need us the most.

What is one thing you want people to know about the Touchstone Foundation?

One thing I would want people to know about the Touchstone Foundation is the endless number of resources that are free and readily available to the public. Finding mental health help can be intimidating and scary for most, touchstone makes the process less stressful and seamless.

A “touchstone” is a standard or criterion by which something is recognized. It can be a pivotal time, a point of reference, an important person, experience, or lesson learned. What is your touchstone?

Growing up in a rural area we did not have programs such as the boys and girls club in distance. Therefore, most of my mentors and point of reference were members of my small community or rather family. My “Touchstone” is easily my mother. Through every stage of learning, she provided a safe, welcoming and open arms for discussions that I now can take and can implement with the kids I serve. I watched her be an effortless role model to myself and siblings and her dedication to our growth as not only a mother, but a mentor is something I hope to resemble in the work I put forth for our youth. She has taught me things that time will never be able to replace

Clay Rundell: A part of the mental health clinical fellowship

How did you hear about the Touchstone Foundation?

I’ve been a clinical supervisor at Commonwealth Clinical Group. We have been participating in the Touchstone Foundation’s Mental Health Clinical Fellowship since the program began.

What is your experience with the Touchstone Foundation and our programs? How have our programs impacted you?

Excellent! I believe this is such an asset to our mental health system and to the residents in Lancaster County.

What is one thing you want people to know about the Touchstone Foundation?

They are motivated to provide pathways toward services to improve the lives of others.

A “touchstone” is a standard or criterion by which something is recognized. It can be a pivotal time, a point of reference, an important person, experience, or lesson learned. What is your touchstone?

Mentorship.

Jackie Palm: Mental Health Career Scholarships

How did you hear about the Touchstone Foundation?

I originally heard about Touchstone through my therapist referring me to the mental health access assistance program. Then I learned about all the other amazing things Touchstone does for the community.

What is your experience with the Touchstone Foundation and our programs? How have our programs impacted you?

The Mental Health Access Assistance program changed my life, which isn’t even meant to sound cliche. It helped me be able to do my own work in therapy like it was my job for 3 years and heal some things in my life that I had trouble acknowledging. The mental health career scholarship was the only thing that allowed me to finish my bachelor’s degree (I graduate on May 11!!!) because I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. It has supported me in being a better person to myself, a better mother, and a better clinician helping others in my role as a counselor.

What is one thing you want people to know about the Touchstone Foundation?

They may be small, but they are having a huge ripple effect of kindness and support within the community. 

A “touchstone” is a standard or criterion by which something is recognized. it can be a pivotal time, a point of reference, an important person, experience, or lesson learned. What is your touchstone?

My touchstone is the work that I have been able to do on myself that has made me find compassion for myself and extend that compassion towards others.

Maura Wheeler

How did you hear about the Touchstone Foundation?

Through a grant application.

What is your experience with the Touchstone Foundation and our programs? How have our programs impacted you?

In September of 2023, Minding Your Mind received a grant from the Touchstone Foundation to provide mental health education to students in Lancaster County. As a direct result of this funding, Minding Your Mind was able to provide mental health education programs in ten schools, reaching more than 1,100 children. The CDC recommends in-school mental health education as one avenue to target the youth mental health crisis, yet schools often do not have the resources to adequately meet this need. In fact, two of the schools that were visited as the result of this grant had been requesting Minding Your Mind programs for several years but had ultimately been unable to schedule a presentation due to lack of funding. The Touchstone Foundation grant changed all of that. The Lancaster County schools that hosted a Minding Your Mind program through this grant indicated that the speaker’s messages really resonated with their students, and students reported feeling less alone after participating in the Minding Your Mind presentation. The schools also indicated that our programs allow for further discussions regarding mental health, seeking help, and utilizing additional support when students are struggling. Many schools indicated they would like to rebook our programs next year. Through word of mouth, outreach, and continued partnerships in Lancaster County, we see a steady increase each year in the number of programs we provide in schools. We also see that without funding, often schools just are not able to book a program. Our programs are in demand in Lancaster County; the more funding we have, the more individuals we can reach. We are so grateful to the Touchstone Foundation for making vital mental health education available for the children, educators, and families of Lancaster County.

What is one thing you want people to know about the Touchstone Foundation?

The Touchstone Foundation is truly invested in improving the lives of the people who live in Lancaster County. Their work prioritizes important issues that are crucial to the health and well-being of children, families, and individuals. 

Erin Sell: Community Micro-Grants

How did you hear about the Touchstone Foundation?

Anna Kennedy

What is your experience with the Touchstone Foundation and our programs? How have our programs impacted you?

Through the Community Micro-Grant from Touchstone Foundation, our Club staff were able to be trained in mental wellness topics and trauma informed care to better server out A key component of Club culture is ensuring our youth have a safe and positive place to spend their out of school time. This grant enabled our full-time staff team to attend the Empower conference in the fall of 2023. This is Pennsylvania’s only out-of-school time conference. All staff were able to participate in training topics focused on mental wellness, trauma informed care, and restorative circles. Through this opportunity we participated in new, powerful youth development training experiences.

What is one thing you want people to know about the Touchstone Foundation?

I want people to know how thoughtful and intentional their funding is. 

A “touchstone” is a standard or criterion by which something is recognized. It can be a pivotal time, a point of reference, an important person, experience, or lesson learned. What is your touchstone?

No matter what happens, never give up on yourself and life.

Janet Shea: Mental Health Access Asssistance

How did you hear about the Touchstone Foundation?

Through my counselor.

What is your experience with the Touchstone Foundation and our programs? How have our programs impacted you?

Helped fund 5 different counselors to help my family walk through trauma. 

What is one thing you want people to know about the Touchstone Foundation?

Very dependable, very good at responding to emails and ver clear in communication. 

A “touchstone” is a standard or criterion by which something is recognized. It can be a pivotal time, a point of reference, an important person, experience, or lesson learned. What is your touchstone?

To ‘listen’ to how I feel and take time to respond to my feelings.