DANSVILLE — A group of people are trying to change the hearts and minds of the community one step at a time.
Julie Flanagan, Amanda Holmes, and Shannon Boehm all met while in Dansville at Genesee Community College. They continued together to Keuka College, and are now embarking on a new journey in helping others.
“I am working on bringing what I learned at Keuka College to the Dansville Community Center,” Flanagan said. “This is the central location for these kinds of services.”
The three women told Genesee Country Express what got them on the path of this kind of social work.
“I had a cool social worker when I was a kid, and they helped to make me who I am today,” Boehm said. “I want to be in this field with a lot of heart, and for all the right reasons. There are some that may have had life experiences similar to mine, and I want to help them.”
“My mother is a social worker in Bath VA, and I saw how she helped people my whole life,” Holmes said. “I want to help the kids who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. More and more of these kids are dying. I just want to help and make a difference.”
“I have done a lot of work in these kinds of services, but I realized people need more. They need to be heard. I wanted to learn more about human services,” Flanagan said. “There are a lot of people with problems. The last thing they want is a social worker, but we want to change what that means. It is so much deeper than the issues, and it is about the person as a whole.”
Flanagan wants to help these people find a way to create goals, and discover their own strength in the storm. She wants them to know how resilient they are, and to be able to clear the mess away.
“I am all about giving emotional and spiritual support in these programs,” Flanagan said. “This is about what people have inside them. This will serve as community social work. We want to build relationships, and we need to work together.”
Boehm said that there are some things the community has, and some things they still need to work on.
“We need to work on what we do for the inmates in the community, who have nothing once they are out of jail,” she said. “We want to come in and help them have a better life, so they don’t end up back in jail.”
One thing the group is working on right now is a coat drive that will help bring kindness and warmth to the poor. They are working with Catholic Charities in Livingston County. The Winter Gear Drive has drop zones for gently used or new coats, boots, socks, hats, mittens, gloves, and scarfs in Avon, Lima, Caledonia, Lakeville, Leicester, Mt. Morris, Geneseo, Nunda, York and in Dansville. The locations in Dansville are Community Bank, Genesee Community College, Foursquare Church and Community Center, Maddie’s Motorsports, The Hair Place, and Lattimore. In Nunda it is Christine’s Styles and Pizza Corner. For more information on that contact Jessica Pierce at 585-658-4466 ext. 18. This program goes until March.
“There is a much deeper purpose to this donation than giving a child a coat,” Flanagan said. “If the child doesn’t have a coat this leads to more absences, and getting sick, and not being warm.”
Boehm said that humans are very much affected by their environments.
“I am working on the person and their environments. No one just wants to commit crimes, but this is how the environment affects them,” she said. “If they lose their jobs because they don’t have a coat it affects the community.”
“We don’t think a coat is going to fix everything,” Flanagan said. “We give them a coat, provide support and education, and help someone in need. The coat gives them warmth, which in turn enables them to do better things. We often accused of being bleeding hearts, and people don’t see this as a support program. They only see it as a coat.”
Holmes said that many parents will often spend the last of their money on food and diapers for their children, and they can’t afford a coat.
Boehm wants to be clear that there are a lot of generous and wonderful people in the community who will help with the big things and the small things.
“These people do things out of the goodness of their hearts, and it helps out the community,” she said. “Some just want a person to talk to. Some want to do good for the community. Some people volunteer their time.”
There are several programs the women mentioned they work with like Catholic Charities of Livingston County, HOPE Youth Mentor Program, Children’s Health Home of Upstate New York, and much more.
Boehm, Holmes, and Flanagan each make a difference in people’s lives through the many programs they are part of.
Holmes wants to work with children and families. Boehm wants to work in a prison. Flanagan is bringing spiritual comfort to the community.
Flanagan is borrowing an office at Foursquare Church before one is made for her in the nursery. This is the office of good works that will help people with financial needs or problems, and get to the root of the pain. Some people are just overwhelmed with life, and they need a little help along the way. That is what these programs are all about. They are about lending a helping hand, so that people can get on their feet. They are working on a program called The Hearing Heart for Oct. 22. At 7 p.m. at Foursquare Church. This will be every Monday night for four weeks. It will focus on the lonely, divorced, loss of job, grief, and any other challenges. To register for that or to talk about any of the other programs call 335-7707 and leave a message for Flanagan. Right now Flanagan is usually in the office at Foursquare Church every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you are interested in what Holmes and Boehm are working on you can contact Catholic Charities at 658-4466. They are usually there Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The future is clear for these women — Holmes wants to do a duel social and law degree program, and focus on getting into the law aspect. Flanagan is planning on a dual master degree in social and divinity. Boehm plans on a master in social work as well.