5712 Iroquois Avenue, Harborcreek, PA 16421
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Family News | Harborcreek Youth Services

Welcome to the our Family News & Updates Page! This is a space where we'll make updates about friends and family members of Harborcreek Youth Services' residents, Treatment Foster Care Families, and Multisystemic Therapy teams with happenings around campus and in our HYS community. We have a variety of great events thoughout the year, and we hope this page will help you stay in touch with the amazing things your kids are doing through our programs. 

Social Responsibility: A Sanctuary Model Commitment and a Pillar of HYS

Posted on May 31st, 2019 at 2:31 PM
by Erin Bastow, M.S., L.P.C., N.C.C.

All Harborcreek Youth Services employees get the essence of the Sanctuary Commitments in orientation and through booster trainings, bi-monthly emphasis of a particular commitment, and potentially when quizzed in the hall by a member of the Sanctuary committee. The Sanctuary Institute has lengthy explanations of each commitment with well researched and evidenced arguments for the significance of every commitment. However, Social Responsibility has been in the fiber of HYS since its inception as a human service organization and may be one of the most important commitments to uphold on a daily basis. How can such a bold statement be made? Let’s first define social responsibility as a concept.

According to the Sanctuary Institute, each commitment is an effort to lead individuals away from trauma reactive behaviors. The commitment to social responsibility is an effort to rebuild social connection skills and establish healthy attachment to others. In a broader sense, social responsibility can be explained as an obligation to act for the benefit of society at large. Celebrated psychotherapist Alfred Adler spent a vast portion of his professional life examining the human need for connection and how an individual fits within the larger human group or experience. He wrote, “This sense of belonging that cannot be denied anyone…can only be won by being involved, by cooperating, and experiencing, and by being useful to others. Out of this emerges a lasting, genuine feeling of worthiness.” With all these descriptions combined, they form a super definition of social responsibility.

Social Responsibility: an obligation to act for the benefit of society at large which will lead successively to a sense of belonging, healthy attachment, a desire to help, and a genuine feeling of worthiness for all those within the group.

With this super definition in mind, let’s now consider the origin story of Harborcreek Youth Services. In 1911, Monsignor Herman Clement Wienker purchased a 124 acre farm on Buffalo Road for $15,000. The farmhouse was renovated into a chapel, dormitories, library, and rooms for dining, recreation, and general gathering. Four Sisters of St. Joseph were appointed to run the farmland as a protectory for boys, and fourteen boys were taken in as the first residents of what would eventually become Harborcreek Youth Services.

During the seventh year of operation, Bishop John Mark Gannon visited and instantly became dedicated to advancing the work of the sisters and improving the lives of the boys in residence. He proclaimed, “The boys of Harborcreek are no different from boys in any other center of life. They have perhaps been touched by unhappy surroundings, deprived of a tender mother’s care, or robbed of a sober, industrious father. Perhaps they have never known the refining influence of a well-run and orderly home.” This declaration illuminated the commission of the sisters – to recapitulate a nurturing, productive family experience.

Does Sanctuary work? The buzz words and fine details may be different, but the mission of Harborcreek remains unchanged after more than 100 years. HYS provides a safe place, a place of healing, and a place that understands the influence of an individual’s personal history. The sisters’ sense of obligation to help others, to contribute to a greater good, lives on in our current work and our 

commitment to social responsibility. The focus is the same as it was in 1911 and for every decade that followed – help children and families overcome adversity and build positive futures in a safe, respectful environment, so they can achieve that sense of worthiness.

Social Responsibility permeates all HYS does. Each person who shows unconditional positive regard for another who struggles, whether client or co-worker, is contributing to the greater good. Each person who shows acceptance of diversity and considers the points of view of others before passing judgment, contributes to the greater good. Each person who pitches in extra time or effort to help another human heal is contributing to the greater good. Each person who operates their day according to the question, “How have I let others know they belong, that they count?” contributes to the greater good. Each person who acts with the knowledge they are but a part of a grander human experience with no part being more important than the others, is contributing to the greater good. One must perform with awareness of how actions can affect others, not just him or herself. The examples are numerous, but the mission remains humble. Give of yourself to help a greater cause, and teach others how to do the same. They will feel worthwhile, that they belong, and that they matter. This was the original mission. This remains our mission.