Community Wellness Connectors

Community Wellness Connections has a series of monthly columns in the Gettysburg Times to highlight and celebrate people or organizations that bring people together: Community Wellness Connectors!  We invite you to help celebrate the people who unite us. Do you know an individual or a group that brings a diverse array of people together in an activity that fosters holistic well-being? We’d love to hear about them.

This is not just about physical fitness, though we applaud that! We’re also seeking your insights about people or groups who bring us together to support any of the aspects of well-being: mind, body, spirit, or community.  You can tell us about them at communitywellnessconnectors@gmail.com. We will feature a Connector monthly in the Gettysburg Times with some information about their activities.  

Below are  Community Connectors featured in Gettysburg Times!

In July 2021, we point to Dialogue Action Circles, an effort of the Center for Youth and Community Development that is new and developing. CFY is the home of Collaborating for Youth, After School programs and summer camps, and other programs that seek to strengthen families and the communities that bind them. I learned from Andrea Dolges, executive director, that staff and volunteers of CFY recognized how difficult it had become for many in the county to engage in open, comfortable conversations about culture, race, and community. Since the goal of CFY is for every child to have the same opportunity to reach their full potential, they began to seek ways to foster healthy conversations about these tender topics. As a result, two Dialogue Action Circles have been piloted, with plans for the conversational circles to continue and grow. A Dialogue Action Circle is a small group (perhaps 6 to 12 people) that meets weekly for 75 minutes over about 6 weeks to share their personal stories and perspectives about culture and race. There is no set curriculum that is being imparted. Instead, people converse about their own lives and, in doing so, develop more understanding of themselves and of the experience of others. Local facilitators are present to help foster an atmosphere of trust and safety in the group—and once people get to know each other as people, they are able to speak more freely and open to learning about the world of someone who might see things differently.

Attendees from the first two circles felt that they emerged from the experience with a sense of satisfaction that they had been able to tell their own stories and had also grown in their perspectives. CFY is planning a new round of Dialogue Action Circles soon. The first two groups were held on Zoom due to pandemic concerns, but the hope is to meet in person when that becomes advisable. Everyone is welcome; the only requirement is a willingness to share perspectives peacefully and honor the value of each person. You can find out more about CFY on their website, cfygettysburg.com, where you can also click the Dialogue Action Circles tab to register.


During the month of June 2021 we find ourselves between important civic holidays that remind us of our heritage and history: Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Could there be a better season to highlight the activities of a Hanover group called For the Love of a Veteran? Christine Waltz, who represents this charitable organization, has described a number of things they undertake in their effort to care actively about veterans, who have sacrificed so much to safeguard America’s people and way of life. The organization sends care packages to deployed service members from all the military branches, so they are always glad to receive donations of goods as well as the funds to buy what soldiers and sailors need. In addition to their work on behalf of those currently serving, For the Love of a Veteran reaches out to those who have finished their active service. On the 3rd Wednesday of each month, they hold a Veteran’s Outreach program where veterans can come in and find help with issues about benefits, housing, food needs, and employment. Outreach help can be obtained at 1082 Carlisle Street in Hanover, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The organization also fill backpacks for homeless veterans, offering useful supplies. The volunteers come from across the community: veterans, families and spouses of veterans, and grateful community members. You can learn more about how to support this 501(c)(3) charity by checking out www.fortheloveofaveteran.org. You can also find them on Facebook
In May 2021, our Community Wellness Connector celebration goes to Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College. Under the auspices of the Center for Public Service, the Campus Kitchen brings students together for the dual purpose of increasing community and decreasing food waste and food insecurity. Student leaders Halley Mastro, Izzy Fiore, and Alison Gouveia described in a recent meeting how their group has had an impact both on campus and in the surrounding area. Campus Kitchen has existed for 13 years, gathering food donations from the college’s dining halls, Kennies Market, and the Sherfy Garden to be transformed and re-distributed as healthy meals. In the past, the group served senior populations in particular, bringing people of different age groups and life experiences together around celebratory meals. Their “More than a Meal” program also brought food and companionship into the homes of shut-ins around the county. This pandemic year has been especially challenging for inviting connection, but Campus Kitchen created spirited opportunities to encourage belonging. Each Friday in April they presented “Music in the Park(ing Lot)” at the Harold Court Apartments, where student performers entertained. Residents could participate in person or from their windows and take a break from feeling isolated. The students’ belief that sharing a meal creates connections has spread benefit to a wide array of local people: individuals, senior centers, the Support Circles of SCCAP, and others. They have also been gratified to learn that their involvement has been inspirational for them, highlighting the value of hearing other people’s stories and experiencing mutual learning. Hats off to Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College!
For April 2021, Community Wellness Connectors is pleased to feature Tim Ahn and the Swift Run Church Cyclists. This fellowship of riders checks all the boxes for holistic well-being, encouraging people to come together with attention to their physical fitness, the sharing of outdoor experience, and spiritual well-being. The Swift Run Foursquare church in New Oxford came into being in 2017. Pastor Dan Kriel and the church shaped their mission around the concept of life as a race that is run in the company of others toward personal and spiritual health. Tim has played a formative role in the growth and development of the cycling mission, which draws a diverse group together each week to ride the roads of our area. The rides bring people of different ages, genders, and even faiths together to enjoy fellowship, share their spirituality, tend to their physical fitness, and just have fun.

In February 2021, we shone the spotlight on an individual who has contributed much to the community aspect of health and well-being: Betsy Meyer. Betsy set the intention of making running and walking events accessible to all sorts of people a number of years ago, and the Physical Fitness Task Force proved to be a powerful vehicle for that. Working with the task force since 2011, Betsy has seen walking and running events really take off in the county. There were twenty people at the first free 5K several years ago, and now some events draw nearly 200 people! Betsy says that people come to these events for many different reasons. Some are looking for fitness; some are looking for company; and some are delighted to see new areas of the county that they might not have visited alone.
In January 2021, we celebrated the Gettysburg Walking Club! Since 1970, this informal local organization has been meeting on Tuesday mornings to share a walk together somewhere in our area, usually followed by a pleasant group lunch. It’s a diverse group, welcoming all ages and stages of people to the healthful activity of walking. People gather at the appointed time and place, choosing their preferred speed and distance. So there is always a group to walk and converse with. The Gettysburg Walking Club, in its long history, has brought people together weekly to enjoy the outdoors, to move to the best of their ability, and to develop both casual and deep friendships.