Notes from Shaker Hill is a blog written by York County Shelter Programs’ CEO Bob Dawber.

This year makes 40 years since the York County Shelter Programs was created.  In 1979, 56 people in Alfred came together to incorporate a non-profit that would use the abandoned jail on Route 111 as a shelter for anyone without a home. The organization was incorporated as the York County Alcoholism Shelter,  as that is what community members perceived as the population who were living on the streets, in abandoned buildings, in cars, in the woods.

Over time, this program has expanded tremendously, because it soon became evident to its founders that homelessness does NOT solely afflict people suffering from substance abuse.

I am proud to be leading an organization that, today, is far more than just a shelter. We help people look at the issues that resulted in homelessness – and our goal is to help people resolve the problems that prevent them from living independent, safe and healthy lives.

I have been working for YCSP since 2011. I became the Chief Executive Officer in 2014. The reason I love my job and this work is quite simple: Every day I see that we are helping people. EVERY DAY. Nothing matters more. NOTHING.

I am so proud of the efforts, the determination, the compassion of YCSP staff members who work with people living with incredibly debilitating circumstances.  One by one, we address each piece. We offer support, resources, treatment for mental health issues and substance abuse. But what I learned early on when I started working for this program is that what lies beneath all of what we do is something that perhaps helps our residents more than anything.  We offer hope. As we say, HOPE STARTS HERE.

Forty years of helping people is an incredible legacy. And what I know about this agency is that every passing year we are only more committed and determined to  being there for the people who need us. Our neighbors. Our people.  Last year, we helped more than 700 people at our shelters. We also provided food for 20,000 people at our food pantry.

Here’s to 40 more years. At least.