Ashley Coblentz’s involvement with Millersville University’s Center for Public Scholarship and Social Change started when she needed to fulfill an internship requirement as a psychology major. “I was not interested in doing any kind of clinical work,” says Coblentz, now a senior at Millersville. “I was interested in working with the center, specifically, because I am drawn toward doing something that benefits the community and people who really need help,” says Coblentz.
Millersville’s Center for Public Scholarship and Social Change brings together teams of faculty, students and members of the community to engage collaboratively in research for public purposes. The center works with community stakeholders to assist with the development of research designs, data collection, written reports, identifying research issues and working with policymakers to resolve issues affecting local, regional and global communities.
“[The center is] involved with so many great projects that raise awareness of public issues,” says Coblentz. “All of the faculty and students are extremely passionate about what they do, which played another role in my interest.”
When talking to her internship advisor, Dr. Carrie Smith, she expressed interest in Ambassadors for Hope, one of the center’s community stakeholders. Ambassadors for Hope is an organization that works to support children who have a parent incarcerated.
“A lot of people don’t know that children of incarcerated parents truly do face a unique set of obstacles and can potentially face adverse outcomes. I was unaware of the lack of resources available to them, and being someone who always wants to advocate for those without a voice, I was immediately invested in the mission,” says Coblentz. “My placement with the center was originally meant to include working with an array of different community partners, but there was a lot of work to be done for Ambassadors, so I committed my hours solely to them.”
When the semester ended and Coblentz’s internship requirement concluded, the team at Ambassadors for Hope offered her a job as the community liaison for the organization. Coblentz accepted the position.
In her role, Coblentz has engaged in fundraising for the organization by reaching out to local businesses and sourcing gift cards that can be distributed to families who need additional financial support. Coblentz also curated a book collection that appeals directly to the population the organization serves. As community liaison, Coblentz works to raise awareness about the mission of Ambassadors for Hope in the Lancaster community. Coblentz has been reaching out to organizations that serve children in the Lancaster area to provide them with resources that increase awareness about the issues that children with incarcerated parents face.
“It is amazing to be able to provide these sites with literature and information. Hopefully, this will result in more people being sensitive to the needs of these children, ultimately ending in more support for them,” says Coblentz. “I found what I want to do in life. When I started my placement with the center and started working with this organization, I feel like it all clicked.”
To learn more about Ambassadors for Hope, visit http://www.ambassadorsforhope.com/