ACM Human Service Associate Program Forges Strong Tie With Horizon Goodwill Industries

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Horizon Goodwill Industries, and especially its Cumberland service center, where 10 former students are employed, has formed a close bond with Allegany College of Maryland Human Service Associate program. The human services agency, which assists people with employment challenges and toward greater self-reliance through work, has also become a partner in the education of future ACM human service associate graduates and an early introduction to the range of services that a human service agency provides its clients.

“It’s been a wonderful partnership,” said the Human Service Associate curriculum’s director, Cherie Snyder, who noted that Horizon Goodwill Industries had presented her program with its Community Partnership Award several years ago.

Allegany College of Maryland’s Human Service Associate program has forged close ties with Horizon Goodwill Industries and especially its Cumberland service center, where 10 former students are employed.

The human services agency, which assists people with employment challenges and toward greater self-reliance through work, has also become a partner in the education of future ACM human service associate graduates.

Goodwill’s local center, situated in the Upper Potomac Industrial Park, affords an early introduction for ACM students into the range of services that a human service agency can provide clients.

Students begin the two-year program’s clinical phase with a semester-long project with Goodwill clients that serves as an introduction to the human service field and to skills needed in the workforce.

In each of the three semesters that follow, students complete a supervised internship at an area agency. Goodwill, which offers opportunities for assessment, case management, group work, job coaching and supportive counseling, is often on their list of potential placement sites.

Because of the range of services that Goodwill provides, especially vocational services to clients toward its belief in “the power of work,” ACM students gain their own professional experience.

“It’s been a wonderful partnership,” said the Human Service Associate curriculum’s director, Cherie Snyder, who noted that Horizon Goodwill Industries had presented her program with its Community Partnership Award several years ago.

Snyder visited the agency’s service center and met with many of 10 former students who currently work there.

“We’re proud that they work here and proud that they are working in their field,” said Snyder. “Horizon Goodwill has been a great employer.”

Many of the seven human service graduates present spoke of the quality of the education that they received in the ACM curriculum and the correlation it has to what they encounter in the human service field.

Krista Howsare, a 1997 graduate and Goodwill instructor, also remarked on the program’s breadth. Whether social worker, case manager or job coach, she noted, “it deals specifically with the skills you need here. The human service program covers it all.”

Heather Godlove, a 2010 graduate, commented on the connections that human service alumni make with one another, regardless of when they were students. “It doesn’t matter what year you graduated, you build relationships across the board,” said Godlove, a vocational case manager.

With 10 ACM-educated employees at Horizon Goodwill Industries’ Cumberland site, the community college has been a pathway to the local agency.

“If we do have a job opening, the first thing we do is call Cherie,” said Terri Foote, an assistant program manager for Goodwill and a 1997 graduate of the ACM program.

The sense of collegiality the graduates share at Goodwill had its genesis at ACM.

Ken Wise, a 2013 grad, who also served as the student representative on the program advisory committee, clearly cherished his two years there. “It felt like home. It felt like a family,” he said. Wise is a vocational case manager at Goodwill.

“We call ourselves ‘Cherie’s kids,’ ” added Jolisa Stewart, another 2010 grad, and a substitute instructional aide.

Several credited Snyder with having a knack for opening their eyes to another facet of human service that they might not have considered, based on her assessment of their strengths and interests.

“You might think you’re interested in one thing and find you’re really interested in something else,” said Howsare, whose student placement in special education at an elementary school led to her current work with the developmentally disabled.

The degree program’s three clinical experiences provide the opportunity for students to explore, test the waters and broaden their horizons.

Over 50 placement options are available, and students are encouraged to select three sites serving different populations.

While the human service associate curriculum is designed as a career program, preparing graduates for jobs in entry-level positions, many graduates continue their education, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in such fields as social work, counseling and addictions.

For students whose goal is to earn a higher degree, an individualized transfer plan is drafted early in the program to ensure that graduates can seamlessly transfer credits and continue their education.

“You don’t have to go on, but you can take the degree and build on it for a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work, psychology or counseling,” said Snyder, who noted that her program is among 50 nationwide accredited by the Council on Standards in Human Service Education.

For more information about the Human Service Association program contact Snyder, professor and program director, at 301-784-5557. Information is also available on ACM’s website, http://www.allegany.edu.

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Gil Hazelwood
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