Students from the Diakon Wilderness Center' Center Point Day Program listen to a senior staff member from Volvo CE discuss careers with the company.

Local firms help to direct at-risk youths toward vocational goals

Boiling Springs, Pa.    Monday, September 30, 2013

Becoming an architect is no easy process. Students must complete a five- or six-year undergraduate program and then have at least three years in an intern-style development program before they can sit for a licensing examination.

But thanks to regional professionals and companies willing to share that type of information with youths participating in the Center Point Day Program at the Diakon Wilderness Center, the young people can explore career options with eyes wide open.

Denny Sowers of SGS Architects Engineers, Inc., in Carlisle, recently opened his door to a program participant and Chris Edenbo, Diakon Wilderness Center Greenhouse gardener, when he learned of the youth’s interest in the field.

Research shows having a successful career path can reduce re-offenses for youths.

“He took all the time in the world to answer questions and created a wonderful experience for us,” says Edenbo. “Any time we can connect one of our students with an employer, someone who has been there and done that, we are thrilled to do it.”

Sowers enjoyed the opportunity to help the next generation. “I’m happy to direct them and explain some of the pitfalls,” he says. “[Architecture] is a profession that touches on so many aspects of environment, energy, and human behavior. It is a lot to comprehend.”

The youth, who is heading into his senior year of high school, said the visit confirmed his interest in the field. “I’ve already worked with computer programs, and I like math. It seems like it would be a good idea,” he says, adding that he also learned an important lesson. “You have to work at something if you really want it.”

Chris Price with Volvo CE discusses careers in the company's field with students in Diakon's Center Point Day Program.

Chris Price with Volvo CE discusses careers in the company's field with students in Diakon's Center Point Day Program.


At the same time, Center Point Day Program youths explored manufacturing career options when they visited Volvo CE in Shippensburg. The company, which manufactures road construction equipment, welcomed the opportunity to educate students about their operations

“The students got to see our whole business. They had a plant tour and heard speakers from all over the business,” says Hilary Constable, HR business partner. “We wanted them to see the jobs you can do with a high school diploma, vo-tech, two-year and four-year degrees. We also employ people with PhDs.”

Constable says the company looked at the opportunity as a win-win for everyone involved. “We want to make sure local people know what we have to offer, that they see what the possibilities are,” she says. “It was good for us and hopefully good for them.”

Based at the Diakon Wilderness Center, located on a mountain near Boiling Springs, Pa., the Center Point Day Program serves as an alternative to residential placement of youths who have been adjudicated dependent or delinquent by county children and youth services or juvenile probation departments. Youths referred for service need behavioral and educational intervention in a community-based setting, which means they take part in center-based activities on weekdays but return home in the evening. The goal is for each student to graduate successfully from the program as a productive, connected, and law-abiding member of the community.

In the fall of 2012, the program began an intensive vocational-training component. Research shows that having a successful career path and educational goals correlates with a reduction in youth re-offenses or related issues. The vocational initiative includes three on-site training opportunties—auto mechanics, horticulture/landscaping, and culinary.

If your organization is interesting in hosting students for similar career experiences, please contact Rob Kivlan, development officer, Diakon Youth Services, at (717) 960-6755 or via email at

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