Have You Experienced a Toxic Workplace?

Posted on: August 16th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

Six Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a New Job

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

If you’re like me, you have experienced a toxic work environment at some point in your career.

Maybe it was a terrible boss or clique of colleagues that made you feel left out. Maybe someone in leadership played favorites or took credit for your work. Or maybe it was low morale across the board that started to affect your own happiness.

In a recent Work and Well-Being survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), three in five workers said work-related stress caused them to have a lack of interest, motivation, and energy at work. And 36% of those surveyed had cognitive weariness, 32% emotional exhaustion, and 44% physical fatigue—almost a 40% jump from 2019.

To top it off, a record 4.5 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in November 2021. In a recent survey of 3,000 workers conducted by GoodHire, 82% reported they would consider quitting their job because of a bad manager.

Leadership is a key factor. And these startling statistics are a real-life snapshot of the American work culture.

So often we don’t know how unhealthy it is until it’s too late—having already accepted the position and settled into the day-to-day.

What can you do when you’re considering a shift in your career? And how can you set yourself up for success when it comes to finding an open, welcoming, and uplifting work culture?

Here are six questions you can ask yourself to help you determine if you’d like to move forward with the hiring process, keep looking for another option or stay with your current team.

Ask These Questions to Determine If An Organization is Unhealthy

At your very first opportunity—directly following your first interview with the organization, whether in person or virtual—take a few moments to reflect. 

Set aside 15-minutes in your schedule. Because each interaction with the company or recruiter is an opportunity to learn more about the culture and environment.

How do you feel? 

You can tell a lot about a workplace by the feel and tone of the interview. 

Were those who participated engaged, open, and interested in getting to know you? Or was it an inquisition—full of ‘gotcha’ questions? 

Take note of a scripted or forced tone as you make your decision. Or did it feel like a casual conversation, where you and those interviewing you were asking and answering questions?

And consider who participated in the interview process. Potential coworkers—and not just supervisors—being involved is a good sign that the organization practices shared leadership and values the personal relationships between coworkers. It shows they want to ensure that the people you may be working alongside think you’ll be a good fit and have (or can learn) the necessary skills to do the job.

And pay special attention to your feelings. Were you welcomed with warm and friendly vibes? Or did you feel underlying tension, perhaps noticing a rude tone or dismissive signals? All things to reflect upon after each conversation you have during the hiring process.

“Being a bystander to incivility has long-term negative consequences because bad behavior is contagious. In a series of experiments published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers found that the more people saw and were subject to rudeness at work, the more likely they were to become rude and hostile themselves.” [Huffpost]

What sounds did you hear? 

This may be harder to determine given hybrid or remote work schedules, but what do you hear in the building? Or during your virtual interview? Listen closely for background noise—it can hint at the general demeanor of the work culture.

And keep in mind, a tour of the building can be valuable in understanding workplace culture. The earlier in the process you can have one, the better. If you’re going to be working in a hybrid or ‘in-person’ capacity, it’s very important to see the physical space where you will be spending your working hours. 

Is it clean? And what about good lighting and air quality? Can you imagine yourself there?  

Obviously, while touring the space no one should be yelling at another person. But was it really quiet? What happened when someone (especially the Executive Director) entered a space? Did people scurry like mice and stop talking? Did you sense concern or even fear? 

In general, were coworkers supportive of each other? Did they converse regularly, even with someone new around? And how were they interacting with those they serve? 

You can gain a lot of valuable insights by paying attention to what you hear while on location or even through Zoom. 

What seemingly little habits did you notice?

All of us have our quirks. And sometimes those quirks can make work challenging for others. 

Did the person interviewing you come across as rigid, admitting they ‘freak out’ about the rubber bands, paperclips, or color of pen or paper used? Did they do so in such an intense way that team members were afraid of using the wrong item and getting yelled at? 

It can be really hard to assess these things during an interview, but perhaps ask them if they have any pet peeves or what their team might describe as their pet peeves. 

I have seen this over and over and over. It’s inappropriate, fear-based, and controlling behavior. And it’s a tell-tale sign of a toxic workplace environment.

I’ve seen managers with decades of experience feel anxious when making a decision. The results are unhealthy and can prevent productive work from happening.

So reflect on the quirks of the people you meet in the hiring process. And if someone laughs or shrugs off what you find to be an unhealthy characteristic, consider it your sign to move on.

And for those of us in positions of leadership—if your quirks are impacting others, take proactive steps to grow beyond them. The workplace’s health and the stress level of your team members are of the utmost importance. 

How were differences of opinion handled?

Innovation and creativity—critical components to the health, vitality, and growth of an organization—flourish in an environment where people are empowered to share ideas. Especially ideas that are different from the ones of their supervisors. 

So during the early hiring stage, notice if the leader surrounds herself with team members who know more about their specialty than she does. And if she gives them the support and tools they need to do the job, and then steps out of their way and trusts them to get it done. 

Ask about the process for team members to share their ideas, opinions, and concerns. Ask for a specific example of when they as a leader changed their mind about a process, policy, or project based upon the input of their team.

A few things to consider… did you feel part of the interview process? Or were you just a number in a lineup? Was the interviewer quiet, engaged, and deeply listening to you? 

Reflect on the health of the organization’s communication and openness, how your opinion was received, and if you feel you’re a fit for the mission or focus of the organization.

What about work-life balance?

We’ve all worked at places that talk a good game about work-life balance, but in reality, if you took time off you were seen as a ‘slacker’ who wasn’t committed to the organization or your career. 

And those places can be quite unhealthy. So pay special attention to time off and the attitude around it. But how do you figure out what that is?

Ask the interviewer about their last vacation—what they did, where they went, and if they actively worked during it or unplugged completely. And what their favorite benefit or perk of work there is, too.

At Community Connections for Children (CCC), we have 13 paid holidays, two floating holidays (employees’ choice of when to take), and 15 days of Paid Time Off (PTO) in the first year that can be used for any purpose. 

So, take notice of the benefits package—is it clear, favorable, and employee-minded? Are there any perks that reinforce the work-life balance you’re pursuing?

A few of those perks may look like PTO Coupons for additional time off as an appreciation and additional paid school visitation time for employees to participate in school activities for children aged birth through college. Or even a rotating schedule to allow for long weekends. All things we do here at CCC.

What and how was information shared?

The interview process and early stages of hiring are a great time to pay attention to how information is being shared. With you directly and with those around you. 

Did the interview operate on a ‘need to know’ basis? For a nonprofit, did you get the sense that the leadership team and the Board of Directors hold information close to the vest? Was there a lack of transparency? Often, this can lead to mistrust and even fear. 

And think about where you are with things. Do you feel well informed about your next step? 

When you asked a question someone didn’t know the answer to, did they feel put on the spot and react defensively? Or were they open and honest, telling you they’d find the answer to your question… and did they follow through with their commitment? 

And did the company stand by the timeline they committed to? 

If you’ve witnessed any worst-case scenario thinking or team members filling in the blanks for themselves, tread lightly. Often those unhealthy behaviors can lead to rumors and misinformation being shared between coworkers. 

Maybe you’ve seen an open environment, full of ease and information sharing. If you’re feeling an open invitation—for you or others to voice their opinion and to feel a sense of ownership of their work, it’s a good sign.

Signs of a Healthy Work Culture

Now that you’re tuned in to how you’re feeling in the interview process, it’s time to take a step back and assess your own workplace experiences.

You’ve probably worked at a place where the CEO or Executive Director was seen as ‘other’ . . . and maybe even a ‘villain’ — where you only went to their office on your first and last day of employment and when you were in trouble. 

And maybe they barely knew who you were. You may have even thought it was better that way. And felt relief when they walked right past you without saying hello. 

All examples of unhealthy organizations. 

But what does a healthy workplace look like? The answer is different for every individual.

For you, a healthy organization may be one in which the leader knows who you are and feels that it’s important to know something about you. And does. And remembers and asks about it the next time they see you. 

Or one where self-awareness is cherished. And where leaders work to understand and prioritize workplace culture. 

It may be an environment of conversation and a culture of sharing—a nurturing sense of community, with support and connection. One with laughter and joy. 

Once you determine your priorities, your next best step will become clear. And it will align with your core values.

“More than ever, people are on the hunt for meaning and that includes at work, where more and more of our time is spent. To attract and retain top talent, and achieve optimal productivity, companies must build greater meaning into the workplace.”

—Alexi Robichaux, Co-Founder and CEO of BetterUp.

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees for you and your business, saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian is its Executive Director. 

To learn more, visit

Additional Reading

Forbes: Toxic Workplace Culture 10 Times More Likely To Drive Employees Away, Study Shows

Connections to Caregiving-Fall 2022

Posted on: August 9th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

Connections is a training series for newly DHS Certified Family providers or those still journeying
through the certification process. Your business needs Connections! Click below for dates offered in English and Spanish!

How to Boost Board Member Support and Engagement: The Evolution of Community Connections for Children Board of Directors

Posted on: August 2nd, 2022 by Kristen Miller

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

What do you think of when you think of a Board meeting?

Is it a bunch of stuffy people in suits sitting around a long table? Overseers, out of touch with what their business is doing and its impact in the world?

This is exactly the vision that Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) has worked hard to avoid with its Board of Directors. We want a Board that is fully involved in the organization, filled with members who enthusiastically participate in CCC’s mission to ensure all families have access to affordable, high-quality childcare choices that lead to success in school and life in our region.

During my tenure as Executive Director, we’ve focused on building a strong Board and thus a strong backbone and support system for CCC. We evaluated Board Members’ term limits, implemented a Board recruitment strategy, updated the by-laws, and established “classes” for Board members to join each year that define their duties and responsibilities.

These changes spurred the Board Members to become more actively engaged in fundraising and the governance of the organization. And an engaged Board means the entire staff is able to do their job to their full potential—without additional tasks. As a result, we can serve each family and our community well. 

But what exactly does the Board of Directors do? And what steps can you take to strengthen and engage your Board of Directors? Let’s take a look.

What Role Does the Board of Directors Play?

A Board of Directors is essential to any nonprofit. It oversees how funds within the organization are used and what direction the organization is headed in. It’s made up of volunteers who believe in the mission of the organization and have a desire to serve—ones who give their time to support their community. 

Our goal at Community Connections for Children is for our Board and staff to work collaboratively. Every level of staff has access to the Board and vice versa. Free-flowing information allows us all to do our best work in a transparent and open manner.

There is no corporate ladder to climb up or certain procedures that have to be followed. If you need help, you reach out. If you have a great idea, you share it, regardless of what title you hold in the organization. 

CCC strives for a culture of trust and open communication. This culture means that if a Board Member happens to show up in the building, there’s no need to “be on your best behavior” or for a leader to “run interference” and intervene. 

Everyone is always working together for the common good. We’re not fighting to impress one another; we’re on the same team. 

Board Members work with staff members on task forces, such as our Give Local Committee. Working in tandem, our staff and Board fundraise or complete other tasks that are essential to achieving our goals—providing resources and access to childcare to every family in our area.   

Pre-COVID, the Board was also involved in staff parties, retreats, and training. They aren’t just overseers that show up once a month to dictate what’s happening with the organization. They form great connections with the staff. And the staff members do the same. 

A Look at the Board Structure

Community Connections for Children currently has fourteen Board Members, and are working to add new members. If you’re interested, please call (717) 968-8398 or email

Our Board meets virtually every other month, with committees meeting on alternate months. 

The committees are small groups that focus on specific functions. Most of the Board’s work is done at the committee level and promotes active participation.

Our current committees include:

  • Executive Committee- which also serves as the Governance and Nominating  Committee
  • Marketing Committee
  • Personnel Committee 
  • Finance Committee

Currently, the Board of Directors has five officer positions including President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Past-President. 

With this structure, the Board is able to effectively help to lead the work of CCC. The various roles and committees provide support and guidance to the Executive Director and every staff member in the organization. Keeping the Board running efficiently is essential as CCC is one of the region’s largest nonprofits, with a $175 million budget and over 80 team members. 

What Do We Look For in Board Members? 

Community Connections for Children seeks out Board Members who are interested in serving children, families, and our communities. A commitment to our mission is the most important requirement. 

We also want Board members to have a passion for giving back. And we want diverse representation on our board—in all the ways that can be defined.  

Board Members that bring specific strengths—such as marketing, finances, legal, and human resources expertise—add significantly to our depth of knowledge. But we also appreciate the “generalists,” those who have experience and skills in a wide variety of disciplines. 

More than anything, we look for enthusiasm, a willingness to share opinions and ideas, and a drive to help us be the best CCC that we can be.

Proven Ways to Boost Board Member Engagement

In the past decade-plus, we’ve explored various ways to encourage Board Member participation and help new members acclimate to our organization. 

Here are six proven ways for you to try:

  1. Have recruitment procedures and standards.

Board Members should be enthusiastic about your organization’s mission and have enough available time that they can commit to the duties. Starting off on the right foot with the right Board Members is key to high Board engagement. [Wiley Online Library]

  1. Create sub-groups for Board Members.

Well-defined classes or committees that Board Members belong to give both structure and purpose. Each sub-group should have specific functions or responsibilities. This will help your Board Members feel like they aren’t just another face in the crowd. They have purpose and value within the organization. [Sheila M. Bravo, PhD]

  1. Survey Board Members often.

At CCC, we survey our Board regarding their understanding of the organization, experience as Board Members, and ways we can improve. The responses guide our Board development and engagement efforts.

  1. Keep Board meetings focused.

With each discussion, stay on topic and be concise. Make sure everyone shows up prepared and briefed on the topics to be discussed. Be as mindful of your Board Members’ time as possible. 

  1. Emphasize the relationships between Board Members.

Board Members need to work together as a team and that will go much smoother when they know one another well. When a new Board Member joins, assign them a veteran ‘buddy’ to show them the ropes. Encourage Board Members to connect and socialize at the organization’s events. 

  1. Envision a shared future together.

A Board of Directors should be future-minded, leading the organization’s next steps. Emphasize that everyone is working as a team to accomplish these goals. 

Engagement is a Core Value at Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Recently, CCC received a three-year Capacity Building Grant from the Donley Foundation. These funds allowed us to support further Board development. We partnered with Leadership York to receive Board training, assistance with Board recruitment, and revision of the By-Laws. 

Community Connections for Children continues to work on the diversity of our Board to best represent our region. We know that listening to unique perspectives provides incredible value to our organization. 

The training that all new Board Members receive enables them to understand CCC’s programs and funding streams, early childhood education issues, and our operations.

However, we know this work is ongoing and that engagement is an active task.  

As we continue to recruit new Board Members and welcome them to our organization—and as we consider expanding our services and implementing new programs—we work hard to actively engage our Board. They are an essential part of the CCC team and mission. 

“A strategic board has a view of looking ahead, an insight to look deeper, and competency to look beyond.”

 — Pearl Zhu

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees for you and your business, saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Heather Spitzlay serves as CCC’s Human Resources Manager and Christy Renjilian is its Executive Director. 

To learn more, visit

Additional Reading

Fostering a Culture of Innovation and Generosity

The Big Impact of Community Services at Community Connections for Children, Inc.

5 Tools to Help You Make an Even Bigger Impact

Posted on: July 26th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

Five Go-To’s for Community Connections for ChildrenCare Consultants, Inc. 

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

Have you ever stumbled across a tool or resource that changed the way you work or approach life? The impact that one piece of technology can have on you and your business can be monumental.

Time and energy saved. And money expanded — so often we are better able to serve our community and clients with these increased resources. 

The nonprofit world feels this, too. And some of the challenges facing us as nonprofits have only grown since the pandemic. From budget cuts and stifled resources to ever-changing rules and guidelines, our toughest hurdles have only gotten more difficult to jump over.

And we lean on tools and resources now, more than ever. They help us to expand our workload, retain our exceptional employees, automate repetitive tasks, provide flexibility, improve visibility, and showcase our adaptability.

Just like in the business world.

You may be thinking. . . “Great, but you have no idea about our unique struggles. And how hard it’s been the past two years.”

Well, it may just surprise you how many nonprofits are facing hardships. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, about 30% of nonprofits will cease to exist after ten years.

The failure rate is high. And it’s growing.

And nonprofits’ reach in the United States is massive. Did you know there are 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States? Or that nonprofits employ 10% of the US workforce?

Here in Pennsylvania, nonprofits employ over 15% of the workforce. For every seven people, one works in the nonprofit sector.

And the total nonprofit annual revenue in the United States is $2.62 trillion. [Source: Zippea]

We have to stick together, as an industry. . . and work together with corporate and business partners to grow our impact and live out our mission. Regardless of all of the struggles and hardships of being a nonprofit in 2022. 

“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

— Socrates

Five Tools That Have Completely Changed the Way We Work:

  1. Rocketbook

In 2021, Community Connections for Children purchased a “Rocketbook” for each staff member. 

Rocketbooks are reusable notebooks you use with special pens. You can write, chart, draw, plan, vision, etc. on a page in the book using the companion pen. Then you simply upload the document. It will automatically change your handwriting to text and add it to whatever folder or platform you prefer.  

And when you’re ready to start a new project, you just wipe off the page and begin again.  

It’s easy to customize, too, with shortcuts to various icons so that the app knows where you want the document to be uploaded (or you can indicate it each time).  

The Rocketbooks have multiple benefits—they reduce costs associated with purchasing notebooks, steno pads, etc. for staff. They also enable a staff person to handwrite their notes (many of our team members prefer to do this) but still upload it into their files—Microsoft, OneDrive, Google Docs, etc. 

If using OneDrive and/or Google Docs—the file can be accessed by others. This benefit alone has saved staff a LOT of time and made sharing personal handwritten notes very easy. 

Rocketbooks come with a variety of page types—blank, lined, calendar, planning guides, task charts, ideas, and graph paper. You can even get special pages, such as music staff.  

The Rocketbook Fusion is approximately $35, additional pens cost $12 for a pack of seven of various colors. There are training videos, email updates, and information on their website to help you use your Rocketbook. 

You may find like we did, that some staff has already been using Rocketbooks in their personal lives. They may be able to step up and serve as guides, providing how-to tips and troubleshooting help for other staff.


Community Connections for Children utilizes BOARDnetWORK to manage our Board documents, meeting calendars and communication.  The platform enables you to upload documents, including organization items such as articles of incorporation, IRS determination, audits, and 990s.  

The meeting function allows you to create an agenda and embed the related documents (minutes, reports, action items) into the agenda. It will then create a notebook for the meeting combining all the documents into one.  This cohesion helps board members easily follow along during the meeting. 

The all-in-one notebook function works for each unique committee you have as well as the full Board meetings. There’s no need for Board members to hunt for emails (or for the staff to create them) to find the documents for a meeting.  

The platform sends out meeting announcements and reminders, for both committee and Board meetings. All you have to do is enter their contact information, create your committees, and then it will automatically send the information to those on that committee.  

This has been a huge help in organizing all the committee and Board documents into one searchable, always accessible place. It’s reduced the amount of time our staff spends creating and organizing materials for committee and Board meetings.  

BOARDnetWORK is free if you have Nonprofits Insurance Alliance. The platform is very intuitive and easy to use. There are step-by-step guidelines and support to help you set up your system.  

  1. OneDrive and TEAMS

Like nearly everyone, CCC quickly had to learn how to use TEAMS and Zoom to be able to provide our services virtually to families, providers, and the community. Staff, particularly our STARS department, have become very skilled in the various OneDrive platforms which enable us to share documents, access documents remotely, and communicate with one another. 

We have created a wide variety of TEAMS –by department, by job function, by committee, and throughout the entire organization. We utilize TEAMS not only for meetings, but also to have a quick “chat” or for a virtual group discussion. Staff can enter their questions and coworkers can respond. 

It has decluttered email inboxes and provided an option for those “quick water cooler” type conversations. We also use TEAMs for staying connected and promoting our culture.  We have TEAMS threads to share “kudos and thanks for being awesome” news. We have SharePoint folders for mental health resources and our various committees. 

It saves us time and effort because we don’t have to email people documents (also reducing the number of documents on our server or the cloud).  We can share documents with those outside the day-to-day of our organization, too—the Board, partners, etc., and they can access them and make revisions. 

CCC staff have participated in training for the various aspects of OneDrive, and have then trained others.  

We use OneNote, SharePoint, and other platforms to create and organize files, particularly those where multiple staff need access and enter data. It also increases security when accessing files as you can set up a two-part authentication process. 

OneDrive is free with Microsoft 365.

  1. Healthy Minds App

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) through the PA Key, graciously provided access to the Healthy Minds App to all CCC staff. 

The app has both podcast-style lessons and mediations. It teaches how the brain works and helps you incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily life. Meditations can be done while seated or while active. The lessons and mediations average about 5 to 10 minutes which makes them easily incorporated into a busy hectic life.  The app focuses on four pillars of the science of training the mind—awareness, connection, insight, and purpose. 

It’s an easily accessible tool to begin implementing small mindfulness practices in your day-to-day life—even for those who have no experience in meditation or may be skeptical. 

The tool also has check-in features that create a personalized report to measure your progress.  CCC encouraged our staff to participate (although of course, it’s not mandatory) as we want to give tools that help address the stress and mental health issues that have increased over the past two years. 

I have really enjoyed the app and have participated for the past 180 days (and counting!). The tool has inspired us to implement a “Mindful Monday Morning” practice. A great way to start the week, a “Mindful Monday Morning” is open to all staff and involves meditations and mindfulness activities led by a rotating cast of members of our staff.  

We also are working with OCDEL to support the utilization of the app by early childhood educators and participate in the statewide committee.

The Healthy Minds App is free, although some of the workplace features have a cost.  

  1. Wellness Tools, Like Standing Desks and Under-Desk Ellipticals

Ergonomics and wellness are important for the overall health of our team. Prior to COVID, CCC staff were able to request ball chairs, standing desk converts, and/or under-desk ellipticals. Staff was also able to request ergonomic keyboards, computer mice, etc. to ensure a comfortable, safe, and wellness-enhancing work environment.  

And when we transitioned to working at home, staff were able to “sign out” their equipment for their home “office” space. 

We believe in promoting wellness and understand that sitting for eight hours a day does not encourage a healthy body. We also know that people come in all shapes and sizes and need chairs and devices that work for them.  

By accommodating these needs, we enable our team to function at the highest level possible. These items also help reduce back, wrist, and other pains or injuries. It’s a concrete way to show our staff that we value their well-being. 

Costs vary depending on the particular item. Some of our favorite picks are:

A Culture of Wellness and Support

We want every single hour spent working—whether in the office or from home—to be comfortable and productive. 

The work that our team does here at CCC is important. It allows families to be supported in their parenting journeys and early childhood educators to be supported as they shape the next generation. 

And for our staff to continue to do that work, they need support themselves. We need to care for one another. Genuinely seeking out how our colleagues are doing, identifying their needs, and working hard to meet them. 

Burnout is real. And we want to eradicate it. So together, we will continue to focus each day on wellness and taking care of one other. 

“For a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other.” 

— Millard Fuller

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees for you and your business, saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian is its Executive Director. 

To learn more, visit

Additional Reading

Fostering a Culture of Innovation and Generosity

Human Resources: Our Approach

Posted on: June 17th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

Human Resources: Our Approach

How Community Connections for Children, Inc. Shifted Their HR Culture 

Written By: Heather Spitzlay and Christy S. Renjilian

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase human resources

A sifter of resumes? An enforcer of rules? Or maybe even the termination engineer? The latter is a term made popular by Up In The Air, a movie starring George Clooney. 

I hope these ideas aren’t the ones that pop into your head. But so often, human resources can bring up negative feelings or thoughts. Partly due to the influence of media and culture. And partly due to your past experience—or the strong feelings or wild tales of someone you know.

So what does an effective, people-forward HR approach look like?

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC), like most nonprofits, small businesses, and large corporations, shifted its approach in the past decade—especially in the past two years, given the pandemic and tight labor market.

Why Are Human Resources Essential to Your Culture?

Human Resources is the foundation and core of our organization. 

Our talented, committed, and respected team serves our community each and every day—and without them, we wouldn’t be able to meet and exceed our goals and objectives.

Treating our employees well, really well, is essential to our success. 

And human resources, as a department, ensures that we continue to reflect, recommit (if necessary), and re-evaluate our policies, procedures, culture, and day-to-day interactions. 

They also set the example of how to treat one another and follow it relentlessly.  

By listening to and guiding the team, the human resources team aligns our work with our values.

A Look at the Organizational Structure and Retention

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is one of the region’s largest nonprofits, with a $175 million budget and a total of 81 team members, eight of which are part of the leadership team.  

The departments include Child Care Works, STARS, Community Services, Community Engagement, Finance, and Human Resources. 

You may remember that in July of 2018 CCC expanded its footprint—and doubled the number of staff. Nearly 80% of the team that was working at CCC prior to that expansion are still with us.

And we’ve experienced even more recent growth. In April of 2020, CCC had 75 employees. And now, in mid-2022, we have 81. 

Since the start of the pandemic, only one person has left to accept a position outside of the organization. That’s one person in over two years during what has been dubbed the ‘Great Resignation.’ It’s unheard of and something we are very proud of.

The team here at CCC is both loyal and tenured. Collectively, we have over 300 years of experience. And five team members have been with CCC for over 20 years. We have a strong history of advancement within the organization. 

We’re proud of our retention efforts. And our turnover rate, which averages 2% per year. That number reflects all reasons for separation—like retirement, relocation, leaving the workforce, and medical reasons.

If you’re interested in our mission and working with CCC, we currently have two openings, both in our Finance Department. To learn more, visit

What do you look for in new hires? 

In the past four years, CCC has grown exponentially. And our human resources team has developed an exceptional hiring and onboarding process.

With possible candidates, we look for people who are committed to creating and nurturing our positive work culture. And those who are committed to service and fostering relationships with children, families, child care providers, and communities.

Experience is always weighed heavily, especially in specialized positions. An example is our Keystone STARS department—we look for persons with degrees in education and experience working in child care.

And CCC is committed to an inclusive and diverse workforce. We know that a welcoming, collaborative culture brings out the best in each team member. We strive to attract and retain a diverse range of skills, experience, and perspectives.

A List of Nine Effective Interview Questions

As for the actual hiring process, our approach includes both open dialogue and job-specific questions. The questions we ask to help us discern if the candidate and our organization are a good match.

And because we believe in transparency and sharing best practices so that everyone can succeed, we want to help you either prepare for an upcoming interview or optimize your hiring process.

So, here are nine of our favorite interview questions:

  1. If you were offered this position, what do you think your biggest challenge/learning curve would be in the first month?
  1. If you thought a coworker was doing a task incorrectly or not following the proper procedure, what would you do?
  1. Tell us about a time when you had to work hard to establish a good working relationship with someone. What was challenging about the situation and what did you do to address the issue?
  1. Tell me about a situation when you had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?
  1. What’s the most difficult decision you’ve had to make at work? How did you arrive at your decision? What was the result?
  1. What traits do you consider to be critical for your coworkers to possess? 
  1. How do you define service or serving others?
  1. How do you work with others who are different from you? Have different values, life experiences, and cultures? What specific experiences do you have working with diverse communities?
  1. At your retirement party what would you want your coworkers to say was your greatest accomplishment at CCC?

We tailor these questions, as needed, and really strive to understand each candidate’s thought process and scope of talent—and if they align with our culture and desires for the open position.

Work Values at Community Connections for Children, Inc.

The leadership team and human resource professionals at CCC understand our job is to support our staff. We serve them (not the other way around).

And we know our success rests on our entire team being–and feeling—supported, respected, engaged, and valued.

That’s why we practice what we preach. We have a culture of work-life balance. We serve families and our community, but not at the expense of our staff’s families.

One of the most-liked benefits at CCC is the generous paid time off. And our HR staff and entire leadership team encourages staff to use their PTO to promote work-life balance in our company. 

And as a team, we strive to have open communication and believe that a culture of excellence and fun are not mutually exclusive.

A Shift in the Human Resources Approach

“In order to build a rewarding employee experience, you need to understand what matters most to your people.” 

– Julie Bevacqua

In the past five years, CCC has made quite a few changes to our human services efforts.

The first big change was adding a manager to oversee the human resources department. By having an experienced person leading this function, we run more smoothly as an organization and our employees are taken care of even better. 

As many businesses have, we’ve been flexible in the face of the pandemic. And sustained that flexibility, with remote and hybrid schedules that consider people’s work duties and their preference for working remotely or in the office.

We also support the needs of the team’s families and social isolation—providing opportunities for additional connection and support with fun virtual activities, like book clubs, trivia nights, and lunch and learn sessions.

And we’ve increased our wellness support, both physical and mental, by offering the Healthy Minds App and sharing wellness tips each month.

It’s all about reinforcing the team—human resources is a support system, along with its policy function. Both elements are important. Policies are in place for a reason, to protect and uplift the team. And it’s HR’s duty to enforce them ethically.

At the end of the day, our human resources efforts are about being an advocate, ally, and support to our team of employees.

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees for you and your business, saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Heather Spitzlay serves as CCC’s Human Resources Manager and Christy Renjilian is its Executive Director. 

To learn more, visit

Additional Reading

Fostering a Culture of Innovation and Generosity

The Big Impact of Community Services at Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Give Local York: Highlighting the Success of Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Posted on: June 14th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

Give Local York: Highlighting the Success of Community Connections for Children, Inc.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Their Campaign 

Have you heard of Give Local York

It’s is a 24-hour day of giving on the first Friday of May in York County, Pennsylvania. 

And it’s hosted by the White Rose Leadership Institute in partnership with United Way of York County. In 2022, it was presented by GIANT, the well-loved supermarket chain.

Okay, so what does that actually mean? It means that the entire community in York County, Pennsylvania comes together to grow philanthropy and support nonprofits. 

Donors can give as little as $5 to the nonprofit of their choice. And Give Local York makes it easy, with a beautiful website and secure donations collected online at

This past year, Give Local York raised over $4.1Million. A record-breaking effort. With over 10,000 individual donors and 292 nonprofit organizations.

Let’s take a closer look at CCC’s experience with the day of giving.

Why is Give Local York an important fundraising tool for Community Connections for Children, Inc.?

Give Local York works. In the most recent campaign, hosted on May 6, 2022, Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) raised over $33,000.

CCC also had the highest number of individual contributions. . . 570 donors. This is the second year in a row that CCC had the most donors.

And to share historical context, in 2021 CCC raised over $38,000; in 2020, over $29,000, in 2019 CCC raised $12,700, and in 2018—Give Local York’s first year ever—the organization raised over $12,000.

In addition to a focused day of giving, a unique benefit from being part of the Give Local York fundraising effort is the opportunity to win prizes—including a stretch pool and incentive funds for giving. 

In 2022, Community Connections for Children was awarded eight prizes— totaling almost $4,000—including the Fulton Bank First Hour Prize.

With results like these, it’s clear why Give Local York is integral to CCC’s fundraising success.

Want the inside scoop? Let’s dive even deeper. . .

Four Things CCC Did This Year That Contributed to its Success

CCC has learned and adapted as an organization since the first Give Local York campaign in 2018. In fact, CCC has almost tripled its annual fundraising amount in the last five years.

Here are four things CCC has done to grow its results:

  1. A strong social media presence.

Over the years, the organization has increased the number of social media posts—primarily focusing on Facebook. Both the staff and Board Members have shared Community Connections for Children, Inc.’s message online. And it’s worked, with more awareness and donations given. 

  1. A true team effort.

Something we are extremely proud of is the overwhelming participation from staff and the Board of Directors. We join together to promote Give Local York, encourage donations, and give personally of our time, talents, and treasures. 

  1. Follow best practices offered by Give Local York.

CCC participates in Give Local York’s training, gathering new ideas, working to optimize our strategy, and taking advantage of the resources they bring to the table—including interviews with WARM 103, Livestream, and Fox 43.

  1. Tell our story through video content.

Partnering with the York Revolution to create compelling video content that tells the story of the organization—and more importantly, the children and families we impact—has been a real game-changer. It’s grown awareness of CCC across the region.

Increased social media buzz, buy-in from the staff and Board, listening to the guidance and wisdom of Give Local York’s staff and volunteers, and the creation of high-quality video content have expanded CCC’s day-of-giving success.

Now let’s take a look at how the team pulls it all together.

How CCC Prepares, Plans, and Executes its Give Local York Campaign

As a participating nonprofit, CCC understands that a successful Give Local York campaign takes focused planning and coordination. 

And at Child Care Consutlatns, Inc., it starts with a fundraising committee, which kicks off its efforts in October to prepare for the May event.

The committee is comprised of CCC staff and Board members with diverse backgrounds and experience. And they start by reviewing what worked well the previous year. Each area of the campaign is evaluated, with an in-depth discussion on how to optimize it. From the day-of activities to social media, and from staff and Board involvement to each marketing strategy.

As the campaign gets close, the Committee assigns tasks and strategies—like the production of social media posts, blog content, email templates to encourage donations, and more formal corporate asks.

And our main strategy is diversified investment, meaning a high number of individual donors. By accomplishing this, it shows the reach of CCC and that many, many community members—over 570—want to support our mission.

Because every $5 matters—with CCC, it impacts children here in our community.

The Impact Here in Our Community

Community Connections for Children, Inc. gives families the freedom of choice and access to affordable, high-quality childcare. 

But where do the funds raised during the 2022 Give Local York campaign actually go?

Check out the breakdown.

Parents as Teachers Program (PAT)

Approximately 60% of the funds support the Parents as Teachers Program, an evidence-based home visitation program for York County families, providing support from prenatal through kindergarten.

PAT is a free learning opportunity that equips parents and guardians—a child’s most influential teachers—through home visits by a Parent Educator.

It is open to any family living in York County, and focuses on parent/child activities, developmental parenting, and family well-being. 

There is no cost for any of the home visits, group connection sessions, or the books and materials provided to the families who participate. The dollars CCC raises during Give Local York are used to purchase books, educational resources, and games to support the children and families served by this program.

Connections Program

The other 40% of funds raised support the Connections Program—providing technical assistance, professional development, and support to those working to open their own small child care business.

We know that in-home child care providers are a vital part of the community, and it is important to continue creating programs to serve unmet needs in the community. This program creates jobs and increases the number of childcare spots for families.

And it helps to create strong small business owners, too, the majority of whom are women in the York community.

Our team helps these new entrepreneurs through all the steps of certification, witnessing their transformation into business owners. 

And now, we have providers who have been in business for over 20 years, taking care of generations of families. These providers are extremely successful.

The dollars raised are also used to purchase safety kits, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, books, educational materials and classroom materials for these child care programs.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. Leads Change

Child care is foundational to the health and well-being of children, families, and our local economies. And without adequate child care, families cannot remain in (or return to) the workforce.  

Our efforts—with your help—ensure that children receive a solid foundation to be ready for school and life. 

We help families now and empower children to be successful in the years to come.

Thank you for your trust. And thank you for another successful campaign with Give Local York.

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees for you and your business, saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director. 

To learn more, visit

Additional Reading

Fostering a Culture of Innovation and Generosity

Knowing Where Your Dollars Go

The Big Impact of Community Services at Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Innovation in Caring: York County Early Childhood Educator Awards, Summit 2022

Posted on: June 8th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

Please see the link below to view the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission’s recognition video for the innovative York County Early Childhood Educator Awards project. Community Connections for Children is so proud to be a part of this.

Fostering a Culture of Innovation and Generosity

Posted on: May 12th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

And How Our Values Translate From The Workplace to the Community

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

Each business needs guiding principles. Ones that shape every aspect of the business from structure to employees to customer relationships. 

Though Community Connections for Children, Inc. is a nonprofit organization, we’re also a business, and we have principles that shape every decision we make. 

We believe in equality—everyone deserves the same opportunities and resources to succeed. 

We believe in creativity and innovation—progress happens better when we all work together. 

And we believe in generosity—our communities are at their best when we are working to improve each other’s lives. 

These principles radiate in our mission and values—and are at the core of what we do for our community and for the families and children we serve.

Innovation Is Key To Progress

Innovation is an openness to new ideas and change. It’s an understanding that just because you’ve always done something a certain way, that doesn’t mean it’s always how it must be done. 

And it’s one of CCC’s core ideals, as we’ve adjusted and expanded. There are often growing pains. But by valuing innovation, we come out better and stronger. We aren’t stuck doing things the usual way; we want to do things the best way. 

Innovation also means an openness to the thoughts of others—being constantly curious.  Because we know that ideas and strategies are better when there are multiple people contributing to the process. 

Each and every person brings valuable ideas to the table. Together, we find and create better solutions.

And innovation means that when things happen that you never anticipated or imagined, you are able to take a deep breath and rely on your team, your culture, and your creativity to get through it. It’s a trust that you’re not only going to survive the challenge but also create, grow, adapt, and, ultimately, be more well-rounded as a result of it. 

CCC dug deep throughout the COVID pandemic to continue to operate at a high level and show up well for families, partners, and communities. 

The team created and offered virtual support sessions to Early Childhood Education Directors and Teachers to help them serve children and families during the pandemic. Along with the Rapid Response program, to support children with challenging behaviors and provide their teachers and families the support and services they need.  

With an innovative spirit, and by relying on one another, we were able to come out the other side an even better team. 

The Importance of Generosity 

Giving of your time, talent, and treasure to help others without thinking about what reward you will gain from it is at the core of generosity.

And with a generous heart, you understand, even when faced with hardships of your own, that you have a responsibility to help others in whatever ways you can.  

Because all people are interconnected. And families and communities only work when we help each other without thinking about what we get in return. 

A generous person doesn’t think that they are better than others, especially not as a result of their job title, education, or income. A generous person is willing to do whatever it takes to serve those around them.

Recently, Community Connections for Children, Inc. has been recognized as a workplace that strives for excellence. In 2022, CCC received the United Way of York County’s Partner Agency Award and was recognized as the highest producing campaign among all the partner agencies. 

The hardworking staff was recognized for their creativity in continuing to raise money through the pandemic. A huge accomplishment.

And I’m so proud of our team. They went above and beyond, showcasing their generous spirit. They organized karaoke and trivia gatherings over Zoom to expand our donors and giving platform. 

The team was also recognized for donating a high percentage of the funds they raised to the community fund. This community fund helps all the partner agencies throughout York County, not just CCC. And they donated funds to agencies in the other counties we serve—spreading the wealth and our impact. 

How Generosity and Innovation Serve as Guideposts

Generosity is important to me because it was one of the core values that I was raised with.  

From a young age, I experienced the world through the lens of a giver. My parents set the example, volunteering, tithing, and working in the nonprofit world. My father dedicated his life’s work to the YMCA. 

And I’ve carried those lessons with me, giving of time, talent and treasure. And I’m leading a community-based organization that leads by example and helps others to see the benefits of being generous and serving others.

It’s incredibly important to be generous to your staff, financially, and as human beings. In my tenure at CCC, over ten years now, we’ve worked hard to increase salaries and implemented generous paid time off policies.

And CCC has rotation weeks—staff members get one week a month with reduced hours, leaving early Monday through Thursday and having off on Friday. 

Beyond the financial aspects, the leadership team and I recognize that the culture we build and the connection we have with our team are just as important. We work hard to be generous with our praise and appreciation. To reinforce and remind each team member of the important role they play in serving children, families, child care programs, and the larger community. 

CCC impacts the economy of seven counties here in south central Pennsylvania, and each team member contributes to that success. Day in and day out. 

Innovation is important, too. In the world of early childhood education, things change all the time. We constantly work to stay on top of new research and strategies to help teachers work with children and families. We adapt to changes in policies and procedures related to eligibility for financial support to help pay for child care. 

And of course, we have to stay flexible, agile, and adaptable to respond to changes in CCC’s operations, staffing, leadership, and programs. 

That’s why we work hard to foster a culture of trust, respect, and support. Innovation isn’t possible without these core values. 

Hiring the best person for the job, someone who knows how to do those specific job functions better than you do, giving them the support and resources they need, and then getting out of their way is how we create that environment. 

I’m proud to say CCC was a finalist for the Central Penn Business Journal’s NonProfit Innovation Award in the Management Operations category. 

Innovation thrives in a supportive atmosphere of creativity and respect.

Paying It Forward In Our Community

We lead change. At CCC, we are a collective voice, educating local leaders about the critical role child care plays in the community. Access to child care is a workforce, job retention, and education issue. And research has shown quality childcare to be a critical investment that saves significant taxpayer dollars in the years ahead. 

We know, especially as a result of the impact of COVID, that child care is foundational to the health and well-being of children, families, and our local economies.  Without adequate child care, families cannot remain in (or return to) the workforce.  

We administer funding programs, extending those dollars to childcare providers which helps them keep their doors open. These efforts ensure that children receive a solid foundation to be ready for school and life. 

We help families now and empower children to be successful in the years to come.

And we know that together, innovation is possible. Together, our generosity can be more impactful. Together, we are our best.

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director. 

To learn more, visit

Knowing Where Your Dollars Go

Posted on: May 4th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

Knowing Where Your Dollars Go

A Financial Deep Dive at Community Connections for Children, Inc. 

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

As a careful spender, you likely want to know exactly where your money is going and exactly what it is doing. When you support organizations like Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC), you want to know that your contributions are being used for good. 

Transparency is very important to us at CCC. We want you to know how we manage and spend our budget, what programs we fund, and how their dollars are making an impact. 

And that goes for money received through grants and government programs as well. 

We are committed to ensuring every dollar that comes into CCC is used wisely. And we take that responsibility very seriously. 

Let’s dive into exactly what’s happening in the CCC Finance Department. 

The Numbers At A Glance

Helping parents afford quality childcare is at the heart of our mission. And to do so, each month CCC processes around 3,000 payments to childcare providers for the Child Care Works program. 

If that sounds like a lot of payments, a lot of families served, it is. But did you know our revenue for the 2021-22 fiscal year is $172 million? That’s over twice our revenue from two years ago, pre-pandemic, and goes to show the growth of our organization.

Even more telling, our current budget is almost eight times that of ten years ago—when our annual budget was $22 million. 

And CCC operational costs are less than 1% of the overall budget. 

While our growth has been exponential over the last few years, our team has not grown in size until last month. CCC wants every dollar possible to be spent on the children, families, and programs that we serve. And we want operational, management, and administrative costs to be as low as possible. 

And the CCC team continued to operate at a high level of excellence, with perfect monitoring reviews from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Education (PDE), and the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). With clean audits conducted by Boyer and Ritter.

How the Pandemic Impacted the CCC Budget 

COVID-19 forced CCC to shift, just as it did for everyone else. The Finance Department, led by Victor Ha, transitioned from always on-site prior to the pandemic, to only in the office to process payments, to now a hybrid model.  

Back in March 2020, we knew that despite most businesses and nonprofits shutting down, at least temporarily, we could not. What we do is essential and we have to ensure that funds continued to flow, accurately and on time to the child care programs, so that they could keep their doors open and continue to serve children and families, particularly those of essential workers. 

The pandemic brought in new funding streams through the COVID-19 relief laws: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Approximately $30 million were added very quickly to the budget and new systems had to be created to manage this increase. 

And while rapid change impacted the finance team, they adapted quickly and I’m proud of how they leaned in and handled it like the professionals they are. 

They excelled in a changing work environment, as ever-shifting regulations dictated when people could work in the office and when they couldn’t. Our ten-person finance team took on the extra funding and the challenges that came with it and utilized it in the best way possible for our community, all while remaining committed to the highest level of excellence. 

And we will continue to monitor and revise our internal processes to ensure that we are providing exceptional service and oversight of funds. 

We know that our programs can only be successful with a high-skilled team running them. And each person is an invaluable asset to our team. CCC will remain committed to having a great staff culture and work-life balance. 

A Breakdown of our Funding Streams

CCC supports many programs to address the various needs of the childcare industry. Let’s break down which programs each grant and funding supports. 

Child Care Works helps families have access to quality childcare by walking with parents through the application process and helping them pick a quality facility. It also helps families apply for financial assistance and then makes payments to the childcare facilities in a timely fashion. These programs, along with Keystone STARS, are supported by Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) funding

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federal program that helps participating child care providers offer and pay for nutritious meals for children in their care.

The Parents as Teachers program is a home visiting program for York County families and is funded by the Children’s Trust Fund and Private Foundations

United Way Funding supports individuals looking to become small business owners who operate home-based family child care programs through help with licensing and setup. 

Private Foundations also supports First 10 and the recruitment and retention of child care educators. ARPA Funds provides grants to child care programs. Individual Donations support the whole array of CCC programs.

It’s easy to look at our budget—the millions of dollars we receive and payout—and think that your contribution might not make much of a difference. 

But please know, it does. Each dollar has an impact. And less than one cent per dollar goes toward administrative costs. 

At Community Connections for Children, Inc., your donation impacts children here in our community. And we could not do what we do without each and every one of the donors and grants that support us.

You make a difference. And your donation matters. 

If you’d like to support our efforts, consider donating on Friday, May 6th for Give Local York.

Why We Do What We Do 

While CCC manages a large volume of funding, at the end of the day, we are all about people. And each of our programs exists to make the lives of people better.

CCC supports the economies of the seven counties we serve. We do this by ensuring that the child care programs we serve remain funded, supported, and operational.

Without adequate, affordable child care, many families would be unable to return to or remain in the workforce. And the economy would grind to a halt with a shortage of workers if child care wasn’t available. 

We also know that many families only have so much money to go around. Child Care Works helps families pay for child care so that they can pay for other items such as housing, food, and transportation.

Child care programs themselves have been suffering recently from a teacher shortage. Recent research shows that the staffing crisis facing the child care industry is negatively impacting all other local industries. 

All of these issues have a ripple effect if not addressed. CCC recognizes this and has programs in place to help facilities find teachers and train them and programs that help individuals open their own in-home daycares. 

Access to quality childcare programs is important. And here in central Pennsylvania, our team works diligently to get closer to that reality every day. 

Join us in our efforts by giving on Friday, May 6, 2022, for Give Local York.

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director. Victor Ha serves as its Finance Director.

To learn more, visit

A Rich History of Strong Leaders in Central Pennsylvania

Posted on: March 28th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

A Rich History of Female Leaders in Central Pennsylvania

And the Origin Story of Women’s History Month

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

How long have women been celebrated for advocating for themselves in the workplace?

Since the early 1900s.

More specifically, in 1909, when the Socialist Party of America declared the first National Women’s Day to honor the women who participated in the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York City. This holiday was implemented after 15,000 women flooded the streets of New York City in hopes of better pay, working conditions, and voting rights.

One year later, during the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, a German activist named Clara Zetkin proposed the idea of an International Women’s Day. All seventeen countries in attendance agreed.

And on March 8, 1911, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated. Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and Denmark particiapted with enthusiam. But it wasn’t until the United Nations began sponsoring it in 1975 that the United States widely recognized it, too.

And it has continued to gain momentum.

But it still took years for us to recognize Women’s History Month. A local education task force celebrated ‘Women’s History Week’ in 1978 in Santa Rosa, California when they met to review the status of women. And the organizers chose the second week in March to correspond with International Women’s Day.

It spread across the country in the years to follow. And in 1980, a group of community leaders and historians, led by the National Women’s History Project, successfully lobbied for national recognition. That same year, President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 8th as National Women’s History Week.

Each President that followed continued to proclaim a National Women’s History Week in March. 

And finally, in 1987, Congress passed a law to designate March as Women’s History Month.

Fast-forward to current, and this year’s theme is Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.

To celebrate the month—and our region—let’s take a look back at four women who have provided healing and hope to our community. 

Influential Female Leaders in Central Pennsylvania

You know that our region is full of history, but do you know the story of these four women who made waves with their resolve, determination, and leadership? 

Let’s learn from four of the greats.

  1. Loretta Claiborne: a global speaker and groundbreaking multi-sport athlete

Loretta was born in 1953 in York, Pennsylvania. She was born partially blind, with an intellectual disability and abnormal feet. After surgeries to correct her feet and visual impairment, she was finally able to walk at four years of age and talk at the age of seven.

When Claiborne was 17, a school counselor suggested she participate in the newly-formed Special Olympics. And she did just that, competing in the Special Olympics from 1970-2003 in various distance running events, bowling and figure skating.

She won six gold medals and many bronze and silvers. And Loretta has completed and placed in over 25 marathons. 

In 2000, her life was the subject of a television film, “The Loretta Claiborne Story.”

She has held many leadership roles, including on the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Board of Directors and the Special Olympics International Board of Directors. Loretta received three honorary doctorate degrees, including one from York College of Pennsylvania.

And in 2001, a medical and educational facility in her home community of York, Pennsylvania was named the Loretta Claiborne Building in her honor.

  1. Delma Rivera: secondary education teacher, activist, and humanitarian

Born April 15, 1929, in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, Delma became a secondary education teacher after graduating from the University of Puerto Rico. She moved with her husband, Dr. Edwin Rivera, to York in 1962, where they were immediately concerned about the Latino community—seeing issues ranging from education, health, and housing inequality to racism and high unemployment rates.

Spanish-speaking children weren’t receiving a quality education because there were no bilingual programs or bilingual teachers in the city school. And healthcare was a concern, too, as there were no interpreters at York Hospital. 

To lead the change, Delma and her husband co-founded the York Spanish Council in 1973—now the York Spanish American Center. She advocated, educated, fundraised, and served on many boards. She was recognized by the York Pennsylvania Branch of the NAACP for her part in advancing civil rights and equal opportunity for all and was an original member of the Governor’s Council for Hispanic Affairs. 

Delma was presented a key to the city of York for her efforts and the 200 block of East Princess Street in York is now dedicated to her and her husband.

  1. Elizabeth Thorn: caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery and war hero

We’re going back a bit further to recognize Elizabeth Thorn. Elizabeth and her husband Peter emigrated from Germany to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1855. And after her husband enlisted in The Civil War, Elizabeth stepped in to be the caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery.

When the war raged near her town, during the Battle of Gettysburg, Elizabeth and her family were ordered to leave for safety. And when the fighting ended, Thorn and her family returned home and found it destroyed by artillery, with wounded soldiers in her home and most of her possessions stolen.

Thorn did her best to care for the soldiers, and once those that healed left she was ordered by the military to start burying the soldiers who perished near her home. Elizabeth—who was six months pregnant at the time—hand-dug over 100 graves. 

Her husband, Peter Thorn, returned after the war, and the couple lived together until 1907.

And in 2002, a beautiful statue was dedicated in her honor and stands as a symbol for the millions of women who endured hardship, loss, and pain during the war.

  1. Dr. Elizabeth Reifsnyder: trailblazing medical surgeon and pioneer

In 1858, Dr. Martha Elizabeth Reifsnyder was born in Liverpool, Pennsylvania. She attended Millersville State Normal School (now Millersville University of Pennsylvania) and then Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, one of the first medical colleges in the world to award women a degree in medicine.

Dr. Reifsnyder graduated from medical school in 1881 and moved to China soon after, where she opened a hospital exclusively caring for women and children—the first of its kind in that part of the world. She was a pioneer, advancing modern medicine and performing heroic surgeries.

But when she opened the Margret Williamson Memorial Hospital in Shanghai, she struggled to get patients. But she perservered. Her reputation quickly grew after she operated on a female patient with a large cyst—draining many gallons of fluid. Over time she expanded her medical campus, which became one of the greatest hospital units in the entire region. It still stands today, and is now named the Red House Hospital.

Dr. Elizabeth Reifsnyder would occasionally make the long trip home to Pennsylvania to visit her family. She passed away in her hometown of Liverpool at the age of 64.

As you can see, our region is rich in history and has been impacted by the remarkable efforts of these four women—and thousands of others.

Loretta Claiborne, a highly accomplished, multi-sport athlete born to a single mom in York City who believed in her daughter—and her seven other children. 

Delma Rivera was a true humanitarian and advocate who recognized disparity and brought about change for the Hispanic community.

Elizabeth Thorn was a wife, mother, and caretaker who stepped in to serve when her husband joined the Civil War efforts. She heroically cared for and buried soldiers.

Dr. Elizabeth Reifsnyder was a groundbreaking medical surgeon who improved healthcare outcomes for countless women and children in China and paved the way for thousands of women to follow in her footsteps.

Impressive women who provided healing and promoted hope.

And an inspiration to us here at Community Connections for Children, reminding us of how far our region has come, and how much further it has to go. We pledge to continue striving for progress and equality—to ensure all families have access to affordable, high-quality child care choices that lead to success in school and life.

More Information About These Iconic Women

Loretta Claiborne

Delma Rivera

Elizabeth Thorn

Dr. Elizabeth Reifsnyder

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director. 
To learn more, visit