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A Brief History: As Remembered by Dennis Felty

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Keystone Joins the Clinton Global Initiative

Keystone became of member of the Clinton Global Initiative in 2007. We have long been dedicated to the well being of individuals around the world, and we were exploring ways to develop more connections with corporations, foundations and individuals who were involved in global advocacy. As part of that research, it became clear that the Clinton Global Initiative was one of the foremost venues that bring together leadership within governmental organizations and the nonprofit sector to address the major issues confronting the world, and we were later invited to become a member.

Keystone’s Global Initiatives

After the fall of the Soviet Union, I had the opportunity to begin visiting psychiatric hospitals and orphanages within the former Soviet Union. Several of these visits were in concert with Cross Links, Inc, a Lancaster-based humanitarian aid organization founded by Janice and Paul Wenger. In 1999, I traveled to Romania with Janice Wenger to visit Ron and Sue Bates. The Bateses take in the babies of children who live in the underground of Bucharest because babies do not survive in the underground tunnels and subways.

I was doing a project on video interviews of young mothers and how they came to live in the underground. One young mother who came to visit her baby invited me to see where she and her husband lived. She took us to a manhole cover behind a McDonalds. Her husband removed the cover and we descended into the underground.

The young woman and her husband lived in an 8x12 foot cement cubicle lit by candles. While I was trying to make sense of this experience, I realized that I was an honored guest in their home. Soon, more candles appeared as the other children in the underground tunnels realized that I was not a threat. The young woman’s husband was in charge of the children in this particular underground section, and we spent the night visiting other children. Approximately 40,000 children lived in the underground, and most spoke English and wanted their photograph taken.

The whole experience was so disturbing that I realized that I either had to stop such visits or I had to begin doing something about it. I decided to do something about it. When I returned home, I approached Charles Hooker about Keystone’s options. From that discussion, we decided that our first step would be to create internship opportunities for young people in Eastern Europe. We invited individuals to come to the United States and work for us for a year, with salary, benefits and additional training, and at the end of the internships, we encouraged people to write a proposal about what they wanted to accomplish in their home community. We would take the best proposal and develop it into a project. The first proposal was for the Unitate Community Center in Tudora, Moldova. Unitate is a children and family center based on the Head Start model.

These initial internships led to a contract with the Open World Leadership Center to bring colleagues from Eastern Europe to the United States for a week of sharing knowledge and information about human services. In the summer of 2004, six psychologists from Moscow were spending the summer with us, and as they were preparing to return home, the Beslan School #1 was attacked. The events in Beslan were a profound tragedy, resulting in the loss of over three hundred children, teachers and parents. We extended our condolences and offered to help. Within a month, we provided training in post-traumatic stress disorder for psychiatrics and psychologists in Beslan to help them serve the people affected by the extraordinary loss and darkness of the attack, and we invited all of the psychiatrists and psychologists from Beslan to spend time with us in Pennsylvania so they could increase their knowledge and capacity to serve children and adults. One young psychiatrist developed a proposal for a comprehensive system of care in Russia, which we submitted to USAID and received funding to provide several years of intensive therapy for children and families in Beslan.   

We are continuing our international work through Keystone Human Services International, Keystone Human Services International Moldova Association, and the Keystone Foundation for Children and Families in Russia.

Keystone Human Services Board Chairmen

  • Reverend Charles Dorsey (1972-1976)
  • Barbara Scheffer (1976-1980)
  • Iris Harad (1980-1982)
  • Robert Matteson (1983-1986)
  • Mary Kratzer (1987-1990)
  • Daniel Tunnell (1991-1993)
  • Donald Witman (1994-1997)
  • Marshall Jones (1998-2005)
  • Donald Enders (2005-2007)
  • Sally Klein (2007-2012)
  • Don Enders (2013-2015)
  • Tom Flowers (2015-present)
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