Community Services Day in Skippack is Oct. 20

Community Service Day organizer and sponsor Butch Kaelin poses with event supporters outside of Southwest Trading Post in Skippack. Seen here are (L to R) Disabled American Veterans (DVA) Chapter 25 Senior Vice Commander Bill Keyes, DVA Chapter 25 member Bill Pinkerton, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Morgan Crummy, Univest Assistant Vice President of Cash Management Susan Sutherland, Butch Kaelin, and DVA Chapter 25 Commander Frank DeSimone. Photo by Justin Finneran

On Sunday, Oct. 20, residents of Skippack and the surrounding area will be offered the opportunity to come out and meet those in their community who strive to give back to others.

“It’s just a little something to give back. We tell people to come and meet your local heroes and helpers,” said Butch Kaelin, event organizer for the Third Annual Community Services Day in Skippack, which is being held at in Skippack’s Victorian Carriage Shops (4039 Skippack Pike) from 12 p.m. through 4 p.m. Kaelin is the owner of the Victorian Carriage Shops and one of its occupying businesses and event sponsors, Southwest Trading Post.

The event is open to all members of the public and will have free food and activities, although the chief purpose for Community Services Day is to let area residents learn about and interact with entities such as emergency services, veterans organizations, nonprofit organizations and businesses that serve the community.

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Those organizations who will be on are Angel Flight East, North Penn Goodwill Service, Bikers Against Child Abuse of Montgomery County, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Disabled American Veterans, Montgomery County 4-H Seeing Eye Puppy Club, Skippack Fire Company, Skippack Emergency Medical Services, Univest bank and more.

“Our job is to make sure that veterans are getting their benefits – we help homeless vets, those with disabilities,” said Frank DeSimone, Commander of the Collegeville Chapter of Disabled American Veterans (DAV). The Collegeville Chapter, known as Chapter 25, is relatively new to the area. A year-and-a-half ago the organization relocated to Collegeville from Norristown for a fresh start after the illegal activities of a former member drained tens of thousands of dollars from its coffers.

“Butch, in a sense, came to our rescue,” said DeSimone, “We were able to introduce ourselves to the community because of him, and the money we raise - it is Veterans helping Veterans.”

“(Community Service Day) lets us get to know the people and lets them know that help is available for veterans,” said Bill Keyes, Senior Vice Commander with DVA. “There are a lot of veterans – older and younger – who suffer from things like post-traumatic stress disorder and do not even realize it… …they think that ‘it’ is a way of life but it’s not… … and we are here to help them.”

Trooper Morgan Crummy, a Community Service Officer with the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), represented the PSP at the first two Community Services Days, and confirmed that a trooper will once again be present for the third event.

“It’s a great event because it presents us with the opportunity to answer questions from the public,” she said. “They get see us in a one-on-one environment. I enjoy the event, it’s great, coincides with the car show, so it gets a big crowd.”

Not only will the public have the chance to meet a PSP trooper and take a look at a patrol car, the PSP will also be handing out items to the public – including reflective Halloween candy bags.

“Butch has been absolutely terrific,” Crummy added. “We are all impressed with what he has done and are very grateful that he has put this together.”

Univest Bank and Trust Co. is a major sponsor of Community Services Day. Susan Sutherland, the Assistant Vice President of Cash Management for Univest (and a former branch manager of the local Univest branch on Township Line Road), said that the company is very committed to helping non-profits in its service area. In 2012, Univest contributed over $1,000,000 and more than 13,000 volunteer hours to nonprofit organizations in Bucks, Chester and Montgomery counties and the Lehigh Valley.

“Butch has been a customer of ours for years so we were happy to sponsor this event,” Sutherland said. “We are looking forward to having a nice day and talking with members of the community. Partnerships are very important to us, and it is great to be involved in (Community Services Day).”

Among the attractions for the day will be a fire truck moonbounce and face painting, and Smiley the Clown will be on premises entertaining and making balloon animals. Also appearing ‘in character’ will be members of the 501st Legion: Vader’s Fist – a volunteer fan-based Star Wars organization renowned for their authentic looking Star Wars costuming and charity work. Police and emergency services vehicles will be on display, and one of the fire trucks will be wrapped in pink plastic to promote breast cancer awareness (attendees can pay to ‘sign’ the fire truck, and the money raised going toward the fight against breast cancer).

Food for the event is being provided by the North Penn Goodwill, which will be making hot dogs and hamburgers.

“North Penn Goodwill, they are a prime example of a group that we want to let people know about,” Kaelin said. “One of the things they do is set up at places where there are (long-standing emergency incidents) and feed the firefighters. My father was a firefighter and I know that there were plenty of times that he would get coffee or a sandwich from them.”

Kaelin said that the idea for Community Services Day had always been in the back of his mind, and after he purchased the Victorian Carriage Shops four years ago he turned the idea into reality by holding the first event at the shopping center in 2010.

“In the beginning I did not know how many people we would be able to get to come out, but it keeps growing,” he said. “I just want to let the public know about these local organizations, to know what is out there and available for everyone. All of (the participants) do something different and give back to the community in one way or another. In some cases it’s little steps, people doing their ‘little helper’ things… …but it’s important to recognize that there are a lot of good people here who step up and do it in their own way.”

Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor of Skippack Community Services Day can contact Butch Kaelin by calling the Southwest Trading Post at 610-584-2774.

To learn more about Disabled American Veterans Chapter 25 visit www.DAV25.org, to find out more about Univest visit www.Univest.net, find the Pennsylvania State Police online at www.psp.state.pa.us

The rain date for the event is Oct. 27.