The Chester County Commissioners came to Phoenixville Borough Hall on the evening of November 20 for the final installment of their ‘On the Road’ series of public meetings. In addition to discussing and approving County government business, commissioners Terence Farrell, Kathi Cozzone and Ryan Costello recognized local organizations and citizens who contribute to the Phoenixville region.
The first proclamation of support from the commissioners was for National Adoption Day. Following the proclamation Keith Hayes, Director of the Chester County Department of Children, Youth & Families, spoke to those assembled about adoption in Chester County, and also introduced members of the department’s staff, including Post Adoption Services Supervisor Kathy Boyd – who was honored by the Commissioners with a citation for establishing a successful National Adoption Day program in the county ten years ago.
Director of the Chester County Department of Community Development Pat Bokovitz then offered an introduction on National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, and his words were followed by presentations from representatives of two service organizations: Good Samaritan Shelter and Triskeles.
The presentation was on behalf of Phoenixville’s Good Samaritan Shelter and was given by Executive Director Nate Hoffer. Hoffer spoke of the housing and critical services that the shelter offers to homeless men in Phoenixville. He also thanked the county for rolling out of its Decade to Doorways program to end homelessness (which Good Samaritan participates in). Hoffer closed by informing those present about Good Samaritan Shelter’s plans for a social enterprise jobs program that will provide employment for those men it serves.
The next presentation was given by Mark Birdsall, Director of Youth Programs for Triskeles, an Exton-based public charity. Birdsall discussed Triskeles efforts on providing youth in Northern Chester County with job training and an introduction to the skills needed to lead a healthy and successful life, with a focus on food, nutrition and sustainability. Among the programs mentioned was Triskeles’ ‘Food For All’ raised bed garden program - where the organization helps to build and maintain gardens in the community as long as the garden owners agree to give a portion of their yield to area pantries and food banks.
The commissioners then made their proclamation in support of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
“On any given day in Chester County more than 70,000 people are food insecure… …and 13,000 children go to bed hungry,” said Farrell, “The (Board of Commissioners) hereby proclaims its support for national hunger and homelessness awareness week, and in doing so encourages Chester County residents to recognize that many people do not have housing and need support from citizens and private (and) public non-profit service entities.”
Following the proclamation, Director Bokovitz introduced Executive Director of Chester County’s Housing Authority Dale P. Gravett, who gave an update on the Fairview Village Development. The development, which had its grand opening in August, provides over thirty homes from low income residents. Accompanied by a slideshow of images, Gravett was able to show the before, during and after images that chronicled the rejuvenation of the north-side Phoenixville neighborhood, and thanked the county for its contribution of over $500,000 to the development.
Next to present was Taryn McCaffrey, the Animal Sciences instructor with Technical College High School (TCHS) - Pickering Campus. McCaffrey came to the lectern with TCHS seniors Melanie Becker and Tammy Twaddell, who together offered a look at the school’s Animal Sciences program, which was described by McCaffery as a fusion of instruction in modern animal agricultural practices and veterinary science.
“I am absolutely obsessed with my school – I love it so much,” Becker said. “In my program, since we are all passionate about the same thing it is like we are a complete family, and every animal in the classroom is like a family pet.”
“I feel this is a great opportunity for all students,” added Twaddell. “It gives you more of an in depth learning process (were) you can go from learning techniques and skills in the classroom and you can go and perform them on the animals right away.”
After the TCHS presentation there was a feature on Phoenixville Communities that Care (CTC). The feature began with an overview of CTC by Executive Director of Chester County’s Drug & Alcohol Services Vince Brown. Brown then introduced Phoenixville CTC’s Dolores Winston, who has been with the organization for fourteen years. Winston offered details of the organization’s seven different community-based prevention plans. Among the family-based programs is a free 12 week-long program where men are offered the opportunity to come together and share their experiences as fathers, a monthly ‘family night out’ program that provides a free activity for families to come together and bond as a community, and low-cost structured summer camp for kids at Reeves Park.
She closed by thanking the many organizations and other entities which allow CTC to perform their work, chiefly the Phoenixville Community Education Foundation, which is CTC’s lead agency for purposes of funding.
“It’s been a great working partnership,” said Winston of the relationship between Phoenixville Community Education Foundation and CTC. “We are so grateful to have them.”
Closing out the announcements was a Phoenixville Area Positive Alternatives (PAPA) Wall of Achievement Honoree citation presented to Phoenixville Area High School junior Jessica Mueller by the commissioners. Mueller was introduced by PAPA Executive Director Alexis Boswell, who outlined Mueller’s work as a tutor with PAPA’s new Directions after-school program and her work as a PAPA summer camp counselor. PAPA provides free and low-cost services for young students including after-school academic, enrichment, and athletic programs.
“I just think that there is nothing more fulfilling that watching a kid be able to succeed and knowing that you (helped make) it happen,” Mueller said.
In the final public comments portion of the meeting, outgoing Phoenixville mayor Leo Scoda took the lectern and offered his thanks to the Chester County Commissioners.
“I wanted to thank you for all of the support you have given Phoenixville over the years,” Scoda began. “I give you credit, as commissioners of the county… …it’s a big county and I am just amazed that you can cover all of the communities, all of the towns with (the “On the Road” meetings) I think that having these meetings at the various centers is really a great thing to allow the people to come out and see county government at work. So on behalf of the Borough of Phoenixville I thank you all for being here tonight.”
“Thank you all again for coming here this evening and I hope that you got some real positive sense of what is happening in and around Phoenixville,” said Cozzone to all present. “I am grateful for all of the groups who spoke here this evening (that serve) this area…. …you are all to be commended for the work that you do.”
“It takes a lot of people to make Chester County as good as it actually is,” said Ferrell, “and we thank all of the people in the Phoenixville area that have helped us make Chester County and the northern part of the county a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
In his closing remarks, Costello spoke about the reasoning behind having special proclamations honoring community members and organizations.
“…we recognize (people) because it helps raise awareness for any number of important issues in the community that would otherwise probably not get the media treatment that they certainly deserve… …communities can’t be successful unless you have caring, committed individuals in organizations who are willing to make a difference.”
For more information on those mentioned above visit:
Chester County National Adoption Day - http://www.nationaladoptionday.org/events/851
Phoenixville Area Positive Alternatives - http://www.papa1995.org/
Communities That Care - http://www.caringcommunitiescoalition.org/default.htm
Triskeles - http://www.triskeles.org/
Good Samaritan Shelter - http://www.goodsamshelter.org/
Technical College High School Pickering Campus Animal Sciences program - http://www.cciu.org/domain/172
Chester County Commissioners - http://www.chesco.org/index.aspx?NID=203