PHOENIXVILLE - Local coordinator, organizer and native born Ken Winston is grateful to be giving back to the youth of the Phoenixville community.
"It takes a man to teach a boy how to be a man," said Winston during a recent interview.
"To be a better father I had to resolve issues that I had with my father so I could move on," said Winston, the divorced father of two. "I also had to learn from other men. Nobody taught me how to be a good father, so I learned from other men."
Winston said that he is still learning, often through fathers' workshops, which he presents as part of Communities that Care.
Winston, a 1979 West Chester East graduate, set a state high school track record for the 4 by 100.
He expects to graduate from Eastern College with a degree in Organizational Management in June. He wants to continue his education and achieve a Master's Degree from either St. Joseph's University or Penn State University at Great Valley.
Winston attended West Chester University for two and a half years. "When I first went to college, I didn't have the tools to be a successful student and I'm paying for that now by attending school at the age of 42."
Winston works for the Phoenixville Area School District as an Outreach Coordinator. He works in the Behavior for Twilight School.
As part of the Phoenixville Area Secondary School (PASS) he organizes after school activities. He also works with the Student Assistance Program.
As coach of the freshman Phoenixville Area High School Basketball team, he stays near to the game he enjoys playing in his spare time. Summers are spent organizing basketball games for younger players.
First and foremost, he considers himself a track coach. He has been the assistant track coach for Plymouth Whitemarsh School District for eight years.
He also commits time to a social roundtable that "helps solve conflict in the community whether it be racial or problematic types of situations."
Winston is the president and founder of the Phoenixville Area Positive Alternatives (PAPA), which last year held a Father's Day celebration in Reservoir Park with 500 attendees. "We chose a Father of the Year," he said. "It was a place to bring your family and recognize what it means to be a father."
There was a time when Winston broke the rules and laws.
"I associated myself with people who did unsavory things," he said. "I succumbed to peer pressure. A lot of individuals that I've grown up with are either in jail, dead or struggling to make a good living as a result of some of their decisions. I've been lucky."
Winston spent a year in prison and upon his release on April 30, 1985 committed to a new life.
"A lot of people there couldn't read and write," he said. Winston taught his cellmate to read. "It made me feel good when I heard Jerry beginning to read. I then knew that I had the patience to help other people. I was making a contribution in somebody's life."
Since then Winston has committed much of his life to helping youth. "I think it's the value of helping another person which makes me feel that I'm paying back for some of the damaging things I've done," he said.
Although Winston doesn't live with his two sons, "Everything I do they can be a part of," he said. "I'm there. I'm involved in their lives and committed to their lives."
Winston is proud of his hometown.
"The spirit of volunteerism is strong in Phoenixville," he said. "I think this community cares. In all the events I do, you can see it. In all my fundraising efforts I've found that this is a very giving community."
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