When people ask me what makes West Chester such a great place to
live, work, study and visit, I answer, “Our people!” We are fortunate
to have people of all ages who care, who are there for each other
to help in times of need, and who come together to celebrate in times of
joy. This article features just a handful of people who make West Chester a
A great example of West Chester businesses helping people in need is
Harmony House. Three local developers—Eli Kahn, Jack Lowe and Gary
Toll—conceived and organized this partnership as a way to give back to the
community. At the corner of Harmony and Potter Alleys, the developers
and more than 30 local businesses and contractors constructed a new
carriage house to be sold for charity. One hundred percent of proceeds will
be donated to the Friends Association for Care and Protection of Children,
and Safe Harbor of Chester County, which provide life-altering aid to
homeless community members.
The area is also lucky to have West Chester University (WCU) as part of the
community. WCU students are nationally recognized for volunteering more
than 300,000 hours a year to improve our town and to help needy people.
They help hang holiday greens, serve as parade marshals and firefighters,
tutor, and help at the West Chester Area Senior Center. Through WCU’s
annual Bear Fair, students, staff, alumni, faculty, non-profits, government
agencies and businesses have touched the lives of more than 50,000 worthy
children by donating teddy bears to them during the holiday season.
The West Chester Area School District’s Student Conservation Corps
(SCC) is presenting a unique gift to the community. SCC conducts energy
audits of local businesses in order to educate, reduce energy consumption
and promote a cleaner environment. Mentored by Dianne Herrin, program
manager at Practical Energy Solutions, SCC is funded through an EPA grant
and continues its work this year, thanks to a Pennsylvania Department of
Environmental Protection grant. This December SCC will present its work
at the United Nations in New York as part of the International Conference
on Health and Environment, organized by World Information Transfer.
These bright and devoted young people and their mentors are creating a
healthy and cost-effective future.
Another special West Chester neighbor is Miss Lillian Middleton, a resident
of The Hickman’s Mary Taylor House. For more than 20 years, she has
brought area church volunteers together to feed seniors at Thanksgiving,
Christmas and Easter. She is also the local coordinator for Philabundance, a
hunger relief organization that helps channel food to West Chester families.
Other West Chester borough residents, Chamber of Commerce members
and volunteers provide joy and entertainment. Todd Marcocci and Amy
Walp of Under the Sun Productions have volunteered their creative
direction of the Old Fashioned Christmas Parade since 2005.
This holiday, when we count our blessings, let’s be sure to count our
neighbors among our most precious gifts. Because of them—because of
you—our holidays and new year are bright!