Becoming a Part of Their Community
Two KenCrest clients regularly volunteer in Phoenixville and Pottstown to learn new skills and develop lasting friendships in their community.
By Sydney Kerelo
Since the early 1700s, going back to the founding of the United States, volunteerism has been a hallmark of the country’s democracy and culture. The first volunteer firehouse opened its doors in 1736 to its community, followed by a slew of volunteerism in social reforms like the women’s rights movement, child labor, and the abolition of slavery, all to help improve the lives of others.
Today, volunteerism continues to be an essential part of the Country’s culture and helps to promote community engagement and relationships between citizens, businesses, and institutions of government. Western Connecticut State University states, “Unpaid volunteers are often the glue that holds a community together. Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. Even helping with the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people, animals, and organizations in need.”
KenCrest understands the importance of volunteering and actively participating in one’s community. Many people supported and employed by KenCrest actively volunteer and participate in their community, like Marie and Nick.
Marie has volunteered at TriCounty Active Adult Center in Pottstown for four years, wrapping silverware, setting lunch tables, and preparing the exercise classes. The Adult Center originally opened in 1976 as the Pottstown Area Seniors’ Center and began operating out of the Christ Episcopal Church’s basement. By the end of that first year, the Center had more than 200 members, with many visiting daily for a hot lunch and recreational programs.
After 40 years, the Center offers more than a daily lunch. With more than 100 weekly social, recreational, educational, and exercise programs, including chair volleyball and bingo.
“My favorite activities I do at TriCounty is playing dominos and bingo,” says Marie. “I have made many friends there and hang out with them even outside of volunteering.”
Marie isn’t the only KenCrest client who enjoys participating actively in their community. Nick volunteers and works at numerous businesses across the Phoenixville area, including Sweet Brew, Foxfield Flowers, Frog Hollow Farm, and Steel City Coffeehouse & Brewery.
While Nick does receive paid employment at a few of these businesses through KenCest’s Employment program, he continues to go above and beyond by becoming friendly with every customer. One of Nick’s favorite things to do is greet the customers and start a friendly conversation with each person.
“We know how important meaningful work is for Nick; it keeps him on the right track and lets him meet new people,” says his father, Claus Sproll. “Nick knows the Mayor of Phoenixville (Peter Urscheler), a local representative, and even the police department.” As an incredibly sociable person, Nick loves working and volunteering at various places around the area, meeting new people, and trying new things.
When he started working at Frog Hollow Farm and Foxfield Flowers in Phoenixville, PA, they taught him how to mow the lawn and tend to the flower beds. With two greenhouses and two acres of land, Foxfield Flowers offers organic, locally grown flowers and provides social and job training opportunities to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the Camphill School. While at Steel City, a local coffeehouse and brewery in Phoenixville, Nick learned how to wash the dishes, clean the cutlery and ensure that he could be a helping hand to the customers. Nick even paints, displaying his artwork throughout his home and at the Phoenixville Rec Center.
“In the winter, Nick works with an artist at what used to be the Phoenixville Art Center, but now since they changed studios, he works at a private studio,” says Claus Sproll. “One of his paintings hangs at the Phoenixville Rec Center.”
For Marie and Nick, volunteering and working in their community is essential. It’s not only a chance to learn new skills but to gather socially, meet new people and become a part of something bigger.
Want to learn more about KenCrest’s Employment program? Click the link below!