Someone asked me the other day how we came to be called “KenCrest.” This person doesn’t work for us but it struck me that there may be many KenCrest staff who also don’t know the origin of our name.
Our agency began in 1905 as a treatment program for people with tuberculosis in the section of the City of Philadelphia known, then and now, as Kensington. At the time, tuberculosis (TB) did not have a cure and people who contracted the disease were shunned by most of society. Sister Maria Roeck, our founder and a Lutheran Deaconess, jumped into the breach to raise money and provide care and started the Kensington Dispensary.
One of the treatments that people thought helpful was sunshine and fresh air. So in 1907, the Kensington Dispensary Board bought a large tract of land way outside of the city…in Montgomery County…that they named “RiverCrest.” It was 152 acres that sat on a plateau overlooking Chester County. Here, there was plenty of sun and fresh air and brochures at the time called it “A Place in the Sun.” RiverCrest eventually had its own Board and the Kensington Dispensary and RiverCrest Boards operated into the early 1950s following their missions until a cure for TB was found.
Now without a mission, the two Boards chose what is now called “Intellectual Disability” to be the new mission. Much like people with TB before them, people with an intellectual disability were misunderstood and marginalized and received little education or treatment back then and were often institutionalized.
In 1969, the two Boards combined and used the “Ken” from Kensington Dispensary and the “Crest” from RiverCrest to become the new “Ken-Crest.” In the year 2005 (our centennial year) we dropped the hyphen and officially became the current KenCrest.
As a staff person working at any of the hundreds of KenCrest sites, know that you are a part of a long and glorious tradition of service to the community.
Until next week…