Community Champions 2021: Past and Present
As we continued the celebration of our 115th year anniversary, KenCrest highlighted some of the most impactful Community Champions we’ve had in the past, alongside several new Champions who have helped raise us up during the pandemic.
We’re extremely thankful for each of these Champions—and for the Honorable Mentions—who have gone above and beyond for KenCrest and our mission. In case you missed any of this year’s Community Champion stories as we shared them over two weeks in mid-April, you can find them below, along with the list of our incredibly generous sponsors who supported our virtual event. Every Community Champion, every sponsor, and every donor make it possible for KenCrest to continue to serve the individuals in our communities.
We extend our sincerest thanks to our 2021 Community Champions as well as all who helped to honor them!
Meal Delivery Crew, Present Champion – Friday, 4/23/21
We’re wrapping up our Community Champions celebration with a very special award for a very special group of heroes. Today’s award goes out to the entire team of volunteers we have dubbed the Meal Delivery Crew! When KenCrest’s Early Learning Centers had to close their doors temporarily due to the pandemic, our concern wasn’t just how to continue educating the students. Many families rely on the ELCs to provide breakfast and lunch to their children and we had to make sure that no one was going without this vital service.
Over 65 volunteers sprang into action to deliver meals to our students’ homes, allowing them to remain safe and healthy. In only one week, the volunteers organized into the Meal Delivery Crew and went on to deliver more than 55,250 meals to 525 families throughout the city over the course of two months!
Part of KenCrest’s mission is to mobilize resources for our community. There’s no better example of that than the volunteers who jumped into the fray as the pandemic reared its head. Thank you, Meal Delivery Crew, for being Community Champions!
Derek Green, Present Champion – Thursday, 4/22/21
Community Champions continues today with a celebration of Philadelphia City Councilmember Derek Green. Councilmember Green chairs the Committee on Finance and Disabilities and is a leader in the fight to make Philadelphia the first all-inclusive city in the United States. He is also involved with the Philadelphia Autism Project, Special Olympics, and Autism Speaks.
Councilmember Green has been a leading advocate for the KenCrest Family. Throughout the pandemic, he hosted hearings on the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities, Philadelphia’s disability services, and on ADA compliance. He also made sure that Direct Support Professionals (our “frontline troops”) were included in the city’s 1A group during the vaccine rollout.
Advocating on behalf of those with disabilities is crucial to making sure that they are seen and heard on the journey towards inclusion. Thank you, Councilmember Green, for being a Community Champion!
St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Present Champion – Wednesday, 4/21/21
KenCrest’s 115-year history has seen countless heroes, but today’s Community Champion award goes to one of our “oldest” champions: St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ardmore, PA, which has been supporting the KenCrest Family for almost four decades! The St. Paul’s congregation has embraced many programs over the years including job training, Early Learning Centers, the holiday Family Fund, art and music therapy, and more. Some of St. Paul’s members have even joined KenCrest’s Board of Directors.
When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Philadelphia, the St. Paul’s family was ready to help in any way possible. They held book, toy, and school supply drives that helped students at home and restocked our Little Lending Libraries and helped students at home. The congregation was the main force behind this year’s Family Fund, which successfully provided gift cards to hundreds of families during the holiday season.
Individuals can always make a difference, but communities magnify that change, and the St. Paul’s congregation shows us just how much good the community can bring about. Thank you, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, for being a Community Champion!
The Bachis, Present Champion – Tuesday, 4/20/21
Today’s award goes to a couple of selfless musicians, Josie and Thomas Bachi. Josie and Thomas first came to know KenCrest when their son joined one of our day programs. They’ve become celebrities for hosting a Christmas carol sing-along every year during the KenCrest holiday party.
Recently, Josie and Thomas have been hosting virtual sing-alongs to allow even more members of the KenCrest Family to join in the fun. After the pandemic hit, their son’s program no longer had access to a music therapist. Josie and Thomas jumped right in to make sure we never missed a beat!
Music allows us to join together, celebrate, and love across any number of communication barriers. Thanks to Josie and Thomas, that link has grown even stronger. Thank you, Josie and Thomas, for being Community Champions!
Play On Philly, Present Champion – Monday, 4/19/21
This year’s Champions include some that have been with us for years but managed to be even more amazing during 2020, like today’s Champions: our friends at Play On Philly (PoP)! PoP is a fellow nonprofit that provides music instruction for children in Philadelphia and they’ve visited KenCrest’s Early Learning Centers in previous years. However, 2020 brought a new set of challenges…
After the pandemic forced us to move to virtual classrooms, PoP stepped up for our students in a big way by donating weekly lessons. These lessons went beyond just enjoying music. In the new world of remote learning, the lessons were critical to help keep morale high but also to improve attention and performance. PoP students have been shown to score 10 points higher on standardized tests than their peers.
The past year saw the world change so much, but instead of seeing closed doors, Play On Philly saw an opening to help KenCrest’s students when they needed it most. Thank you, Play On Philly, for being a Community Champion!
KenCrest Lifesharing Provider of the Year:
Rhonda Moore – Saturday, 4/17/21
Each year, Community Champions has honored a Lifesharing Provider. These are special folks who decide to open their homes and hearts to a person who is looking for a supportive family environment as an alternative to other community living options.
We would like to announce that Rhonda Moore has been named the KenCrest Lifesharing Provider of the Year, a new award honoring Lifesharing Providers and their special place within the KenCrest Family. Rhonda has known Tom, the individual who lives with Rhonda, for over 20 years. She has a power to inspire connection and kinship, always energetic and positive.
Tom can be frustrated when his routine changes, which we all know was a big challenge for many of us during the last year. Rhonda always goes the extra mile to make sure Tom understands why these changes are necessary and how they can cope with them together. For example, Tom likes to get his haircut at a barbershop, and Rhonda has asked the stylists to let her know when the shop is empty, so he can go in safely.
She always puts Tom first, setting a great example for the entire team. In making Tom a priority, she also ensures he has the opportunity for social interactions and expanding his social network. Thank you, Rhonda, for being a Champion for Tom and an example of authentic inclusion for us all to follow!
PNC, Past Champion – Friday, 4/16/21
In times of trouble, Mr. Rogers famously said, “Look for the helpers.” Today’s Community Champions award is a celebration of one of KenCrest’s biggest helpers, PNC. For a decade, PNC has been supporting our Early Learning Centers and community-building work. When the pandemic struck and school buildings closed, they kicked their efforts into high gear.
As students and families were trying to transition to remote programs, PNC donated 500 Learn-at-Home kits, full of supplies and materials to help every child succeed. They also donated iPads so that families enrolled in literacy and ESL classes and other education programs could still participate and connect with our teachers from home. PNC continued to support the KenCrest Family by hosting a book drive to restock our classrooms as well as the Little Libraries, which the PNC volunteers helped to build several years ago.
While the whole world seemed to be grinding to a halt, the amazing folks at PNC went above and beyond to help our students continue learning at full speed. They found creative ways to help our programs and students even when they could not be with us in person. Thank you, PNC, for being a Community Champion!
Pfizer, Past Champion – Thursday, 4/15/21
Our Community Champions celebration is continuing with a BIG thank you to today’s winners: the volunteer team from Pfizer! Pfizer has been volunteering with KenCrest since 2015 and their tireless efforts have gone a long way to building our community.
Pfizer’s volunteers have rolled up their sleeves to help with property maintenance, holiday decorating, and job training programs. They also helped us secure community grants to fund KenCrest’s art therapy programs. The team has been led by their fearless leader, Betty, who is not just a fierce advocate for the KenCrest Family, but also a big believer in the power of kindness and giving back. Even though Betty retired this year, the rest of the team will help continue the work that she started.
So many things changed due to the pandemic, but the importance of community never diminished. The team at Pfizer has never slowed in supporting an inclusive community. Thank you to our volunteer friends at Pfizer for being Community Champions!
Maria Collett, Past Champion – Wednesday, 4/14/21
Creating an inclusive community doesn’t happen without the support of elected officials who are able to steer the direction of legislation. That’s why today’s Community Champion is Pennsylvania Senator Maria Collett. Senator Collett has always been a champion of children, families, and people with disabilities. She is the prime sponsor for the Family Care Act, a bill that would establish an insurance fund to provide paid leave to all workers in PA so they could care for sick or elderly family members, individuals with disabilities, newly born or adopted children, and more.
Throughout the pandemic, Senator Collett advocated for child care and early learning needs, the disability community, and nonprofits as a whole. She used her experience as a nurse to introduce legislation that provided support and protection for frontline workers, including Direct Support Professionals, and stood up for an equitable vaccine program.
We can’t accomplish all that we do without help from the Capitol floor, and Senator Collett has always gone to bat for the KenCrest Family on “the big stage.” Thank you, Senator Maria Collett, for being a Community Champion!
Reformation Lutheran Church, Past Champion – Tuesday, 4/13/21
Today’s Community Champions celebration is in honor of a group of people who truly go above and beyond in every way: the congregation of Reformation Lutheran Church in Media, PA! RLC shares the same values as KenCrest, values they’ve taken to heart by introducing inclusive church services, advocating for those with disabilities, and supporting funds that help KenCrest’s clients and staff.
When the pandemic hit, the Reformation Family sprang into action to help the KenCrest Family! A women’s group from the church knitted prayer shawls to bring warmth and comfort to those in our community and independent living programs. The congregation donated classroom supplies for our Early Learning Center students attending class remotely and craft kits for adult clients who were missing out on their community engagement. Even the youngest members of the Reformation Family got involved by making “thank you” and “bear hug” cards for our direct care staff.
In times of challenge and change, it’s incredibly difficult to focus on others, but somehow the Reformation Family makes it look easy. Thank you, Reformation Lutheran Church, for being a Community Champion!
Ruth Hursh, Past Champion – Monday, 4/12/21
Welcome to the 2021 Community Champions celebration! Over the next two weeks we’ll be introducing you to the Champions who truly went above and beyond in service to the KenCrest community this past year. Today’s Community Champion is Ruth Hursh! Ruth has been a KenCrest Lifesharing provider since 2019 when she opened her home to Shanisha and shouldered the responsibility for her care.
Shanisha’s medical conditions have always presented challenges to her living a full life. Ruth has fought to ensure that Shanisha received the best care to help her achieve her goals. The pandemic led to changes in medical care but Ruth continued to work with Shanisha and, as a result, Shanisha is now more mobile than ever. They were able to continue some of their community involvement and Ruth found a monthly sensory box subscription that Shanisha loves.
Part of KenCrest’s mission is to explore possibilities, and Ruth has always investigated every possibility to make Shanisha’s life more meaningful. Thank you, Ruth, for being a Community Champion!
2021 Honorable Mentions
We would like to congratulate the following nominees that received an Honorable Mention for our 2021 Community Champions Awards. Their kindness, dedication, and advocacy do not go unnoticed.
Agnes Collison, Quantum Inc. • Michael Donovan, Alliance of Community Service Providers
Dover Community Pharmacy • Wanda Evans, Lifesharing Provider
KenCrest Mask Making Task Force • Cindy Koban, Lifesharing Provider
Christina Knotwell, Lifesharing Provider • Cindy & Ron Ryder, Lifesharing Providers
The Scervano Family
Our 2021 Sponsors
Champions Title Sponsor
James & Mary Jane Brenneman
Champions Week Sponsors
Barbara & James Beach
Meaningful Day Sponsors
Eric & Michelle Rahe
A. Abramson Tire Company • A-1 Construction Specialty, Inc. • Alvare Associates, Inc.
Charles J. Becker & Bro, Inc. • Leigh Anne & Steve Bell • Lance A. Berger & Associates • Drew & Merri Brown
Larry & Loyce Brown • Linda & Robert Bugden • Carole Chapin • D’Agostino Carpets
Maria Deysher • Melissa DiSipio • Katie & Kevin Dougher • Jesse Fells & Aurora Kripa
Revs. Alina Gayeuski & Daniel Smith • Frank & Gail Guthridge • Diane Hatfield
John & Melissa Howe • JDB Service Group, Inc. • Barbara Keyser • Barbara & Nick Kochard
Angie Maher • Mazars • AnneMarie Pirelli • Catherine Nold • Carl & Lisa Rich • Lisa Sanvitale
Doris Schoener Ethel Serianni • Brian Skinner & Barb Vanett • Kellie & Kevin Smith • Lauren Tilghman
Paula Davis-West & Wayne West • David & Elizabeth Lexa Wilson • Maureen Quinn Yamamoto & Chris Yamamoto