CHESTER EASTSIDE, INC.
at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
301 East 9th Street
Chester, PA 19013
Rev. Zuline Gray Wilkinson,
M.Div., MSW Executive Director
John Mackey, Chairman
Rev. William North, Vice-Chairman
Rev. James Ley, Secretary
Allen Andrews, Treasurer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rev. Zuline Gray Wilkinson
CHESTER, PA., January 29, 2018 – Chester Eastside, Inc., is proud to introduce Food Matters!, an exciting new health initiative to address food insecurity and its impact on healthy eating within the Chester community, at a press conference on Thursday, Feb. 8, at 11 am, at Shiloh Baptist Church, located at 7th & Central Avenue.
Food Matters!, is designed specifically for those whose medical regimens require special diets.
The impact of hunger and food scarcity touches every community within the state of Pennsylvania and is especially significant within the city of Chester. For many individuals and families, the costs associated with healthy food choices often make good nutrition impossible. Yet, research shows that high incidences of obesity, diabetes and heart disease are fueled by poor dietary choices.
“This can be a real break-through for those who need something beyond the basics,” says Rev. Zuline Gray Wilkinson, Chester Eastside’s Executive Director. The program will be sited at Shiloh Baptist Church in Chester. It is funded in part by a grant from the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust.“
What people often don’t realize,” says Rev. Wilkinson, “is that people in need of food are likely to lack other necessities – things many people may take for granted. This can range from rent money to diapers. When problems are added to the mix, healthy food may end up at the bottom of the list of priorities.” Rev. Wilkinson believes that, in some cases, the lack of healthy foods can be a matter of life and death. “It’s no accident that life expectancy is 15 years less for people in poverty as compared with the more affluent,” says Rev. Wilkinson.
Chester Eastside will partner with Crozer-Keystone Health System; Immaculata University; Philabundance; Shiloh Baptist Church; Fare and Square Supermarket; and the City of Chester.
Since first opening its doors in the 1980s, Chester Eastside has provided food for those in need, one of the largest such operations in the area. Phone:610-872-4812
In the last year alone, Chester Eastside, Inc., provided 120,000 healthy and nutritious meals to families and individuals in need, and 775 young people and their families were helped to lead more productive lives. New this year are: o A Technology Training Program for high school students, where they not only learn the latest techniques in the digital world but teach those skills to young children; and o HiSET, where people who dropped out of school along the way are able to earn that all-important high school diploma; And this is only the beginning. On the drawing boards are:
o A special program for middle school students, at a critical time in their development, when they’re sorting things out and figuring out what they want to do with their lives; and
o Food Matters!, a food and nutrition program for people needing special diets, to be run in collaboration with Crozer Keystone Health and Immaculata University.
But the thing that makes this work is people like you, who are making a big difference in the lives of Chester folks of all ages through their dollars and hours of volunteer time.
P. O. Box 36
Chester, PA 19016
In the coming months, we will be telling about some Chester Eastside programs whose biggest payoff may come months or even years in the future. These programs impact people of all ages – from elementary school children, to people in their late teens and twenties and even their thirties who need to complete high school to prepare for higher education, or the world of work, to parents struggling with the realities of raising children under challenging circumstances.
This month, we take a look at Camp Phoenix, our summer enrichment program for young people. Like the bird of ancient mythology, this Phoenix rises up beyond its origins, taking our children with it. Happy campers
For the first time this year, Camp Phoenix had a distinct theme: Civic responsibility in a democratic society. It thus went way beyond simply an enriching few weeks to an experience in grappling with what it means to live in a society that espouses the inherent value of each of its members and how each of us can help to bring the day-to-day reality closer to that ideal.
Under the able direction of Ms. Kathryn Redd, who has led the CEI summer camp program for the past 12 years, and her assistant, Ms. Vida Johnson, Camp Phoenix is “soaring to new heights,” in the words of Executive Director Rev. Zuline Wilkinson.
From the visit to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to the ending ceremony, where the young people gave inspiring presentations, that theme was brought home to the 33 young campers in multiple ways:
• Increasing knowledge of one’s community and one’s civic role in it.
• Developing peer leadership skills.
• Creating opportunities for self-expression through the arts and computer technology.
• Maintaining academic skills, under the guidance of experts in their fields from area universities and other settings.
• Improving social skills like group decision-making and conflict resolution.
How does one involve active young minds in this kind of content? By giving a different meaning to the kinds of phrases that it’s so easy to turn into empty slogans: Examining words like “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” written in a time when thousands of men and women were held in bondage and women were clearly not treated as equal.
Giving a positive spin to “Black lives matter,” to instill a “YES I CAN” attitude and unleash one’s capacity to make a difference in the world.
But lest this sound like a rather heavy dose of serious business for midsummer, a traditional time away from school, Camp Phoenix also included lots of fun outdoor activity like swimming at the Swarthmore Swim Club.
The gift that never stops giving.
Some campers come back to work as counselors. Edward Nelson, now a student at Morehouse College, for example. Speaking of what the experience at Camp Phoenix has meant to him, he says, “I always think of Ms. Redd saying ‘You’ve got to get your work done before you can play.’ In college there are a lot of parties and other temptations, but my approach is still focused.” And talking with Edward, you quickly become aware that throughout his life, he will stay focused.
Said one mother attending the wrap-up ceremony, where her child and others shared their creative art and other works, “This is wonderful. It should be extended over the whole summer. And I will help raise the money to make it happen.”
So there is a lot of payback at Chester Eastside. When you lend your support to Camp Phoenix and other CEI programs – or to the basic funding for Chester Eastside, Inc., the organization that makes this all possible – you are investing in the future. It is truly a gift that never stops giving, as lives impacted by CEI affect other lives, that in turn will affect still other lives over the years ancient mythology, this Phoenix rises up beyond its origins, taking our children with it.
Camp Phoenix: Soaring to New Heights
CHESTER. Knowing how decisions are made in Washington – decisions that have a major
impact on them and their families – was never more important for young people – not just in Chester, but in all parts of the country. And this year the summer campers at Chester Eastside’s Camp Phoenix are getting major lessons in the nuts and bolts of the political process.
As you can see from the delighted expressions on the faces of these Chester young folks,
learning is fun. These picture were taken during a visit by thirty campers and counselors from CEI’s Camp Phoenix to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
And there is still plenty of time for swimming and other outdoor activities at Camp
Phoenix. That mixture of fun and serious business is something that sets this camp apart from many such programs. The lessons will stay with them for a lifetime – and later as adults, they’re more likely to want to become involved in the political process; maybe even run for office some day. Or at the very least, introduce their kids to the amazing goings on at the Constitution Center.
So they’re not only learning history, they’ll be helping to make it.
Children from the Chester Eastside After-School Program were recently treated to a big league baseball game at Citizens Park, as special guests of the Philadelphia Phillies. They were hoping to see them win against the Colorado Rockies, but the Mighty Phils ended up on the short end of 7 to 2 trouncing. But while there may have been no joy in Mudville that afternoon, it carried a powerful lesson for a group of young people who may sometimes feel like they are on the outside looking in.
What do the Phillies do when they go down to defeat? Quit? Uh-uh. They get back up, learn from their mistakes, and go on to the next game and the next one after that. An important lesson for children to learn early in life: Get back up and keep on keeping on. Whether it’s on the diamond or the basketball court or in the classroom, you don’t give up. It’s a lesson that is reinforced over and over again in the After-School Program. And it pays off, with these young people getting help with schoolwork and learning about computers and consistently getting decent grades and aiming for success in life.
As a special bonus, the students got to meet the Phillie Phanatic and watched themselves on the Jumbotron. Here’s Kashawn Butler, STEM Academy senior and an intern in the new CEI Technical Training Program, doing a selfie with none other than the Phanatic.
Special thanks to Kashawn Butler, STEM Academy senior in CEI’s new Technical Training
Program, for the photography.