Help Homeless Teens By Donating To TriCounty Community Network

The National Runaway Switchboard estimates that on any given night there are approximately 1.3 million homeless youth living unsupervised on the streets, in abandoned buildings, with friends or with strangers.

Here is Your Chance to Help

The TCN Homeless Services and Youth Development Committees are working together to create care packages for local homeless teens.  You can help by donating any of the following items:

X-Large Hoodies

Gloves
Hats

Socks
Toiletries
$5 Gift Cards to Local Food Stores

Prepaid Phone Cards

Items can be donated by contacting Paula Kamp at 610-326-9460, Ext. 209 to schedule pick up or drop off at Community Health & Dental Care at either of the following locations:

11 Robinson Street, Suite 100, Pottstown
700 Heritage Drive, Pottstown

Help A Homeless Teen

The TCN Homeless Services and Youth Development Committees are
developing care packages for local homeless teens.  You can help by donating any of the following items:   

X-Large Hoodies

Gloves
Hats

Socks
Toiletries
$5 Gifts Cards to Local Food Stores

Prepaid Phone Cards  

Items can be donated at the TCN Holiday Celebration on December 16th

or
Contact Paula Kamp at 610-326-9460, Ext. 209 to schedule pick up or drop off at Community Health & Dental Care at either of the following locations:

11 Robinson Street, Suite 100, Pottstown
700 Heritage Drive, Pottstown

MCCC Student Ryan Bergman Earns National Honor As 2014 Newman Civic Fellow

GetAttachmentBlue Bell, Pa.— Montgomery County Community College student and community leader Ryan Bergman, Collegeville, is among an elite group of students in the country to earn the 2014 Newman Civic Fellow Award from Campus Compact.

The Newman Civic Fellows Award honors college student leaders nationwide who inspire others and have worked to find solutions for challenges facing the community. According to the organization’s website, through service, research, and advocacy, Newman Civic Fellows are making the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves, the root causes of social issues, and effective mechanisms for creating lasting change.

A Social Sciences major concentrating in Psychology, Bergman dedicates his service efforts to eradicating poverty and homelessness both on local and national levels. Selected as a Scholar for Community Service at MCCC for the 2013-14 academic year, Bergman used the opportunity to strengthen the College’s relationship with the Montgomery County chapter of Habitat for Humanity and Habitat ReStore.

“Ryan’s commitment and dedication to issues of homelessness and poverty have assisted in raising student awareness about Habitat for Humanity and ways to individually support the work being done within the County,” shared MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout in her letter of recommendation to Campus Compact.

Bergman chartered and serves as president of MCCC’s Habitat Club, whose members support ongoing volunteer dates at Habitat build-sites throughout the year. He also served as co-leader at the Habitat ReStore site in January during a college-wide day of service and again in March during spring break.

“Our goal for this new club is to show the importance of improving our community and lending a helping hand whenever needed,” explained Bergman.

In addition to his work locally, Bergman is a two-time participant in MCCC’s Alternative Spring Break program. In 2013, he traveled with students to West Virginia to build houses with Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge, and in 2014, they volunteered at The Samaritan Woman in Baltimore, Md., a transitional residence program for victims of human trafficking.

An electrician by trade, it was Bergman’s job that first brought him to MCCC when his company was contracted to do electrical work on the College’s new Children’s Center.  While working on the Center, Bergman began to fall out of love with his career choice, especially as he noticed students around his age walking to and from class.

“They all seemed full of life and motivated,” he shared.

When the company for which he was working closed two years later, Bergman enrolled in College’s Engineering Technology program, but soon switched to Social Sciences. He also got heavily involved in service work through the College’s Office of Student Leadership & Involvement, where he is a work-study student.

“I juggle my busy life by optimizing every moment of time; time management is crucial to excel at the college level,” he shared, adding that the work-study position enables him to “know the current happenings around campus” and participate as much as possible.

Adding to his full schedule, Bergman is also president of MCCC’s Psychology Club, performs contracting and electrical work off campus, and still finds time for basketball and weight training, as well as for saltwater fishing, longboarding and hiking.

After he graduates from MCCC, Bergman plans to continue his education in Clinical Psychology, knowing that the College prepared him for the next chapter in his life.

“I know it sounds cliché, but I have truly found a home here at Montgomery County Community College, and I hope that I can one day return to inspire other people to follow their dreams.”

Newman Civic Fellows are recommended by college and university presidents to acknowledge motivation and ability in public leadership. Newman Civic Fellows awards are made in memory of Frank Newman, who dedicated his life to creating systemic change through education reform.

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Study: Deep Poverty On The Rise In Delaware And Camden Counties

English: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poor...

English: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poorest cities in the United States. Camden suffers from unemployment, urban decay, poverty, and many other social issues. Much of the city of Camden, New Jersey suffers from urban decay. 日本語: ニュージャージー州カムデンのスラム. Svenska: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poorest cities in the United States. Kiswahili: Camden, New Jersey ni moja ya mataifa maskini zaidi katika miji ya Marekani. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deep poverty appears to be accelerating in Delaware and Camden Counties, as the poorest of the poor scramble for rent, heat, and food.

In the city of Chester, Donald Grover, 47, and his wife, Melissa Zirilli, 43, can’t do their jobs – he because the home-remodeling firm he works for cut his time from 60 hours a week to nearly nothing, she because debilitating seizures keep her from being a nurse’s aide.

In the city of Camden, Mark Woodall, 49, once a construction worker and a trained cook, now makes $10 an hour in a soup kitchen as he and his out-of-work fiancee are forced to live on a street he says is thronged with armed teenagers “without morals.”

“Lack of work is really, really hurting us,” said Zirilli, who lives with her husband and three children on about $6,000 a year.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131025_Study__Deep_poverty_on_the_rise_in_Delaware_and_Camden_Counties.html#GSyaLqbobqbX9VUX.99

National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Event To Be Observed In Pottstown

The TCN Homeless Services Program will commemorate National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day with a Candlelight Ceremony remembering those who have passed away in the region this past year.

 

Thursday, December 20, 5pm-6:30pm

Smith Family Plaza

100 E. High Street, Pottstown

 

Please bring new men’s sweat socks & long johns to help keep someone warm this winter.

For more information, call 610-705-3301 or email homeless@tcnetwork.org.

Free Speech Is One Thing, Vagrants, Another

BERKELEY, CA — Hardly a stranger to political movements, this is a city that has championed free speech, no nukes, the antiwar movement and now: no sitting on the sidewalk.

During years of economic downturn, cities across the country have reported rising vagrancy and rushed to pass laws banning aggressive panhandling, giving food away in public parks and even smelling foul.

This bastion of populist politics is no exception.  The City Council and mayor have put a measure on the November ballot that would ban sitting and lying on commercial sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., at the risk of a $75 citation.

“These laws are an example of a startling national trend to criminalize homelessness,” said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, an advocacy group.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/20/us/berkeley-targeting-homeless-proposes-ban-on-sidewalk-sitting.html?pagewanted=1&ref=us&_r=0

Why I Host My Own Community Meal Four Months After Leaving The Shelter

Julia Zion

Editor’s note:  This is the story of Julia Dorothy Natalia Zion of Pottstown.  Julia is the organizer of the Wednesday Community Meal in Pottstown.  We did a piece on this last week asking for donations and volunteers to help Julia out.  Here is her story!

On Wednesday, June 27th, I hosted my third Pottstown Community Meal  for about 40-50 people at the nice little park at Washington and Chestnut streets.  While I had prepared and hosted two other meals, this one was special. See, I was homeless for about a year. From Pottstown, I moved from couch to couch, from one shelter to another, finally ending up back in Pottstown at the Ministries at Main Street shelter, which at the time was being housed at Christ Episcopal Church on South Charlotte St. There I met one of the most amazing groups of people I’ve ever met. That experience changed my life and led me to where I am today.

The night before I came back to Pottstown, I had just spent the night on the streets in the Walnut-Locust Subway concourse in South Philadelphia. Not a great place, but it was somewhat sheltered from the elements. I did not know where to go, but I was told by a friend from Occupy Norristown to call up CHOC, the county run homeless shelter on the Norristown State Hospital Grounds. I called them up, but they were full. They recommended that I go up to the shelter in Pottstown. I thought, “Eh…I lived a year in Pottstown. It wouldn’t kill me to go back up there. I’m familiar with the town.” So, I put together the $4.50 that I needed for SEPTA and made my way up. It was November and the nights were cold. I was told to go to 75 Main St, which I found out was across the river in North Coventry, at no earlier than 9 pm and no later than 10 for intake. I got there and from step one, I was treated with the utmost of respect and dignity, something I didn’t get within the Philadelphia city run shelter I was in for 3 months. I was a bit scared since I had never been in an “emergency shelter” style program before, but I grew used to it. It helped that the staff and volunteers that ran the shelter were a mix of former homeless and people who had been volunteering for a long time. I became very comfortable there. I let my guard down, sometimes a bit too much, but the way the shelter was run made it easy to do. I sometimes stayed up chatting with other guests or with staff. Sometimes, I would just lie down on my mat and surf the web on my phone, trying to forget where I was.

Unlike the experience of some, my experience was a positive one within the shelter. There were two problems, though. One was that the shelter ran from 10 pm to 8 am only, leaving a 14 hours with nothing to really do. I wasn’t really thinking about finding a job up here. I wasn’t sure if I was staying in town. I still thought I might move back to Philadelphia at some point. The second was that we had to take all of our belongings with us every day, minus the bedding that the shelter provided. So, I had a trusty folding shopping cart. I took it everywhere and I got looks. I wasn’t allowed to have it in the library or, eventually, at the community college. I was even politely told at a local diner to walk out the back door that they never used because I had my cart. I was treated worse than a second-class citizen. I was treated like a third class citizen. Second-class citizens at least are allowed service or allowed in a store. It was a totally different story when I would get a chance to park my cart somewhere for the day. I got none of the looks. I got none of the prejudice. I got treated like a regular person walking down a street. It was amazing how people still judged by the cover and not by the content. The prejudice against the homeless is still around and it’s ugly.

Now that I have a small apartment here in town, I can look back at all of those experiences and think about where I was and where I am today. Then, my thoughts come to those who are not as fortunate as I to have a roof over their heads. We are a society that doesn’t give many homeless and poor people a fair shake. As much as the religious community does stuff within the auspices of their churches, sometimes, congregants walk out that chapel door and don’t participate in what they are being taught. Sometimes, they take what they’ve learned about serving and helping the poor, use it in church, with a church sponsored dinner or food pantries, and then walk away saying they’ve done the work of the lord, doing their one good deed. Sure, serving food at a community dinner is a wonderful thing, but when you leave, do you do anything else? Do you instead go back into your homes and forget about all the people who were hungry and needed that meal until the next time you serve? This is the problem with people these days. I’m not trying to knock religion at all. I’m saying that serving the homeless and poor populations should not end at the church parking lot. It should continue onto the streets and in the parks. It should continue at the encampments in the woods and in the back alleys where people sleep. People, no matter how much money they have, no matter how they look or if they push a cart everywhere deserve the same amount of respect regardless of life standing. This does not happen in Pottstown. Cheryl Atkinson was allowed to lay dead in a very visible park at a very visible fountain for 8-12 hours before someone saying, “Ya know? Maybe we should do something.” What does that say about this town and it’s residents?

The community meal on Wednesday nights was first run by Pastor Kork Moyer, the same pastor who runs the Ministries at Main Street shelter during the winter. He has seen his numbers for his actual church dwindle to the point where he and his wife could no longer get the support and wouldn’t have the time to do it themselves. So, he gave up on the dinner. I saw an opportunity and picked up the responsibility for myself.

I wanted to keep this meal going because I want to give back to the community that gave me so much. This place is an amazing ray of sunshine at the farthest reaches of Montgomery County. I have met some of the best people, been a part of some great activities and frequent the vibrant High Street markets on a regular basis. I love this town and wanted to give back in the only way I know how, which is to cook. (I am a culinary student, by the way.)

I also saw a need. All the community meals run by the Cluster are in church basements. That can get quite boring from time to time. Why not jazz it up a bit and hold one every week at a park with a pavilion, amphitheater seating, a playground, even electrical outlets.

Finally, I am trying to do this as a kind of protest over these idiotic and discriminatory laws trying to clear the streets of homeless people. In Philadelphia, I would be arrested for holding these meals outside. There is now a ban on groups serving the homeless outside in Philadelphia and similar laws have sprouted up in places such as Orlando, Florida. All these laws do is force the homeless elsewhere so the rich and business owners can forget they exist and do nothing to fix the problems that led to the homeless being there in the first place. It’s like the homeless population is being treated like vermin and it is wrong. This is why I decided to get the Occupy movement involved. I was looking for a way to join up again and helping the community serve the homeless and poor and treat them with respect and dignity is something that Occupy is totally about.

That being said, the Occupy Pottstown movement came through like gang busters this week. The first two weeks of the meal had drained my food stamps and finances. So, without the wonderful people from Occupy, there would not have been a meal this week. I got in contact with a few people through a friend in Occupy Norristown and the whole thing exploded into a dinner that serves 40-50 people with about 12 of them being help. We had burgers and hot dogs. We had potato salad and pasta salad. We had desserts. We had a donation of hummus and pitas from iCreate Café on High Street. We had someone playing banjo. We even got a $25 gift card donated to us by Giant Supermarket to help with some of the costs. This was just amazing and it was a real community effort. In all of 3 days, we put together a meal that served the community and got loads of smiles and gratitude. People are excited about the meals to come.

I think Occupy Pottstown has the right attitudes to keep this type of effort going for years to come. I think I have the energy and skills to keep this going and growing and thriving. We have a nice core group of people up here who are energetic, full of ideas and up for a challenge. We put together a meal that served 45-50 people within 3 days! That is just amazing and they deserve most of the credit. We had donations coming at us from friends of friends. We had ideas coming from anywhere. Heck, we’ve also had an offer for someone to come play a didgeridoo at the next meal. The community came out strong to eat and to help.

To come from losing my home in April of 2011 to running my own community meal in June of 2012, I have grown quite a bit. I used to be a very selfish person until my best friend almost broke ties with me. It jolted me into reality and from then on, I have done things I never thought I could. I have become a part of organizations that I never knew existed for which I never had the need before becoming homeless. I want to make a difference in this town. The homeless are treated horribly here by the general public. Why else do you think someone like Cheryl Atkinson could be left by the side of a very visible fountain in a very visible park on a very hot day for 8-12 hours before being noticed? Why else was I getting all those stares when I pushed my cart around town? It’s sad and that needs to be changed. I hope the Wednesday Night Community Meals can change opinions…one plate at a time.

Occupy Pottstown helping with last week’s meal!

 

Body Unnoticed In Pottstown Park For 8 To 12 Hours

Editor’s note:  It’s rather hard to believe that a dead body could be a few hundred feet away from Borough Hall, the Brick House and in view of High Street and nobody noticed?  Is the homeless problem so bad that we just ignore someone lying on the ground in a public place?  If the woman died where she was photographed, how could she have been there that long and nobody thought something was wrong?

POTTSTOWN, PA — The woman whose lifeless body was found lying near the fountain in Smith Family Plaza Thursday evening has been identified by the county coroner who said she was likely there for 8 to 12 hours before someone alerted authorities.

Dr. Walter I. Hofman said the woman has been identified as 49-year-old Cynthia Atkinson, believed to be homeless.  Hofman said no next of kin has been identified.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120622/NEWS01/120629763/body-unnoticed-in-pottstown-park-for-8-to-12-hours

TriCounty Community Network Holds Community Awareness Event:

WHAT:  TriCounty Community Network’s (TCN) Homeless Services Program, which consists of 25 local organizations, is hosting a community awareness event titled, “Rethink Homelessness” on November 30. As the temperature drops and the holiday season begins, many individuals in our area are homeless and are without food. The goal of the event is to draw awareness to this devastating problem affecting many in our community and offer ways our community can work together to help our homeless neighbors in need. TCN’s Homeless Services Program Committee is already connecting homeless individuals with agencies that can provide a successful continuum of care. Members of TCN’s Homeless Services Program Committee will lead the event and introduce formerly homeless individuals who will share their difficult journey.

WHO:  TCN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, membership-based organization that partners with nonprofits, businesses and community members to improve health, social and environmental conditions.  Serving Western Montgomery, Northern Chester and Eastern Berks counties in Pennsylvania, TCN offers seven key programs: Build Up Youth, C.A.R.E. (Caring in Alternative Residential Environments), Environmental Awareness, Family Literacy, Homeless Services, SAFE (Supporting Abuse Free Environments), and Workforce Development.  For more information on TCN, visit www.tcnetwork.org

WHEN:          Wednesday, November 30, 2011

                            12:00 – 1:00 PM

WHERE:        Smith Family Plaza

                             100 East High Street

                             Pottstown, PA

COST:               Free

RSVP:               Members of the media should RSVP to Karen Higgins, A&E Communications, at khiggins@aandecomm.com or 610-831-5723. 

 Partnering to improve health, social and environmental conditions.

 

TriCounty Community Network

260 High Street, Pottstown, PA  19464

610-705-3301
www.TCNetwork.org

@TCN_Pottstown

TriCounty Community Network To Host Program On Homeless Services

Pottstown, Pa. (November 9, 2011) – TriCounty Community Network (TCN), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health, social and environmental conditions in Western Montgomery, Northern Chester and Eastern Berks counties in Pennsylvania, today announced that its Homeless Services committee will be hosting a meeting on Tuesday, November 15 from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. at The Salvation Army of Greater Pottstown located at 137 King Street. 

Open to the local community, the meeting is aimed at increasing awareness of homelessness in the area and providing valuable information about how individuals and organizations can help the area’s homeless.  CADCOM (Community Action Development Commission) will sponsor the breakfast which enables local agencies to share information about their work in the surrounding counties.

“We hope to draw awareness to the homeless problem and dispel the many myths that go along with this stigma,” states Joanne Class, Aging and Adult Services Intake and Referral case manager and co-chair of the TCN Homeless Services Program committee.  “Many people do not know how wide-spread the problem is because they do not see it.  People are hiding to protect themselves and protect the only valuables they have left in this world.  Many of the homeless desperately want help but resources and beds are limited.  Homelessness is also on the rise.” 

According to the Pottstown Mercury’s May 3, 2010 article, titled “Number of Homeless in Montco on the Rise”, there were 244 homeless people in 2007, 407 homeless in 2008 and 749 homeless people in 2009. 

With program funding being drastically cut, there are not enough resources to go around; however, individuals and businesses can help by working to find permanent housing for those who are struggling and help add security and stability for the community. 

“We have an incredible amount of great resources and agencies in our area that we will highlight at the November 15 meeting,” added Class.  “And Pottstown is full of generous, intelligent community members who can help make this situation better.  Our goal is to get the community members connected to the agencies to help improve our resources.”

Donations of packages of new, men’s tube socks are requested to be brought to the meeting to help the homeless in the area fight off frost bite throughout this winter season.  To attend, RSVP to TriCounty Community Network at 610.705.3301.

About TriCounty Community Network                 

TCN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, membership-based organization that partners with nonprofits, businesses and community members to improve health, social and environmental conditions.  Serving Western Montgomery, Northern Chester and Eastern Berks counties in Pennsylvania, TCN offers seven key programs: Build Up Youth, C.A.R.E. (Caring in Alternative Residential Environments), Environmental Awareness, Family Literacy, Homeless Services, S.A.F.E. (Supporting Abuse Free Environments), and Workforce Development.  For more information on TCN, visit www.tcnetwork.org.

2nd Annual Race to Shelter the Homeless – Riverfront Park Pottstown!

Wings of Victory Outreach Corp. Presents:

2nd Annual Race to Shelter the Homeless

Money raised will benefit our program for homeless women.

5K Run (3.1 miles) & 1 Mile Fun Walk

DATE:  Saturday, June 18, 2011 – 8:30 A.M.

Moms/Dads with Strollers Welcome

COST:  Minimum donation of $30 required

to receive a tee-shirt.

See details and print registration form at www.WingsofVictoryOutreach.org

Donations may also be made on line.

1st Annual Sing To Shelter The Homeless Gospel Concert

Wings of Victory Outreach Corp.

Presents:  1st Annual Sing to Shelter the Homeless Gospel Concert

Money raised will benefit our program for homeless women.

Where:  Mt. Olive Baptist Church, 240 Mintzer Street, Pottstown, PA, 19454

When:  Saturday, May 21, 2011

Time:  5:00 P.M.

Cost:  Free Will Offering

Donations may also be made at:  WingsofVictoryOutreach.org