Saturday, January 25, 2020

Pottstown Library CHAIR-ity Event is Underway

Canine reader Annie in the window of the William F. Brogley law firm on South Charlotte Street in Pottstown with chairs from last year's auction painted by Gwen Marie Parrish, and sponsored by the team of Kaylee Fellenbaum & Gloria Romano, and Sammi Scheiderman, and sponsored by Art Green, Daylor, Allebach, Scheffly & Picardi Attorneys-at-Law, and Judi and Clay Ryce. They books they evoke, from left, are “Helen Keller: Books in Braille”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, and “The Outsiders.”

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the Pottstown Regional Public Library.

The Pottstown Regional Public Library's Second Annual CHAIR-ity auction is now in the works.

The plain wooden chairs are painted and decorated by local artists to evoke favorite books and then auctioned off as a library fundraiser.
This chair “Secret Garden” was painted
by Arline C. Christ, and sponsored
by Thomas L Zeigler, PE
The library is now recruiting sponsors for twenty chairs, at $100 each. 

The chairs this year are full-sized chairs donated by The Hill School, and little-people chairs from a Pennsylvania elementary school. 

Three chairs from 2019's auction can be seen in the window of the William J Brogley Law Firm, 18 S. Charlotte St in Pottstown, where Annie, the voracious reading dog, tries to lure passersby to the window to have a look.

Brogley, a member of the Pottstown Regional Public Library’s Board of Directors, said he loves to display and use these works of art by area artists.

Another chair from the 2019 fundraiser can be seen on the Mezzanine level of the library.

It was purchased by Elliott Menkowitz with the $500 Buy-it-Now option, and then in turn offered to the library as repurposed functional artwork.

Individuals and businesses interested in sponsoring a chair for the artists to paint should contact the Library at 610 970 6551, text Deb Penrod at 215 840 9943, or stop by the library.

Chairs will be available for viewing and bidding starting April 1, with winning bids announced on May 2 at a reception at the Library.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Houlahan Tackles Topics in 1st Town Hall of 2020

Photos by Evan Brandt

U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th Dist., speaks Thursday at her first town hall of 2020, held in the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville. At left is an archival photo of  Phoenix Steel columns used during the construction of the Washington Monument, lent to Houlahan by Mayor Peter Urscheler  to "hang in her office as a reminder of Phoenixville."

Ar right, the line to get into last night's town hall went out into the street.

U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th Dist., chose Phoenixville's Colonial Theater as the place to hold her first town hall of 2020.

Held Thursday evening, it differed from the 12 town halls she held in 2019, the most of any Congressional representative from Pennsylvania, in that it was not devoted to a single subject.

The Sixth District includes all of Chester County and part of Berks County.

Calling it the "State of the Sixth," she instead, she covered a broad range of topics before taking written questions from the audience.

Houlahan presents Phoenixville Mayor Peter Urscheler with
a certificate for being named "One of 10 Outstanding Americans."
Those subjects ranged from working to save jobs at the Sikorsky helicopter plant in Coatesville; working across the aisle to get a new trade pact with Mexico and Canada; steps to stem the opioid epidemic; legislation to drive down prescription drug costs; climate change; protecting pensions; education; paid parent leave and more.

Houlahan said she had kept her pledge to hold one town hall a month throughout the district in 2019, noting that she is now among four new Pennsylvania female representatives to Congress where previously, there had been none.

And together those four women held "20 percent of all the (Congressional) town halls in Pennsylvania. She added that there are now 127 women in Congress, 106 of them are Democrats, and women now represent 24 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives.

"Hopefully, we'll get to 51 percent because that's what percent of the population women represent,"
Houlahan added.

The 116th Congress has so far passed 400 bills, 275 of them bi-partisan, and 70 have been sent to the Senate and signed by the president.

"We're working to get more bills out of the Senate and onto the president's desk," Houlahan said.

Houlahan came armed with slides for her presentation.
In her first year in office, she said, Houlahan's office has roughly 9,000 phone calls, 3,500 letters and 73,000 emails "and we respond to everyone."

Running that office, she said, costs taxpayers $1.3 million per year but, by her calculations, her efforts and those of her staff have brought $1.8 million federal dollars back to the district, meaning "you're getting a 38 percent return on your investment."

That does not count the 500 jobs she and others worked to save when Sikorsky abruptly announced in June it would close its Coatesville helicopter plant by year's end, a decision which was ultimately reversed.

Nor does it include the 477,900 Pennsylvania jobs that were supported by a new trade pact negotiated with Mexico and Canada. Houlahan, who often talked about the need to sidestep partisanship and find compromise, said she supported the deal negotiated by President Trump because "two thirds of Pennsylvania's experts go to Mexico and Canada."

Houlahan addresses her vote to impeach President Donald Trump
She said she was reluctant to vote to impeach Trump because "our country is damaged. As you've hopefully heard in this conversation, our mission is to heal our country, and our community as well. In the beginning, I felt what was going on would only hurt the country even more."

However, "when the Ukraine situation and investigation came up, I and six other members of the freshman class, all of whom had served in the military or intelligence communities in the past, really felt like this was a different animal," Houlahan said.

Answering a question later about why she voted to impeach President Trump "when you know he's going to be acquitted," Houlahan said "because I take my oath seriously and there are some things that should not be permitted. I believe strongly that elections have consequences, but when you're playing with future elections, that's where I draw the line. It needed to be said that 'this shouldn't stand' and the vote allowed us to learn more about what we don't know."

"These are clearly challenging times," said Houlahan.

Here's s video of her prepared comments on the subject:

Houlahan said her most pleasant surprise once she got to Washington "was the quality of the people working there. They are really public servants, working really hard,"she said. "They might be working at cross purposes, but that's what we elected them to do. But that may be why it looks like nothing is getting done."
Mayor Peter Urscheler reads some of the written questions 

submitted for U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan Thursday.

She said the picture painted by the media makes it look like Washington is city of extreme right, and extreme left, "but there really is a strong middle and you never hear about that."

Houlahan said she is a member of several caucuses, including the "New Dems," whose members are trying to find common ground with Republicans.

"I wish we could find compromise, find solutions and knock off the nastiness. I hear things like 'they started it,' and it comes from both sides of the aisle," Houlahan said. "They sound like 5-year-olds sometimes. We're so fractured. There's no room for empathy or disagreement."

It wasn't easy to find a place to sit in the 640-seat theater
during the Town Hall meeting Thursday night.
As an example, she pointed to the H.R. 1, the first bill passed after the new Congress convened, a "huge bill" that called for campaign finance reform, "dealt with Citizens United issues" of anonymous campaign funding, "and ethics in government."

But the bill's preamble was "largely partisan" and Republicans could not support that language "which is not super helpful."

But something needs to be done and perhaps its better to address those issues in smaller doses, she said.

"This is a broken system, a deeply broken system. My colleagues and I are raising resources all the time and some of the smaller parts of that bill are being pushed forward."

Houlahan ended by recalling a ceremony for the anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shootings and observing "tomorrow isn't promised to any one."

Houlahan concludes her first town hall meeting of 2020.
And so the nation should work harder to work together, she said, showing a picture of a quilt that hangs in her office. "We are that quilt. Stitched together for common purpose," she said, adding "and it can be stitched back together."

Quoting  Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address, she concluded "we are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection."

Thursday, January 23, 2020

I'm No Longer Meeting You Halfway

Norman Rockwell's famed painting,
'Freedom of Speech' depicts that speech
happening at a town meeting.
Perhaps the most important, and least appealing aspect of municipal government is the much-maligned public meeting.

They are almost always in the evening, when all of the good TV shows are on, and it can be hard to navigate the language and procedures to get a feel for what's being accomplished -- or not accomplished.

And let's face it, people in the audience, and on the dias, have been known to drone on at public meetings.

That's where your local news sources comes in. We usually have a fair bit of experience in that department.

In my case, it's more than 30 years and, remember, I'm being paid to be there -- at least for now..

The public meeting is the place where elected officials, and the paid staff, interact with and are, to some extent, accountable to the people who elected them and pay their salaries.

The public meeting is where those things most likely to affect your life on a daily basis -- things like trash pick-up, water from the tap, your neighbor's noisy rooster -- can be taken up and addressed, not always to our satisfaction.

But knowing which meeting to attend, when your issue is going to come up, why a particular motion is important, can be a difficult needle to thread. After all, who wants to go to them all?

And all too often, important matters come up that were either not on the agenda, or whose importance was not clearly outlined on the agenda.

Traditionally, this is where local news has served a public purpose, paying folks like me to know what meeting is important, and to be there when the agenda looks boring but something vital comes up unexpectedly.

As I have written about here previously, and, some would argue, ad nauseum, that vital public service is being threatened by a variety of factors. Local newspapers are struggling and closing and the public they once served is less informed as a result.

That is true here in Pottstown as it is all across the country.

All of which brings me to today's point.

Thanks to government offices being closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Tuesday saw seven different meetings (that I know of) that should have been covered:
The Fifth Street home where an Airbnb is proposed.

  • The Pottstown Zoning Hearing Board heard testimony on a request to convert a large home on Fifth Street into an Airbnb, an application borough council opposed. I didn't go to that meeting, so I don't know yet what happened. And so, neither do most of you.
  • In the next room in borough hall, the Pottstown Borough Authority met and, according to the agenda, set the new water rates for 2020. An attachment to the agenda made it clear what they are and I have reported on it previously, but I didn't go to that meeting, so I don't know yet if anything else happened. And so, neither do most of you.
  • In Royersford, the Spring-Ford Area School Board met for a work session. One of the items was discussion of a $176 million preliminary budget for the coming school year. The board is scheduled to vote on adopting it at another meeting Monday night, during which two other municipal meetings that should be covered will take place (more on that later). I didn't go to th school board meeting Tuesday, so I don't know what was said. And so, neither do most of you.
  • In Limerick, the township supervisors met and their agenda included discussion of the construction of a new firehouse for the Linfield Fire Company. I didn't go that meeting either, so I don't know if anything happened. And so, neither do most of you.
  • The Douglass (Mont.) Township Supervisors also met Tuesday, but because they do not post their agenda online, I can't even tell you what I missed because I wasn't there. And so, neither do most of you know what happened either.
  • In Upper Pottsgrove, I've confirmed the Township Commissioners voted unanimously to advertise an ordinance to abolish the township planning commission and replace it with a planning committee. I wasn't there, so I won't have a report on that for a day or two. The final vote on whether to move ahead with it is scheduled for Feb. 3.
  • The meeting I did go to was the Phoenixville School Board, which, evidently, had a rocky start to its year. With several new board members, the video from the Jan. 13 meeting shows the board convening, heading immediately into closed-door executive session and coming out more than an hour later and immediately adjourning. Tuesday's meeting was a continuation of that meeting.

U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan
Among the things discussed was the revelation that the Pennsylvania Department of Education has cited the district for disproportionately suspending students of color.

The picture is muddled and I am meeting with Superintendent Alan Gefley and Assistant Superintendent LeRoy Whitehead today at noon to get it sorted out before I report something incorrectly about a very important and sensitive subject.

Speaking of today, if you've read this far and you live in the 6th Congressional District, you may want to attend a meeting I will be covering. U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan will be holding her 15th Town Hall meeting at the Colonial Theater on Bridge Street at 7 p.m.

As you may have read recently, in 2019, Houlahan held more town hall meetings than any other member of Pennsylvania's Congressional delegation, a report put together by

That means I will miss the Lower Pottsgrove Township Commissioners meeting tonight where the agenda indicates architects will present the latest plans for the new $8.2 million township building.

But, check out Joe Zlomek's Sanatoga Post news site. He will likely be there and have a report for you.

And when Monday rolls around, there are three meetings which should be covered. In addition to the previously mentioned Spring-Ford School Board's voting meeting, the North Coventry Township Supervisors will meet.

Last night, Chairman Jim Marks, who was at the regional planning meeting I was covering, revealed that two important officials, longtime Township Manager Kevin Hennessey and Police Chief Robert Schurr are both retiring, "so we're dealing with that."

An older version of the plan for New Hanover Town Center.
And perhaps most significantly, the New Hanover Township Supervisors and Planning Commission will conduct a joint meeting on the proposed massive New Hanover Town Center project, which includes shopping centers and more than 700 new homes.

That meeting will be held at the township recreation center, 2373 Hoffmansville Road, starting at 6:30 p.m., according to the legal notice published in The Mercury on Jan. 15.

"We're expecting a crowd," New Hanover Supervisor Kurt Zebrowsky said at last night's regional planning meeting. "It's going to be some meeting."

Don't worry, I'm not going to miss that one.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Red Cross Needs Type O Blood Donations ASAP

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the American Red Cross.

The American Red Cross has extended its urgent call for donors of all blood types to give blood or platelets. With influenza escalating across the country and preventing some donors from giving, and winter weather threatening to cancel blood drives, the Red Cross now has a critical shortage of type O blood and urgently needs donors to restock the shelves.

O so needed

Currently, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of type O blood available for patient emergencies and medical treatments. Type O positive blood is the most transfused blood type and can be given to Rh-positive patients of any blood type. While just 7 percent of the U.S. population has type O negative blood, it can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is what hospital staff reach for during emergencies when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type.

Help replenish the blood supply

Every day, the Red Cross must collect nearly 13,000 blood donations and more than 2,600 platelet donations for patients who rely on blood to survive. Shortfalls in donations can cause delays in essential medical care for patients like 12-year-old Dagan Hawkins.

Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in November, Dagan has required platelet and blood transfusions during his cancer treatments. “There was a time when they needed to have blood products delivered from another hospital because they were unavailable there,” said Dustin Hawkins, Dagan’s father.

Donors of all blood types – especially types O positive and O negative – are urged to make an appointment to give blood or platelets now using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities in Chester and Montgomery counties:

  • 1/26/2020: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., Clarion at Exton, 815 N. Pottstown Pike
  • 2/3/2020: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., West Chester School District, Administration Building, 782 Springdale Road
  • 2/2/2020: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Phoenixville YMCA, 400 E. Pothouse Road
  • 2/8/2020: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church, 502 Main St.
  • 2/13/2020: 7 a.m. - 12 p.m., Phoenixville Area Middle School, 1000 Purple Pride Parkway
  • 2/14/2020: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., Schuylkill Elementary School, 290 S. Whitehorse Road
South Coventry
  • 1/30/2020: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Coventryville United Methodist Church, 1521 Old Ridge Road
West Vincent 
  • 2/3/2020: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., East Vincent Township Municipal Complex, 262 Ridge Road
  • 1/31/2020: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Ursinus College, Wismer Building, 601 E. Main St.
  • 2/1/2020: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., St. Eleanor's Roman Catholic Church, 647 Locust St.
  • 2/7/2020: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Dunkin,’ 108 Black Rock Road
  • 2/10/2020: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Hampton Inn & Suites, 100 Cresson Blvd.
  • 2/3/2020: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Comfort Inn, 99 Robinson St.
  • 2/10/2020: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Pottstown YMCA, 724 N. Adams St.
  • 1/27/2020: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Parkhouse Nursing and Rehabilitation, 1600 Black Rock Road
  • 2/8/2020: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., Dunkin,’ 800 Main St.
  • 1/31/2020: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Heildelberg Church, 251 Perkiomen Ave.
  • 2/4/2020: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Skippack Fire Company, 1230 Bridge Road
How to donate blood

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at or use the Blood Donor App.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Pottstown Celebration Honors King and Debnam

Photos by Evan Brandt
Soloists in the Lincoln University Concert Choir perform Monday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Mount Olive Baptist Church Monday.

Former Police Chief Rick Drumheller, right, with
Bishop Everett Denam when he was named the
Pottstown Police Department chaplain in 2015.
Two men of God, who devoted themselves to helping others, were celebrated Monday night.

One -- the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- is famous the world over for his efforts.

Similarly, the efforts of the other -- Bishop Everett Debnam, pastor of Invictus Ministries -- are known all over Pottstown.

The celebration, organized by the Rev. Darrell C. Brown Jr., a Pottstown native and pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Paoli, involved numerous Pottstown congregations.

It honored Debnam, who is ill and could not be there in person.

However, technology allowed a virtual Debnam to be there as members of his family used their smart phones to live cast the event to his hospital bed and for him to see and hear those there to honor his years of service to Pottstown.

Pottstown Mayor Stephanie Henrick and Chief Mick Markovich
presented Evertt Debnam's family with a special citation.
Benjamin Bullock, an elder at Invictus who called Debnam "my teacher, my mentor, my friend, my pastor and my bishop," said "there are not enough books to contain how great this many really is."

Among the great things Debnam did, Bullock said, was to "march in the snow to Boyertown with the NAACP so Boyertown schools would be closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day."

The Rev. Garrison Lockley, presents
some of the money raised Monday to
Everett Debnam's wife Robin.
"He has made Pottstown a better place to work and to live and we thank you," said Pottstown Mayor Stephanie Henrick, who was joined by a police honor guard, including Chief Michael Markovich, to present Debnam's family with a special citation.

A similar presentation was made by state Sen. Robert Mensch, R-24th Dist., who said Debnam "is someone who leads from the front."

The evening's collection raised $937 which was divided between Debnam's family, to help with his medical expenses, and the Molding Men and Leading Ladies mentoring program.

Four beneficiaries of that program, Trinity Rhodes-Fisher, Jesus and Heaven Charriez and Akira Love, were on hand as well Monday night.

With a small dose of nervousness, all four spoke.

Jesus Charriez said the purpose of the group is "to maximize opportunity and to minimize mistakes."

Akira Love, right, address the crowd Monday night.
Love said as important as it is to stand up for yourself, it is also important to have control over "how you react to things. There is always room to improve."

Quoting Dr. King, Love said "we must learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools."

Heaven Charriez said the group works "to be the best version of ourselves as we keep pushing for a better community."

While that may not have been a
quote from King, it was certainly in keeping with his ethos of pushing, without violence, for justice
The Rev. Dr. William H. Ball, Mount Olive's pastor.
and equality.

That ethos was one of the things that inspired last night's celebration.

"A group of Pottstown clergy took seriously the words of Dr. King, that darkness cannot drive away darkness, that hate cannot drive away hate," said the Rev. Terrance Paul, pastor of Fresh Start Ministries.

"We are called by Dr. King's legacy to continue to work together to promote civil rights and equal justice," said the Rev. Dr. William H. Ball III, pastor at Mount Olive.
Apostle Joyce Wilkerson prays during Monday's celebration.

Quoting King, Ball said "'human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.'"

King, said Joyce Wilkerson during a prayer, "was a great man who paid the price. We thank you lord for his courage. We thank you for his bravery."

Debnam, like King, was closely associated with the NAACP and Debnam is currently the vice president of the Pottstown chapter.
Pottstown NAACP Chapter President Jon Corson.

The chapter's president, Johnny Corson, presided over a special presentation to Debnam's family and spoke about King's legacy.

"There is no other day that brings so many people together of different backgrounds," Corson said.

Noting that "over 100 nations celebrate his birth," Corson said the holiday that marks that Jan. 20, 1929 "is not a black holiday. This is a people's holiday."

Also honoring both men was U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th dist., who said "as a little girl, I remember the day Dr. King was assassinated. I remember the mourning that overcame my house."
There was a lot of energy in the capacity crowd Monday night.

She said "there is not a love lost in Washington D.C. these days. Many of our conversations are not conversations at all. They are exercises in demonizing and making someone 'the other.' It is unbecoming of us," Dean said.

When in the capitol and feeling despair creeping in, she said she is often comforted by Maryland Democrat John Lewis, himself a civil rights icon "who marched with Dr. King. He says to me 'don't get discouraged Madeleine. Keep your eye on the prize."

Despite the fact King is his favorite historical figure, the Rev. Justin Valentine, pastor of Kingdom Life Church, said he struggled with deciding what to say about King when writing his keynote address.

The Rev. Justin Valentine said one of King's most important
legacies is his connection to the African-American church.
King is "perfectly complex," said Valentine. All too often, his legacy is simplified to his famous speech during the march on Washington.

"He was not celebrated in 1968," when he was killed while organizing sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn.

One of the most prominent leaders to speak out against the Vietnam War, earlier than most, "it's amazing to think that the FBI consider Dr. King, who had never fired a shot, never responded to violence, and had been in jail 20 times, 'the most dangerous man in America," said Valentine.
Valentine urges all in the church to join hands and pray for peace.
In the end, said Valentine during a energetic sermon, he decided to focus on the thing that first gave King voice and always supported him -- "the church."

The African-American church, he said, "is born of pain and is the crucible of change."

He urged people trying to be politically correct to "stop saying you don't see color. We're all some shade of chocolate here tonight. Why can't you look at me and see me for who I am?"

Monday, January 20, 2020

Ursinus Given $11M for New Scholarship Program

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by Ursinus College.

Ursinus College has received the largest single private gift in its 150-year history, a gift that will fill the financial gaps confronting many students from low- and middle-income families, even those already receiving significant scholarship support for tuition.

Philanthropists Joan and Will Abele , Class of 1961, through their Abele Family Foundation, donated $11 million to support the long-term sustainability of the Abele Scholars Program, which provides students  with $53,000 in funding intended to address the costs of a college education beyond tuition, room and board, and assist with student debt upon graduation. 

While colleges nationwide have emphasized the recruitment of first-generation and low-income students in the past few years, much has been written about the financial and social challenges these students often still have once they arrive on campus. This scholarship is intended to provide more comprehensive support to these students, and give them full access to the opportunities that all schools hope to provide.

Abele Scholars receive $40,000 over four years. In addition, each scholar receives $2,000 for "startup" costs such as the purchase of a laptop or required books; $3,000 for academically enriching 
pursuits such as internships, summer courses, or academic conferences; and $8,000 in loan forgiveness.

Too often, additional expenses such as these keep a full college experience out of reach for some students and lessen their ability to take advantage of opportunities that will help them advance after

The Abele grant is also a "stackable" scholarship that can be awarded in addition to other scholarship aid. The Abele program will fund approximately 18 new students a year, as well as provide specialized programming and advisor support. 

A pilot version of the Abele program has been in effect at Ursinus for a year, so there are current students benefitting from the scholarship

The "stackable" scholarship and curriculum enrichment program is designed to
be awarded on top of other financial aid and will support students every year from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland at Ursinus College.

"Ursinus’s Abele Scholars Program has provided standout students with the resources required to reach their fullest potential and become responsible, contributing citizens, all while strengthening Ursinus’s commitment to access and affordability," Ursinus College President Brock Blomberg said. 

"This generous gift from the Abeles and the Abele Family Foundation ensures that we will be able to continue to provide this critical support for the next decade and beyond, providing eligible students with a clear pathway to a successful undergraduate career," he said.

"The Abeles are tireless champions of Ursinus and we’re grateful for their extraordinary support of the college and its students," Blomberg said.

In addition to financial need, the scholars must demonstrate academic potential and a record of leadership and civic engagement. Abele Scholars participate in tailored programs and receive advisor support to prepare them for professional, academic and civic success after graduation from Ursinus.

As an alumnus and member of the Ursinus College Board of Trustees, Will Abele and his wife, Joan, have supported Ursinus philanthropically for 50 years.

"For Joan and me, giving back to the college is critically important. This is about more than giving students an advantage. It's about giving them opportunity," Abele said.

The Abele Scholars Program is currently in its second year of operation and includes two cohorts totaling 24 students. Approximately 18 first-year students are being targeted for each new cohort, selected annually by a committee of Ursinus faculty, staff, alumni and Abele Family Foundation representatives, who ultimately establish each year’s cohort.

Fittingly, the $11 million pledge comes during the college’s 150th anniversary year and officially carries Ursinus over its $100 million goal in its Keep the Promise comprehensive campaign. It was announced Friday, on Benjamin Franklin’s birthday, to acknowledge a "pay-it-forward" pledge that each Abele Scholar makes when selected for the program. 

The pledge excerpts a 1784 letter from Benjamin Franklin to Benjamin Webb, in which Franklin declined repayment for a loan and instead encouraged his recipient to "pay it forward," a mentality that helped to define Franklin as the “founding father” of American philanthropy and organized public aid.

About Ursinus College

One of the nation’s "Colleges that Change Lives," Ursinus College is a highly selective, residential college with 1,500 students.

About the Abele Family Foundation

The Abele Family Foundation was established by Joan and Will Abele to support the visions of young leaders to impact their communities through the provision of comprehensive scholarships that increase affordability and access to a college education.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Pottsgrove Middle School Student Shines in Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Effort

This poster by Pottsgrove Middle School student Christine Hires won third place in a countywide teen suicide prevention poster contest.

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the Pottsgrove School District.

A suicide prevention poster by Christine Hires, a 7th grade student at the Pottsgrove Middle School, was selected as the third place winner in the Montgomery Country Suicide Awareness Poster Contest.

The second annual contest was sponsored by the Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Taskforce and Brooke Glen Behavioral Hospital and its theme was "Your Story Doesn't End Here."

In Montgomery County about 100 people are lost  each year to suicide.

The Taskforce’s purpose is to promote understanding that suicide is a preventable community health problem in our county. The goal of this contest is to encourage emotional well-being by promoting the concepts of communication, hope, community and friendship, in an effort to prevent suicide. 

All schools in Montgomery County were invited to submit original artwork.

For more information about suicide prevention and upcoming events, the website:

The idea behind the project is to help to teach students that talking about feelings and reaching out for help when feeling down is important for everyone in Montgomery County.

Judges looked for positive themes, POSITIVE THEMES, clear messages, creativity, uniqueness and artistic ability. 

Students were urged to draw ideas about the following themes:
  • Hope
  • Peace
  • Love
  • Not keeping Secrets
  • Life is for Living
  • Support
  • Friendship
  • Connections
  • Communication
  • Being a Role Model
  • Healthy Ways to deal with Stress