Friday, July 26, 2013

The Help Desk is Now Open

As planning for the Pottstown CARES clean-up event moves ahead, those hoping to help spruce up Pottstown's core neighborhood and generate some activism there are soliciting residents for projects they might undertake.

The CARES project, standing for Community, Awareness, Responsibility, Empowerment, and Sustainability, has the three entities working on a community cleanup day scheduled for Oct. 25.

"We are trying to build a list of “doable” spruce- up projects,  and the best way for us to do this is to generate a list of residents and their specific concerns/requests," according to Cathy Skitko, communications director at The Hill School which is partnering with Pottstown borough and school district on the project.

Requests can be e-mailed to, or you can follow the link on the borough's web page to make requests or register concerns.

The cleanup is scheduled to take place in the CORE redevelopment area, which includes High Street north to Beech Street, and Hanover Street east to Edgewood Street. Teams of personnel and students will gather to volunteer on the chosen day.

"Examples of requests could range from 'I’m a senior citizen and sure would love for someone to touch up the paint on my fence' to 'please address the debris in the alley behind my home,' to 'there are a lot of big weeds growing on the corner at X and Y,'" Skitko wrote in an e-mail to The Mercury.

"Also, this is a great way for residents to report pot holes and other, more major issues," Skitko wrote.

"Please note that depending on the scope of the requests, we cannot guarantee that all projects can be completed on October 25  by the volunteers from The Hill School students, faculty, and staff, the Pottstown School District,  or the Borough staff, but this will be a great starting point for what we hope will be the first of many endeavors," Skitko wrote.
The first public planning meeting for Pottstown CARES, was held
in the Ricketts Community Center.

"By coming forward with requests, residents will also let the borough and the volunteers know that they have permission to come onto the property on Oct. 25 to do the work.  Property owners will be asked to sign an appropriate waiver," according to Skitko.

Diverging from the “normal” cleanup day idea, organizers of the CARES movement want to focus on educational, proactive measures to continue the cleanup in these areas past the one day.

“We don’t want this to be just another cleanup day. We want this to be an educational experience,” Hill School Headmaster Zach Lehman said during the meeting.

Lehman suggested a workshop for residents of the blocks involved to learn about home improvement. Workshop suggestions included gardening, recycling and sustainability, and proper pet safety.

“We want to empower the citizens and we want to engage them,” said Assistant Borough Manager Erica Weekley. “We need to encourage them to do this on their own.”

Meeting participants also liked the idea of a large gathering at the end of the day to provide more services for residents. The gathering could be held at the Ricketts Center and include services like a blood drive, health screenings, a rabies clinic, and voter registration assistance.

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