As we approach the holidays, most news outlets are talking about the family scene and what decisions will be made or not be made to join together around the Thanksgiving table and gather for the December holidays. As difficult as this may be to make the best decision during this pandemic, it seems it also is a time to appreciate how the spirit of family lives on, as well as community, and maybe with this pause the family and community become even more valued.

For the past 40 years, I have adopted Kennett Square as the community where I became involved, engaged my work, shared my talents and made it my hometown. Even though I grew up in a small town in northern Michigan, I never shared a love and caring about a town as I have Kennett. And, yes, it is the people more than anything.

There aren’t many towns that would “take” to the idea of “bridging” the community and stay involved for twenty-two years and running. A grassroots group articulated a living philosophy and principles that we would live by and the community has resonated and continued to show up being a “peaceful, progressive, inclusive “community that “comes from the heart” and “focuses on potential;”not problem.

At this time of Thanksgiving, I have found myself reflecting on Kennett’s evolution and how thankful I am for where it has been; where it is going and the role we can all take on to continue its progression.

It was a sleepy town in the 80s’ before Genesis Health Care Venture came to town. The town had great roots to build on with the Underground Railroad as part of its history and the mushroom industry introducing diversity to the area.

I am grateful for the thoughtful way Historic Kennett Square was started, originally called Kennett Revitalization Task Force, and the stewardship that has been carried on through the years to assure tenants and store keepers harmonize with the spirit of this town. Even the Farmers’ Market resonates with the surrounding agricultural industry.

I am grateful for the grassroots groups that have sprung up to assure needs are being met in the community. It started with the youth programs that “The Story of Kennett” showcases, to Carter CDC and Casa Guanajuato; the former lifting up and celebrating the first African American East Linden Street neighborhood and the latter the Mexican culture.

We have had caring governmental representatives throughout these years and now we have a show of diversity of women on our leadership team. We also have ACOLA, an Advisory Group for Latino Affairs, which brings representation to the table.

I am grateful for the community youth leadership that grew in the 90s’ and shows up today through the Humanitarian Club and the Mini-THON, which raises funds for children with cancer. At the other end of the age spectrum, I am grateful for the seniors, who choose to stay in the community and make their valuable contributions as board members and volunteers.

I am grateful for the model that the town is now engaging through Southern Chester County Opportunity Network (SCCON) of bringing all representatives of the community together during the COVID 19 crisis and working together to assure business, non-profits, education and families are provided with the support they need during these unprecedented times. Not many communities have had a caring network that works together, with individual agendas left at the door.

With all of this, I am most grateful for individuals, who seek to understand the best role he/she can take on in the broader community and stretch their personal comfort to make “Kennett Square a better place to grow up in and grow old in.”

The Story of Kennett may be purchased on Amazon and at the Mushroom Cap. Contact Joan Holliday at dochollisv@aol.com.
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