In writing the book, “Kennett Square: Shaping Our Future One Child at a Time,” Bob George and I recounted the many ways that volunteers get involved in Southern Chester County. One of the specific volunteer roles that I have grown to appreciate is the one of the advocate; a person who earnestly and publicly supports and promotes a community cause or idea.
Community advocates have an inborn sense of idealism and morality, but what sets them apart is that they are not idle dreamers; they are activists in supporting and making visible the needs within a community.Luis Tovar is one of these advocates. Although there are many others in the community who take on the advocacy role at different levels, Luis stands out as personifying and living the qualities of a true advocate.
Luis has two arenas that he engages the advocate role---one with the Latino community and the other with those impacted by drug addiction.
Being of Mexican descent, who was naturalized at a young age, Luis has always been connected to his roots. Moving to the diverse community of Kennett Square in 2000, he felt the call to serve as an advocate for the Spanish-speaking community, people of his origin, and has been in this role for many years. Even before any formalized group was set-up, Luis regularly attended Kennett Borough meetings bringing to light the rights and needs of the vulnerable community.
In 2015, ACOLA (Advisory Committee on Latino Affairs) was establishedwith the goal of advocating for the Latino community of Kennett Square. Luis Tovar is now an ACOLA commissioner and serves the Latinos in the broader community with a vision of equality and fairness for all people.
The other arena that Luis has taken on a strong advocate role is in the area of families dealing with drug addiction. Having been affected by heroin drug addiction in his own family, Luis deeply understood the need for parents, families and friends to have support and reassurance as they navigate through this nightmare of addiction. He joined Kacie’s Cause, an organization started by Andy Rumford after he suffered the death of his daughter, Kacie to a heroin overdose.
Since 2013, Luis and Andy together have built an organization that serves as a leading outreach and advocacy group for issues related to drug addiction. The group now has 8 plus chapters in Chester County and beyond. Luis’s most valued role is leading a family support group at First Baptist Church in Kennett Square every Thursday night. The purpose of the group is not only to support and educate families about drug addiction, but also to help parents overcome the shame and stigma associated with their child’s drug use.
Luis Tovar is passionate about his advocacy role, which helps inspire others to face the reality of the needs of the community’s vulnerable. He attends a range of community meetings where he is either the presenter or voice for the two causes he represents.
Along with the local outreach, he understands the need to address the larger system by being a spokesperson at a governmental level to receive funding and policy changes. Luis knows that he must walk the talk and demonstrate his own commitment in whatever he engages.
And, compassion is at the top of the list. Luis understands the pain of the disenfranchised community members, whether they be forgotten in the community mainstream or are affected by an addiction. Luis listens, counsels and promotes, which is the true balm for healing wounds.
Southern Chester County is fortunate to have a person like Luis Tovar, who has essentially devoted his life to being a community advocate. If each of us responded to a cause in a small or big way and became an advocate, our community wouldbe assured to be a better place to grow up and grow old. Thank you, Luis for leading the way!