The community is still “bridging”, and May 8th marked the 125th meeting of Bridging the Community meetings. There has never a cancellation of this bi-monthly meeting since 1998 because the community knows it is the best place to dynamically grow as a whole community.

When Bridging the Community was created as an open community meeting, it was intended to keep the “small town” neighborly process lively in the midst of new town development. Today, with everything becoming high tech, it seems even more important to actually meet one’s neighbor in person and to find out in person how to best work together. Meeting at a different location every time helps community members enter areas of the town that they may have never visited and see possibilities for partnering with a broader circle of residents.

Non-profit agencies in the area know that if they attend a Bridging meeting, they will recruit more clients, as well as volunteers. There is a person in attendance representing the mission of the agency and when we break to have “bridging time” heartfelt connections are made. At a Bridging meeting, individuals who are exploring how to become involved in the community hear about upcoming events that they can attend, or opportunities for volunteerism that matches their talents. At a Bridging meeting, business owners in town attend because they understand that this group will get the word out and it will help grow their customer base. Probably my favorite happening at a Bridging meeting is when a person shows up who has a new idea and wants to recruit other interested community members; this is when there is a miraculous mushrooming of care!

In May, several young professional women attended the Bridging meeting. In the past, they were KHS students who got involved in volunteerism through these meetings. They now have returned and are invested in community work through their professions and are coming to a Bridging meeting to work together towards our common vision: Kennett Square: Every day a better place to grow up and grow old.”

In March, our meeting was held at Kendal Communities. The intergenerational group in attendance learned about how this retirement community is involved in helping Kennett Square through tutoring over 50 ESL students at their site and starting a story-telling process that they are bringing to Kennett groups. In turn, the Kendal Communities residents heard about Kennett’s upcoming events and new developments in town so they can become even more involved.

In the past few months, the Bridging attendees learned about the PULL Stations in town and the start-up of a community owned store, the Kennett Co-Op. Organizers of these new ventures recruited volunteers and the community involvement broadened.

After attending these meetings for over twenty years, one would think it would become “old hat,” yet every meeting brings in persons, who are attending for the first time and new connections are made. First-time attendees may have heard about Bridging from a friend, or they are new to the area and learned that this was a way to become involved. There are the faithful few, who make it a practice to attend all the meetings and there are those who come in and out, when they have an event to announce, or a need to fill. This diversity of participants makes it a very interesting meeting every time and between 30 and 50 plus community members attend every time!

The only formality of the meeting is a set of minutes that are posted on the Bridging the Community web site. The meetings have been documented since 2002, so one can see the evolution of our town through these notes. Events that have come and gone; community members who are no longer with us, as well as projects that have been completed and have changed over time. In summary, these notes document the history of caring that has been expressed throughout the years and continues to be the fuel that keeps Kennett neighborly.

If you haven’t been to a Bridging meeting, it may be just the time! Our next meeting will be held at His Mission, 342 Birch Street, Kennett Square on July 10th at 6pm for a community picnic and 7pm the Bridging meeting. No need to RSVP; just show up!

The Story of Kennett: Shaping Our Future One Child at a Time by Joan Holliday and Bob George may be purchased on Amazon; at the Kennett Resale Book Shoppe or The Mushroom Cap.

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