One of the unique characteristics of the Kennett Square community has become one of creating a grassroots response whenever an imminent community need shows up. In most cases it starts as a volunteer effort that “comes from the heart,” and sparks the interest for others becoming involved.
As Bob George and I wrote the book, “The Story of Kennett: Shaping Our Future One Child at a Time,” we saw this happening with the many after-school youth programs that rose up to meet the need for after-school tutoring anenrichment activities.
Likewise, this spontaneous response to a presenting need has been happening during the pandemic as well as with the recent fires at the Avondale apartments.Since virtual school started early September there has been an active Education Discovery Group, which has been working on helping families with virtual schooling.
They have been setting-up Community Learning Pods in Southern Chester County for students to be supervised during their virtual school day, while their parents work. As part of this group, the school staff and agencies are also working in partnership to educate the parents about virtual schooling, as well as are helping identify technology issues that need to be solved individually and more broadly.
Another grassroots group that I recently became aware of is responding to the need for Spanish-speaking community adults to become educated in a variety of ways. Dr. Laura Gonzalez, the host and one of the bi-lingual organizers says, “We talk about everything in a weekly meeting called Tertulias (Informal Gatherings)”.
Laura continues; “We teach each other about our civic duties; the importance of filling out the census forms; ways to become involved in town activities; how to work with the police/law; how to build parenting skills in the areas of dealing with drugs, gangs, discipline and the importance of formal school education. Whatever the participants have questions around, we address it and provide support and guidance for each other.”
The Zoom meetings held in Spanish have been taking place every Wednesday evening from 8 to 9:30pm since June 2020.Initially, Dr. Gonzalez invited her friends, a core group of 60 bi-lingual and monolingual Spanish community members who live and work in Kennett, Toughkenamon, Avondale, West Grove and Oxford.
The word is getting out and the attendance is growing. Participants may have an advanced degree, or they may not have completed high-school. They are made up of all professions and skills and are of different economic status. They are an inclusive group of volunteers who participate in multiple educational and cultural activities.
Some of the groups that are involved are: Casa Guanajuato, Kennett Multimedia, Kennett Area Community Services (KACS), among others. Tertulianos (people who participate in Tertulias) are passionate volunteers who see the value of sharing each other’s knowledge and experience to improve the lives of all the inhabitants of Southern Chester County.
As follow-up from the Tertulia meetings, a YouTube video was developed by Kennett Multimedia in Mam, a Mayan Guatemalan language, so that more residents would have the information to complete their civic duty of filling out the Census.
This group works hand and hand with Monsenior Francis Depman at St. Rocco’s Church, who has the respect and trust of 12,000 members, including the Guatemalans. Father Frank communicates to all the groups what is needed for more educational information.
At the end of September, Tertulias held a session focusing on technology. Dr. Laura Gonzalez has access to several well-known professionals in Mexico. One of her colleagues in the field of Education is Patricia Ramos Mendez, who is not only teaching but teaching teachers, evaluating programs, developing new strategies to help many different populations with education in Mexico; the United States, and in Latin America.
Patricia Ramos Mendez identified Rita Mendez as a helpful presenter for Tertullias, who is an engineer in computer sciences. Rita’s PowerPoint presentation was geared towards helping Latinox students, teachers, high school, and university program directors to better appreciate the value and uses of technology. The PowerPoint that was presented for Tertullias was recorded and will be shared with agencies and schools in Southern Chester County, who work with Latinox families.
If you are interested in joining Tertulias held every Wednesday at 8 pm through zoom meetings,please email Dr. Laura Gonzalez at firstname.lastname@example.org or check their social media posts in Facebook: Qué Pasa Kennett, Casa Guanajuato, Mighty Writers and Kennett Multimedia.