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Chester County Press

Local youth centers receive grants at community foundation event

11/06/2014 12:12AM ● By Lev

Kristin Proto, left, executive director of the Garage Community Youth Centers in Kennett Square and West Grove, received a grant award at the Chester County Community Foundation's annual meeting on Nov. 3. Pictured with Proto are Kennett business leader Miguel Alban and Karen A. Simmons, president and chief executive officer of the Chester County Foundation.

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer


The Garage Community Youth Centers in Kennett Square and West Grove were the recipients of  grants, given during award ceremonies at the Chester County Community Foundation's annual meeting, held Nov. 3 at the Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre at West Chester University.

Established in 1994, the foundation works with individuals, families and businesses throughout Chester County, in helping them to establish their philanthropic goals that are then funneled into the community. In all, six awards were presented at the event, and each award recipient gave to the organization of his or her choice. 

The Garage's Kennett Square location was the recipient of a grant given to Garage Executive Director Kristin Proto by Miguel Alban, who received the foundation's Thanks For Caring award.

Alban, who arrived in the United States from Peru ten years ago not being able to speak English, has since become one of southern Chester County's most influential leaders. He is the founder and president of the Kennett Square-based The Hispanic Approach, which provides insurance, banking, legal and business advice to the Hispanic population in southern Chester County.

“A lot of people ask me, 'Hey, Miguel, what is the American Dream?'” Alban told an audience of 300. “I tell them that it's not the dream we all think it is. It's a lot better when the dream becomes a reality. I'm just one drop that helps the Hispanic community achieve that reality. I want to give this [award] to the Garage because they are an inspiration to our community. They help our future.”

For its efforts in fundraising for Garage after-school programs and its volunteer efforts in the West Grove community, the West Grove Garage Student Advisory Council was the recipient of a grant given to them by Bill Rose, the director of the Garage's West Grove location, who received the Youth Philanthropy award. Representing the Council were members Erica Lopez and Johana Guzman.

The peer-led philanthropy group is made up of one dozen students from the Avon Grove School District, who meet monthly to coordinate community service and fundraising activities and outreach events. Last year, the council raised $3,300 for the Garage's  after school programs, through a variety of student-led activities such as a Cinco de Mayo dinner, student dances and a garage sale. For each of these events, the council oversaw budgeting, and marketing and staffing.

The council also organizes several service projects, which in the past year have included the distribution of Halloween candy, a community soccer festival, and service projects like volunteering at Jenners Pond, and sorting items at food pantries and clothing closets.

“These students have created a legacy of new philanthropy,” said Karen A. Simmons, president and chief executive officer of the Chester County Foundation. “They remind us that regardless of our age, every one has something to give.”

The Garage locations each received a $500 grant.

Other award winners included Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste, former mayor of West Chester, who received the Special Achievement 90/60 Award, given to a Chester County resident over the age of 90, who has contributed to his or her community for more than 60 years. DeBaptiste directed the grant toward The DeBaptiste Foundation. The Vanguard Crew received the Corporate Social Investment Award for their community service, and directed their grant to The Triskeles Foundation. Attorney Louis N. Teti received the Door Opener Award, and directed his grant to Bishop Shanahan High School, Malvern Preparatory School, the Paoli Hospital Foundation and the Atonement Lutheran Church.

The Jordan Award, the foundation's highest honor, was given to Phoenixville banker Richard Kunsch, who forwarded his grant to Citizens Advocacy of Chester County, The Clinic, Petra Community Housing, Phoenixville Area Community Services, and the Phoenixville Healthcare Access Foundation.

Since it was first established, the Community Foundation has awarded $29 million in grants and scholarships to 6,453 recipients, and $2.3 million during the past year. It currently manages 345 separate funds whose net assets total $43.3 million.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail

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