In the time of COVID-19, Mighty Writers Kennett-El Futuro Reaches Out to Local Families
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
Under the direction of Program Director Sara Dickens-Trillo, MW Kennett volunteers regularly sit beside hundreds of children in local Latino communities at the Garage Community & Youth Center in West Grove, helping them bridge the often enormous challenge of assimilating into a new culture.
With initial funding from the Chester County Fund for Women& Girls, the agency kicked off its programming with “Girl Power” workshops and “Family Write Nights.”
When area schools closed due to COVID-19 in the spring, the crucial role that MW Kennett-El Futuro played in the education of the Latino community magnified, but now, the agency has shifted its focus away from words, sentences and paragraphs in order to demonstrate its generosity in new ways.
For the past six months, MW Kennett-El Futuro has been hosting the distribution of food, clothing, books, arts and crafts and other items donated by local businesses and residents to Latino families in Kennett Square, Avondale and Oxford.
“I saw a lot of needs even before the pandemic started, but when the pandemic began, a lot of our families who work in the mushroom industry or at area restaurants saw these businesses close,” Dickens-Trillo said. “Subsequently, these families were left without jobs, and for some of these families, the only complete meal their children had during the day was during school, and when schools closed, I began to see a greater need to reach out.
“I wanted to make sure that each child had a meal, and that’s when we began our food distribution. Although we were new, I felt it was important for them to know that El Futuro was there for them, and that we would do everything we could to help them out.”
With the assistance of grants and private funding, weekly donations of food has come from several area businesses, restaurants and bakeries, such as Manfredi Cold Storage in Toughkenamon, Phoenix Bakery, Estrella Panaderia and Max Banquet in West Grove, Panaderia Azteca in Kennett Square and the Chester County Food Bank in Exton.
Volunteers have arrived from the private sector, Kennett Area Community Service, Casa Guanajuato – where Dickens-Trillo is president – and La Communidad Hispana, where she serves on its board of directors.
The distribution program provides lunch to more than 200 children on Mondays and Wednesdays, and on Fridays, distribution of food and essential household items is made to more than 200 families.
Food distribution originally began at The Garage Community& Youth Center in West Grove but beginning on Sept. 4, distribution will take place at the West Grove United Methodist Church, located at 300 N. Guernsey Road in West Grove.
The agency’s community outreach is not just COVID-19 related. In the aftermath of the effects of Hurricane Isaiah in early August, several Latino families who were living in the complex were displaced after severe flooding tore through much of the lower-level apartments. On Aug. 25, MW Kennett-El Futuro treated the families to a special event that helped distribute vital items such as food, diapers, clothes, books, school supplies.
Concurrent with its efforts to reach families during the pandemic, MW Kennett-El Futuro is in the early stages of potentially establishing pilot programs at the Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Landenberg, the Avon Grove Library, and the West Grove Chapel.
As it helps families navigate their way through a worldwide pandemic and the effects that have arisen because of it, Dickens-Trillo said that while the big picture ideas of education remain, the agency is narrowing its focus to answer the most immediate needs of the Latino community.
“When a child is hungry, he or she is not going to be able to focus on homework and learning,” she said. “It was important for us to first feed the children, and then focus on our primary mission.”
To learn more about Mighty Writers Kennett-El Futuro and to volunteer, email Sara Dickens-Trillo at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Mighty Writers and how the agency is responding to students and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.mightywriters.org.
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To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email email@example.com.