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Chester County Press

Fundraiser to help Swenson family ‘Out of the Ashes'

05/14/2014 01:15PM ● By Acl

The Swenson’s home was destroyed by two fires on March 5.

By Nancy Johnson


Neighbors, family and friends have come together to support and comfort Dave and Dianne Swenson since a fire on March 5 took their Sunnyside Road home and virtually everything they owned. The supporters have brought food, clothing, even appliances. Many more wanted to help, but simply did not know what they could do.  

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Dianne is the daughter of Bill and Jane Finnen, longtime public servants in Penn Township. Bill has been a supervisor as well as the township secretary, serving a total of 53 years, while Jane was previously the treasurer for decades. Since the tragedy, the Swensons have been living with the Finnens, right next door to their destroyed home. 

“To add insult to injury, they have to see it every day,” says Finnen. “But they have the foundation all cleaned up and often go sit at a picnic table near their favorite tree.”

What the Swensons need more than anything is to rebuild their home – and as the house was not insured there will be no money to even get a start. Penn Township officials as well as Dianne’s friends and children have joined to organize a fundraiser dubbed “Out of the Ashes Homeraising” to help the couple and to give those who want to help a way to do so. 

Tickets for the event, which will be held on Saturday, May 31 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Nonantum Farm, 47 Good Hope Rd., Landenberg, are now available at the Penn Township Building at 260 Lewis Rd., West Grove, Penn Brew Station, W. Baltimore Pk., West Grove or by calling Jenette Boyle at 717-823-3676.

The ticket price of $35 (or $40 at the door), includes chicken barbeque and pulled pork by Jimmy Riggins – the caterer who prepares the chicken at Penn Township’s annual picnic, plus beer and soda. In addition, local band Bittersweet has donated their time to entertain with a mix of classic rock and country music.

A silent auction and a 50/50 raffle will add to the fundraising efforts. Some of the items already donated for the silent auction include a chiropractic session, a round of golf, a paintball excursion, water park tickets, oil change, memorabilia neon signs, fragrance basket, car pinstripping, tickets to Buck Motorsports, scrapbook basket, pet basket, and a Pep Boys basket.

Carmen Stoltzfus, longtime friend of Dianne’s since the two attended Avon Grove High School together, explains, “This fundraiser will determine when they can start to rebuild. We are so thankful to Dr. Roberts at Nonantum Veterinary Clinic for offering her farm with a large building for the event.”  

Dianne’s daughter, Katie Hyatt, works at Nonantum Veterinary Clinic and has been involved in planning the event along with her sister Jenette Boyle, and Carmen. Karen Versuk, Penn Township’s public relations manager and Lisa Myers, administrative assistant, are also adding their efforts.

According to Versuk, “The biggest problem is getting the word out about the fundraiser. We know there are a lot of people who have been looking for a way to help. This is it!”

Boyle agrees, “It is so nice to know that people really care. Our family is all selling tickets to friends from the area and work. People have been looking for an outlet to help." 


Ways to Help: 

Purchase advance tickets for “Out of the Ashes” fundraiser, May 31 at Penn Brew Station, Penn Township Office, or by contacting Jenette, 717-823-3676 or [email protected]

Make a donation at any Fulton Bank – check must be made out to “Swenson’s Recovery Fund”

Make an online donation at

Donate a silent auction item for the fundraiser

Donate a good or service for the Swenson’s new home