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Chester County Press

New book tells story of how Kennett Square works together to help future generations

03/28/2017 10:53AM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

On the evening of March 21 in the Kennett High School Auditorium, a gathering of local angels took place, but not in the heavenly sense.
A group of 40 elected officials, volunteers, facilitators, educators, business leaders and heads of organizations from the Kennett Square area joined to celebrate the stories of their efforts and the work of others to provide opportunities for young people throughout the community -- stories that are now captured in a new book.
"The Story of Kennett: Shaping Our Future One Child at a Time," written by Joan Holliday and Bob George during 2016 and published earlier this month, is a 276-page collection of reports, testimonials and chronicles that weave together a vivid portrait of hope, success and organization.
The book includes 35 essays written by representatives from area law enforcement, business, education, organizations and local government, as well as six essays from area students and adults, each of whom documented personal stories. In addition, Holliday and George contributed essays to the book that centered on the themes of volunteerism, youth programs, and the best methods of determining a "path forward" for Kennett Square.
Matt Fetick, who contributed an essay to the book, called "The Story of Kennett" a "roadmap" for what it takes to make a great community.
"Last year during the election cycle, it felt like everything was negative, and there were so many times I would watch the news and think, 'You ought to come to Kennett Square, because we have so much of this figured out,'" he said. "In our community, we live really well together, in so many ways, from our liberal friends to our conservative friends, from our Caucasian friends to our African-American friends, to our Latino friends. It comes from a commitment to the community and volunteerism.
"Now, to have it all documented in one place will make this book a special treasure."     
At its core, "The Story of Kennett" reflects the work being done in the community to open doors for children. In the book's introductory essay "Kennett's Inheritance," Holliday wrote, "Today, the dominant culture in this country looks at a problem and tries to solve it by generating causes to keep us energized. The infrastructures and costs involved then use up the resources of the community and through time often reduce any spirit that was present.
"The people of Kennett start from the heart, stay on the potential-side, encourage and support grass-roots leaders and volunteers, and build community spirit from this foundation. It has been proven time and time again, and this way of living sustains us through hard times and brings inspiration at creative times."
At the top of each chapter, the book includes inspiring quotes, many of which are about children. At the start of a chapter written by La Communidad Hispana President and CEO Alisa Jones, there is a quote that reads: "There are two gifts we should give our children: One is roots. The other is wings."
The Kennett High School event was not just one of celebration, but of action planning. Those in the audience broke off into groups to determine methods of how and where the book can best be "put to work." Some in the audience suggested that the book be given to every new individual or family who locates to Kennett Square -- to serve as a resource and to encourage them to become an active voice in their new community.
"The book captures how Kennett works," George told the audience. "It says, 'Yes, we can do better, but we are having successes.' This [book] is a tool to help you do better, to help you understand how we work in collaboration with each other.
"As we work closer and collaborate, there is an opportunity for us to lead and to prosper. I want to play matchmaker with people who want to help, and use the book to steer them to the right individual, program or organization.
"For me, the hope I have for this book is that those who read it will recognize that we are peacefully progressing, and including people," she added. "We're all in one book now. We're not separate programs. My hope is that we will continue to look at the uniqueness of all of these efforts and become more aware of what the value of each program is. Keep it alive and keep the book moving forward."
"The Story of Kennett: Shaping Our Future One Child at a Time" is available for $14.99 at, and a 20 percent discount will be offered for sales of 10 copies or more. All profits will be donated to the Kennett Education Foundation, to fund awards and scholarships for Kennett High School students. For more information, e-mail Joan Holliday at [email protected].
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail [email protected].