Mighty Writers to open newest location in Toughkenamon05/24/2022 02:30PM ● By Richard Gaw
Photo by Richard L. Gaw Sara Dickens-Trillo of Mighty Writers, with, from left, New Garden Township Manager Ramsey Reiner, and supervisors Kristie Brodowski and Steve Allaband.
By Richard L. Gaw
On Jan. 25, 2019, Mighty Writers Executive Director Tim Whitaker, Education Director Rachel Loeper and Development Director Naomi Levecchia met with a half dozen representatives from Kennett-area organizations to discuss the logistics involved with how the organization could establish a strong presence in southern Chester County.
Whitaker said during the meeting that what attracted Mighty Writers to southern Chester County was inspired, in part, by the success of its existing locations in reaching young people of Latino heritage in the Philadelphia area.
“It's thriving, and we have more kids than we can possibly teach, and over time, people told us, 'You need to go to Kennett Square. There is a Latino community there who could really use your help,’” he said. “It became a drumbeat that we heard over and over again.”
The idea to expand the Mighty Writers brand to the Kennett area community made practical and educational sense. Begun in 2009 by Whitaker with a flagship office in Philadelphia, Mighty Writers connects teams of authors, teachers and journalists with young and underserved students to provide them with opportunities to improve their writing and communication skills. Each academy provides writing workshops, Mighty Toddler classes, mentorships, teen scholar programs and college essay writing nights to more than 3,500 students from ages seven to 17.
One dozen years later, Mighty Writers has expanded to several locations in Philadelphia, New Jersey and established Mighty Writers El Futuro in Kennett Square. In addition, the organization’s breadth of services has also grown to include providing meals for young people who visit the center, as well as the distribution of food and vital supplies across ten locations that includes the West Grove United Methodist Church, which opened its doors to Mighty Writers in October 2020. Since then, the organization regularly serves more than 300 local families, providing them with fresh fruit and vegetables, kids’ lunches, books and diapers.
New location in Toughkenamon
Very soon, Mighty Writers will expand its services to the Village of Toughkenamon. Through a five-year lease with the village’s Servpro franchise and financial support from New Garden Township, the organization will soon be opening its doors to its new 4,000-square-foot facility at 121 Willow Street. Previously, Mighty Writers shared space with The Garage Community & Youth Center on Rosehill Road in West Grove, who recently moved to their new location at the former Avondale Fire House.
“Once The Garage was preparing to move to their new home in Avondale, we began to look for a new home in West Grove, and it just so happened that our associate Molly Hopson found this space here,” said Sara Dickens-Trillo, the bilingual program director for El Futuro Kennett, who will be heading the Toughkenamon location. “There is a reason for everything, and I think the reason we didn’t find anything in West Grove is because we needed to be in Toughkenamon.”
Dickens-Trillo said that once students arrive at the Mighty Writers location, they will be fed and then be assisted by volunteers, who will help guide them through their schoolwork. The location will be open three hours from Monday through Friday.
Settling soon in Toughkenamon, Mighty Writers will look to expand on the work they have already done at their other locations – that not only offers 450 volunteers who provide on-site mentoring, tutoring and workshops, but the distribution of food and supplies. In 2021, Mighty Writers distributed more than 200,000 meals and 80,000 boxes of groceries that included vital household supplies, and in 2022, it expects to distribute 250,000 meals, 20,000 books and 1.5 million diapers to 75,000 families.
New Garden Township Board of Supervisors Chairperson Steve Allaband said that the new space will assist a mostly-underserved Latino population that is wedged between West Grove and Kennett Square, who do not have easy access to transportation to the organization’s other space in Kennett Square and West Grove.
“This is an ideal location for Mighty Writers,” Allaband said. “It’s a walkable community and a lot of young people who live in Toughkenamon will have the opportunity to access it very quickly. Mighty Writers will definitely make a positive impact on so many students and their families.”
“To me, it’s about equity for an underserved component of our community,” said township Supervisor Kristie Brodowski. “New Garden does things for people who live in the Somerset Lake community and a lot of different niches in our township, but for the 40 percent of the township’s population who are Latino, they have not been as well served.”
A mighty gift for Mighty Writers
Recently, the township’s Board of Supervisors approved a contribution in the amount of $47,000 to Mighty Writers that will be used to fund the purchase of a van that will provide students with access to transportation – to the Mighty Writers’ summer camps, field trips and special appointments. Allaband said that the funding comes from the $1.2 million the township received from COVID-19 relief that has also been directed to other non-profit organizations and volunteer firefighters in the township.
“This van will be a ticket for so many families, and will allow young people to have a positive life,” Dickens-Trillo said. “This location in Toughkenamon will give kids a place to go where they are supported and where they know that they matter. If we really want to impact future generations, we have to impact the lives of our children.
“Our purpose here will not only help them through their own journey of learning through after-school programs, but to embrace their heritage, their identity and be proud of it. For us, that will be the light at the end of the tunnel.”
To learn more about Mighty Writers, visit www.mightywriters.org.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected]