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Chester County Press

New Neighborhood Services Center director was attracted to the position by caring community

05/23/2023 12:12PM ● By Steven Hoffman

Aaron Karpas is the new director at Neighborhood Services Center in Oxford, but he is not a newcomer to the area. 

He has worked at Big Brothers Big Sisters and was the executive director at the Jennersville YMCA. He is familiar with the Oxford community and how caring it is, and that is what actually attracted him to his new position.

Since Nov. 1, 1971, Neighborhood Services Center (NSC) has provided a centralized location where residents of southern Chester County can access health and social services and find help to meet their basic needs. The Neighborhood Services Center’s staff works to empower all people to achieve health, wholeness, and stability in their lives.

Karpas explained, “I live in the Lincoln University area and heard NSC was looking for an executive director. I’ve always wanted to help people where I live and thought I’d throw my hat in the ring.”

Karpas added, “My goal is to help as many people as we can. As long as we are helping people and the community, we are doing our job. I hope to enable the staff to carry out our mission too.”

A big part of what NSC does is feed the community through the food pantry. This fiscal year they have served over 8,000 people.

NSC also provides direct-needs assistance. That includes monetary assistance to those who are eligible, so that they can meet their basic needs. People can receive help to pay for rent, utilities, and health care. The NSC also provides direct payments to vendors on behalf of their clients.

“We will find a way to help you,” Karpas said. “We do referrals for mental health and human services. We have a case manager that can work with our clients as well to make sure they are getting the care they need.”

He explained, “On this job I can actually see the good we do every day. There are direct needs and we can deliver direct help. When I leave work at night I feel I help people in some small way when they need it.” 

Karpas emphasized that the need in the community continues to grow. 

“In order to meet that need, we need to seek financial security,” he said. “We need to make the community aware of what we are doing. They need to know how we serve Oxford and the surrounding area and actually who we help.”

For over 50 years, NSC has been the heart of the community, bringing help to those who are struggling.

“Everyone needs help at one time or another,” Karpas said. “We certainly saw how things changed quickly during COVID when people lost their jobs, when schools and child care closed.  We hope the pandemic is contained, but there will always be a crisis in a family. One health issue can take a family down, or if your employment suddenly ends through no fault of your own, you still need to provide for your family. Housing, transportation, insurance and employment are vital to the existence of families, and any change can turn someone’s life upside down. NSC is here to help those in need. We give a hand up, not a hand out. The goal is to get the family through the crisis and back to work.”

Karpas continued, “It might surprise you to see who is struggling. People would be surprised to see who comes through our doors. Everyone wants to provide for their family. Even those who have provided for their family for years, are not immune to disease, fire, lack of employment or transportation. When a fire destroys a home, we find temporary housing. We also assist with securing employment and finding transportation to get to that employment. We do have some busses and transportation, but most people in this area really depend on their own vehicles. We are here to hook people up with what they need.”

He admits that the amount of need in this area has surprised him, but the community also has surprised him.

“We have so many agencies in this area that lend support,” he explained. “We have the local businesses who help, the Oxford Chamber of Commerce, the Lighthouse Youth Center and churches. I know I’m leaving out someone, because Oxford is such a giving community.  Recently, SILO (Serving, Inspiring and Loving Others) another non-profit community organization, has moved into NSC and they help in so many ways.”

NSC also provides a space to the following community organizations:

  • Domestic Violence Center of Chester County
  • Family Services of Chester County
  • Crime Victims Center of Chester County

The list of agencies that NSC is connected to grows all the time, and it continues to be the heart of the community, offering assistance to those in need. Karpas said that he welcomes anyone who needs help to contact them at 610-932-8557 or visit them at their location at 35 N. Third Street in Oxford.