The Colonial Neighborhood Council By Jack Coll
Colonial Neighborhood Council
It’s That Time of Year Again
Let’s All Donate Some Food
By Jack Coll
The Conshohocken community can’t control world events, missile testing, mass shootings and devastating hurricanes. Nor can we necessarily control the homeless problem, drug problem and shootings on the streets of Philadelphia not to mention the deadly wildfires out west.
In Conshohocken, we still have a number of our neighbors that go hungry and rely on the kindness of our residents and the operation of the Colonial Neighborhood Council (CNC) to help feed our residents in need.
Over the past four years Brian and Jackie Coll have led the charge raising more than 100,000 pounds of food making sure all our residents enjoy a Thanksgiving Day dinner and have food throughout the holiday season.
The reason the Coll’s have been able to raise more than 100,000 pounds of food is the kindness of our neighbors and residents of Conshohocken and the local businesses that have set up collection bins from October / November. Internal office collections and the Fill-a-Bus that happens at St. Philip Neri. Let’s not dwell on the amount of food raised but the amount of food needed, and who really gets the needed food.
Let us all understand that these aren’t poor people knocking on the CNC’s door looking for a handout, no these are in most cases residents who are working and have a job but just can’t get over the hump. They are making enough money to live and are falling just short trying to balance a mortgage, raise their children and pay their bills.
On the outside these families look like all of us, they take an active role in their church, little league, schools and activities. They have a nice car in the driveway or out on the curb. But when their company down-sizes and the layoff’s come they find themselves in a bind. They aren’t looking for a handout, they’re not looking to get something for nothing, they just need a little help getting through a tough period in their life and the rest of us perhaps are in a position to be able to help them through the tough times.
There’s nothing worse than witnessing a parent struggling to provide for their children, and I would like to thank our community for coming together to help ease their struggle.
When the Colonial Neighborhood Council was formed back on June 22, 1967, the goals of the organization were to establish itself, recognize the cause of poverty in the community and wage a war to combat poverty by providing the poor with the opportunity to live in decency and with dignity.
That starts by having meals on the table provided by a giving community.
In 1967 we lived in a different Conshohocken, a borough in decline in a number of different ways. We had a shrinking job economy with our factories and mills closing at an alarming rate, our downtown shopping district was a disgrace and embarrassment with dozens of stores boarded up, not to mention the amount of store-fronts in disrepair, the Matsonford bridge was in disrepair with sidewalk holes big enough for an adult to fall through the hole into the river, we had a drug problem in the borough with teenagers openly selling drugs throughout the borough, not to mention the reports of small gangs of teenagers hanging out in the parks and on corners harassing passerby’s.
We had families experiencing tough times but residents like Ronald Winston, Carrie Duckett, Robert Groves, Russell Erb, Courtland Smith, Ronald Benoliel, Tony Baranowski, Ben Hannum, Fannie Johnson, Lucille Mason, and of course Doris Sibley among others decided to not only start a food pantry but help the community with the Head Start Program providing a Teacher’s Aide program.
When the CNC was formed back in 1967 the median income of families was $8,000.00 the Federal requirements for poverty was a family whose income was under $3,500 per year, in Conshohocken more than 400 families were in this bracket, in Plymouth Township 230 families were below the poverty line and in Whitemarsh 200 families.
While we don’t have as many families living below the poverty level in these three communities today we still have hungry families and residents in need of food.
With clouds looming throughout the world with devastation all around us we sometimes feel helpless. If you feel the need to contribute or the need to perhaps change the world well for us it starts right here in Conshohocken. Let’s reach out and help our neighbors by donating a simple canned good, some peanut butter or a box of cereal.
I’m proud of my children Brian and Jackie for their efforts, God Bless all of the food donors who have continued to help our neighbors. Starting now throughout this 2017 holiday season you can drop-off food to Coll’s Custom Framing at 324 Fayette Street, or at the Colonial Neighborhood Council located at 107 East Fourth Avenue.
If you have food to donate but can’t get it to us feel free to contact us for a pick-up at 610 825-7072.
I will continue to hope and pray that all our residents have a wonderful holiday season through Thanksgiving, Christmas and into 2018, and with fingers crossed we hope every family has a great Thanksgiving and Christmas day meal, fit for a king.