We are shocked by the shameful comments made at a local school board meeting regarding students from the Antietam School District. These comments are a reminder of the need to value all students in our community and to recognize that potential is distributed evenly but opportunity is not.

The challenges facing the Antietam School District are unprecedented in the history of our Commonwealth. Rather than cast aspersions and make derogatory comments about our children, we as a community need to find a way to provide opportunity for these students whose school buildings have been made uninhabitable by previously unimaginable flooding.

We condemn in the sharpest language possible the comments made at the Oley Valley school board meeting and urge our entire community to condemn them as well.

Kevin Murphy
Berks County Community Foundation

UPDATE – More than $660,000 has been donated to the West Reading Disaster Recovery Fund since it was established on Saturday, March 25. Donations have been made by more than 1,500 individuals, families, and businesses across Berks County and the country.

To assist with urgent, immediate needs, on March 30 the fund distributed a total of $220,000 to the families of those who died and to those displaced from their homes. An additional $230,000 will be distributed to those groups in the coming days.

“Out of respect for the families, we will not be providing specific details regarding those distributions,” said Kevin K. Murphy, president of Berks County Community Foundation, which created the fund in partnership with the United Way of Berks County at the request of West Reading Borough Council. “Our hope is that the funding will ease their burden as they cope with their loss.”Based on the level of donations received, the fund will continue to provide grants until it is depleted. The priority of those grants is as follows:

  1. Support to the families of individuals killed in the explosion for immediate financial losses.
  2. Support to individuals displaced from their homes as a result of the explosion.
  3. Support to organizations helping individuals displaced from employment as a result of the explosion.
  4. Support to the Borough of West Reading for planning and/or implementation of historical commemoration of the explosion (including, but not limited to the creation of a memorial to those lost).

“We are grateful to everyone who has given to the fund,” said Tammy White, president of the United Way of Berks County. “The outpouring of support of neighbor helping neighbor has been inspiring.  The magnitude of this event transcends geography as local giving from Berks Countians is joined by contributions from people across the United States showing their support for our community. We thank everyone for the kind generosity.”


Berks County Community Foundation is a nonprofit corporation serving as a civic leader for our region by developing, managing, and distributing charitable funds to improve the quality of life in Berks County, PA. More information is available at www.bccf.org.

Media Contact: Erica Caceres, Communication Manager, Phone: 610-685-2231, Email address: ericac@bccf.org