At the community foundation, we help people in Berks County who want to do something charitable by distributing grants, scholarships, and other forms of support from funds they create based on the community’s needs. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for residents and to do that, we make a point of connecting with the community we serve.
One way we make those connections is to visit places where grants are distributed to see the impact they have on the community. We recently visited the Governor Mifflin area, which we manage several funds to support.
Our program team had an incredible day exploring the Governor Mifflin area. This visit took us to three unique and captivating locations: the Mifflin Community Library, Alvernia University, and the Allegheny Evangelical Lutheran Church. We also made some in-between stops, including John Updike’s childhood home, the U.S. Army Reserve Center, a much-needed stop for snacks at Tom Sturgis Pretzels, a quick trail walk at Berks Nature, Berks Military History Museum, and a visit with some farm animals at Swartz’s Roadside Stand.
Here’s a recap of this enriching experience:
Our first stop was the Mifflin Community Library, a true gem nestled in the heart of Governor Mifflin. As we entered this cozy library, we were immediately struck by the inviting atmosphere. We met Natasha Donaldson, Director of the library, and Colleen Stamm, Board Treasurer who were both friendly and helpful. The shelves were lined with a variety of books. The library’s serene reading nooks and vibrant children’s area made it a welcoming space for all ages. We discussed some of the programs offered at the library for the community. We shared information with Donaldson about the Russell L. Hiller Charitable Trust Fund.
“The funding helps us add more variety to our collection,” Donaldson said.
Judge Russell Hiller was a resident of Shillington, and in his will, he established a fund that distributes grants to help the Borough of Shillington, Shillington Borough Library, and Albright College, and provides scholarships to Governor Mifflin High School seniors. Additionally, the fund supports an annual competitive grant process for programs benefiting the residents of the Governor Mifflin School District.
Next on our itinerary was a meeting with Glynis Fitzgerald, President of Alvernia University. The campus was not only stunning but also vibrant, with students hustling to and from classes and enjoying the lovely surroundings. We explored the university’s modern facilities, from well-equipped classrooms to the state-of-the-art library. Many students who receive scholarships from the Community Foundation attend local colleges and universities like Alvernia.
We enjoyed lunch from Screpesi’s Sandwich Shop, where they know a thing or two about sandwiches. They have been serving Berks County since 1949. We took the sandwiches to Shillington Park and enjoyed the fall colors with a view of the Pagoda.
Our final stop took us to the Allegheny Evangelical Lutheran Church where we met with Kristen Kelly, Director for Children and Family Ministries. The church has beautiful architecture and serene surroundings that provide a sense of tranquility. Our tour gave us valuable insights into the rich history of the church and its role in the local community, which includes offering its space to community organizations and programming for residents.
The Home Health Care Foundation Fund supported two new automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for the church.
“Having the AED equipment provides us with peace of mind knowing it’s there in case there is an emergency,” Kelly said.
Throughout the day, we couldn’t help but appreciate the warm hospitality and genuine friendliness of the Governor Mifflin community. This tour was a perfect blend of intellectual exploration, natural beauty, and cultural heritage. Look for us on our next stop as we explore more of Berks County’s interesting organizations and history.