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April 9

A memorable visit to LCH

My first vision of La Comunidad Hispana (LCH) emerged from reading the summary description by Alisa Jones, LCH President and CEO, in the 2017 book The Story of Kennett: Shaping Our Future One Child at a Time, by Joan Holliday and Bob George.

This book’s overview of programs sustaining Kennett Square, PA as a model town of cooperative and humanistic care for its residents impressed me enormously, and surpassed previous examples with which I was familiar from my career as a sociologist engaged in research, teaching, consultation, management and activism for improving living conditions. Principles of “coming from the heart, not from a task,” and “not adding burdens with individualized committees, officers and membership categories“ spoke to my belief in the value of streamlined activities working for people, instead of for an organization’s sake.

A visit to La Comunidad Hispana confirmed and extended my favorable impressions. I was amazed at the scope and integration of services offered: medical and dental treatment; social and legal counseling; pre-GED, ESL and civics education; and job development. A central data system connects all of these services, sharing information for each person across services, and facilitating a holistic experience. A remarkable amount of personal donations supplement their funding as a federally qualified health center, with additional support from United Way of Southern Chester County. As I witnessed during the tour, these donations enable LCH to offer welcoming, friendly, efficient and comprehensive services to thousands of persons every year—assistance people of working-class and poverty status need to lead healthy and quality lives as residents of Kennett Square’s population.

La Comunidad Hispana serves many immigrants from Mexico as well as persons of other nationality and ethnic identities. A sizeable number of the children and youth are born in the United States. This openness upholds LCH’s essential American character and importance as a partner with other organizations in Kennett Square, and their contributions to the general wellbeing and security of our community. As such, LCH provides a valuable and instructive example of how people working in a unified, meaningful way can bring about positive and uplifting help to improve living conditions in contemporary towns and small cities.

Written by José Hernández Álvarez, a retired professor from Hunter College, CUNY.
Original August 2017