Community Service students take action in Pottstown

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Media: Yina Yao '25

Caroline Grable ’25 and Morgan McMahon’24 sort books according to different colors.

Community Service at The Hill is an afternoon activity that not only connects students to the Pottstown neighborhood, but has a lasting impact on the local community. A spring afternoon activity, the program brings students to volunteer at local organizations aimed at helping the underserved members of Pottstown, such as the Young Women’s Christians Association, the Centro Cultural Latino Unidos, and the Ricketts Center. It also provides students the opportunity to work on their own service projects.

“I like just being able to do something that’s not as stressful as some people might think it is. Of course, the classic answer is giving back to the community. But beyond that, I’m trying to detach myself … I’m trying to detach my self-identity from the entire world and realize there’s a lot more outside of me. And this is a great way to do that, and meet some pretty cool kids,” Nimala Sivakumar ’23, a student participating in Community Service, remarked. 

The week of April 11, Community Service traveled to the Young Women’s Christians Association or YWCA. Its mission is to establish a safe place where racism is eliminated, kids are empowered, and where kids learn and grow. The YWCA provides more services than many people realize.  Kate Lockett welcomed Hill students to the main academic building located on King Street in Pottstown. She wishes the organization could get more volunteers. There, they walked up the stairs to a modest space where books are scattered about the room. The students quickly move and start their work by organizing books by color for the kids to read. In the one hour there, a big change could be seen, but still, there is a long way to go. 

“Our goal is to give students a safe environment, a learning environment, a happy environment, and to be part of our community to teach the children about the community,” Lockett said. 

Then she explained: “We have YEP, that’s a youth empowerment program … They work in the school districts, and they work with our children here. We have rental assistance help; we have educational help over at the YWCA, we help adults with their education, getting their GED, and it’s just not kids.”

Similar to the YWCA, many other organizations in the Pottstown community reach out to the Director of Hobart’s Run Communications and Community Relations at the Hill School, Cathy Skitko, who communicates with the local organizations to find service opportunities for students. 

“Well, one thing that we tried to do is match the students, so some students might prefer to work with elderly people, some students might prefer to work with little kids,” Skitko said. The 18 students enrolling in Community Service this spring are choosing the organizations to work with depending on what they are passionate about. 

Skitko continued, saying, “An obvious goal is to have an opportunity for students to give back to the community we all share here, living in Pottstown, and to really be able to make an impact, even if it’s only for a short amount of time. I think a longer-term goal is that students who get involved with community service are going to find that it is so worthwhile for them.”