Roots of Revitalization

Social Change Through Action In Pottstown PA

WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? August 19, 2011

Amy Wolf in front at Neighborhood BBQ summer 2011.

By Amy Wolf

I moved to Pottstown 14 years ago, in to a house, sight unseen, to be with a man I thought could be “the one”, though I had no ring, no car, no job.  My parents, needless to say, thought I was crazy. When they visited a couple of months later, my house not yet in a state you could even call a work in progress, their initial         thoughts were cemented.  What had I done? That thought crossed my own mind many times.

We did get married, that man I loved and I, in 1999.  Further, we bought that house eventually in 2002.  Since then many things have changed – in our house, in our town and in our lives.   My husband, Levi was already involved in many community organizations – HARB, the Carousel,  and the Synagogue board. But I had yet to really dive in and understand how community involvement leads to those strong bonds, which I now    know are so important to me.

I remember the exact moment things changed for me.  It was summer 2001, and I was a couple days overdue with our son Harrison. We walked downtown for Pottstown’s “First Saturday” car show. We got ice cream, I waddled, and we ran into our neighbors, Patty and Terry Fetterman, and their 2 kids at the time, Jake and Claire.  We had lived across the street from them forfour years, I had heard so much about them,yet amazingly, we hadnever met.  Patty was so enthusiastic about meeting me, and about the pending birth of our child (Patty never met a baby she didn’t like!), and, well, there was something of Kismet in our meeting. We just instantly clicked.  And I found it pleasantly surprising that there were people “like us” right across the street.  That, as they say, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Amy Wolf and other local ladies at Neighborhood Baby Shower Feb. 2011

I started to get involved in some community organizations – the boards of the Synagogue and Creative Health Services, as well as the Historic Pottstown Neighborhood Association, of which I eventually became president. The HPNA is a long-standing (over 30 years), loosely organized social group that aims to preserve and beautify the downtown historic Pottstown neighborhood.  Over the years, it has grown in a group that upholds those goals, as well as to maintain a clean, friendly and safe neighborhood, one we can all be proud to call home.  The HPNA organizes the annual Historic Pottstown By House Tour eachDecember, headed by Sue Krause for the past 30 years. We also enter a float in the 4th of July Parade each year and undertake little projects from time to time to uphold our mission.   

HPNA in Pottstown Parade 7-4-2011.

Through the HPNA, I have come to know many of our neighbors and have found that they are just regular, hard-working people, homeowners who care about the neighborhood andthis town.  Those big fancy suburbs and development dwellers?   They got nothing on us.  We have neighborhood parties just like them, hang
out on Fridays nights, our kids play together, we borrow cups of sugars and folding tables.  We count on each other.   

Amy with friends at neighborhood party Oct. 2009.

I started working in Pottstown last Fall, after 11 years of commuting to Reading.  I found the biggest bonus to working where I live is feeling more “connected” to my community and neighborhood. I was now walking Harrison to and from the bus stop each day and in doing so, getting to know even more people in the neighborhood – waving to the dentist across the street, the elderly man who sits on his porch each morning, and the nice ladywho always compliments me on my outfits. 

Eager to spend more time with the girls in the neighborhood, I put together The Friday Lunch Club.  The founding members are me, Patty, Sheila Dugan, Teri Jensen-Sellers and Beth Kimmel.  We met every Friday for lunch through the school year –sometimes all five of us, sometimes only two of us, and our group expanded to include several others who rotate in and out.  We patronize local, downtown restaurants.  Our conversations range from school concerns, to dealing with teenagers, to sex, to fashion, to food and beyond.  We have said goodbye to one of our founding members, welcomed new neighbors and a new baby to our group. The Friday Lunch Club has helped strengthen the bonds of friendshipbetween us women and our families.  I could never have imagined 14 years ago that I would have such a strong network of friends, so close by. 

The original members of Friday Lunch Club.

My parents have come to visit manytimes over the past 14 years.  They have come to love Pottstown(especially walking to the Very Best for Breakfast!) and my friendsand neighbors.  They spent a lot of time here when I was sick in2002, and again this year after my recent surgery in March.  When they left after a few weeks of helping me recover, they knew I was in good hands.  It gives them great comfort to know I have so many true friends I can call, day or night, if I need help with household chores, grocery shopping or looking after Harrison.  And it gives me great comfort, too.  It’s what makes my life here in Pottstown notjust good, but great.


3 Responses to “WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?”

  1. Amy, great story! Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Olive Says:

    The very reasons Pottstown is so worth it – in this regard we live in a very rich community. Building on valuable friendships, the smart and caring people who call this community home, uniting with one another, having fun and cementing our common goal to make Pottstown the best it can be.

  3. Thanks Olive for your sentiments…….We need to have even more long term families and citizens in Pottstown to cement community through neighborly friendships, and this can be accomplished by promoting our town as safe and friendly. We need to discourage SLUMLORDS who only attract transient short term renters……

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