Chester Education Foundation recently received a generous donation from an anonymous donor through the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The donation was made in honor of a University of Pennsylvania student from Chester who died in 1989. The letter that accompanied the check requested that, if possible, we should let his mother "know that his friends think of him, and his great spirit, every day". I was unfamiliar with his story so I did a little research and came across an article published in the University of Pennsylvania paper about the sweet-hearted engineering freshman from Chester who did not return after Christmas break.
In the words of the author, "Urban America is not exotic. And as much as we would like to believe otherwise, it is not another culture, another world. It is a part of who we are -- as a nation, as a society. The problems, the sorrows and the horrors which all too often come with the turf in our cities affect every single one of us". When I read the article, it made me cry because it could have been written this week. Little has changed in the City of Chester, or in most urban communities since 1992. On average, we lose 1 young person to street violence every month in Chester.
While I was not with Chester Education Foundation when it was started in 1989, I am sure that the original founders were aware of the tragic loss of this young man that year and were determined to make a difference. Since then, we have helped more than 9,000 young people graduate from high school and go on to college or work.
As we continue our work, one young person at a time, we are very grateful for the donation from the donor and promise that the funds dedicated to a friend’s memory will be used with the utmost respect and consideration.
Written by: Cheryl Cunningham