Doing More, Stressing Less in Swarthmore Pres Youth Group

SPC youth at the Massanetta Middle School Youth Conference this summer (l. to r.) Marie Lowry, Ava Dijstelbloem, Maya Esty, Milly Pellegrini, and Noa Dijstelbloem. Photo by John Weicher

SPC youth at the Massanetta Middle School Youth Conference this summer (l. to r.) Marie Lowry, Ava Dijstelbloem, Maya Esty, Milly Pellegrini, and Noa Dijstelbloem. Photo by John Weicher

By John Weicher

Eighty-four percent. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, 84% of youth, ages 12-17, have a major extracurricular commitment. What’s more, 69% have a second one. We live in an age when our young people have so many opportunities for fun, exercise, creativity, teamwork, musicality, athleticism, activity, busyness, stress, being overwhelmed and not getting enough sleep — all of the joys and burdens of a robust (or overly daunting?) extracurricular life. Indeed, these activities are so important that they bleed over into identity. If you ask youths who they are, they might respond, “I play soccer” or “theater kid.”

So, why should a church have a youth ministry at all? Isn’t it just one more thing? And why should a church invite other youth into its life? Perhaps some of the youth of Swarthmore Presbyterian Church can answer those questions.

“For me, youth group is a place to talk about God without your parents, where everyone feels as awkward as you do,” says middle schooler Amy Hogg. “One of my favorite memories from youth group is when we were playing ‘underground church,’ a game very similar to cops and robbers. We were running around the pitch black church late at night, laughing and just hanging out.”

Youth group — the weekly Sunday afternoon ministry with middle schoolers and high schoolers — strives to be an alternative community of hospitality, faith, doubt, fun and service. Youth can be themselves without having to work to get better at their lines or their sport or their instrument.

For high school junior Laurel Vincent, “Youth group has provided to me a collaborative, learning experience with some of my closest friends. And the summer trips have fostered a faithful experience which has led to many years of self-discovery, including the especially humbling experience from two years working in Appalachia.”

During the summer, youth can participate in mission trips, on which they learn to serve and to love their neighbor. This takes our middle schoolers into Philadelphia and other urban areas. It brings our high schoolers into the countryside of Appalachia and Nicaragua.

“I can’t tell you what an incredibly good feeling I get when I know our team of ASP volunteers has made a difference in the lives of the people of Appalachia,” says Carly Dicker. “They have so little, and are so appreciative of any help we can give them, or any improvements we can make to their modest homes.”

Also during the summer are youth conferences, in which youth group is writ large, expanded to include churches from all over the country and extended to last as long as a week. The community that develops at youth group grows exponentially to allow the youth to be their authentic selves, for all their strengths and growing edges.

A three-time youth conference attendee says, “Attending youth conferences with SPC has been a great way to connect with friends outside of the busy school year schedule, in a place that feels unique to the experience and is far away from our normal life. It also has given me the opportunity to meet people from all over and to make friends with people outside of my home-church group.”

But for youth, SPC is not just for Sunday nights and summer weeks. The church strives to give young people the opportunity to grow and serve in a variety of ways — lots of different outlets to plug into, helping them realize their potential as mature individuals.

High school senior Jacob Knauer, former chair of SPC’s Youth committee, feels that “Having a leadership role at SPC has been an amazing opportunity that I haven’t really been able to find in other parts of my life… Working together with the community — especially between youth and adults of the church — was great.”

Swarthmore Presbyterian Church’s middle school and high school youth groups meet Sundays from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., ending with dinner. All youth in our community are invited to join us. To learn more about SPC’s youth groups, youth mission trips and youth conferences, please go to our website at, or call the church office at (610) 543-4712.

John Weicher is associate Pastor, Christian Education and Youth Ministry at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church.

What’s on Tap for Halloween

Trick or treat? These two young friends seem to be enjoying last year’s Swarthmore Halloween Tots Parade.

Trick or treat? These two young friends seem to be enjoying last year’s Swarthmore Halloween Tots Parade.

Swarthmore Tots to Mass for Halloween Parade

The smallest trick-or-treaters will assemble on Friday, October 28, for a parade through downtown Swarthmore, delighting parents and grandparents, town merchants and residents with their costumes and enthusiasm.

Children up to age 6 (and siblings) are invited to dress up in costume (not too scary, and without weapons) and join the annual Swarthmore Halloween Tots Parade, which begins at 4 p.m. at Thatcher Park (the “Tot Lot”) on Rutgers Avenue at Cornell.

The parade will include a storytime at the Swarthmore Public Library, which will also serve as the starting point for an indoor parade in case of rain.

For information including updates on parade day, visit Swarthmore Town Center, Inc. on Facebook or

Parade with the Lions

A classic Halloween tradition calls all spirited children to join the annual Lions Club parade, next Friday night, October 28. Registration begins at 6:30 p.m. at Swarthmore-Rutledge School; the parade starts at 7:30 p.m. and wends its way around the school’s gym.

Prizes will be awarded for comical costumes, fancy dress, scariest costumes, and best groups. Treats will be dispensed to all — all treats, no tricks!

The parade is free and open to all children; SRS is located at College and Princeton avenues in Swarthmore.

Hogwarts Halloween at Furness

Kids, grab your firebolts and head over to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (normally housing the Helen Kate Furness Free Library in Wallingford).

This event will take place on Friday, October 28, at 7 p.m., and will include scary stories, ghostly games, Harry Potter trivia, and tasty treats! Wear a costume if you dare.

Students ages 3 to 13 may be registered to participate in the event, either in person at the library or by phone: (610) 566-9331.

Halloween Kids Yoga Storytime

Allison DeSalvo invites kids ages 2 through 7 to celebrate Halloween through kids yoga, songs, stories, games, and art this Saturday, October 22, at the Media Arts Council Gallery, 609 W. State Street in Media.

Children will “transform” into characters and creatures through yoga, share adventures and take home crafty art projects. Not-too-scary costumes are welcome. The hour of fun begins at 10:30 a.m.

Suggested donation is $10 for one child; $15 for two or more in a family. Reservations are suggested. Information is available at or by calling (267) 282-1242.

Harry, Hogwarts, Magic at SPL

Wizards in training (with SPL Children’s Programmer Devon Laudenslager in the middle) are (l. to r.), Archer Makai, Noah Henderson, Laila McHugh, Kathryn Barrett, Maddie DiBona, and Joey DiBona.

Wizards in training (with SPL Children’s Programmer Devon Laudenslager in the middle) are (l. to r.), Archer Makai, Noah Henderson, Laila McHugh, Kathryn Barrett, Maddie DiBona, and Joey DiBona.

By Carol Kennedy

If you were in downtown Swarthmore on October 8, you probably noticed special things going on at the public library. It was Harry Potter Day! I sat down with Devon Laudenslager, children’s programmer, a few days later to get the scoop.

Carol: How did you get the idea for Harry Potter Day?

Devon: In the summer of 2015, I was at a table in the Community Room with some 8- to 10-year-old children involved in a summer math club. I said, “I feel like we are sitting around a table in the Great Hall from Harry Potter,” and we started talking about the Harry Potter books and how much we all love the series. Being overly enthusiastic, I said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could turn this entire building into Hogwarts Castle for a day?”

I walked into Amber’s office (Amber Osborne, library director) and said, “I want to do a Harry Potter Day.” She gave me an immediate go-ahead, and suggested that we make it a fundraiser. For the next six weeks, I worked on the event with our summer intern, Kaitlin Graham, another Harry Potter fan. We held the event and it was great … everyone had a blast, and it raised money for the library as well. So we decided to make it annual. This year, Kaitlin and I tweaked and expanded our ideas from 2015 and did it again.

Carol: For people who missed it, could you describe the day?

Devon: We decorated Borough Hall to look like Hogwarts School, with stone walls, dark corners, torches and cobwebs, and a long curtain representing Platform 9 3/4 that children had to pass through to enter. Inside the castle, they saw 100 floating candles in the lobby, which turned it into the Great Hall.

Using the official sorting hat, the children were sorted into three houses: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Then costumed prefects escorted them to classes: Defense Against the Dark Arts, Potions, and Herbology. Outside, the amphitheater became a Quidditch pitch, and there were craft tables, the whomping willow, and cutout props for family photos. We made everything as authentic and elaborate as we could, so everyone could get the feeling they get when reading the books — that magic is possible and this wizarding world might really exist. We wanted the kids to feel as if they had just received their acceptance letters to Hogwarts and were taking their first classes there!

We had a trivia quiz for middle-school students in the afternoon. They really know their Harry Potter!

In the evening, for the Yule Ball, an adults-only event, we kept the same atmosphere so adults could feel the magic, too! We had costumes, food and wine, music and a silent auction.

Carol: How much money was raised? Are there special plans for these funds?

Devon: About $3,000 was raised from 225 participants for the Friends of the Library, which will be using the money to fund a Storybook Walk in early spring 2017 in Little Crum Creek Park.

Carol: Any thoughts about next year’s event?

Devon: We are very excited about next year’s event, and hope to involve businesses to make it community-wide. Instead of an adults-only ball in the evening, we will have a family night, for adults and kids. We are already looking forward to it!

Carol Kennedy is president of Friends of the Swarthmore Public Library. To get involved, contact her at

What to do? What to know?

Money Talks: Visiting Scholar
Addresses Jackson vs. Hamilton

David Weiman. Photo by Dorothy Hong

David Weiman. Photo by Dorothy Hong

The Swarthmore College Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa will be hosting Barnard College economics professor David Weiman on Thursday, October 27, at 7:30 p.m.

Weiman will be lecturing about “Jackson versus Hamilton: Monetary Union and the Struggle over Political Economic Sovereignty.”

The talk, which is free and open to all, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Science Center 101. For more information, contact Kathy Navascues at

Minas Plays Friday Night Live
on October 28 at CAC

Orlando Haddad and Patricia King

Orlando Haddad and Patricia King

Community Arts Center’s Friday Night Live concert series features Grammy-nominated Brazilian jazz band Minas to the stage next Friday, October 28, beginning at 7 p.m.

Venerable but still so cool, leaders Patricia King and Orlando Haddad explore Brazilian musical traditions in American forms. Joining Minas in this cabaret-style merger of music and art are visual artists Nicole Tymoczak and Anthe Capitan-Valais, as well as the performers of Agora Dance in a suite of short pieces called “3 Minutes Max.”

Tickets for CAC members ($10) and others ($15) are available at the door for anyone 17 and older. Those 21 and older may bring their own beverages; light refreshments will be served. Info:

Novelist Keiko Itoh Speaks on Cultures Intertwined

Swarthmore College alumna Keiko Itoh will speak at 4:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon, October 24, on “Japanese-Occupied Shanghai: The Making of a Novel from a Woman’s Perspective.”

The talk at the Scheuer Room of Kohlberg Hall on the Swarthmore College campus is based upon Itoh’s recently published novel My Shanghai, 1942-1946, which is the product of her imagination, her historical research on the Pacific war, and the inspiration of her London-educated mother’s war experiences in China.

A reception follows the talk; both events are free and open to the public.

Sunday Is a Pink Ribbon Day at Pilates Connexion

This Sunday, October 23, Pilates Connexion goes pink. Join the 10 a.m. Dance Fusion or 11 a.m. Pilates for Pink Mat classes, and part of your $10 fee will raise funds for breast cancer awareness and support.

At noon, Jeanna Vanni will talk about the studio’s Pink Ribbon post-op recovery exercise program. And a portion of any online or in person purchase from Stella & Dot’s breast cancer awareness will benefit Bright Pink.

Pilates Connexion is at 15 S. Chester Road in Swarthmore, and online at

Labor Leader Paul Booth to Speak

Swarthmore College will host returning alumnus Paul Booth on Monday, October 24, at Science Center 199 on the campus, beginning at 7 p.m.

Booth, who was a member of the Democratic Party’s 2016 platform drafting committee, will talk on “So You Say You Want a Revolution? Pushing the Envelope of American Politics.” The talk is free and open to all.

Hogie and Anne Hansen

Hogie and Anne Hansen

Sacred Spaces Class at SUMC

Swarthmore United Methodist Church will offer programs on Sacred Spaces during its Faith and Life Classes at 11:15 a.m. during the next two Sundays, October 23 and 30. The discussions will be led by Anne and Hogie Hansen, former residents of Swarthmore, and are open to all who wish to participate.

This week’s class will explore how tourism contributed to the development of our understanding of sacred places and spaces during the 19th and the 20th centuries. There will be opportunities to share your own favorite sacred spaces.

On Sunday, October 30, the class will discuss the 100th Anniversary of our National Park Service, with a special guest speaker. The magnificent sacred spaces in the Parks System continue to inspire visitors as they pause and reflect. The church is located at 129 Park Avenue.

Poets and Prophets Meets October 28

Poets and Prophets plans its first fall poetry reading for Friday, October 28, 7 p.m., at the home of John Brodsky, 516 Bryn Mawr Avenue in Swarthmore.

Refreshments will be served. Call (610) 328-POET for more information.

Erin Rae

Erin Rae

Meanwhile, Erin Rae Comes to WaR3house3

Nashville singer/songwriter and recording artist Erin Rae & the Meanwhiles make their last U.S. appearance for a while on Saturday, October 22, a day before taking off for a European tour.

They will be joined on stage at by guests including Jerry Bernhardt during a hot night of original music at WaR3house3 in Swarthmore. BYOB; light fare will be served.

Advance tickets are $10; $15 gets you in on show night. Doors open at 7 p.m.; the show begins at 7:30. Info:

Cleanup at Little Crum Creek Park Saturday

If you missed the last one, here’s another chance on Saturday, October 22, to join the cleanup effort at Little Crum Creek Park, led by Swarthmore’s Environmental Advisory Council.

Bring rakes, loppers and clippers to help clean up the Yale Avenue entrance to the park. Gloves, snacks and water will be provided.

Come at 9 a.m. if you can; stay ‘til noon or whenever you need to leave.

Scott Arboretum Tour Thursday

Join Scott Arboretum staff members in a free hour-long walking tour of the arboretum’s plant collections on Thursday afternoon, October 27.

The tour leaves Scott’s office on College Avenue at noon, unless the weather takes an unfavorable turn, in which case it will be canceled. Call (610) 328-8025 for more information.

Free Flu Shots at Furness Library

Is it really flu season again? Well, at least it’s flu shot season. Take some of the sting out of the needle with a freebie next Tuesday, October 25, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Helen Kate Furness Free Library in Wallingford.

The inoculation is free if you bring a prescription insurance card, and for anyone 65 or older and on Medicare. No appointment is necessary; the program is sponsored by Surrey Services for Seniors – Hometown Media and Walgreens. The library is located at 100 N. Providence Road.

McCabe Library Book Sale Next Weekend

McCabe Library of Swarthmore College will hold its annual book sale next Friday, October 28, through Sunday, the 30th.

Bargain books concentrate on the scholarly, artistic, and unusual, but encompass all genres (including videos).

McCabe is adjacent to Parrish Hall at the end of College Avenue. Info:

Book Fair & Open House at School in Rose Valley

Matt Phelan

Matt Phelan

The School in Rose Valley hosts best-selling children’s book author/illustrator Matt Phelan as a special guest at its Family Open House and Book Fair, Saturday, November 5, from 10 a.m. to noon.

The school invites parents and their children to enjoy children’s activities, open classrooms, outdoor play, and readings from some of the 20-plus books Phelan has produced.

The event is free; no reservation needed. The School in Rose Valley is at 20 School Lane; more info is at

Chef’s Table Will Abound with Seafood

Executive Chef Kevin Ahern

Executive Chef Kevin Ahern

Keith Ahern loves seafood, and he can demonstrate his passion in a way few of us can.

As executive chef of the Broad Table Tavern, Ahern has dreamed up a unique feast which he will prepare next Thursday for a fortunate few. Five courses, each featuring fish or shellfish, will be paired with outstanding wines and served to 16 diners at the Chef’s Table event at the tavern.

Gourmets, gourmands, foodies and seafood fans are invited to join the feast on October 27. The cost is $85 per person; reservations are required.

Call (610) 543-7500 to get more information and reserve your place at the Chef’s Table. The Broad Table Tavern is in the Inn at Swarthmore, 10 S. Chester Road.

Spotlight Theatre’s ‘Happy Birthday, Wanda June’

Andrew SanFilippo (Springfield) and John Barker (Glen Mills) star in the Spotlight Theatre’s production of Happy Birthday, Wanda June.

Andrew SanFilippo (Springfield) and John Barker (Glen Mills) star in the Spotlight Theatre’s production of Happy Birthday, Wanda June.

Cultures clash as A Man’s World meets the Age of Aquarius in Kurt Vonnegut’s darkly comic play Happy Birthday, Wanda June, opening tonight, October 21, at Spotlight Theatre in Swarthmore.

In this loose retelling of the tale of Odysseus, a big-game hunter comes home from the killing fields to find that his nuclear family has blown up. Instead of the reunion he hoped for, Harold Ryan must cope with the counterculture that surrounds his son, ex-wife and her new husband.

As funny and thought-provoking as it was when Vonnegut wrote it in 1971, Wanda June has been revived for a three-weekend run at Spotlight, which is located in Swarthmore United Methodist Church at 129 Park Avenue. Shows are at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, October 30.

Information is at, where you can also purchase tickets.

RVCO Opens ‘Iolanthe’ at SHMS

Famous for its productions of Gilbert and Sullivan, the Rose Valley Chorus and Orchestra will open its 2016-17 season with one of the duo’s Savoy operettas, the 1882 work Iolanthe, which comically tells the story of a fairy who marries a mortal, is banished from her native Fairyland, and raises a simple son whose romance leads to chaos and turmoil in the land.

A political satire as apt today as when it was written in the 1880s, Iolanthe will be performed on the weekends before and after the U.S. elections, beginning November 5.

Performances will be at 8 p.m. on Saturdays, November 5 and 12, and Wednesday, November 9. Matinees (at 2 p.m.) will play on Saturday, November 5, and Sundays, November 6 and 13. The show will be staged at the auditorium of Strath Haven Middle School, 200 S. Providence Road in Wallingford.

Advance tickets — all are general admission and good for any show — are $17 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, and $7 for children 12 and under.

They can be ordered by mail; enclose an SASE with your check to Rose Valley Chorus and Orchestra, P.O. Box 414, Media, PA 19063. Tickets will be available at the door for an additional $3 apiece. Information is at or by calling (610) 565-5010.

Wind Symphony at Lang on Saturday

A unique 51-piece ensemble comprising woodwinds, brass and percussion instrumentalists, Philadelphia Wind Symphony plays an evening concert at Lang Concert Hall of Swarthmore College on Saturday, October 22.

The program includes pieces by Holst, Rutter, Woolfenden and the Beatles, all conducted by music director Paul Bryan. The concert begins at 8 p.m., and all are invited to attend a pre-concert panel discussion at 7:30. Admission is free to all, without tickets.

Pasta Dinner at Trinity

Trinity Episcopal Church invites all in the community to its annual pasta supper on Sunday, October 23, which benefits the church’s youth programs.

Dinner will be served from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the church, 301 N. Chester Road in Swarthmore.

The cost is $8 per adult, $5 per child, or $20 per family for a dinner including pasta and meatballs (vegetarian option also available), salad, bread, dessert and beverage.

Trinity’s famous thrift shop will be open during the meal.

Horrors! Discuss ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ at TGP

Halloween will arrive a few days early at The Gathering Place, next Wednesday, October 26. Louise Coffin will lead a discussion of W. W. Jacobs’s masterful tale of horror, The Monkey’s Paw.

The story is easily found online; print out a copy, read and bring it with you if possible. Attendees are also welcome to share scary poems.

And be alert, as Little Orphant Annie would say, because “the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you ef you don’t watch out.”

The Gathering Place meets at the Swarthmore United Methodist Church at noon. Bring a bag lunch; dessert and beverage are provided.

Volunteer Ombudsmen (left to right) Doris Rufo, Maria Fortuna, M.J. McDaniel and Denise Gallagher, Ombudsman coordinator.

Volunteer Ombudsmen (left to right) Doris Rufo, Maria Fortuna, M.J. McDaniel and Denise Gallagher, Ombudsman coordinator.

COSA Collects Afghans

If you wield a crochet hook, or have a spare afghan around the house, you can help warm and bring cheer to seniors in local nursing homes in the holiday season.

Delaware County’s Office of Services to the Aging (COSA) has opened its annual afghan drive, collecting new or gently used afghans at its office at 206 Eddystone Avenue in Eddystone.

Afghans — ideally sized about 36 inches square, but appreciated in any size — will be collected through December 9, and will be donated to residents of local long-term care facilities on December 16.

Call Denise Gallagher at (610) 872-1868 for more information.

Oilwork by Georganna Lenssen

Oilwork by Georganna Lenssen

‘Memory and Place’ Opens This Weekend at CAC

The abstract works of artists Georganna Lenssen and Roger Chavez are featured in a new exhibition opening this Sunday, October 23, at Community Arts Center in Wallingford.

Visitors are welcomed to greet the artists and see the work at a wine and cheese reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The reception and admission are free.

In the show “Interpretations of Memory and Place,” both Lenssen and Chavez present images and elements intended to explore memories of places and experiences, and to elicit individual interpretations from viewers.

The exhibit will be hung in CAC’s Duke Gallery through November 23. Also opening this weekend are shows of work by Lucy Edwards, ceramics by Linda Eiteljorg, and instructor Olga Neilsen’s students’ sculpture and figure drawings.

CAC is at 414 Plush Mill Road. Hours, directions, etc., are at



Sean Coit and Kristen Molloy

Cathy and Russ Molloy of Manasquan, New Jersey, formerly of Swarthmore, have announced the engagement of their daughter Kristen to Sean Coit of Reston, Virginia.

Kristen, a graduate of Strath Haven High School and Northwestern University, is senior health policy advisor to United States Senator Tim Kaine (VA).

Sean, a graduate of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Vir., and St. Joseph’s University, currently serves as communications director for Katie McGinty’s Senate campaign in Pennsylvania.

The couple resides in Washington, D.C., and are planning a September 2017 wedding.


In Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday, October 13, Barry Jacobs received the Don Bloch Award, the lifetime achievement award of the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association, a national organization devoted to the integration of physical and mental healthcare.

Barry says, “In my acceptance speech, I talked about how collaboration among different kinds of healthcare providers, patients and family members requires ‘empathy in action’ for all of us to achieve greater understanding and better health.”

Helen M. Rankin


 Helen M. Rankin, a Swarthmore resident since 1952, died October 13, 2016.

Funeral services will be held at Wallingford Presbyterian Church on Friday. October 28, with a viewing starting at 10 a.m. followed by the service at 11 a.m.

A full obituary will appear in a future issue of the Swarthmorean.

Joseph Gormally


A memorial celebration of the 98 years of life of Joseph Gormally will take place on Saturday, October 29, at White Horse Village, 535 Gradyville Road, Newtown Square, Pa.

The celebration will begin at 11 a.m., in the Club Room at the village, followed by an informal lunch. For more information, please contact Ann Torregrossa at (610) 544-7264.

Give a Gift that Lasts

The Swarthmore Centennial Foundation offers supporters another chance to contribute to the permanent beautification of the town. Private fundraising from residents has contributed to each of the Foundation’s projects thus far.

In the case of Central Park, participation is easy. Commemorative pavers, available in two sizes, can be purchased and inscribed with a dedication or other message from the donor. They can be ordered through November 15 for completion as holiday gifts.

A 12”x16” inch grey stone costs $ 500 plus a $35 installation fee; a 4.5”x9” red brick is $150 plus $15.

For more information or to order, visit