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“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” –Norman Vincent Peale

Press PUBLISHER Dan Mathers dan@thewcpress.com

ADVERTISING MANAGER Nick Vecchio nick@thewcpress.com EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Courtney potts courtney@thewcpress.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Nazarena Luzzi Castro nazarenaluzzi.com CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Kate Chadwick kchadwick@thewcpress.com CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Amy Tucker amytuckerphotography.com Dan Balmer dan@localized-app.com

COLUMNISTS Becca Boyd bboyd@thewcpress.com Jamie Jones jjones@thewcpress.com Andrea Mason amason@thewcpress.com DJ Romeo romeo@thewcpress.com Rotary Club of West Chester rotary@thewcpress.com Chester County Historical Society cchs@thewcpress.com Published By... Mathers Productions 12 E Barnard Street West Chester, PA 19382 mathersproductions.com 610-344-3463 The WC Press is a monthly magazine distributed free of charge to more than 250 businesses. For a free digital subscription, visit thewcpress.com. For more information about specific distribution locations, visit thewcpress.com/distribution.



Our no-nonsense table of contents


WELCOME TO WEST CHESTER Meet the family behind Neverland Virtual Reality


LOCAL GIFT GUIDE Suggestions for shopping locally this holiday season


OWNER OF THE MONTH A chat with Nancy Tuttle, namesake of Tuttle Marketing


The Community Warehouse Projects helps settle those in need


Sean Brown of Split Rail Tavern talks about quality craft brews


GIVING THE GIFT OF GIVING Considering local alternatives to traditional gifts


Find the five differences between the two pictures and win!



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Offers to well qualified buyers. *Leases for 36 months at 10K miles per year. $1,999 total due at lease signing includes down payment & $0 security deposit. Taxes, tags and dealer installed options (if any). Supercedes all previous offers. Prior sales excluded. Not responsible for typographical errors. Pictures for illustration purposes only. See dealer for details. Offers expire 12/31/18.




from the


Dan Mathers shares some personal insight into this month’s theme

Bah Humbug! That’s how I’m feeling right now. The Christmas season’s inexorable creep into earlier months has long been a point of contention for me, but this year’s assault feels even more pronounced. The first warning came while trying to accomplish some late decorating for Halloween. I discovered the autumnal decor and pumpkin-themed ornamentation had already been replaced by red, white and green. In a huff, I grabbed three 100-packs of assorted chocolate candies and grumbled through self-checkout. Three days later, on the first of November, Michael Bublé forced his way back into my life via my car radio. I’m not entirely sure what he does the rest of the year, but in my mind he’s a professional Christmas crooner, and when he told me to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” I became determined that I would not. By now, the signs are everywhere. Christmas commercials have begun to crowd the airwaves, and as I write this, Google News has just notified me that Donald Trump selected a 19-and-a-half-foot Frasier Fir for the Blue Room in the White House. That’s right: the president’s picked his Christmas tree a full week before I’ve even purchased a Thanksgiving turkey. But I think I may have identified the source of my exacerbated Grinch-like attitude: sometimes I worry that I’m part of the problem. In order to get this magazine out in time to be useful for folks’ holiday shopping, we started production on the December issue eight days before October ended, and we sent out our first emails about the Local Gift Guide back on November 6. I’ve spent the past three weeks absorbed in my own work of promoting the holiday spirit... and now, with everything I’ve invested in this issue, I’m feeling a bit tapped out. Still, I genuinely believe all that effort is worthwhile. Now in its seventh edition, I’ve used our Local Gift Guide every year to inspire ideas for friends and family. Whether or not I buy exactly what I find here, these entries are the sparks that get me going. Without this issue, I’d never have considered such a thing as a “Be Well” syrup from The Prana House for my Denver-based sister, or a cool-yet-functional vest from Phineas Gage for my stepdad, nor would I have realized that Colonial Village will trim and tie a fresh filet for just $13. That last one is on my wishlist. Unlike the days when my only concern was whether or not Santa would elect to amuse my parents with a small deposit of coal in my stocking, it’s a lot easier to get burned out on holiday spirit these days. With that in mind, when I put this issue to bed tonight, my plan is to step away for a bit. I intend to shut out the Christmas din and embrace Thanksgiving. When that’s done, I’m going to take a deep breath, relax for a week and polish off the rest of that Halloween candy. By the time this magazine hits streets on December 1, I’ll be refreshed and fully prepared to dig my ugly sweater out from the bottom of my closet and embrace the holiday season like Scrooge come Christmas morning. Bah Humbug, everyone! —dan@thewcpress.com





Welcome to

West Chester PHOTO Dan Balmer INTERVIEW Dan Mathers

The Bagwan family talk about their new partnership, Neverland Virtual Reality How did you end up in West Chester? BRADY: I got my degree in computer science from the Virginia Military Institute and chose to join the Army. I was an infantry officer until 2006, which is how I met our business partner, Josh Smith. After I got out, our family moved around a lot, but in 2016 we landed in West Chester. Josh was also in the Army? B: He and I served in the same unit, stationed four kilometers from the Korean Demilitarized Zone before being deployed to Iraq. There were only so many officers, so while we didn’t work closely, we knew each other. When we made it out of the Al-Anbar Province, they put us at Fort Carson in Colorado, and that’s when we got close.

Where’d your lives take you? B: He chose to stay in and work special ops while I got out and went into business. He stayed in another five years, then got a law degree from Penn State and went into commercial real estate. We kept in touch. How’d the business idea come about? B: When my family moved here, he was in Hershey, so we were only 80 minutes apart, and we wanted a good excuse to hang out. We joke and say, “Our wives wouldn’t let us get together often enough, so we made a business to hang out more.” Why a virtual reality arcade? LYNN: We took a trip to New York with our daughters—Brielle (6) and Brennan (8)— and with so many activities, we had to pick and choose. We voted between Broadway and a VR arcade, and I alone voted for Broadway. We spent the entire afternoon at the arcade with all types of people: couples, families, kids. We were immediately like, “We should open one of these.” Are you all gamers? L: We don’t even have video games at home. What was surprising to me when I delved into VR was the array of experiences. You can fly to the moon with the crew of Apollo 11, and we

put my daughter on the street in front of the house in Canada where we lived when she was born. Of course, there’s also boxing and shooting zombies... B: Plus, there are applications in the worlds of education, real estate and even medicine, like treating anxiety or phobias. What’s the equipment? B: We use the Vive Pro, it's the best available, paired with high-performance, custom-built rigs. Even if you have a unit at home, it's probably nothing like this. We also have racing simulators and a few other options. How’d you choose the location? L: We live in West Bradford, but between our girls’ activities, or just going out to dinner, we’re in the borough four times a week, and we fell in love with it. Josh had never been here, but he and his wife walked the streets with us, and he was quickly sold on the location. He’s in the real estate business, and he saw the potential right away. And what are the girls’ favorite parts of the business? BRENNAN: I like Beat Saber because it’s very active. BRIELLE: I like Fruit Ninja because I like chopping, and it’s okay when I break things in the game.






Becca Boyd shares tips on life and cooking on her blog at homebeccanomics.com


Early in December each year I write a list of the folks that deserve thanks. This includes my hair stylist and the mail carrier, obviously, but now with three kids it also involves bus drivers, teachers and Sunday school leaders. If getting in the kitchen brings you a bit of joy, as it does for me, then these two recipes will be a blessing to you as well as those to whom you present them. –bboyd@thewcpress.com Funfetti Biscotti - makes about 4 dozen 3 large eggs 1/4 heaping tsp. table salt 1 c. sugar 1/2 c. slivered, toasted almonds 1 tsp. vanilla 1/2 c. rainbow jimmies 1 c. vegetable oil Topping 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice 1/4 c. coarse or sanding sugar 3 c. all purpose flour 1 tsp. kosher salt 1 tsp. baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment or silpat. 2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, vanilla, oil and lemon juice until smoothly combined. 3. In a second larger bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. Add egg mixture to flour mixing and stir to smoothly combine. 4. Add almonds and jimmies and fold to combine. 5. Widthwise on the baking sheet, make three logs, about 2 1/2 inches wide, about 12 inches long and about 1 1/2 inches high. Sprinkle evenly with sugar and salt. 6. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool about ten minutes. Remove to cutting board and slice into cookies, 1/2 inch to 1 inch thickness to preference. Return to baking sheet with cookies laying on their sides. 7. Bake another 15 minutes at same temperature. Let cool and store at room temperature. Sweet & Salted Nut Mix - Makes about 7 cups 2 c. unsalted peanuts 1/2 tsp. ginger 2 c. raw unsalted almonds 1/2 tsp. allspice 1 1/2 c. mini pretzels, a bit broken 1/4 tsp. nutmeg 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 1 egg white 6 tbsp. sugar 1/2 c. unsweetened coconut 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 c. dried cherries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. 2. Mix peanuts, almonds and pretzels in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg white in smaller bowl until bubbly and in a small bowl, whisk salt, sugar and spices. 3. Add egg white and spice mixture to nut/pretzel mixture and stir to combine. 4. Spread on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. 5. Remove baking sheet from oven and sprinkle coconut over mixture. Stir gently and return to oven for another five minutes. 6. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle dried cherries across the surface. Let cool completely and break gently with hands if necessary. Store in airtight container up to 1 week. DECEMBER 2018 THEWCPRESS.COM




Suggestions for shopping locally this holiday season BY COURTNEY POTTS

Find the perfect wedding gown for your special day at Sabrina Ann Couture, West Chester and Sabrina Ann in Ardmore, both premier destinations for bridal gowns and evening wear. Browse our selection of designer sample gowns in a range of sizes. Our selection changes weekly. Enjoy a boutique shopping experience while saving 30 – 70% off retail. Our seasoned consultants will help you find the gown of your dreams. New Dresses Arriving Weekly! Save 30- 70% Off Retail.

To view our collections, visit our website today! www.sabrinaann.com



Sabrina Ann 24 Ardmore Ave Ardmore, PA 19003 610.642.6228

Sabrina Ann Couture 128 North High Street West Chester, PA 19380 484.999.8326

All the Dogs 13 S Church St 484.887.0282 allthedogslove.com

West Paw Big Sky Blanket Handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, this comfy machine-washable blanket will keep your pup cozy all winter long, not to mention it will shield your furniture from fur and drool. Pair the blanket with a matching West Paw Stuffed Teddy for extra cuddles.


Chester County Running Store 24 S High St 610.696.0115 runccrs.com

Brooks Canopy Jacket As seen on the women’s winner of last year’s Boston Marathon, this weather-resistant jacket is a wonderful present to see underneath the tree. It’s breathable, minimal, packable and completely indispensable for any active lifestyle.




Colonial Village Meat Market 929 S High St 610.436.9514 Colonialvillagewestchester.com

Filet Mignon Roast What better gift than a hot (and delicious) meal on the table? Colonial Village Meat Market will trim and tie your roast in minutes. They can also provide cooking instructions for you to ensure the perfect result.


Disc Hounds 323 E Gay St 610.696.8668 dischounds.com

Digital Transfer Kit With Disc Hounds transfer kit, old pictures, cassette tapes, films and slides can be transferred to one place and converted to a format compatible with today’s digital standards, available on USB or DVD. No more having to dig through old closets or boxes to find a specific memory. The gift of preserved memories is one that may be treasured for generations.




Giunta’s Furniture 513 E Gay St 484.887.8271 giuntasfurniture.com

Votivo Candle The Votivo candle is a soy-blend wax that is perfect for the gift-giving season. It’s beautiful holiday packaging will catch your eye, and each candle is hand-wrapped in a signature box. And, of course, they all smell amazing when lit.


H. Rose Kiddos 141 W Gay St 484.887.0085 hrosekiddos.com

Alex and Ani Calavera Made from the purest of metals, the Calavera radiates positive energy. The sugar skull is a sweet representation of the Mexican Day of the Dead. On this day we celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed on.




Kaly 37 W Gay St 610.436.8272 kalyclothing.com

B.U. Handmade Necklace These inspirational pieces are a wonderful gift for a special someone and contain a whimsical message. The necklace is sterling silver with a Prehnite stone, often known as the stone of prophecy, which stimulates energy while imparting a powerful calm.


Kaplan’s 111 W Market St 610.431.4640 kaplansfinejewelry.com

Black Onyx and Diamond Necklace This necklace will turn heads at any party, holiday or otherwise. With an artistic cut of black onyx, it’s made of 14 karat white gold and surrounded by diamonds. It rests on a diamond baile and totals .20 carats.





Malena’s Vintage 101 W Gay St 610.738.9952 malenasboutique.com

1960s Lucite Box Purse An original from the 1960s this clear purse is made of faceted lucite plastic. To hide your more personal items, simply place your favorite scarf inside as a lining. With curved handles and closure swivel on hinges, it’s large enough to fit everything you need for a night out.


New Vision Family Eye Care 654 Downingtown Pike 610.738.1494 newvisioneyes.com

Blackfin Windsor Glasses Avant-Garde design, Japanese titanium and Italian talent are all buzz words in modern design, and they all apply to the Blackfin frame line. Each pair of Blackfin glasses is designed and manufactured in Italy through a 53-step industrial/artisan production process. Made of 100% titanium, it is 48% lighter than similar frames made of the more common nickel/silver.




We are committed to not only being your home for fitness, but also a place of community and belonging. Our passion is to provide you with the opportunity to develop relationships, achieve your goals and belong to something bigger than yourself.

THAN MUSCLE Build your community!

Join the YMCA TODAY for more than just a workout!

For a better us. Income-based membership is available. 18 years and up. Bring photo ID.

COMING IN JANUARY 2019! New YMCA healthy weight loss program • Tips for balanced eating • Physical activity plan • Healthy lifestyle topics • Group Support • Attainable goals!


OSCAR LASKO YMCA AND CHILDCARE CENTER 1 E. Chestnut Street, West Chester, PA 19380 • 610-696-9622

605 Airport Road, West Chester, PA 19380 • 610-431-9622

branches of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine



Phineas Gage 29 S High St 484.266.7344 Phineas-gage.com

Johnnie-O Hudson Vest The Hudson quilted vest is a great layering piece for the holiday season. This lightweight, insulated option will keep you warm, without carrying extra weight. It’s also 100% nylon and water resistant.


The Prana House 109 N Church St 610.436.1407 thepranahouse.com

Jacque Maldonado “Be Well” Syrup This immune-boosting syrup is made with elderberries, astragalus, echinacea, alfalfa, ginger root, cinnamon, cloves, apple cider vinegar, and local raw honey. A shot a day is a great prescription for preventative care for you and your entire family.





Radley Run 1100 Country Club Rd 610.793.1660 radleyruncountryclub.com

Radley Run Country Club Winter Beanie This year’s design incorporates the club colors and shows off the club’s Hessian logo. The beanie is a custom design for Radley Run created by Ahead, one of golf’s leading headwear companies.


Right Touch 929 S High St 484.576.7690 righttouchtrophies.com

Sherpa Quarter-Zip Pullover This time of year, a little extra coziness and warmth is always a good choice, and for blending those two options, there’s little better than a plush pullover.





Sabrina Ann Couture 128 N High St 484.999.8326 sabrinaann.com

Giavan Necklace Sabrina Ann Couture is not just for wedding gowns. Pair that fabulous holiday look with a great selection of all things sparkly. This necklace in particular, would have all eyes on that special someone at every gathering this holiday season.


Spaz Beverage 1015 W Chester Pk 610.696.6320 spazbeverage.com

Sierra Nevada Snowpack Enjoy this holiday with a cold (yet warming) wintertime brew from Spaz. Featuring some big-bodied winter brews, plus Sierra’s go-to pale ale, these 12, 12oz bottles are perfect for the beer snob on your list.





Sunset Hill 23 N High St 610.692.0374 sunsethilljewelers.com

Rose Gold Shoulder Duster Earring This 14K rose gold earring will dazzle underneath the lights this season. It’s elegant style pairs perfectly with a holiday dress. It’s an astounding gift not soon to be forgotten.


Taste of Olive 26 S High St 610.429.0292 atasteofolive.com

Funny Farm Apiaries Honey Here’s the buzz on Funny Farm Apiaries: this local company is saving bees! They produce 30 different kinds of honey that are flavored with essential oils and natural extracts. Each jar comes with 10oz of delicious honey.




• Get a jump on your New Year’s resolutions with state-of-the-art fitness centers and exciting group exercise classes • Swim in our indoor pools* (while staying warm!) • Gather the family for fun-filled games • Take part in our volunteer and outreach activities

Our Gift of Health to You




December 26-31

*Airport Road location only


you ... and if


, ership memb e! Y h t n fe 12-mo 9 join with a aive the $9 w l ’l we


In this season of giving, we’re inviting you, your family and neighbors to enjoy the Y, on us! It’s our gift to our community.

605 Airport Road, West Chester, PA 19380, 610-431-9622 branches of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine




1 E. Chestnut Street, West Chester, PA 19380, 610-696-9622 *Photo ID required. Must be 18 years of age or older.

Visual Expansion Gallery 132 N High St 610.436.8697 visualexpansiongallery.com

West Chester-Themed Holiday Ornament These unique, West Chester-themed ornaments are perfect for any reader of this magazine (they love WC, right?). The ornaments are of local scenes by local, talented artists. They are printed on 2x2� marble with gold cord to hang from the tree, and include a gift box.

$18 Yori’s Bakery 15 N Church St 610.344.9674 yorisbakery.com

Box of Holiday Cookies This delicious dessert box contains an assortment of all of small butter cookies. It has seasonal cut-out shapes and holiday cookies that include gingerbread, pfeffernusse, almond crescents, linzer tarts, ice box cookies and others. All of the baking is on the premises, making each cookie from scratch with only the highest quality ingredients.





History & Culture

Chester County Historical Society explores the local past and its influence on our lives today.

In Chester County’s past, the legend of St. Nicholas often involves one person’s name: West Chester resident Warren Mercer. For over four decades, between 1941 and 1984, when he hung up his red cap in retirement, Mercer delighted thousands of Chester Countians as their real Santa.

It all started, as Mercer relayed in a 1970 Daily Local News article, because, “I grew up on a farm and we never got to see Santa.” So when he decided to start portraying him in 1941, “[I] wanted to look just like the Santa I remembered from the old pictures we had,” he said. After 17 years in Downingtown, Mercer’s venue changed to Mosteller’s Department Store at Church and Gay Streets in West Chester. Harold Barnett, former advertising director for Mosteller’s, distinctly remembers Mercer’s impact on the many kids that flocked to the store every year. Mercer arrived in dramatic fashion, climbing a fire engine ladder to the third floor of the store, followed by an entourage of elves. “He was a great guy to work with,” Barnett remembers, “and he looked and acted the part.” Barnett, who had four girls of his own, maintains that his rapport with children was unbelievable. To fully grasp the impact of Mercer’s tenure as Saint Nick, consider all of the venues where he would appear in addition to his regular job and work at Mosteller’s. For decades, he visited sick people of all ages at Chester County Hospital, delivering gifts and holiday cheer on Christmas Day. He frequented nursing homes, day cares, and facilities for special needs children. He would even visit private homes for those most in need. Mercer never accepted payment for his appearances. In fact, if families could not afford presents, he was known to record their information and send gifts. When he died in 1989, he had already been retired for five years, but his legacy lives on in the memories of those who visited him year after year. Warren Mercer is the only Santa Claus to be immortalized at the Chester County Historical Society, as his suit is part of the permanent collections. The last time the suit was on display, in 2007, patrons were moved to tears in viewing it. Along with his suit, CCHS maintains a collection of clippings, photographs, and most importantly, an archive of letters to Santa, which Mercer preserved with care. —cchs@thewcpress.com





Owner of the


PHOTO Amy Tucker INTERVIEW Dan Mathers

Nancy Tuttle, namesake of Tuttle Marketing, prides herself on supplying service the internet can never provide So, you’ve been at this for a bit, right? This year we celebrated our 25th anniversary—started in 1993. How’d things start out? We’ve always worked in promotional products and slowly gained clients every year. We started with the shopping center industry, and progressed into everything from banks and realtors to insurance companies. Now we’re working with schools, sports teams and even tech companies, plus some regional and international clients. Many people have been with us for 25 years. Is the business simply putting logos on products? No. We are full-service:

we come up with concepts, and we have graphic artists to execute those ideas, like logos and designs for product proofs. We always try to make it personal. You could order for an online retailer, but you won’t be able to see samples of those products or proofs before they ship out. Plus, we take pride in never having missed a deadline in 25 years. How many products do you offer? We have more than a million products, so we love when people come to us with a concept and we get to execute for them. Wow. What are some of your most common requests? Still, 25 years later, it’s pens, magnets and drinkware. Of course, that drinkware has changed from ceramic mugs to things like Swell and Yeti bottles, but it’s consistent. We also produce a lot of tech-related products: cell phone wallets, popsockets, earbuds, power banks.... as soon as something hits the mass market, people want to put their logo on it, and we’re there to help them with that. Any particular products stand out? One of my favorite stories is from my first year in business. I said I could find anything, and a client tried to challenge me:

they wanted a life-size doll that looked and talked like the CEO of one of their clients. I found a custom doll company, and we supplied them recordings—back then it was casette tapes—of the CEO on the phone. Sure, the clients never bought it, but it was a great way to prove to myself that I really could do anything. Is there a particular client for this kind of work? We work with everyone. We work with companies like Krapf buses and Chester County Hospital, and a whole bunch of non-profits like Crime Victims Center, and Unite for Her, plus most of the schools in Chester County. I assume it takes a good team to handle that much. There’s myself, and then we have five reps who’ve been with me for years: Sue Bullock has been with me 24 years, Jeanne Reith about 17 years, Kathy O’Donnell 12, and Maria Klang and Megan Hickey have both worked five years. They’ve grown their client base because of their amazing service, and they are great representatives, treating this company like it’s their own. They develop relationships and make things more personal than it’s ever possible to do when working online.





Near and Far

Jamie Jones of Whirlaway Travel explores some travel options abroad and highlights their local counterparts

There’s been a trend toward living a more minimalist lifestyle in recent years. From capsule wardrobes to tiny houses, people want to rid their lives of material possessions in a quest for an uncluttered existence. I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and become very mindful not to add more stuff and things to my life. Having kids makes this challenging—the more junk we get rid of, the more they accumulate—but we recently performed a mass dump of toys, trinkets, papers and clothes that the kids have not used in the past six months. The bags of donations and trash were a bit startling. Surprisingly, they’ve been pretty good at staying on top of their newly cleaned rooms, which got us to thinking about the holidays. Do we really want to undo all of the hard work by gifting them more stuff? My happiest memories have been experiences: watching my kids ride off without training wheels for the first time, exploring Hawaii with my husband on our first solo trip together, getting lost in Antwerp with my mom, early morning walks in West Chester with my dad during my first pregnancy. The gifts I’ve received, while they may have a special place in my heart, are nothing compared to those precious memories of time spent with loved ones. This year we decided to gift experiences to our family in lieu of more things. West Chester-area businesses offer many experiences to choose from: The Painted Plate, Treehouse World, gelato-making at Gemelli’s, plant-based chef classes at Love Again Local, kid’s cooking at HomeCooked, Escape Rooms, The American Helicopter Museum, Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, Tee It Up… the list goes on and on. If we were really ambitious we could probably plan out every weekend for the next year with something different to create memories with our family. There is also travel. My most memorable Christmas’ growing up were spent in Grand Cayman dancing to steel drum bands. There were no gifts under the tree those years, but our holiday spirit was running rampant because we were spending time together away from the hustle and bustle of life at home. As a professional, some of my favorite trips to plan are those that include three and four generations. The logistics of planning and working with a variety of personalities can be challenging, but listening to the stories and sharing in the happiness when the family gets home warms my heart. Every family talks about doing a trip like it again because of the memories created. I want to witness the first time my daughter sees an elephant on safari in Africa and watch my son’s delight as he explores Treehouse World. I know that those experiences will have more meaning to them then the newest Lego set, or neon Sharpies and sketch paper. I also want my kids to share stories of exploring Longwood Gardens or the back streets of London with their families one day. Whether it is near or far, the greatest gift I can give my family is experiences, because memories don’t collect dust and can’t be discarded with yesterday’s trash.—jjones@thewcpress.com











As inevitable as it is for most of us at some point—or at several points—in our lives, no “top stressful life events” list is complete without “moving” on it, usually right up there in the top five. Not only is it a hassle strictly in the nutsand-bolts, logistical sense, moving is “an intensely emotional experience,” according to New York Times article, “The Psychology of Moving.” In a quote from the article by Manhattan psychoanalyst Ronnie Greenberg, “…moving is incredibly stressful and people don’t realize it—they talk about the packing and the external part of moving.” Even when the move is a positive one—out of your parents’ house and off to college, or into the first apartment you rent or home you purchase—the stress remains. Think about the last time you moved. Now take that scenario and imagine that you are fleeing desperate circumstances: impending or actual

homelessness due to a fire, flood, unemployment, illness, domestic violence, or some other situation where the physical well-being of you or your loved ones is at risk. In many cases, people are leaving situations with the clothes on their back and very little else. For Chester County residents in these scenarios, there are organizations to help displaced people get into a space—temporary or otherwise—that provides a roof over their heads. But as great as moving into an apartment or a house can be, with little or no possessions, it doesn’t feel like a home. Enter the Community Warehouse Project, launched by Glenda Brion just over a year ago. Glenda previously worked at Friends Association, a local organization that connects homeless families with housing, and it was through her work there that she realized there was an as-yet unmet imperative involved with transitioning local people

since the organization launched in November 2017, Community Warehouse Project has served approximately 150 families and individuals in the county to a place they could call their own. ”My previous experience at Friends Association taught me that there is an incredible need in the county for furniture,” Glenda told us. “Add that to the fact that there are so many people that have furniture they want to give away, and they just did





...We didn’t have beds, no table to sit at... the kindhearted people at Community Warehouse Project changed all that within a couple of days.

not have a place to give it.” And just like that, CWP was born, a place where the dots between donors and recipients are connected. “We love upcycling furniture donations to help make a house into a home for our clients.” Indeed, since the organization launched in November 2017, Community Warehouse Project has served approximately 150 families and individuals in the county—mostly homeless families getting housing from the various service agencies in Chester County but who don’t have home furnishings for their new house. “This includes veterans from the VA Hospital housing program,” Glenda said. Indeed, of the estimated half million homeless people on any given night across the nation, according to HUD statistics, veterans account for approximately 10% of that figure. Clients for the project must be referred by a case manager from one of the service providers in the county, according to Glenda, and then Community Warehouse Project takes it from here. Such was the case with “Susan,” a woman we spoke with who fled a domestic situation with her three children and asked that we not disclose her name for privacy purposes. “I signed the lease on the first of the month, and it was a roof over my head, but we had nothing else,” Susan told us. ”We didn’t have beds, no table to sit at. Glenda and the kind-hearted people at Community Warehouse Project changed all that within a couple of days.”

Those kind-hearted people at the CWP, which is a 501(c) nonprofit, are all donating their time and effort—including Glenda. “We are all volunteers—the warehouse helpers, the delivery and transportation drivers, those who handle the administrative responsibilities, and so on,” Glenda said. “We currently operate with seven regular volunteers, but the community has also stepped in. The Rotary Club of West Chester has partnered with us, and they volunteer at various times of need. The Friars Society from West Chester University volunteers one Saturday a month to help us deliver to clients, and to pick up furniture from donors.” Yes, they’ll come to you. No hauling that loveseat you’ve had in your den, the one that you just toss

things on, over to the Goodwill yourself—a CWP volunteer or two will come to your house to pick it up. That volunteer might even be Frank Stearns, who joined the project more or less immediately after he learned about it. “I retired on the last day of 2017,” Frank said. “On one of my first mornings of retirement, I opened the tri-county newspaper and read an article about the Community Warehouse Project. In the article, Glenda Brion expressed that their biggest challenge was for volunteers to transport furniture. Having done this sort of work before through my church, Messiah Lutheran in Downingtown, and having time and a large trailer at my disposal, I quickly discovered how





I could spend some of my time. I called Glenda, met with her at the warehouse, and she put me to work immediately.” That warehouse space, by the way, located in Downingtown, is also donated, by local developer Eli Kahn of E. Kahn Development Company. “We pay nothing for it,” Glenda said. As for Kahn, he had only praise for the organization. “They just do a phenomenal job of filling a void in the mission of helping people in need transition to better housing,” he told us. The warehouse is filled practically floor to ceiling with home furnishings donated by generous county residents, and contains everything from living room and bedroom furniture to lamps and rugs and kitchen essentials. Clients are able to then browse and ‘shop’ for what they need to furnish their homes, at no charge to them. For Susan, the experience was a godsend. “The volunteers write down what you need, and they would help with pulling things down from shelves so I could see them.” Susan ended up with a kitchen table and six chairs, a loveseat,

coffee table, two side chairs, a TV stand, two beds, a dresser, a small shelving unit, and a cabinet. She was so overwhelmed by the larger furniture items that she nearly forgot some smaller things. The CWP also supplied her and her family with a couple of boxes of plates and silverware, a cutting board, coffee cups, and a few lamps. “The odds and ends that really make it a home,” she told us. And then? They moved it all into her house, completing the circle that connects donor with recipient at Community Warehouse Project. For donors, gently used furniture is removed and they have the peace of mind in knowing that it’s headed for a good cause, and it’s collected right from their home by a volunteer like Frank. And according to him, the benefits of the program are not just limited to donor and recipient. “The rewards of this type of outreach are numerous,” he told us. “When we pick up furniture from donors, they are very grateful that their possessions don’t end up in a landfill, but that it finds new life for someone else. And when we deliver the furniture to the clients,

...[Our Clients] are mostly women of domestic violence or displaced veterans, they cannot thank us enough. Some of the clients are sleeping on the floor with a blanket, children still in pajamas, having literally escaped in the night.





who are mostly women of domestic violence or displaced veterans, they cannot thank us enough. Some of the clients are sleeping on the floor with a blanket, children still in pajamas, having literally escaped in the night. And finally, we are thanked profusely by Glenda and the team after our deliveries. To me, for the cost of a little gasoline, some time, and a little sweat, I feel useful by helping others in our community going through a hard time.” Wins all around. Glenda told us that the project could always use more hands on deck, in any number of ways, whether it’s via volunteer hours, cash donations, or home furnishings. Twin beds always seem to hover near the top of the organization’s wish list. “We need twin beds—either a used bed or a cash donation to purchase them,” Glenda said. “We never have enough twin beds to satisfy the need.” Among the other home furnishings in high demand at CWP are dressers, dou-

ble beds, sofas, kitchen tables and chairs, living room chairs, coffee tables and end tables, lamps, dishes, pots and pans, and vacuum cleaners. In the present era of re-use and recycle, these donated items are satisfying a need in the community as well and helping people like Susan get back on her feet with a solid home base. And not just in a practical sense, in an emotional one as well. “They allowed me to get into a house and to make it a home for me and my kids,” Susan told us. “I can’t explain the relief, and I can’t even convey how welcoming Glenda was. Everyone there was—every volunteer, so personable, so kind hearted. They were all so generous. And the entire process was so quick, and they made it happen so smoothly. Lord knows not a lot of things in my life have gone very smoothly. And they reminded me that there really are still such good people in this world, and that can be so easy to forget.”

To me, for the cost of a little gasoline, some time, and a little sweat, I feel useful by helping others in our community going through a hard time.

If you are interested in making a financial or furniture donation or volunteer opportunities at Community Warehouse Project, please call 484473-4360, or visit their website at communitywarehouseproject.com.





Making a Difference Rotary Club of West Chester contibutes a monthly column exploring good works, good fun and local organizations that are making a difference.

The holidays are always a special time of year here. The Christmas parade kicks off a season of parties, family get-togethers and community events to celebrate the season. In all that hustle and bustle, it’s important to remember those brave men and women of our armed forces who are stationed overseas, unable to be with their loved ones. While we are opening presents and sipping on eggnog, these folks are in harm’s way protecting and preserving our freedoms. Many service members are only a year or two out of high school, and this will be their first Christmas away from home. A little taste of the season can go a long way toward lifting their spirits and morale as they spend the holidays in a foreign land. Judy Travis was an army mom with a son in Afghanistan 15 years ago. She sent care packages—for which her son was grateful—but was dismayed when she heard that his buddies never received anything. That’s when the idea for Stockings for Soldiers was born. That first year, Judy enlisted help from various volunteers, along with a Rotary Club, and sent 288 stockings overseas. Today they send about 10,000 stockings to our troops each year. Since that first year, Rotary clubs from all over have gotten into the stocking business. Here in West Chester, a team of about ten women start the process in January by buying and cutting fabric. They get together for a “sewing party” in early June when they all get their sewing machines together and spend the day making a couple hundred stockings. Its quite an operation—they sew, iron and cuff the stockings before sending them off. Throughout the fall, Rotary places collection bins throughout the borough for people to make donations to fill the stockings. Everything from candy (who needs all that leftover Halloween stuff), toiletries, and jerky, to paperbacks and DVDs, are welcome. Dog biscuits are also popular because the K9 units are served by this program, too. All of this is collected and sent to a central location where they are assembled and shipped overseas. Each stocking is personalized to make it more special. Judy has created a network of parents of deployed soldiers to gather names because the Army will not release that information. (Fun Fact: the most common name in the armed forces is Christopher, which is also one of the hardest to put on a stocking.) Rarely do they miss a name, but they send extras to unit chaplains, just in case. Over the course of eight weeks, the stockings are filled with the collected goods, along with notes and personalized cards. The stockings are packed in 1,300 large boxes that weigh over 40,000lbs. For many soldiers, this is their only touch of home, and it lets them know they have not been forgoteen. West Chester Rotarians are proud to participate in this important service project every year. As you look forward to all the things that make the holidays special, please take a moment to think of those who are protecting us overseas. –rotary@thewcpress.com If you are interested in making a difference, please feel free to check us out. The Rotary Club of West Chester meets every Thursday at noon at the West Chester Country Club.





Bartender of the Month

PHOTO Amy Tucker INTERVIEW Dan Mathers

Sean Brown of Split Rail Tavern talks about quality craft brews and great food. How long have you been at Split Rail? Since we first opened 3.5 years ago, and I’ve been bartending for a little over a year. Why do you think you were nominated for Bartender of the Month? I love the craft—it’s fun. I have a lot of knowledge, and I love sharing it with customers. What kind of knowledge? The beer knowledge obviously. Working under bar manager James Mullally, he’s got an amazing background after his time in New York, and I’ve been learning from him. Being able to try the beers each day is an awesome deal.

What got you into beer? Drinking it. I’ve gone from just crushing light beer at college parties, to now I get to sample the finer side of things. It’s crazy how craft beer is everywhere now, and it’s awesome to be at a bar with so many constantly rotating taps. And trying all these beers, you pick up the different profiles of things, like hop varietal. People are pushing it all to new levels, and it’s cool to see how things are changing and growing as the craft beer boom has taken off. You seem very into hops; I take it you’re an IPA guy? IPAs are the majority of what I drink, but I also like a lot of Belgians, too. Sometimes it’s possible to get overwhelmed by IPAs, so variety is good. This time of year you get some higher ABV drinks to warm up the insides, like those bigger stouts and bourbon barrel-aged stuff. One of the best things about Split Rail is getting all these great beers from overseas, too. It’s not all just American craft here. You find the food menu and beer list work well together? We just introduced an eight-course, paired-meal event. It’s a small tasting menu and a bunch of crazy rare beers that we’re pairing with

those courses. We’re going to do that every couple months from now on, and our first one already sold out. The final course is a series of wafers from Éclat and a crazy lambic from Cantillon in Brussels, and it’s hard to get their beers here, so we’re building that reputation. You have a favorite on menu? The grilled basket cheese is on the new menu. If you’re familiar with queso canella, they sear it really hard on both sides, which chars outside and softens inside. That’s drizzled with pistachio honey over a bitter green salad, tossed in a mustard vinaigrette with dried apricot. It’s a great app to for-and-knife your way through. What’s your preferred shift? Saturday night is the most fun time. We started bringing in a DJ every Saturday night, so the party goes late, and we’ve got a really good crowd—mostly middle-aged couples, and people in their 30s and 40s. I get to have fun with the customers. But any time is great here; the staff is awesome. James worked at Clover Club in Brooklyn and Justin Hoke was the chef at le Bec-Fin. It’s a really awesome place to work, learn and have a great time doing it.





Design Dilemmas Andrea Mason of Perceptions Interiors is a professional interior designer who wants to help you upgrade your space

The holidays are in full swing and so is gift giving! I’ve rounded up the hottest houseware items that would be perfect for any person on your list this holiday season. We're lucky to live in a town with dozens of unique shops; not only will you be supporting our local community, but your gift will be one of a kind! THRIFTY VINTAGE New in town, this store has everything home decor from upcycled and repurposed furniture to personalized items. Some great gifts include an adorable customized West Chester pillow and gorgeous wreaths made to your specifications. Beth’s creativity is worth a browse in this one-stop shop! 14 N Church St, thiriftyvintagewestchester.com GUINTA’S FURNITURE There is a plethora of perfect host and hostess gifts here, including holiday candles, vases and beautiful centerpieces like candlesticks and florals. They have customized reading floor pillows, perfect for any kiddo on your list. It’s a fun visit just to see what new and original decor has arrived. 513 E Gay St, giuntasfurniture.com OLD SOUL DECOR They have everything from furniture, to handmade jewelry, to cutting boards, trays, tea towels and much more. A favorite is their Thymes Frasier Fir collection of environmentally friendly, non-toxic candles, sachets and soaps. 119 Market St, oldsouldecor.com Once you have the perfect gift, it’s time to wrap! I have a few creative ways to make your present stand out: Repurpose your paper: Wrap using brown crate paper or an old newspaper. This is not only environmentally friendly, but also a simple and beautiful way to decorate. Dress it up with a colorful ribbon of your choice or utilize a patterned washi tape. Let your kids in on the fun: Take plain white crate paper and let your youngins decorate with stamps or pens and crayons. You can top the gift with a homemade snowflake instead of a traditional ribbon or bow. Family members will love the personal touch. Fold like furoshiki: The traditional Japanese way of wrapping a present with a cloth, known as furoshiki, simply involves selecting a sturdy piece of fabric (patterned or plain), folding it around the gift, and finishing with a tied knot at the top. It looks adorable, is reusable, and saves paper. Genius! Incorporate the outdoors: Take a stroll outside and collect small pine cones, holly, or evergreen to adorn the top of your presents. It will look great and smell fantastic! Holiday shopping can be daunting, with the hustle and bustle of the season, but it doesn’t have to be. Make this season meaningful by supporting our local shops and giving a gift that is truly unique! —amason@thewcpress.com





gift considering

Local Alternatives to traditional gifts





Red Clay Alliance works to preserve the Brandywine Watershed


hile this season is so often focused on consumerism, it’s important to step back from time to time and remember that giving doesn’t have to mean gifts. In my family, the tradition was started by an aunt who, rather than making a request for another sweater, instead asked for whoever drew her name for Pollyanna to make a donation to Kiva, an organization that provides loans to female entrepreneurs in developing countries who want to build businesses that benefit their communities. Our family now makes donations to a number of other worthy organizations each year.

But, there’s also an incredible opportunity for you, our dear readers, to make contributions to your own community. I know several families who donate their time to soup kitchens around the holidays, but there are also a number of other great charitable groups right in your hometown that are benefiting the people who live here year round, and your contributions can go a long way towards those organizations making an impact on our town. We’ve written about all of these organizations in some form or fashion in issues of this magazine before, but I think this list deserves repeating. This holiday season, please consider giving a gift to one of these great local groups.

Brandywine Red Clay alliance If you’re passionate about the environment, then you might consider a donation to the Brandywine Red Caly Alliance. Just a stone’s throw down route 842 outside the borough, the alliance maintains open space for the people of West Chester, but their primary focus is on watershed conservation. In fact, they were formed in 2015 when the nation’s two oldest small watershed conservation organizations merged (one of which was the Brandywine Valley Association, which we featured back in 2012). How to Contribute Donate via the website: www.brandywineredclay.org Become a Member: It’s like donating, but you also receive tangible benefits

The Friends Association for Care

and Protection of Children

This group is an invaluable resource to any family who has run into unforeseen hardships. For nearly 200 years, Friends Association has provided essential social services for children and families. Their main goal is to help families find or maintain permanent housing and to achieve stability and self-sufficiency. They run an emergency shelter in West Chester and also run a homeless prevention program. The shelter provides homeless families with a safe, clean place to stay and helps them cope with stress and upheaval. Children and parents live together in their own apartment as Friends Association helps them stabilize, connect to other community resources and find a permanent place to live. They also work with families who are struggling to maintain their housing through financial assistance or rental subsidies. Providing immediate rental assistance can help keep a family in place, thereby avoiding the trauma of homelessness. One component of their homelessness prevention program involves supporting families who are coming from a shelter or facing eviction and homeless-

ness. These families are assigned a case worker who meets with them to complete an individualized family service plan, including education, job training, day care services and financial planning. Families are also referred to the medical, dental and counseling services they need, in addition to being supplied with furniture and household goods made possible by outside donations. Perhaps the most profound impact Friends Association has is on the children affected by circumstances beyond their control. Children in crisis often worry where they’ll sleep and whether something bad will happen to their family. Many times they change schools, lose their friends and face the stigma of being homeless. In the worst cases, children may even be separated from their parents if a shelter or other living arrangement can’t accommodate the whole family. How to Contribute: Donate via the website: www.friendsassoc.org Attend or Sponsor the Next Chaity Ball: The organization throws an annual gala fundraiser attended by the who’s who of West Chester.





volunteers carry donations into the food cupboard

ACT in Faith of Greater West Chester West Chester Food CUpboard

West Chester Area Senior Center

This coalition of churches of all denominations within the West Chester area aims to help those who have “fallen through the cracks” of other avenues of physical, financial and spiritual assistance. Their website features stories about people such as Walter, who needed a little help in order to afford the cataract surgery just out of the reach of his disability income. ACT in Faith covered the payment, and Walter got his much needed surgery.

Founded in 1975, this is their 43rd year serving the West Chester borough and surrounding townships. Their mission is, “Enriching the lives of our senior neighbors through friendship, activities, education and nourishment.” They seek to do this by serving 28,000 meals to 3,500 seniors every year; offering important health and wellness programs like blood pressure screenings and yoga, tai chi and Zumba classes; and providing general life services such as teaching computer skills, help filing tax forms and assisting in financial planning. There are currently 652 volunteers on the team, but with such diversity in programming, there are plenty of opportunities for almost anyone who is interested and has a little time to share.

How to Contribute: Donate via the website: www.actinfaithgwc.org

Volunteer English Program of Chester County Located just four blocks up Market Street from the Lincoln Building, this tiny grassroots organization matches volunteers who want to be English tutors with speakers of the more than 40 different languages being spoken in Chester County today. Most of the people that VEP supports are educated adult refugees and immigrants who need to acculturate to life in Chester County. How to Contribute Donate via the website: www.volunteerenglish.org Become a volunteer: Click their Homepage Volunteer Link

The West Chester Food Cupboard offers a concrete way to help needy families in the community. Food banks saw an upsurge in demand as a result of the recession, and that need has continued. Donations of funds, food, and your volunteer time are always welcome. How to Contribute Donate via the website: www.westchesterfoodcupboard.org Donate Food Goods: They accept drop offs five days a week at 431 Bolmar Street. Volunteer Your Time: Email their volunteer coordinator to schedule at wcfood@gmail.com

West Chester Public Library Libraries just aren’t getting the government support they used to. We’ve profiled our local library many times, yet we’re always surprised by the number of services they provide. Contributions are especially needed so the library can purchase large print books and iPads for seniors, as well as books and magazines in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. How to Contribute: Donate via the website: www.wcpubliclibrary.org Take the tour: Support fundraising efforts of the library by enjoying its annual Holiday Home tour on December 3.

How to Contribute Volunteer Your Time: Fill out a Volunteer Application at wcseniors.org/volunteer-opportunities

Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list—these are just some of the organizations we’ve worked with over the years—and whether you support one of the groups that made this list or find a charity more in line with your personal interests, we encourage you to seek out opportunities this holiday season to give the gift of giving.




Faunbrook B&B

An 1860s grand manor estate on the south side of West Chester

Weddings d shoWers d rehearsal dinners guest stays d events d 2 to 100 guests 699 West Rosedale Avenue • West Chester, PA 19382 610-436-5788 • 800-505-3233 • www.faunbrook.com



Good luck spotting the five differences in this photo of a classic, warm, holiday scene, then send your answer to contests@thewcpress.com, and you’ve got a chance to win a Barnaby’s gift certificate. Congrats to November’s winner Michael O’Donnell who spotted the five differences in the picture of the pups!





Holiday Hit List DJ Romeo curates a list of the tracks you’ll be hearing throughout the season. Everyone has their favorite Christmas albums. There’s the list of traditional tracks, and with each Christmas comes a few new favorites. This year sees a new crop of holiday hopefuls who are after some space on your holiday playlist djromeo@thewcpress.com | www. djromeo.fm | @DJRomeo24

Jessie J: This Christmas Day Vocal powerhouse, pop sensation and singer-songwriter Jessie J recruited the smoothest crooners of the 90’s (Babyface and Boyz II Men) to lend their pipes to her first-ever holiday album. The album includes jazzy covers of seasonal classics such as “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” “Winter Wonderland” and “Silent Night.” Eric Clapton: Happy Xmas Even Slowhand got in the holiday spirit this year. While this record marks his 24th studio album, it’s the first time Clapton has tried his hand at holiday hits. There’s a mixture of classic Christmas songs—“Silent Night,” “White Christmas,” and “Jingle Bells,” (which is dedicated to Avicii)—plus some more under-the-radar tunes, as well as the brand new “For Love on Christmas Day.” John Legend: A Legendary Christmas The velvet-voiced John Legend previously appeared on Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas II You album in 2010, but now he’s here with one all to himself. I’m sure Mariah doesn’t mind. A Legendary Christmas has guest spots from Stevie Wonder and Esperanza Spalding and an array of holiday hits, but also some more unusual festive tunes, including a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Purple Snowflakes.” William Shatner: Shatner Claus - The Christmas Album Yes, this is really happening. You may know him as the original Captain Kirk or an all-round comic actor, but William Shatner has released a number of records. The 87-year-old is entering the Christmas market with the brilliantly named Shatner Claus, which features collaborations from rock heavyweights like Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins and Rick Wakeman, so expect a rock-centric album, with guitared-up versions of “Jingle Bells,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Rudolph the RedNosed Reindeer.” George Strait: Classic Christmas The beauty of Christmas music is its universal appeal. It can be sung in any language and across all genres. What better performer to bring America’s generous spirit to holiday tunes than country icon George Strait? His 2008 Christmas album is being re-released to vinyl, featuring his acoustic renditions of “Jingle Bells,” “Upon On The Housetop” and a new bonus track, “Christmas Cookies.”







Profile for The WC Press

The WC Press Local Gift Guide - December 2018  

Voice of the Borough

The WC Press Local Gift Guide - December 2018  

Voice of the Borough


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