January 30, 2024

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Presbytery of Philadelphia,

On behalf of the board, staff, and volunteers at Chester Eastside I offer greetings accompanied by prayers that your ministries are thriving. Even more, I offer gratitude on behalf of all who benefit from the generosity of Presbyterians throughout the Philadelphia area.

Founded in 1985 by the Presbytery of Philadelphia, the ministries at Chester Eastside continue to provide relief and comfort to people in Chester. The story of CEI is one with many twists and turns, but we write with the news that we enter this new year with strength and stability. We could not be where we are without the support of the Presbytery of Philadelphia and its congregations.

We thank you for your support in 2023. In addition to the Presbytery and the Presbyterian Women, 19 Presbyterian congregations provided direct financial support, and even more offered donations of food and supplies and, most importantly, time and energy. Last year, religious communities accounted for one third of our total revenue.

Our calling and mission is clear, and can be offered in two words: Feeding and Reading. Every day at CEI we wage a battle with food insecurity. We have a food pantry that served over 143 thousand meals last year. Our hot meals program, called The Open Table, averages sixty people at each meal. We distribute thousands of pounds of fresh produce, much of it is grown in our community garden. And three times each year we have community-wide celebrations that include much eating!

As for Reading, our After School Program welcomes up to 40 students in grades K-9 every school day of the year. Our students share in a meal when they arrive, and then spend time in the gym, followed by working on curriculum that has been designed for each individual student. There are special guests, enrichment activities, field trips, and our students are the primary caretakers of the Community Garden. Then, throughout the month of July, our summer Camp Phoenix operates each day with all of the same activities in the After School Program, plus a weekly trip to a community pool!

If you click on the play button in our logo you will hear first hand how some our students feel when they come to the After School Program...

All our programs are dependent upon volunteers. We are especially looking for small groups (4-5 people) from congregations to schedule a day to serve a meal at The Open Table. If you like to work outside, we are especially in need of folks to work in the Community Garden. And we welcome volunteers who can commit to working and walking with students in our After School Program and Camp Phoenix. Please feel free to call the office (610-872-4812) with any questions, or you can use this electronic volunteer sign up form.

Finally, if you are interested in having a speaker come to talk more about the services, programs, and ministries offered at Chester Eastside, please call the office. We are available to lead and/or participate in worship; attend Session, Deacon, or committee meetings; or to present a program related to the issues we address.

As the glow of this new year continues, we offer our deepest gratitude to all who have supported our work over the last nearly forty years. At the same time we appeal to anyone who would like to meet us for the first time to reach out. Together, we will continue to make a difference in the lives of people in Chester.


Rev. Andy Jacob

Executive Director

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