Friday, July 15, 2011
By TINA JOHNSON
Times Guest Columnist
On Aug. 29, 2005, almost 1,300 miles away from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, I recall sitting in my apartment and watching the suffering of people I had never met in a place that I had only visited once. And I wept.
My heart ached for those who had lost their lives, but my tears were for the helpless and desperate that had survived — those without the resources or ability to leave. And the fact that the many faces staring back at me through the television were brown and were poor made a powerful impact upon me.
Katrina in her wake left me in a state of greater awareness. It made me think about Chester — the place where I was born and currently live. No natural disaster had hit the first city in Pennsylvania and yet there still existed a shell-shocked community, as if the levees in Louisiana broke and reached up to the Delaware River, swallowed up the city and its promise for better days made to the people decades before. Just like the survivors in New Orleans, the survivors in Chester are waiting for someone to save them.
My awakening inspired me to do something that motivated the community to do something for themselves, to rely upon the ability and talents of like-minded people who may not have access to millions of dollars, but who had a desire to share skills, to learn new skills and who had a drive to create a sustainable community-owned and operated business that would benefit the community and impact people for generations.
In essence, I hoped they would learn to save themselves and begin the journey toward creating prosperity. Being able to provide one of the most basic, yet essential, needs of the human body — food — became more important.
The Chester Co-op is a business working toward providing access to food that is affordable and high in quality. More importantly, it is a business co-owned by the people who choose to work, invest and shop at the co-op.
The overall goal of our community-owned grocery is to have access to foods that are fresh, healthy and affordable. Our members are shareholders in the business and with ownership comes responsibility.
Just like any market, people have to buy the food on the shelves in order for it to be viable. The major difference is that we exist solely for... [ READ MORE ]