It is a chilly November morning . Reverend Chester Williams, 72, pulls into a driveway located in East Germantown. As he steps out of his car, he shouts, “Good morning everyone! Thank you for coming out.” He is greeted in unison by an estimated 12 volunteers.
Williams is a pastor, army veteran and a pillar within the community. He organizes clothing drives, financial aid programs and free classes for those in need. He has also launched a mission to fight litter and keep the streets clean in East Germantown. The weekly cleanups are just a part of Williams efforts to impact change in his neighborhood
“The reason why we try to do this here is because many people feel as though no one is there to help them.” Says Williams. He goes on to say that “My prayer and my request is to help those that need help.”
Williams founded the Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club Inc. to serve this purpose. The Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club Inc. is a community outreach program that works to create a cleaner, safer and eco-friendly environment.
“We have been doing this since 1981,” Williams said.
On this cold morning in November, Williams invited the volunteers to enjoy hot coffee, cider, and assorted breakfast pastries before they got to work. After they finished breakfast, they helped Williams bring out brooms, rakes, shovels, and trashcans from a shed. They then gather in the living room and wait for their instructions.
“Hello everyone, welcome to my home,” Williams said as he takes his seat in the middle of a group of volunteers wearing bright orange vests.
Some of the volunteers are completing community service hours as part of their sentences for criminal cases. Williams helped organize the opportunity for many of the workers.
Williams told the group, “The purpose of it is to get you to realize you can do better no matter what you have done in the past, forget about it. It is up to you to put things in the past.”
Some people who have participated in this community clean-up that are on parole or probation “have had their times have been cut in half,” Williams said.
At the end of the day, they receive a certificate for the number of hours they have completed.
“Many guys and girls that have come through our program have started their own business. They are doing landscaping and cleaning their community and getting other guys and girls to work with them as a team and being positive. You must be around positive people in order to succeed,” Williams said.
The proof of what Williams is doing in the community is evident as soon as you step onto his property. There is a “Litter Free Zone” sign out front and a “Books of Life” book share is on display where residents can donate or borrow books.
The banner outside the home advertises free tutoring programs that take place every Saturday that help residents improve or gain skills in reading, writing, and math. There is also a class for those who would like to learn Spanish. The classes are held in the Wissahickon Charter School gym from 10:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. The program serves wide-range of age groups, from children to the elderly. People who want to attend college have access to grants and scholarships through the organization as well.
Williams is happy to have anyone who wants to help. Those who can teach in the tutoring program, attend community clean-ups, or donate items please contact Reverend Williams through the Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club Inc. website www.1981cbnc.wixsite.com/cbnc Or call 215–849–8021.