The Chester Historical Presentations provided by Freeman Cultural Arts are a part of our Chester Pride series coordinated by founder,
I started this project in 1999, while employed by Crozer to work in the Chester-Upland School District, under the Wellness Center’s Rites of Passage Program. The purpose of this program was “to prepare the participants for a healthy transition from childhood to young adulthood through the enhancement of their self-esteem, self- efficacy, personal responsibility, and cultural pride”.
When we came to the part of the curriculum for the youth to initiate community service projects, it became evident that most were not interested and they had little pride in their community. Having been a longtime resident of Chester, I had many fond memories of growing up in Chester and truly loved my community. I knew about some of Chester’s great history and wanted to share it with the students.
I then proceeded to join the Chester Historic Preservation Committee, who are still active today. I explained my interest and they readily shared Chester photos, postcards and memorabilia that I could use in my presentations for the students. I prepared the Chester Pride slides and the class became alive with enthusiasm! Encouraged by the response, I proceeded to attain permission to take the students to the various historic sites that are still in the community.
We rented buses and pointed out numerous places that the students had often passed by, never realizing the historic relevance of the sites. They were truly amazed and began to share this information with their parents. Community residents and agencies began to call in to our offices for copies of the booklets that we had distributed to the students and the tours became an annual event until the grant funds were depleted.
As founder of Freeman Cultural Arts in 2001, I offered the Chester Pride slide presentation to a Widener University Class, and they have been our main supporter ever since! From these efforts, Chester Pride Day was sponsored by the Widener students, under the leadership of Professor Dianne Butera.
A quote from one of their campus publications - “Delores would put the children on a school bus, show them points of interest, and remind them of what Chester used to be, and by extension what it could become again,” said Cheryl Sadeghee, a Widener graduate and adjunct faculty member for the Center for Social Work Education at Widener. “It is our hope that this event will inspire community members of all ages to embrace Chester’s past and revive it for the future.”
A Chester Pride Walk-A-Thon was held in 2007 , that was a two-mile historical tour of Chester to benefit The Nia Center, the non-profit arm of the Freeman Cultural Arts, which provides art and cultural programs for the children, youth, and families of Chester.