Area food drive picking up speed

The “Fill the Media Lab” food pantry drive being conducted by The Mercury, The Sanatoga Post, other Post newspapers, and area bloggers who are part of The Mercury’s Town Square, is kicking into high gear. New businesses keep coming forward to offer their location as a drop-off point for donations of food and laundry detergent.

Residential and commercial real estate attorney Andrew Monastra has joined the local fight against hunger by offering his office at 740 E. High Street in Pottstown as a drop-off location between the hours of 8:30 am – 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Food collected there, as well as at Grumpy’s Handcarved Sandwiches (in the Farmers’ Market), is going to the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities. During the first week of the food drive, Grumpy’s collected 117 food items and 15 bottles of laundry detergent.* Grumpy’s is also making a matching donation for everything they collect.

Andrew Monastra’s office is down near the post office in Pottstown; it’s that beautiful Grand Review Building. Andrew is always finding a new way to support the efforts of area non-profits. His Heartland Abstract title company makes a donation from each real estate transaction to either MOSAIC Community Land Trust, The Gallery School of Pottstown, or The Carousel. Please consider contacting Andrew Monastra for your next real estate transaction!

In other “Fill the Media Lab” news, The Sanatoga Post reported today that Zuber Realty (2117 E. High Street) has become the latest donation drop-off spot in Lower Pottsgrove Township, joining Pottsgrove High School (1345 Kauffman Rd.) and Chesmont Storage (1500 Industrial Hwy.)

* I’ve got a photo of the food collected, but I’m having “technical difficulties” with my camera. 😦 Will post photos as soon as I can!

Save the Date! Schuylkill River Sojourn June 2-8!

Save the Date!

14th Annual Schuylkill River Sojourn

June 2-8, 2012  

2011 Sojourners
The 2012 Sojourn Theme is  Recreation in the Schuylkill River Heritage Area 

The Schuylkill River Sojourn is a 7-day, 112-mile guided paddle from Schuylkill Haven to Boathouse Row in Philadelphia that is organized annually by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area.  Participants can register for one day or the entire week. The first three days fill up quickly, so it is important to register early  once registration opens in April.

Photo: 2011 Courtesy Dan Creighton

Spring memoir writing class for seniors offered by Sue Repko at The Gallery School

This spring I’ll be teaching a couple of writing classes at The Gallery School of Pottstown. A memoir class for seniors is highlighted below.

You may or may not know that I just finished a master’s program in which I focused on memoir and essay writing. It should come as no surprise that most of my writing at this point in my writing life involves some aspect of growing up in Pottstown and my experiences re-discovering my hometown as an adult.

My philosophy as a writer and teacher of this kind of material is that looking back and making sense of our lives is a basic human instinct. Everyone has many stories inside them. Sometimes it takes a while to peel away the layers of an experience, get to the heart of it, and express what it means so that it not only makes sense to ourselves but also to others.  When we give shape to a memory, when we put it into context – when it is more than just “this happened, then that happened” – we are creating art. Everyone’s got their own voice; there’s no right or wrong way to tell any of these stories. 

Just one more note about the book we’ll use…  I had a workshop with Abigail Thomas a few years ago. She’s an amazing teacher, and her book is the next best thing to having her in the class!  I hope there are some older adults out there who want to join in!



This class is for older adults who want to capture memories on paper and re-discover where they’ve been, who they’ve known, and what they’ve done. Life’s joys and hardships can often be found in the smallest moments. We will use “Thinking About Memoir” by Abigail Thomas to get ideas and write very short essays or scenes. Students may get their own copy or copies will be provided for a small additional fee. An optional public reading at the end of the class will give writers a chance to share their work with family and friends. Minimum 4, maximum 10 students. WINTER/SPRING SESSION Begins April 4. Class runs Wednesdays from 6-8pm. 8 weeks. $125 (member), $135 (non-member).


Positively Pottstown joins “Fill the Media Lab” food drive

The Mercury’s Community Media Lab, Town Square bloggers, and other local newspapers are teaming up for a food drive to help stock the shelves of area food pantries.  With the tight job market, high unemployment, and sky-high gas, heating oil, and healthcare costs, more and more area residents are finding themselves relying on food pantries for the first time ever. 

Here’s how the food drive will work:

The Mercury, Post newspapers, including The Sanatoga Post, and various bloggers are announcing their participation in the food drive to collect at least 20,000 food items by April 7th. See The Mercury article here and The Sanatoga Post article here.  The bloggers can team up with their local pantry and feature them in recurring blog posts. They can also team up with various businesses who want to serve as collection sites.

While the food drive will run until April 7th, we will not be holding onto all the food collected until then because that would mean it’s not on the shelves of the food pantries, getting used up by those who need it now. So… as the food is collected, it will periodically be delivered to the pantry of choice by the blogger or business. Pantries in towns throughout the region will benefit: Pottstown, North Coventry, Boyertown, Royersford, Spring City, Phoenixville, Collegeville, and the Upper Perkiomen Valley. But first we’ll take a picture of what’s collected and send it to The Mercury, where it can be pinned onto an image of the Media Lab. In this way, we will virtually “fill the Media Lab” while filling up local food pantries in reality.

 Positively Pottstown is on board! We’re going to be directing the results of our collection efforts to the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities, commonly known as The Cluster.  The first Pottstown business we’re teaming up with is Grumpy’s, the homemade sandwich and soup shop in The Farmers’ Market. Grumpy’s has generously offered not only to be a collection site, but to match every single food donation that comes in. That’s two for the price of one, all going to The Cluster. 

Positively Pottstown would like to team up with other locations in Pottstown. Let me know if you want to be a collection site, and I will get the word out to readers and Facebook friends.

I should note here that food items are not the only things in demand. We’re also putting a special focus on laundry detergent – it’s expensive and it’s something that tends to drop in priority when children are hungry… but kids want to go to school in fresh-smelling clothes. So please consider picking up an extra bottle of detergent the next time you’re shopping. We’re hoping to collect 1,000 bottles of detergent before all is said and done.

Now, it’s up to you. Positively Pottstown has many readers and Facebook friends outside of Pottstown. Whatever community you live in, please consider finding the food pantry, bloggers, and businesses that are taking part in our Fill the Media Lab initiative and make a donation soon. Or, since this campaign is running through Lent, consider a weekly donation. There’s a tradition of giving things up for Lent and then there’s plain, old-fashioned giving. We all thank you in advance for your support.

The Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities
57 N. Franklin Street, Pottstown, PA 19464
The Cluster welcomes all cash, food, and clothing donations between the hours of 8:30am-12:00 Monday through Friday. Please come to the back door off the alley.

Grumpy’s Handcarved Sandwiches
300 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464 (in the Farmers’ Market)
Open Tuesday-Saturday
Tuesday-Wednesday: 11am-6 pm
Thursday-Saturday: 8:30 am-6 pm

Community Garden info. session this Saturday at Victory Christian

This is just a reminder that an information session will be held this Saturday afternoon from 2-3 pm at Victory Christian Life Center at 28 N. Washington Street, Pottstown, PA 19464.

Come out to get an application and learn all about the community garden being built by MOSAIC Community Land Trust at 423 Chestnut Street!

To read about our last info session, check out this article written by Joe Zlomek of The Sanatoga Post. And here is another link to a post about the garden at the PEAK blog. Thanks for the coverage, Joe and Mary!

Info sessions on Pottstown’s first Community Garden to be held tonight and Saturday

MOSAIC Community Land Trust is holding another information session tonight about the community garden being built this spring at 423 Chestnut Street. (See the concept plan below.) All Pottstown residents, business owners, community organizations, and youth groups are encouraged to attend.

Have you ever wanted your own garden, but didn’t have enough room in your yard? Would you like your children to learn how to grow their own fresh vegetables? Would you like to grow fresh herbs for your restaurant?

Thanks to a grant from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation, MOSAIC Community Garden will give individuals, families, and community groups the chance to  work side-by-side on their own garden plots. 

Information sessions will be held tonight and this coming Saturday:

February 21 from 7-8 pm, MOSAIC’s office, 10 S. Hanover St.

February 25 from 2-3 pm at Victory Christian Life Center, 28 N. Washington St.

Applications will be available at the meetings or on our website: They can be dropped off at any of the above locations or mailed to MOSAIC Community Land Trust, 10 S. Hanover St., Pottstown, PA 19464 by March 1.

For more information, contact Sue Repko, MOSAIC Executive Director, at 609-658-9043 or

In the event that there are more applications than garden plots, a public lottery will be held at MOSAIC’s offices on Sunday, March 11 at 2 pm.

Garden Concept Plan

Funky Lil’ Kitchen collecting new socks for homeless until Feb. 18th

Editor’s Note: This recently came in from Funky Lil Kitchen. If you can provide some new socks for the homeless, FLK is gladly collecting them until February 18th. See details below, and thank you for your generosity!

Hello Friends,
Our server Val, who some of you might know, has teamed up with non-profit Joy of Sox, whose mission is to bring socks to the homeless.  To help out with this cause, we are holding a sock drive at F.L.K. from Feb. 10th to Feb. 18th. there is a box set up in the restaurant where you can drop off  NEW SOCKS with tags only, for men, women and children during business hours.
If you would like more info on The Joy of Sox or the Sock Drive please contact Val Cap at or610.574.7482.
Thanks for helping us make a difference in our local community,
Michael, Tonda & Val

Funky Lil Kitchen is located at:
232 King Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
Phone: 610.326.7400
Fax: 610.326.0746

MOSAIC to hold information sessions about Community Garden

Have you ever wanted to have your own garden, but didn’t have enough room in your yard? Would you like your children to learn how to grow their own fresh vegetables, but don’t know where to begin?

This spring MOSAIC Community Land Trust is building Pottstown’s first community garden at 423 Chestnut Street. They will be holding three information sessions during the month of February to explain what community gardens are all about and to take applications for approximately 40 raised bed garden plots for the 2012 season.

In addition to the garden plots, there will be compost bins, rain barrels, pavers, fencing, trellis, perennial gardens, a storage shed, and water service for irrigation.

The MOSAIC Community Garden is being built with a $30,000 grant from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation. The property at 423 Chestnut Street was donated by thePottstown School District last spring, and other major donors and volunteers includePottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation. Other donations have already been received from Genesis Housing/Susquehanna BankLowes, Davey Tree ExpertsAndrew Monastra, Esq., the Borough of Pottstown, and many other individuals and volunteers.

According to the American Community Gardening Association, a community garden is “any piece of land gardened by a group of people.”

Typically, community gardens transform vacant lots into beautiful and positive community gathering places. While fresh, organic food is typically more expensive and out of financial reach for many people, the cost to grow and harvest one’s own food is significantly less. Residents pay a small annual fee to lease their plot and actively cultivate it throughout the entire growing season. MOSAIC plans to provide educational workshops for new and experienced gardeners. Individuals, families, community organizations, youth groups, and local restaurants are all welcome to apply for a plot.

The information sessions will be held at the following times and locations in Pottstown:

Tuesday, February 14 from 7-8 pm at the Ricketts Community Center, 640 Beech Street

Tuesday, February 21 from 7-8 pm at MOSAIC’s office, 10 S. Hanover Street

Saturday, February 25 from 2-3 pm at Victory Christian Life Center, 28-30 N. Washington Street

Applications will be available at the meetings and can be dropped off at any of the above locations or mailed to MOSAIC Community Land Trust by March 1. In the event that there are more applications than garden plots, a public lottery will be held at MOSAIC’s offices on Sunday, March 11 at 2 pm. For more information, contact Sue Repko, MOSAIC Executive Director, at 609-658-9043 or

How to stay healthy & eliminate costly doctor visits this season

Editor’s Note: This is the third and final article in a series on living a healthy lifestyle on a budget, brought to you by the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation.



By: David Kraybill, Executive Director, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation

No one likes to be sick. Besides the obvious feeling miserable, you miss work and cannot accomplish the things you need to for yourself and your family. On top of that, you have to spend money to go to the doctor, get a prescription filled or buy over-the-counter remedies. But, this time of year it’s inevitable, right? So, you sit back and wait for that first sign of a body ache or scratchy throat.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 5 people will get the flu this season. However, there is good news. That “1” doesn’t have to be you. You can take preventative action on a daily basis to reduce your and your family’s chances of getting sick and spending extra dollars on doctor office visits and trips to the drug store.

Top 10 Tips to Prevent Getting Sick

1. Wash your hands—you get sick for one reason—germs. Bacteria and viruses make you ill by finding a way into your body through physical contact. Since most contact is with your hands (think of everything you touch in just a few hours), washing them frequently can stop germs from entering your body. Never eat without washing your hands and wash them after riding public transportation. While antibacterial gels are effective and good when hand-washing isn’t practical or possible, washing with soap and water is the preferred option.

2. Don’t touch your face – even if you keep your hands clean. Chances are, some germs will survive and they can act only if they get inside you. The mucous membranes in your eyes, mouth and nose are ideal entry points. Simply keep your hands away from your face and food and make it difficult for germs to grow.

3. Avoid sick people – seems obvious, but yet you still do not always do it. Germs are everywhere, but they are definitely hanging out around someone already infected. Politely stay away and disinfect everything they touch. If possible, avoid those who work with little children, like teachers and pediatricians—unfortunately, they are usually contagious.

4. Don’t eat group food. Avoid party dips where there is no spoon to put some on your plate. (Think about someone sick sneezing into their hand, picking up a chip and rotating it in the dip or salsa to find the best dipping angle and swishing all those sneeze germs in the food.) Also, don’t eat out of a bag or bowl of anything that isn’t individually wrapped or equipped with tongs to choose your piece of food. Along these lines, avoid shared mugs, cups or utensils unless they’ve been washed in a dishwasher or with very hot water and a clean sponge.

5. Get enough sleep. According to Dr. Rubin Naiman, a sleep specialist and assistant professor at the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine, “Sleeping well is the single most overlooked factor critical to good health, especially during flu season.” Sleep restores and heals the body; without it, your immune system cannot function properly. In addition, if you feel like you may be starting a cold, get some extra sleep to help your body fight it.

6. Don’t drink alcohol in excess, smoke or use other tobacco products. Drinking large amounts of alcohol negatively affects your immune system and makes it weaker for a full 24 hours. If you feel like you’re coming down with something, avoid drinking altogether for a few days. Smoking weakens the immune system by depressing antibodies and cells that are in the body to protect against foreign invaders.

7. Relieve stress. Being too uptight or constantly stressed out makes you vulnerable to viruses. It can also make your recovery time longer if you do get sick. Find ways to relax and chill out, and give your mind and body a chance to unwind.

8. Exercise at least three days per week. Aerobic exercise will build muscle and endurance and keep you strong as you age. Choose walking or any other exercise you can stick to. If you are feeling sick, it is best to skip a workout. Also, if you go to a gym – make sure you clean your equipment before and after use and wash your hands when you are finished working out.

9. Eat well and stay hydrated – seems simple, but eating a diet full of fresh vegetables, herbs, fruits, lean meats and whole grains can boost your body’s immune system and help it stave off invasive germs. Staying hydrated also helps your body stay balanced and strong and helps it support all your body’s functions. Ideal drinks include water and warm tea. Skip the soda—regular and diet—it adds calories and makes your body crave sweets.

10. Take a multi-vitamin. While eating healthy is the ideal way to get all your nutrients, sometimes we don’t. Taking a multi-vitamin can help fill in the gaps and add fuel to your body’s immune system.

Be Aware of the Top 8 Germy Public Places

1. Grocery Store – Shopping cart handles and seat buckets are the biggest culprits. They can be full of germs from others’ hands and leaky packages of meat. Wipe them down with the antibacterial wipes most grocery stores provide.

2. Children’s Playgrounds – Swings, jungle gyms, and all other equipment can be loaded with germs. The largest threat is from fecal bacteria from bird droppings and diaper-wearing kids. Always wash your and your child’s hands when returning home from the playground.

3. Public Restrooms – Believe it or not, it’s not the toilet, but the sinks—the taps and faucets and soap dispensers—they are all touched after using the toilet. Avoid touching moist surfaces that breed bacteria, and turn off all faucets and open all doors with a paper towel.

4. Offices – Desks, telephones and computer keyboards are the biggest offenders. Wipe down your desk with antibacterial wipes daily, and avoid these items on co-workers’ desks if they are sick.

5. Restaurants – Beware of the table surface and high chairs. Most restaurants wipe down the tables and high chairs with cloths that are used over and over and lack disinfectant. High chairs also harbor fecal bacteria, too, because they hold diaper wearing tots. Carry sanitary wipes and do your own wipe-down after you sit down.

6. Libraries – You can catch more than knowledge at your local library from the many surfaces that are touched. After handling books and touching countertops, use hand sanitizer to wash your hands.

7. Cruise Ships – These ships are floating cities, and the main cause of getting sick are noroviruses—almost impossible to avoid on a cruise ship and resistant to routine cleaning procedures. All public surfaces are breeding grounds. Wash your hands thoroughly and often, especially before eating.

8. Malls – Escalator handles are teeming with germs so try to avoid them. The sheer volume of people who touch the handles make them a bacterial hot spot. If you do, don’t touch your face and wash your hands or use antibacterial wash as soon as you can.

It can seem like too much to remember or an impossible feat to stay healthy. But, with a little extra effort and change of habits, you can significantly reduce your risk of getting sick—not only this winter, but year round.

 About the Foundation – The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation’s mission is to enhance the health and wellness of area residents, providing education, funding and programs that motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles. Visit for more information about the Foundation. Discover Pottstown area’s online community at to learn and share information on how to lead a healthier life!

Exercising on a Budget: Making an impact without making a big investment

Editor’s note: This article is another in a series from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation about making healthy lifestyle choices on a budget. 



By: David Kraybill, Executive Director, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation

Are you one of those individuals who can easily find an excuse not to exercise? I had to do this. I had to do that. I have my kids. I’m tired. It’s dark out. It’s not in my budget to join a gym or buy expensive equipment. Well, you can cross that last one off your list of excuses—you can exercise if you’re on a budget and you don’t have to join a gym or invest big bucks. In fact, there are so many low-cost or free ways to exercise, by yourself or with your family, you may start to find those other excuses are no longer necessary.

According to the guidelines from the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, individuals should have at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity to reduce the risk of chronic diseases in adulthood. So, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out how often and affordably you can fit exercise into your day and reach your 30 minute minimum without trying too hard or changing too much of your routine.

Everyday Exercises

Start small. Did you know that you can turn almost your entire day into an exercise routine? Consider:

• Using the self-check out at stores – not only is it faster, but scanning and bagging your

own groceries is more movement than you would normally get when using the regular

check-out lane.

• Taking the steps instead of the elevator – sound familiar? That’s because it works. If

you’re on the 25th floor, start small – go up a few flights and add more flights as you


• Cleaning your house – yes, you get exercise every time you vacuum, scrub the floor,

and polish the furniture—30 minutes of housework can burn up to 215 calories!

• Doing squats or lunges while brushing your teeth or waiting for the microwave.

• Balancing on one leg while drying your hair, shaving or putting makeup on.

• Doing exercises during commercials while watching your nightly TV—ab crunches,

squats, “jump” rope, march in place.

• Mowing the lawn and weeding the garden in spring and summer, and raking the leaves

and shoveling the snow during fall and winter.

• Parking in the farthest away space so you have a longer walk to the store.


Free Exercises

Perhaps you are interested in more structured exercise, not just what you can fit in where you can. There are many FREE things you can do to get started. Try:

• Walking or jogging – still the best bargain there is. However, the one investment you do

want to make is in good athletic shoes.

• Putting on some music and dancing.

• Going online and finding free workouts on

• Finding an exercise program on TV.

• Checking out exercise DVDs from your local library.

• Hiking and biking – check out for local parks, bike trails

and hiking spots in our local area. (Check out local parks at the Parks & Rec page at, too!)

• Strength training – using just your body as resistance. Try squats, lunges, calf raises,

push ups, tricep dips and crunches. Not sure how? Look it up on YouTube.

• Scouting around in your basement or garage for old fitness equipment that you may

have purchased long ago, but forgot about. You may find a basketball, tennis racket,

Frisbee, paddle ball games, baseballs, step equipment, etc. that you can begin to use



Low-Budget At-Home Gyms

Having an at-home gym does not mean you have to invest in a costly machine. There are many ways to build a gym at home that will not set your budget back. Consider:

• Making your own weights from full soup cans, laundry detergent bottles and water

bottles; milk or orange juice jugs filled with sand; and PVC pipes filled with sand.

• Seeking out used equipment from garage sales, relatives or friends, Craigslist,

Play it Again Sports stores and Ebay.

• Making a modest investment in versatile, but inexpensive equipment: medicine ball,

jump rope, dumbbell set, resistance tubing, exercise/stability ball, mirror, step bench.


Other Options

Finally, just when you think there cannot possibly be more choices to exercising on a budget—good news, there is! Consider:

• Seeking out low-cost, local fitness classes that are not associated with a gym.

A Fresh Start Fitness has a number of workout choices, and the Ballroom on High

offers Zumba classes.

• Starting a fitness class at work if you have the interest and the room—kettlebells,

Zumba, yoga, etc. There are many local trainers and teachers who may be looking to

teach extra classes. The more people you get, the less expensive it will be!

• Starting a fitness class at work, not with a trainer, but with a DVR player. Take turns

bringing in your fitness DVDs and get moving.

• Looking into low-cost gym options. Planet Fitness offers a membership for only $10

a month and the YWCA also has low-cost options.

Above all else, exercise should be fun—if it is, you are more likely to do it on a regular basis. If you need motivation, buddy up with a friend or involve your family. And now you know there are many different inexpensive and free choices for exercise that will not impact your budget, but will have a big impact on your health. Get started today!

About the Foundation – The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation’s mission is to enhance the health and wellness of area residents, providing education, funding and programs that motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles. Visit for more information about the Foundation. Discover Pottstown area’s online community at to learn and share great information on how to lead a healthier life!

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: