NESTco celebrates successful year

The Northeast Service Team, an organization that brings together diverse services offered in Northeast Philadelphia, launched a website and is preparing to grow next year.

Looking ahead: The Northeast Service Team, an organization that brings together diverse services offered in Northeast Philadelphia, launched a website and is preparing to grow next year. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

Members of the Northeast Service Team, an initiative meant to create a directory and collaboration between all types of services for Northeast Philadelphia residents, met last week to set their course for 2020.

“2019 was really the year that allowed us to build on the foundation that NESTco has built over the years,” said Karen Irwin, president of NESTco.

This year the organization achieved a long-term goal by launching its website, Currently only a test page is up, but within a few days the full site will release, giving users the ability to search through a directory of local services and partnered organizations, and also stay up to date on news. The directory features more than 60 types of specific service needs, ranging from needs like clothing and meals, mental and behavioral health, resource centers and more.

Irwin said the group also expanded on communication and collaboration, identifying community needs and starting projects with needs specific to the area. The organization banded together to distribute 1,630 pounds of food to families affected by the government shutdown in February. It also became a 501©(3), which allows donations to the organization to become tax deductible.

Goals for next year include projects such as a uniform drive at Disston Elementary, which was named a Philadelphia community school in August, and a summer food project to help kids who rely on school lunches. The group also hopes to expand membership and geography in the Northeast, as well as increase awareness and volunteerism.

NESTco was created by Councilman Bobby Henon several years ago with the goal of bringing the diverse service providers of Northeast Philadelphia together and strengthen their individual programs.

“The poverty rate of Philadelphia really hasn’t changed so much over the last few years, but we certainly have all the people together that want to do something about that,” said Patricia Neale of Feast of Justice, who serves on the NESTco executive board.

The meeting also included the election for next year’s executive board members. The board includes Irwin of Friends Hospital as president, Pastor Herbert Barnes of Star of Hope Baptist Church as vice president, Pastor Danette Bolden of Kingdom Life Christian Center as treasurer, Robert Byrne of Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network as secretary, Andrew Lemon of Turning Points for Children, Ginger Smith of Catholic Community Services, Kenneth Bigos of Affordable Housing Centers for Pennsylvania, Pastor Mark Novales of City Reach Church, Patricia Kennedy of the Greater Philadelphia Diaper Bank, Stan Cywinski of Henon’s office and Neale.

General meetings are held once a month. Meetings in 2020 will be held Jan. 9 at City Reach Church and Feb. 13 at Friends Hospital.

In other news:

  • NESTco is helping to run a uniform drive at Disston Elementary. The school is asking for khaki pants youth sizes 5-16, burgundy polo shirts and cardigans youth sizes 10-16 and navy blue polo shirts and cardigans youth sizes 5-14. Adult sizes will also be accepted. For additional information or to arrange a drop-off or pick-up, contact Ginger Smith at or Karen Irwin at
  • Catholic Community Services is hosting its annual Operation Bundle Up Nov. 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. William Church, 6200 Rising Sun Ave. They will distribute coats and winter accessories while supplies last (one coat per child and adult, and the child must be present).
  • Catholic Social Services hosts a post-natal workshop at its center at 7340 Jackson St. on Mondays, 10 to 11:30 a.m. Topics include understanding newborn traits, feeding and diapering. Register to attend at 215-624-5920.
  • Oak Street Health hosts Medicare education events to make the most of your benefits Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. RSVP by calling 844-808-8262.