NESTco looks to continue providing aid in 2021

NESTco, a coalition of health services across Northeast Philadelphia, helped provide COVID-19 testing and more in 2020 and is looking forward to 2021.

NESTco members at its 2019 meeting. TIMES FILE PHOTO

It wasn’t the year Northeast Services Team planned to have, but the coalition is proud of how it was able to pivot and provide aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the coalition’s annual yearly round-up meeting, held over Zoom, president Karen Irwin highlighted what the coalition of service-providing organizations had achieved since shutdown. These included accomplishments such as Feast of Justice distributing more than 1 million pounds of food since shutdown to conducting COVID testing at Kingdom Life Christian Center.

“I suspect the majority of NESTco organizations spun on a dime in changing what they do to keep themselves, the people they serve and their staff safe,” said Irwin, who works at Friends Hospital.

Other major initiatives included purchasing baby formula and distributing it to food pantries and hosting a series of webinars on topics like career sources and building your immune system.

The organization also focused on expanding its online presence at NortheastServicesTeam.org and its Facebook page.

Before the shutdown, NESTco hosted a school uniform distribution at Disston Elementary School, which distributed more than 300 items of clothing to more than 90 students.

“With some of the ugliness that existed in recent months, I felt it was such a relief to come to a NESTco meeting and be with people who are so dedicated to helping others,” Irwin said.

Looking forward to 2021, Irwin will step down as president and Kenneth Bigos of Affordable Housing Centers of PA will take over the role.

As the coalition continues to expand, it will split into five committees – executive, communication, membership, events/projects and fundraising.

“As the old saying goes we can go faster going alone, but farther going together,” Bigos said.

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. Since forming, more than 30 organizations have become involved.