ECS program participants gathered together this past weekend for St. Thomas’ Church, Whitemarsh’s annual Harvest Fest celebration.
Buses picked families up from St. Barnabas Mission, ECS’ shelter for homeless women and their children, and the ECS FAST Housing, ECS’ permanent housing program for chronically homeless families, for a fall festival on St. Thomas’ 42-acre site.
Crisp autumn weather and clear skies set the tone for the seasonal affair, where upon arrival, families were able to peruse St. Thomas’ thrift store of clothes, toys, and home goods at no cost. A hayride transported festival-goers across campus to the banquet hall where a BBQ lunch of burgers, hotdogs, and other picnic fare was served.
Outdoor activities stayed open all day for the kids, with two face painting stations and a petting zoo, which included ducks, goats, a pig, and a calf.
Barbara Kozemchak, senior director of ECS Home Care, and her husband Cliff, former ECS board president, are both members of St. Thomas’ Church and started the event over 15 years ago. They have since passed the organizing reigns over to Steve Bitterman and Brenda Sullivan, co-chairs of the St. Thomas’ Outreach Committee, who bring continued success to the festival.
This year, Harvest Fest welcomed families from Jane Addams Place and Drueding Center, both of which are supportive housing social service agencies.
“ECS program participants and our parishioners have gotten to know each other through the years,” said Barbara Kozemchak. “We all live in the same community and are connected in some way, so why not all celebrate out in the fresh air? It’s important that we do not forget to lend time through hands-on outreach to break down the barriers between everybody in the ECS family.”