By Fatema Mun, PA Humanities Summer 2022 Intern
Youngsville is a community where people take care of one another.
For example, when a snowplow accidentally ran over a local paperboy’s bicycle and community members found out, the chief of police got in touch with the local Walmart to donate a new bike.
“We presented a brand new bike for this gentleman so that he could continue delivering papers,” borough manager Wendy Wilcox said. “We just take care of each other.”
Youngsville is one of four PA Heart & Soul communities located along Route 6 in northern Pennsylvania. When the Heart & Soul team members announced a logo contest with area schools, they hoped to find an image that really captured that caring spirit. Most of the submissions they received were of sports, or had the Youngsville Eagle mascot on it. But one stood out among the rest: Kinzlea Chase’s drawing of people holding hands around the outline of a heart, with the words, “When we unify as one, the heart and soul of our community can thrive”.
Chase, 13, entered the Youngsville Heart & Soul logo contest inspired by the unity in her community.
“Communities are made up by all ages,” she said, “and regardless of our differences we can all come together as one and live as a happy community.”
She was in sixth grade when she submitted her entry, and was very excited to find out she had won almost a year later. Now, Chase is going into eighth grade, and said that although she didn’t know about Heart & Soul before the contest, she’s learned “how communities can come together and work together and identify common goals and ways to thrive.”
Youngsville is in Phase 2 of the Heart & Soul process, the storytelling phase. They’re engaging the community and finding out what residents love about their town.
“We want to see what they love about Youngsville, what they want to keep here, and how we can keep it here,” said Wilcox, who also serves on the town’s Heart & Soul leadership team. “Whether that’s businesses, or enhancements to our local parks, we want to see what they want.”
Right now, in the local Youngsville grocery store, Heart & Soul has put up questions for the residents to answer. With fun questions like “Do you like pineapples on your pizza?” the Youngsville Heart & Soul team hopes to engage their community members now in order to later get to the essence of what Youngsville means to them.
“The importance is getting the community involved and engaged because we definitely want them to be part of what’s going on,” Wilcox said.
Youngsville Heart & Soul is making sure to hear voices of all ages and involving the young residents of the town in their work. With the logo contest and other fun events, the newest generation of Youngsville residents are able to be a part of the Heart & Soul process.
“When school starts up again, we want to go into the schools and ask them about Youngsville,” Wilcox said. “What do they like about Youngsville? What do they, as young people, want to see in Youngsville? Would they like more activities? Would they want more places to gather? We want to know what they want as well.”
For Wilcox, Youngsville means family.
“It’s a small community where you’re out on the porch, you say hi to your neighbors,” she said. “Everyone knows everybody. We’re like a big family.”
And for Chase?
“It’s a small town and it’s quiet, where most of the people know each other,” she said. “It’s a safe community.”