It’s official: Upper Chichester celebrates PA Heart & Soul community status

June 16, 2023
Members of the Upper Chichester Heart & Soul team, Upper Chichester Board of Commissioners, PA Heart & Soul staff and partners stand posing with their plaques and other recognition of becoming a PA Heart & Soul community. PHOTO BY RUSTBELT MAYBERRY PHOTOGRAPHY.
Members of the Upper Chichester Heart & Soul team, Upper Chichester Board of Commissioners, PA Heart & Soul staff and partners celebrate the community's official PA Heart & Soul designation. Photo by Rustbelt Mayberry Photography.

By Karen Price

PA Heart & Soul leads to a wide variety of positive outcomes for communities, but success doesn’t come without hard work.

To celebrate both the effort and remarkable achievements of the Upper Chichester team, PA Humanities recognized the leadership and volunteers with an official PA Heart & Soul Community designation at a recent Board of Commissioners meeting. 

What’s a celebration without cake? Photo by Rustbelt Mayberry Photography.

“Upper Chichester showed so much ‘heart and soul’ during this community planning process,” PA Humanities senior program officer Jen Danifo said. “Their dedication to the residents is a shining example of what we hope comes out of PA Heart & Soul: a commitment to inclusive planning for a community’s future.”

PA Heart & Soul is an equitable community development program that uses resident-led story gathering to find common ground, build bridges through conversations and get people more involved in planning for their future. As a result, communities become more connected, creative and strong.

Residents share thoughts on their community at an event early in Upper Chichester’s Heart & Soul journey.

Upper Chichester started the process in 2018, and the group was energized in the early phases by workshops, a career fair and community forums including an event called “A Real Conversation About the Future of Upper Chichester.” Later on, they created their value statements, and those have led to the creation of volunteer programs, increased economic activity, improved public infrastructure and a heightened sense of community. The Community Report developed over the last five years by the project’s team is an interactive document now being shared throughout the community and features the seven value statements as the starting point for planning activities done by the township.  

“My hope is that the curiosity by community members about ‘how’ things get accomplished lasts for generations, that the values statements serve as a guiding path for the future of Upper Chichester Township, and that community organizations see how much they can affect positive change when they work together towards a common set of goals,” township manager George Needles said.

PA Heart & Soul is grounded in the Community Heart & Soul program, based in Vermont. Leanne Tingay, senior associate for programs for Community Heart & Soul, not only praised Upper Chichester but also PA Humanities and Danifo for the success of the program.

The seven value statements created from the PA Heart & Soul story gathering process in Upper Chichester.

“The best part of working with Upper Chichester is watching the civic pride start out small and just build and build – that Chi Pride as they refer to it,” she said. “Jen has such great talent and insight into working with communities. She just knows how to use Heart & Soul to bring out the amazing stories from people.”

The Upper Chichester Heart & Soul program was also awarded the Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence earlier this year, recognizing the township’s commitment to actively engaging with its residents through the program. 

To learn more about PA Heart & Soul contact Jen Danifo at

At the Board of Commissioners meeting and celebration. Photo by Rustbelt Mayberry Photography.

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