Caring for Neighbors Makes Yardley the Nicest Place in Pennsylvania

Coronavirus couldn't stop this congregation's spirit of giving.

st.andrews yardley paHeather Diprato/Courtesy St. Andrew's Yardley
Parishioners at St.Andrew’s have found new ways to stay connected.

Yardley has a long history as a community that cares. Back in the days of the Underground Railroad, at least five places in this Delaware River town housed runaway slaves. For the past four decades, a good portion of the altruism has been centered at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, whose members meet in the 19th-­century parish house every month to fix meals for elderly and shut-in residents across the Philadelphia region.

Barbara Taeffner Kulp enjoyed this generosity twice. “When I broke both my legs, St. Andrew’s fed my husband and myself in such abundance that with great thanks I had to say stop,” she says. “My husband—­jokingly, I hope—asked me to break my legs every month because he loved the food.” When he passed away, the cards and calls were “unending,” Kulp says. They helped her know she was never alone.

The coronavirus ended the congregation’s proud 37-year streak of making meals together, but it didn’t break their spirit of giving—far from it. Instead, church members took to cooking in their homes. Soon, volunteers were serving up 1,000 meals and 400 containers of soup each week—almost ten times more food than before the pandemic. And many ingredients in those meals were homegrown. In the spring, St. Andrew’s provided seedlings—tomatoes, beans, basil, and more—to Yardley residents to plant at home. The gardeners then brought their bounty back to the church to share with area food banks.

“Forty percent of America’s produce in World War II came from victory gardens in backyards and at churches,” says St. Andrews’s rector, Rev. Hilary Greer. “I thought, What if we did that here?” To which the people of Yardley said: Amen.

In neighborhoods across America, people united to overcome the virus and to fight racial injustice. We received nearly 1,200 stories this year from all 50 states. Yardley was just one of them. You can read 49 more here. We’d like to thank our partner Nextdoor for helping us get the word out and for helping unite American communities.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Jen Babakhan
Jen Babakhan is an author and credentialed educator living in California. She writes regularly about advice and culture for Reader's Digest. She is also the author of Detoured: The Messy, Grace-Filled Journey From Working Professional to Stay-at-Home Mom (Harvest House Publishers, 2019). She earned her BA in Communication Studies from California State University, Stanislaus. You can follow her on Instagram @JenBabakhan , Twitter @JenBabakhan, and Facebook @JenBabakhanauthor.