Aston Township, PA

"A community that cares"

Aston Township is a community that cares — it says it right on the sign! (Credit: Sheila Withelder)

Our motto says it all! Our citizens respond to crises and take care of one another. Troops, churches, schools, volunteers, organizations and businesses all give time and support to make Aston and the world a better place. And they have fun while doing it, too. At our community center we have Aston Library, Aston Township Historical Society, meeting rooms and a gym. Our Community Day is held there every October and over 5,000 people enjoy the parade, music, expo, food, fun and games. A Christmas tree lighting with Santa and Bunny Brunch are held, too. The Township takes care of the beloved Village Green Schoolhouse, built in 1867, and honors many citizens every month with a Citizen of the Year marshaling our Community Day Parade. The Aston Township Fire Department is all volunteers! So many doing kind deeds make Aston a very nice place to live.

Aston’s volunteer fire department. (Credit: Sheila Withelder)

Stories About Aston Township

May 10th, 2018, at the quarterly meeting of the Aston Township Historical Society, our speaker Davis Komarnicki, began his talk quietly and sincerely saying what a special place Aston is because of the beautiful Veteran’s Memorial Garden at 5 points, and we should be grateful to the people who organized it. That statement stuck with me. My husband and I have lived in Aston since 1973 and raised our family here. Our children were very involved in school and sports activities and we made lifelong friends over the years. Since our retirement we have walked many miles around the community and picked up our newspapers at Wawa almost every day. People here walking dogs, biking, or simply strolling are friendly, either nodding, waving or saying, “Hello” as they pass. And at Wawa people regularly hold the door for one another. Our local Giant has the same vibe, polite and helpful. And in addition, both these corporations support the community with donations to the many activities held in the township.

I began thinking about this place where I live and how lucky we all are in 2005, when our youngest son died in a car accident. We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of concern from the community. Food, cards, offers of help came pouring in. The luncheon after his funeral service was at our home, and friends, family and neighbors helped with the food, chairs and tables. We decided to have a scholarship fund in his memory for Sun Valley scholar athletes and were thankful for the over $11,000 in donations. The decision was made to give one young man and young lady each $1,500 to use for whatever they needed, thinking they could purchase a computer or textbooks. Friends of our older son, Ron, Dan Hefton, Dennis Ellison and Brian Palmore, who held a Wifflepalooza Tournament, decided to give its profits to the scholarship fund every year and to date 28 scholarships have been awarded and will continue to for several more years. That is how our community operates!

Donation to the Ray Withelder scholarship fund. (Credit: Sheila Withelder)

There are many other stories like this, people losing their homes to fires or other disasters and the community offering to help. Our scout troops are very involved, too. Boy Scout Troop 225, under the leadership of Barry Pinkowicz, three times a year cleans a three-mile stretch of Concord Road and hosts the annual 9/11 ceremony at the Memorial Garden. They also place over 5,000 flags at veteran’s graves in three cemeteries and Christmas carol at local nursing homes. For Eagle Scout Projects they built nine benches for along the Chester Creek Rail Trail. Barry was instrumental in getting funding for and seeing the trail to completion. Alex Siekierski and Troop 292 built benches made from a tree in Aston and added bushes to the historic Village Green Schoolhouse for his Eagle Scout project. They replaced benches and will be installing a closet and shelving for the youth group for Mt. Hope Methodist Church, where they hold their meetings. At the Parents of Murdered Children Service, they guide people with flashlights down through a wooded area to the location. They set up and help clean up at the community center after our Christmas tree lighting and for the last five years they have volunteered at the CRC/Watershed Creek cleanup.

Realizing American history was a little distant for many young people, Rachael McCullough, a local girl scout, created a Travelling Women’s History Museum, collecting vintage clothing and other items, and interviewing veterans and other women involved in WWII. She presented her Gold Award project to the ATHS in February and was awarded a Heritage Award for it this May. She had a display at Community Day and brought an entire Brownie troop to the ATHS meeting, encouraging others to become re-enactors and to get interested in our history.

History is on full display in Aston. (Credit: Sheila Withelder)

Our churches are important to the community also. Mount Hope United Methodist Church goes back to Revolutionary War times and is built on the hill where Cornwallis’ encampment was located. The ATHS has a cannonball from that time found in what is now the cemetery. The “Rise Against Hunger” community events made over 23,000 meals at each event and were sent to schools, disaster zones and refugee camps all over the world. The Aid to Hurricane Victims event made over 1,000 hygiene and school kits. The Bread of Life Ministry helps nourish and clothe many families in Aston and the extended community every month. And special food baskets are prepared for needy families during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hearts in Service helps local families care for their properties, with minor repairs, gardening etc. Adult and youth mission teams are sent out yearly to help hurricane and tornado areas clean up throughout the United States. Blood drives are held twice a year. CPR classes are offered. Free flu shots are given out yearly. The “Best of Delco” Mount Hope Children’s Center is located in the Sunday School Building. AA, boy scout and cub scout troops hold their meetings at Mt Hope. Help is given to support the Cokesbury UMC in Marcus Hook with a summer reading and feeding program. A new initiative will be started, the Neighboring Memory Cafe, to help individuals suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Bible School, Bible studies, a community Thanksgiving service, Mental Health Sunday are also offered. You can see on the websites of Aston Presbyterian, St Francis De Sales, St Joseph’s, Resurrection, and St. Timothy’s Churches to see all they are doing, too.

Schools in Aston, from day cares to Neumann University, are numerous and involved. The Penn Delco School District, which includes Parkside and Brookhaven, as well as Aston, gives out over $50,000 in scholarship/awards each year donated by local businesses, community organizations and memorials. Nathaniel Smith, an Eagle Scout, did a “Basement Revival,” cleaning out and restoring of the basement in the Christ United Methodist Church in Brookhaven. Anna-Colette Haynes, earning her Gold Award, worked with local hospitals and Breast Cancer Awareness groups to establish a “Knitting for Knockers” group, in which knitters provide cost effective prostheses for women who recently have undergone a mastectomy. The community helps students and students give back.

Community Day, our biggest event, with over 5,000 residents attending, requires an army of volunteers, led by Maryann Bullen. Nancy Bowden organizes the Parade, Maureen Dillon runs the Bicycle Decorating Contest, Kristen Evans oversees the bike rodeo, sponsored by Neumann University, Al and Audrey Everett take and post pictures, and our Chief of Police Dan Ruggieri grills for everyone! There is music and a business expo for the community to get acquainted with all the local business owners and their products, with samples and gifts available.

The Christmas Tree Lighting with a visit with Santa, food and fun, is provided by Aston Iron Workers Savings and Loan. The Community Center is also decorated for Easter to welcome the Easter Bunny with a “bunny brunch.” The Aston Library, under the guiding hand of Stephen Sazarin, is a hub of community activities. The surrounding areas use this library, too. In addition to offering books and computer use, there are book sales, Bingo, chair yoga, evening and afternoon book clubs, tech support, children’s book readings and summer camps, speakers and presentations for all ages. Dave Kelso and his Car Show Team combine their love of anything auto with work in the community. They help with the planning of Community Day, providing cars for the special guests each year, work with the Parks and Recreation Committee, are involved with the Active Shooter Response Team and are starting a project at Resurrection Church, cleaning up some of the oldest tombstones in the area. Dave also is a true friend of the ATHS, finding and retrieving old signs, artifacts etc. and is organizing the opening of a time capsule from the now demolished Green Ridge Elementary School, inviting teachers, students and community members to reminisce and join in the fun of exploring the trunk’s contents. The Aston Business Association is very involved in the community. They donated two beautiful display cases at the Community center for the ATHS, built by John Sikorski, a local contractor. They support our Community Day with food and activities. Many families are quietly helped by the Township and ABA.

Local businesses give back. (Credit: Sheila Withelder)

Aston has resources for its seniors, too. Aston Pharmacy delivers; a foot doctor will do house calls; Meals on Wheels are made at the community center and delivered. Neumann has a life-long learning program and Gentle Care, Inc. has an office in Aston.

We have two baseball leagues for our children, Aston- Middletown Little League and Aston Valley Baseball League as well as soccer, football, basketball, wrestling and cheerleading. All run by volunteers, a local business sponsors each team. We also have a Kids First Swim School, as well as Planet Fitness and Retro Fitness, something for everyone that wants to exercise and stay healthy. Ice Works offers ice hockey, figure skating and ice skating for all ages. Olympic skaters as well as National Team skaters often perform for large audiences. Camp Chill, a summer day camp for children is held every year. Over a million people visit Ice Works annually. Uschi Keszler is a former Olympic skater from Germany who came to America to skate in the Ice Follies. She is now an Olympic skating coach and works to raise money for “Pennies in Action” that funds cancer research.

It is nice to have local places for your children to participate in activities as well as a hardware store to run and grab whatever it is you need to fix that tool, paint that wall or tend to that garden! Bruce Snyder’s Ace Hardware has filled the bill for many years. Aston Pharmacy has filled our prescriptions, answered our questions for a long time, too. Fulginiti’s handles all our insurance concerns. And what would we do without our local hairdressers, nail salons, Reilly’s, Yarnell Pool Supplies and Victory Cleaners? How about a veterinarian and pet groomer? Yes, we have it. We now have an emergency clinic, medical facilities, Premier Orthopedic, Pivot Physical Therapy and Lab Corp for blood tests. Little Aston has come a long way, with apartments, condos, starter homes, large family homes in developments as well as single floor ranchers that many retired people prefer. And if you like hoagies, steaks, pizza and burgers, Aston is the place for you.

Our historical homes are in private hands and very well taken care of by their owners. A legend says that the 1682 Carter Weir House on Williams Drive was where Lafayette’s wound from the Battle of Brandywine was treated, and the 1684 Thimble House on Tryens Road is rumored to have been a station for the Underground Railroad. Barnaby’s, a popular gathering place, is located in an old cider mill, the water wheel is still there. The Rockdale Arts District is a rejuvenation of the old mill town of the 18th and 19th century. Artists occupy an old mill, church, school and other buildings, displaying their artwork, offering lessons and holding community open houses. History is alive and well in Aston.

Aston is also the home of the Sisters of St. Francis, a worldwide charitable organization that tackles hunger, poverty, illness and missionary work. The Sisters were the founders of Our Lady of Angels College, the forerunner of Neumann University. They maintain historical records and do charitable work throughout the area. Organizations like the Lions, Lionesses, Leos, Senior Citizens, Moose, AARP, Legion Post 926, the American Legion, VFW, Rotary and Disabled American Veterans all play an important role in helping others in the community. Aston Township Commissioners have been looking to the future and making improvements with a beautification project, “streetscapes.” We have new lamplights along Pennell Road and children’s parks in every development that are regularly maintained. Newsome Park is in the works.

Aston Township is managed by Bill McConville, with the aid of a very capable and helpful staff. Some of the nicest and hardest working people work for the Township of Aston! Take the Public Works Department, under the supervision of Russ Palmore. In addition to their regular busy schedule of road work, parks, trash and recycling, etc., they mow the grass at Village Green Schoolhouse and clean it when ATHS is having open houses, bringing tables and moving larger items outside. The Commissioners worked to get a grant to replace the old leaking roof of the schoolhouse, too. All our community activities are made possible by volunteers, the ABA, our Township and Public Works!

As you can see Aston is varied and vibrant community, maintaining history and planning for the future. It is a caring community that is growing and thriving, a very nice place to live for sure!