The immigration crisis – complicated and contentious – has reached our Main Line borders.
Devereux wants to turn its original Devon campus into a shelter for unaccompanied refugee children.
And neighbors want none of it.
Founded by Helena Devereux in Devon a century ago, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is now a massive nonprofit, with programs and services in 13 states.
Last spring Devereux sought and received a $14-million federal grant to give temporary shelter to “Unaccompanied Alien Children” in facilities in five states, including its vacant Stone and Gables facility on Highland Ave. in Devon.
So, presumably, undocumented kids detained by Homeland Security at the border would be entrusted to Devereux until they can be placed with family members in the U.S. or with guardian-approved sponsors. The agency says most children would be sheltered for a month or two.
Devereux calls this expansion of its mission “apolitical” and humanitarian. The agency’s external affairs director, Leah Yaw, has stated that the agency feels “a moral and ethical imperative to provide the highest quality care for any and all children in need” – in this case, 42 refugee children in Devon and another 60 at facilities in Connecticut, Texas, Colorado and Massachusetts.
“It’s difficult to imagine the struggles and traumas that these children have faced in their young lives,” Yaw writes, in an email to SAVVY. “Depending on the number of unaccompanied children arriving the U.S. per month, there are times when thousands of children are held for days and sometimes weeks … in detention centers built to hold adults for no longer than one or two days at a time. It is unthinkable to Devereux staff that we would sit by and not do everything possible to provide aid, comfort and meaningful support to hurting children.”
For the record, Yaw tells us her organization believes family separations “should never occur.” In the course of its grant application, the agency made clear “our refusal to support such a separation policy or associated action,” Yaw wrote.
But what Devereux calls “humane, trauma-informed, compassionate transitional shelter care,” neighbors call detention.
They’re convinced the agency is chasing dollars, hasn’t been transparent with the community, and won’t properly care for migrant children.
And they’ve rallied the troops to fight Devereux’s plan – hard.
Neighbors won an early victory last week, when Easttown’s zoning officer revoked his earlier decision which would have allowed Devereux to operate the shelter as a continued non-conforming use in a residential zone.
In his letter informing Devereux of his reversal, zoning officer Eugene Briggs wrote that the “primary use” of the Highland Ave. facility had changed from “an advanced behavioral health facility” to “a transitional housing shelter facility.” So Devereux couldn’t, in effect, be grandfathered in under the prior zoning variance. Per code, he gave Devereux 30 days to file an appeal with the Easttown Zoning Hearing Board.
At press time, no appeal had been filed but Devereux plans to meet ASAP with township officials “for clarification on this reversal,” according to Yaw’s email to us.
On Monday night, Yaw explained Devereux’s proposal to 15 local pastors and ministers. The meeting was organized by Mt. Zion AME Pastor April Martin, whose church is two blocks from Devereux’s Devon campus. Martin tells SAVVY she’s 100% behind Devereux’s plans. “I come from a place of compassion. These children are caught in the middle, trying to have a better life. They should be met with love and understanding, not fear.”
She says members of her church – and the Lutheran, Methodist, Baptists and Quaker ministers she’s spoken to – stand ready to help Devereux. “Frankly we consider this an exciting ministry opportunity.” Some members of her congregation are already applying for criminal background clearances so they can work directly with children at the site, Martin says.
She says the heated township supervisors meeting on Sept. 16, which she attended, was “a lynch mob.” She says she was “mortified” and “in a state of shock” listening to some neighbors’ comments, particularly the homeowner worried about his property values.
“You know what this is, don’t you?” Pastor Martin tells SAVVY. “It’s an opportunity for them to get rid of Devereux.”
The township meeting convinced Briggs that he didn’t have a full picture of Devereux’s plans when he made his earlier ruling. He then requested and reviewed 130+ pages of additional documents provided by Devereux, including a copy of its grant application to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Devereux’s financial statements, and a side-by-side comparison of the facility’s former use – behavioral health care for 42 troubled and disabled teens – with its proposed plan to shelter 42 children, ages 5 to 12. (We filed a Right to Know and reviewed the same documents.)
Both Briggs and neighbors tell us they’ve worked long and hard to understand the issues. Neighbors insist this is not a case of NIMBYism, nor are they prejudiced against brown children, as a few have suggested.
“We’ve spent hundreds of hours on this; our day jobs are suffering,” Stephanie McAlaine tells SAVVY. She says her core “work group of 15 neighbors” has binders “three inches thick” stuffed with research into the ORR grant program, news articles about migrant youth facilities, Devereux’s financial statements and track record in Devon (which they say includes multiple incidents of youth residents found wandering in local streets) and more. She says 70 or 80 homeowners on Highland, Dundee, Old Lancaster and N. Fairfield roads are united in their opposition to the plan.
“For us, it’s a zoning issue,” McAlaine says. “They’re not being good neighbors. If they have a non-conforming zoning use, they have to go before the zoning hearing board and present that use, just as I would have to do if I wanted to put a garage on my house.”
After deeming the Highland Ave. site obsolete for its programs, Devereux stopped housing youth there last year.
And as far as neighbors knew, Devereux was planning to pull out and sell to a developer. The plan, neighbors thought, was to build ten McMansions on the 7.8-acre site. Everything would be demolished:
- “Stone” cottage, which Helena Devereux first rented to care for special-needs children in 1918. It hasn’t housed youth with behavioral issues for several years.
- The larger “Gables” estate next door, unoccupied since last September.
- A few outbuildings, a basketball court, playground and large back lawn.
The location is primo: it’s in T/E schools and within walking distance to the train station, Devon Yard and the horse show. New homes here could easily fetch their planned $1 million to $1.3 million price tags.
But at the same time Devereux was talking about unloading the property, it was working to secure millions in ORR grant funds – $13,831,745 to be exact – to operate transitional migrant shelters in Devon and elsewhere.
Neighbors say they only learned about Devereux’s change of plans when McAlaine’s husband noticed renovations underway over the summer and stopped to ask construction workers what was going on. “It was a big surprise to us,” McAlaine says. “They should have reached out to let us know they had new plans.”
McAlaine, who’s lived directly across from Stone and Gables since 2002, calls her neighborhood “a strong, tight-knit community that wanted to have an informed point of view.”
While they say their primary concern is zoning, neighbors have dug much deeper.
They reached out to Latino rights groups, they called journalists who’ve investigated “federal money flooding into child detention centers,” they stand ready to oppose Devereux at future zoning hearings and in local courts, if the case gets that far. (Under PA law, the matter could go as high as the PA Supreme Court, Briggs tells us.)
Contacted by neighbors, the Philadelphia-based Latino-rights group, Juntos, put a petition on its website (below). More than 600 people had signed it by October 1.
Curious about why a Latino advocacy group opposes the facility – weren’t shelters better than longer stays in tents and “cages” at the border? – we reached out to Juntos Executive Director Erika Almiron. (Although she lives in Philly, Almiron has ties to Devereux and the Main Line. For six months after college, she worked at Devereux, mostly transporting residents. And her parents, who owned Al’s Shoe Repair in Gateway Shopping Center until it was destroyed in the big 1998 arson fire, live in Malvern.)
“Children are being held hostage in these centers,” Almiron told us. “A shelter is optional, you can leave. But you can’t leave ORR facilities. That’s detention. These young people need lawyers – that’s what the government should be spending money on. Our response is to push back locally when we can, to not allow these detention facilities in PA.” She insisted that agencies like Devereux “aren’t trying to help these children, they’re trying to make money.”
But in an email to SAVVY, Yaw pushes back, asserting that Devereux’s status as a private, nonprofit “will ensure all allocated funds and resources are used for the sole purpose of supporting children and ensuring their success. There is no appropriate role for profit-making entities in this work.”
According to documents provided to Easttown, migrant children will be educated on site. (Past residents were transported to special schools). The facility will not shelter children with significant developmental delays or those who show aggressive or self-harming behaviors. As a group, Devereux classifies them as “less behavioral intense” than the youth who used to live there.
In order to meet ORR’s requirements, Devereux promised to beef up security at the Highland Ave. site, adding “effective video monitoring of the exterior and surrounding premises” and in “common and living areas,” according to documents we reviewed. The agency also said it will continue past security procedures, which include “controlled entry and exit from the premises” and “a communications and alarm system for all areas.”
U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan’s office tells us the Congresswoman is keeping an eye on the Devon situation. “While this issue is currently being worked out at the local level, we believe firmly that all people in the U.S. immigration system should be treated with respect and have access to heath care and education,” a Houlahan aide tells SAVVY.
At the September township meeting, Yaw said the first children would begin moving in as early as this month, but with the zoning reversal, that seems like a stretch. Neighbors tell us renovations are ongoing despite the revised ruling, with at least four utility vehicles on site earlier this week. (The place was deserted when we poked around last weekend to take photos.) Meanwhile, Devereux continues to advertise for bi-lingual caregivers (to be paid up to $17/hour) and other positions. And we know Yaw has been meeting with local pastors and other stakeholders.
So, although Yaw won’t confirm it, Devereux has dug in. The battle over 230 Highland Ave. is just beginning.
At the end of the day, all sides – Devereux, its Devon neighbors, local clergy and a Latino-advocacy group – say they’re fighting for the same thing: the humane treatment of unaccompanied, immigrant children.
Who will win the day? How Easttown’s zoning board members ultimately rule is anyone’s guess. This scorching-hot potato passes to them next. With ongoing skirmishes over central Devon and Berwyn Square, and before that, a protracted war over Devon Yard, at least they’re battle-tested.
Transportation “nightmares” reported in Tredyffrin/Easttown schools
T/E was bracing for a few bumps when the school year started with new arrival and dismissal times.
But safe to say, no one saw this total cluster coming.
“Buses in T/E are still a mess six weeks from the first day of school,” reports Heather McConnell, who has children at Valley Forge Elementary and Valley Forge Middle and was PTO President at VFES last year.
New Eagle PTO President Susie Geib says she knows of “90 upset families over the nightmare that has been the bus situation so far this year.”
Valley Forge Elementary mom Simmer Marcelli says she’s so concerned about “our school district putting our children’s safety at risk,” she’s created a parent survey which she hopes will prove how pervasive transportation issues have become in T/E.
Among the charges reported to SAVVY, circulated online, and voiced at school-board meetings and in calls and emails to district officials:
- Buses continually running late, and not by five or ten minutes. Kids arriving home so late they miss medication, barely make it to sports practice, lessons and religious ed classes. With days shortening, parents fearing elementary school kids getting home in the dark.
- Cars swarming schools at drop-off and dismissal because parents have given up on unreliable bus transport. One parent timed her wait at Valley Forge Elementary’s notoriously long parent pickup line at 40 minutes, when waits in prior years averaged 15 minutes.
- Constant schedule changes and inexplicably long bus rides for short distances. Elementary schoolers on Valley Forge Mountain, for example, are spending 55 minutes on bus rides, according to one irate parent.
- Buses arriving so early at one elementary school that kids sit on them for up to 15 minutes before the driver opens the door.
- At least two buses MIA, one until 6 p.m. the first week of school, with kids crying, parents not notified and frantic with worry, and lost drivers eventually relying on third- and fourth-graders for directions.
- Newly installed GPS units on buses not fully operational or compatible with other tracking/communication systems.
- Ongoing concerns about the training and conduct of drivers including high turnover and drivers speeding and ignoring school-zone flashing lights. VFES’ McConnell tells us she bought a radar gun to prove reckless driving.
- Parents dumbfounded that the district doesn’t require drivers with new routes to do dry runs before the school year starts.
- Worried parents complaining they’re often in the dark. No text alerts/messages as in prior years. Phones ringing off the hook at T/E’s transportation department. Some calls and emails eventually answered, and not always courteously. Others ignored. The transportation supervisor reportedly telling one parent that all the phone calls to her office were keeping her from doing her job.
- T/E refusing to share bus-route information with parents due to security concerns. Once upon a time, routes were published online and in local papers.
- School doors at one elementary school propped open for working parents who’ve opted to drop off kids a half hour early (an accommodation to changed start times), with no security in place and kids running unsupervised around the gym.
As if all this wasn’t enough, a swelling chorus continues to rail against bus stops on dangerously busy Old Eagle School, Sugartown, South Valley and E. Conestoga roads.
One Wayne parent, long upset about his kids’ stop on Old Eagle School, tells us he actually measured his cul-de-sac to disprove T/E’s claim that its buses can’t turn around in it. He also says he was told to call police, not the school district, to complain about cars blowing by buses picking up students on heavily trafficked Old Eagle School.
Several parents report rude treatment by administrators. “There’s no dialogue. To them, parents are just noise in the system,” one irate New Eagle father tells SAVVY.
When T/E Middle School dad Matt Gelber called T/E Transportation to complain about his kids’ bus stop on busy Sugartown Rd., he says transportation supervisor Karen Henry told him: “Your entitled children don’t get to pick and choose where they are picked up by the bus.” Gelber says he responded, “That’s an outrageous comment. I’m only concerned about safety.” To which Henry offered this chestnut, according to Gelber: “We don’t have the time or money to cater to our families in the district.’” Huh? For now, Gelber says he has no choice but to drive his kids to school.
Clearly in the hot seat, the administration has apologized, urged patience, and promised improvements at school board meetings and in parent newsletters. At two meetings, Transportation Supervisor Karen Henry blamed her department’s performance on the new school start times and, remarkably, on parents who didn’t turn in the new transportation opt-in forms on time.
In an effort to control costs, the district this year began asking parents to fill out an online form requesting bus service for their kids. But, small surprise, hundreds of parents were late sending in the new “opt in” forms. With so much underreporting, the district claims it simply couldn’t allocate bus resources accurately.
But parents we spoke to were skeptical. They question T/E’s reliance on new data that didn’t match enrollment numbers.
On the bright side, the T/E appears to be addressing glitches. Last week, it added new buses, tweaked routes and schedules (yet again), dipping into the $600,000 earmarked for transportation issues resulting from the school-start change.
Timely information, however, has been hard to come by. Instead of answering our questions directly, the district’s spokesperson referred us to its published statements to parents and to videos of school board meetings, adding that unhappy parents should contact the transportation department. (Thanks, but how about telling us something we don’t already know next time?)
Six weeks in and parents tell us many buses are still late. Several say arrival times were simply pushed back a few minutes so buses, at least technically, wouldn’t be as late.
Others talk about middle schoolers standing outside school for a half hour each day – rain or shine – waiting for buses to take them home.
And many tell us they’re still waiting for satisfactory answers to their questions about driver reliability and bus stops on busy roads.
We’re no experts but seems to us, T/E simply tinkered with too much at once: new start and dismissal times, a new form asking parents to “opt in” to bus service, new routes and schedules, a new communication system, a new bus subcontractor.
All launched at the start of the school year, which already comes with bus hiccups.
What were they thinking?
A group of concerned parents invites all parents whose children ride T/E buses to fill out a brief online survey about their family’s transportation experiences. Organizers says results will be presented to the school board and administration.
Is Nova Nation on a roll or what? Sports and academics are stellar, coffers are flush, and the campus has never looked better.
And the goodies just keep on coming.
On Sept. 20, the university unveiled its latest gem: The Refectory, a full-service, on-campus bar and restaurant.
Nothing like the grungy Rathskeller at your alma mater, the target market here isn’t cash-strapped students. It’s not even staff, although they do get discounts.
Nope, this joint wants to become a dining destination for non-Nova folks. For anyone who appreciates a nice glass of wine, a well-prepared meal – whether it’s a sandwich, salad, sushi or steak.
Not that high-rolling trustees and alums won’t be wined and dined here. They assuredly will. The wine-lined “Vault,” has already been dubbed “Father Peter’s Room,” for the university’s convivial President and Schmoozer-in-Chief.
Refectories are no-frills, dining halls, often inside monasteries. But leave the sackcloth and ashes at home. Pleasure seekers are more than welcome here.
During our visit Sunday night, both food and service were exceptionally polished, particularly for a place just nine days old. (Our only quibble: the herb-roasted half chicken was a tad salty.)
On the menu: Tried and true classics mixed with trendier fare – a little sumpin’ sumpin’ for everyone. Small plates ($6 – $17); raw bar (from $14); four choices of Osaka-style sushi ($15); five salads ($14 – $18, plus $7 for protein); sandwiches (five choices, each $15); entrées (from $28), and 12 shareable sides ($9). Go sinful with a 20 oz. bone-in ribeye ($52) or stay saintly with fresh seafood or salad. The choice is yours.
Our personal faves: the spicy crab & avocado taquito ($17, below left), the organic salmon poke bowl ($17, below right),
the crispy chicken sandwich ($15), the butterscotch crème brulée ($10) and the chocolate butter cake with nutella gelato and berries ($12). Salty pan juices aside, the roast chicken was refreshingly moist.
The bar program is ambitious: 29 wines by the glass ($11 – $14 except for higher-priced champagnes and cruvinet pours). A nice mix of crafty cocktails like the Dodge, the Wildcat, Nova Nectar, Spicy Skinny, and You’ve Got the Wright Stuff. (Yup, you sure do, Cutey Coach.)
As usual, the university did it right, bypassing its in-house dining team for a top-shelf commercial restaurant partner. After entertaining bids from a few well-known area operators, a deal was inked with Greg Dodge and his Zavino Hospitality Group (ZHG). On the Main Line, ZHG operates Bryn Mawr’s Enoteca Tredici and, in Bala Cynwyd, the new Zagafen and Citron & Rose. In a deal Dodge calls too sweet to pass up: Villanova puts up around $6 million for the buildout and Dodge turns his dream board into reality.
“No one’s getting rich off this deal,” Dodge tells SAVVY. “It’s tough to raise money [for new restaurants.] To get $6 million behind my ideas and a chance to see if my ideas worked – that was the job of lifetime.”
His vision: a place that looks and feels like the comfy, clubby Palm Beach Grill with elevated classic food, inspired by the upscale chain, Houston’s.
Now that he’s in his 50s, Dodge says he’s watching what he eats and suspects his Main Line customers are doing the same. During the week, “I’m eating lighter, maybe a salad with protein and a good glass of wine,” he says. “I love Sweetgreen, but you can’t drink there.”
The Refectory wants to be your new go-to, Dodge says: before the show, after the game, for a quick drink and a bite, or a leisurely Saturday-night date.
It looked quite nice when we visited but Dodge told us the place was only “70 percent finished.” Coming soon: wooden shelf dividers to better delineate bar and dining areas.
Music was lively and flatscreen TVs were showing sports in unobtrusive black-and-white, as per ZHG policy. Anyone else think The Refectory might bend that rule for Nova basketball games?
The Refectory, 862 E. Lancaster Ave. on the first floor of the new Commons building at Ithan and Lancaster Aves., opens at 4 p.m. daily. Lunch service TBA. Call 610-519-5786 or reserve on Open Table. Parking tickets for the new garage across the street will be validated.
Big and tasty signing for Strafford strip center
The big cheese at the Ardmore Farmer’s Market, Di Bruno Bros. is heading to Wayne. And it’s getting a liquor license.
SAVVY has confirmed that Di Bruno will become a “mini anchor” tenant at the Strafford Shopping Center near the Lancaster County Farmer’s Market.
The Italian gourmet food purveyor is taking nearly 8,000 square feet: the old Kitchen Kapers, Rita’s Water Ice, laundromat and hair salon.
Di Bruno plans to serve beer and wine for those eating in, according to Ken McAvoy of Equity Retail Brokers, the center’s leasing agent. So, while blueprints aren’t yet available, we’re guessing they’ll include plenty of seats.
Di Bruno will be a good neighbor, McEvoy promises. They’ll “work hard to complement the farmer’s market and not cause it any pain.”
Open since 2011 in Ardmore, Di Bruno Bros. now occupies more than half the farmer’s market, offering cheeses, fresh pasta and bread, antipasti bar, prepared foods and sandwiches.
The Strafford location should open by late spring or summer of 2020, McEvoy says.
Two newcomers to St. David’s Square
Half of the old Bed Bath & Beyond in St. David’s Square is back in business.
HomeSense opened last week with an expansive array of off-price furniture, lighting, wall art, home accents and seasonal décor.
Meanwhile, Old Navy is under construction next door and hopes to open by Dec. 1.
Now, if they could just expand that jammed parking lot out front.
By Rebecca Adler
Interior designer Elizabeth Reynolds has a thing for old (and new) houses, especially if they have shabby rooms, broken banisters, or outdated floorplans. If it has good bones, she has goosebumps.
“I want to collect [houses] like people collect shoes!” she laughs. “I want to fix them up, make them function better, and breathe new life into them. I see things that don’t work in a home and it makes me bananas.”
Her first design project on the Main Line? Her own home: a stately, c.1926 manor house in Radnor, in which Reynolds and her family have lived for two years since moving from Washington, D.C. In a speedy and efficient seven-month project, she opened up walls with cased openings, added windows, and renovated all bathrooms and the kitchen. Soft paint colors, vibrant textiles and wallpapers, and contemporary art play well with original fireplaces, millwork and a show-stopping barrel-vaulted ceiling in the family room. The overall effect is modern and fresh, yet timeless. It’s like a new home, wrapped in an old home.
And what she did for her own digs, she can do for yours (or for your place of business). Elizabeth Reynolds Interiors’ floor-to-ceiling specialties include:
- Pre-construction and pre-renovation planning. Reynolds works with builders and clients before a hammer hits the first nail.
- Function-first space planning. “I start with making a space work for the needs of the inhabitants,” she says. “Then I focus on the aesthetics and layering in fabrics and furnishings. It’s very important to keep the end ‘look’ in mind, but it all starts with function.”
- Timeless kitchens and baths using quality materials, that won’t quickly go stale.
- Interesting light fixtures: “They set a tone and create an instant style.”
- Mixing custom furniture, vintage pieces and unique accessories for “a personal, curated feel.”
- Furnishings and fabrics for style, comfort and longevity. “I have all these children and animals,” she says of her full house (complete with two dogs and a backyard chicken coop). “I understand how people live.”
Reynolds’ fascination with interior architecture dates back to her childhood, when she would draw floorplans for fun. In college they became a welcome respite from her premed studies. After college she shelved her biology degree in favor of a career in interiors. She earned an MFA in Interior Architecture at George Washington University and launched her design business in the D.C. area in 2004.
In 16 years, Reynolds has racked up dozens of projects and word-of-mouth raves. She’s happily found herself at many a demolition day with clients who value her space-planning skills, attention to detail, and ability to simplify decision-making. “I try to make a renovation as pleasant as possible for my clients,” she says of her easy-going approach. “I don’t impose my own aesthetic, and I guide families to find their own style. I make the process easy by offering select options, any of which would be a perfect choice.”
Eager to put her stamp on the Main Line, Reynolds can’t help but fantasize about the area’s many unique properties waiting to be transformed. “My husband can’t believe I haven’t had a car wreck yet because I drive around looking at houses in Wayne, Bryn Mawr, all the darling towns lining Lancaster Ave. – they are packed with charming homes,” she says. “I love driving around here. I take the long way home. I try to get lost.”
Bellyup in Berwyn
Another big ole hole for the Route 202 retail corridor in Tredyffrin.
Mealey’s Furniture just announced plans to shutter all seven of its stores, including its big purple palace on Swedesford Rd. near McKenzie Brew House.
A storewide going-out-of-business sale began late last week and will last until most merch is gone. No doubt the deals will get sweeter as inventory dwindles.
Started by Jerry Mealey in 1970 and now owned by a Maryland furniture company, Mealey’s expanded to the Valley Fair Shopping Center in Berwyn in 2011.
Marlyn Schiff has a new address. The popular fashion jeweler just debuted new digs at 15 Haverford Station Rd. in Haverford, former home to Mock Fox Interiors and Prana Yoga.
A two-day grand opening party is set for October 18-19 with “sips, snacks and stacks” – of bracelets, we’re guessing. Stop in 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. on the 18th or noon to 6 on the 19th.
Or come by any time to enjoy Schiff’s Zen meditation garden, which is open to the community when it’s not used for girls’ nights and charity events.
Recovery Centers of America at Devon … it’s not just for addiction recovery anymore
Struggling with an eating disorder or other mental-health issue that simply can’t wait?
RCA to the rescue.
The drug-and-alcohol detox and recovery facility in central Devon now offers outpatient care for a myriad of mental-health issues.
No need to wait weeks for an appointment with a therapist. RCA knows you’re in crisis and guarantees you’ll be seen by a licensed professional in 48 hours or less – whether you called (1-800-RECOVERY) or walked in the front door. They’ll even send a van to pick you up.
Of the six RCAs in Massachusetts, Maryland, NJ and PA, the Devon location is the first to offer evidence-based, outpatient treatment for eating disorders. Because the company is headquartered in King of Prussia – CEO is Main Line developer/entrepreneur Brian O’Neill – it often rolls out new initiatives in Devon, according to RCA’s Grant McClernon.
Why the focus on eating disorders? Because they’re on the rise, they can be deadly (up to 20% of diagnoses end in death), and they often pop up in the course of addiction treatment. Perhaps the person in recovery has an underlying eating disorder. Or maybe a sibling is suffering.
RCA offers a convenient, one-stop shop: treating substance abuse or “process addictions” like sex, gambling and overspending in one family member and maybe anorexia or OCD in another.
Another plus: a loved one can move seamlessly from one program to another. Families don’t have to start all over with a new therapist and facility.
And care is holistic: RCA’s therapists are trained to spot co-occurring and underlying disorders, are trained to treat both addiction and eating disorders, and confer regularly with one another. One hand knows what the other is doing.
Some participants in RCA’s eating disorders program have substance-abuse disorder, but many do not.
Some come from directly from inpatient hospital stays and need continued support as they return to their homes and families.
Others have yet to be treated or even officially diagnosed.
Participants must be 18 or older – current clients include a 20-year-old and a 50-something man. To ensure personalized care, groups are capped at eight.
Treatment is tailored to individual needs and delivered by a team of licensed therapists, a registered dietician, an RN, yoga and art therapists, and a staff psychiatrist.
Three programs offer different levels of care.
Those needing the most treatment are placed in either a five-day, 25-hour “partial hospitalization program” or the three-day, 9-hour “intensive outpatient” program, both of which include:
- Primary group therapy, led by a licensed therapist and capped at 8. “It’s a safe zone for clients to talk about their struggles and not have family or friends judge them,” according to Christina Synder, clinical director of outpatient services at RCA.
- Daily meal and after-meal support to reinforce healthy eating behaviors, supervised by a registered dietitian who leads meal planning, food shopping (or ordering takeout) and meal prep through meal consumption and digestion.
- Individual therapy sessions once or twice weekly. (Psychiatric appointments are scheduled as needed.)
- Weekly yoga and art therapy sessions geared specifically to people with eating disorders.
- Family therapy sessions plus check-in phone calls – at least once a week – with parents or loved ones. Families learn how to support healthy eating behaviors taught at RCA, including how to avoid “triggering” questions and modeling healthy eating at home.
- Full nutritional assessments including medical monitoring, lab work and individualized meal plans.
“We want to gradually transition clients back into their home environments, not just throw them back there,” says Snyder. RCA works around job and school schedules for those ready to resume their lives, she says.
Despite RCA’s sparkling new rooms – you’d never know this building once housed a drab old nursing home – fees are affordable. The outpatient eating disorders program is in-network for almost all providers. Coverage, of course, varies by plan but costs are significantly lower than inpatient programs. If a deductible is high, RCA will set up a payment plan. “No one is denied treatment if they can’t meet their deductible,” Snyder says.
Disordered eating takes many forms. Besides anorexia and nervosa, there are food phobias, anorexia athletica (over-exercising), orthorexia (obsessive healthy eating) and overuse of laxatives to purge.
The licensed professionals at RCA Devon have seen it all and treated it all.
At the end of the day, people in addiction and people struggling with eating disorders have something in common: they engage in destructive behavior to fill a void. “Sometimes the addiction or eating disorder speaks for a person, screaming out ‘I need help’ because they’re unable to say that with their own voice,” says RCA therapist Devann Wisniewski. “We identify what void the client is trying to fill and we find ways to help them meet that need that aren’t dangerous or destructive.”
Recovery Centers of America at Devon, W. 235 Lancaster Ave. (at the former Devon Manor), is open 24 hours. Call 1-800-RECOVERY.
Hook-and-ladders instead of horses at Devon this Saturday
Berwyn and Radnor fire companies are pulling out all the stops for Saturday’s 2nd Annual Main Line Fire Prevention Expo.
hands-on demos and tours, and antique fire engine rides – along with nibbles from local restaurants, a moon bounce and face painting. It’s free and fun and we know our fire companies have been working like heck to stage this free community event.
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: we Main Liners simply can’t take our first responders for granted. Funds and volunteers remain in short supply for most of our local fire companies, particularly in the face of surging EMT calls.
Main Line Fire Prevention Expo is set for Saturday, Oct. 6 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Devon Horse Show.
A defeat for Everyone Reads T/E
The parents’ group that’s been pushing hard for a Literacy Committee in Tredyffrin/Easttown isn’t going to get one.
The proposal, advanced by Everyone Reads T/E, died Tuesday night, in a three-to-vote by the school board’s policy committee. T/E’s teacher’s union members showed up to oppose the measure, many wearing TEEA shirts in a show of solidarity.
“The administration…chose to weaponize our teachers’ union against parents,” alleges Everyone Reads T/E in a Facebook post. “We are a high-achieving district,” the post continues. “We support dozens of families whose children are getting lost in the mess that can only be called a balanced-literacy hybrid. The district has refused to share any reading benchmark data with the school board and the majority of the school board accepts that as ok.”
The advocacy group has long complained that the district’s reading program is not evidence-based. Co-founder Kate Mayer tells SAVVY her group often has no answer for parents concerned about their children’s reading progress except to advise them to hire tutors or enroll in private schools.
At Tuesday’s meeting, educators and the teacher’s union’s president spoke out against the proposed committee, claiming it was unnecessary, duplicative and would add more demands on teachers’ time.
This and That
Feeling green? Know a thing or two about climate change? Chester County could use your help. Chesco Commissioners are accepting applications for the county’s new Environmental and Energy Advisory Board through Oct. 18.
The board will help formulate a Climate Action Plan that balances energy needs with environmental protection. It will include residents, reps from business, energy groups, land conservancies and utility companies, along with municipal and county officials. Send your resume and cover letter to [email protected].
Experts agree: Teen angst is epidemic – across the country and here on the Main Line. That’s why Sunday’s talk in Wayne is so timely. Clinical psychologist/author/anxiety expert Dr. Deborah Ledley will present “Dealing with Teen Anxiety” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6 at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church. Part of the church’s “Building a Resilient Soul” speaker series – Amen to that – Ledley’s talk is free and open to the public. RSVP appreciated but not required.
Closed in Villanova since July, the Foundation for Islamic Education will move to a former senior care center off Rte. 100 in Exton. The Islamic school must be feeling flush. It paid $2.7 million for its 23-acre Montgomery Ave. property back in 1994, sold it to Lower Merion School District for $12 million, and paid just $1.59 million for its new home in Exton.
More bragging rights for Conestoga. The high school is once again reporting the most National Merit Semifinalists in the state, with 41 this year. Amazing.
Love ya, Estia, but maybe clean up your act a bit? Radnor’s health inspector issued an embarrassing six health code violations to the popular restaurant on Sept. 27. The only other eateries that came close in September: Cabrini’s Dining Hall, Spring Mill Bill Bread Co. & JB’s Deli and Catering. Each had three black marks.
You’ve heard of voting with your feet. How about using your two dogs to help fight the opioid crisis? Register asap for the Chester County Color 5K, set for this Saturday, Oct. 5 in West Chester’s Everhart Park. Not a runner or walker? Come out and cheer them on – many participants have lost loved ones to substance-use disorders. The first three Color 5Ks have raised more than $110,000 for Chesco’s COPE (warm-handoff treatment) program, run by the county’s Overdose Prevention Task Force.
Is clutter clogging up your kitchen? Have we got a talk for you! Longtime SAVVY friend Anna Sicalides of Your Organizing Consultants and Kitchen Tune-up Main Line will host “How to Create an Organized and Space-efficient Kitchen.” The free, open-house event runs noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12 at Kitchen Tune-up, 391 Lancaster Ave., Malvern.
They’re doing backflips in Bryn Mawr. Saints Colman and John Newmann School was just named a 2019 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Dept. of Education. The Catholic elementary school – created when parochial schools in Ardmore and Bryn Mawr merged in 1976 – was one of 362 schools so honored. Another point of pride: SCSJ alumna Kate Flannery (aka Meredith on “The Office”) is killing it on “Dancing With the Stars.” A dark horse when she started, some are now picking the comic actress and Archbishop Carroll alum, 55, to go all the way.
Since 2015, Gateway Horse Works has helped heal people with challenges: imprisoned women, veterans with PTSD, human-trafficked teens, people in recovery, and more. Using a unique equine-assisted psychotherapy model, clients don’t ride the horses – as they do at Thorncroft – but they learn how to handle them, and in the process, become empowered. After losing its Malvern home, Gateway now operates out of Fox Creek Farm in Berwyn, but it’s only temporary. If you’ve got any bright ideas for a forever home for this worthwhile charity, contact [email protected].
The NTSB released a preliminary report on the August plane crash that killed Kiran Khurana, a Harriton ’18 grad and rising McGill U. sophomore, along with her physician parents. According to the report, Jasvir Khurana had been piloting the single-engine plane for three minutes before it abruptly lost altitude and dove into the ground in Upper Moreland, narrowly missing homes in the area. No word yet on the cause.
Meanwhile, area squash players and fans are invited to Cynwyd Racquet Club Saturday, Nov. 30 for an “I Play for Kiran” tournament to raise funds for a Lower Merion Township Scholarship in the scholar-athlete’s memory. A player since elementary school, Kiran was a tenacious member of Harriton’s nationally ranked squash team. To participate or help with the tournament, email [email protected].
After last spring’s horrific murder at the Wayne Wawa, we’re thrilled to report that Radnor now has a Safe Exchange Zone in the parking lot of the township building on Iven Ave. (Here’s hoping other municipalities follow suit.) Monitored by police security cameras 24/7, the zone was created for stress-free Craigslist/eBay exchanges and child-custody handoffs. Radnor police still advise residents to ask a friend to tag along or at least notify someone that you’re going to the exchange zone. If something goes awry during your meetup, there’s a 911 phone just a few feet away, in the lobby of the township building.
Worthwhile community events stream into SAVVY’s inbox. But here’s one that caught our eye. Trinity Presbyterian Church in Berwyn is assembling an expert panel to take on a topic that quietly touches so many: family estrangement. Truly, for every beaming Instagram post and Facebook feed, there are loved ones torn asunder, suffering in silence. “It’s an upsetting and lonely place,” Gina Larson, an organizer of the event, tells SAVVY. Speakers will offer psychological, pastoral and therapeutic perspectives on estrangement at the church Sunday, Oct. 20 at 3 p.m. Register – anonymous is fine – at [email protected].
Stud designer Marshall Watson will speak and schmooze at Valley Forge Flowers Thursday, Oct. 10. Featured in Architectural Digest, House Beautiful and Luxe and named Traditional Home’s “Designer of the Year,” Watson will share his most spectacular projects and sign copies of his book, The Art of Elegance. Admission is $25 and seating’s limited. Call 610-687-5566.
And finally, It’s Unite for HER’s 10th birthday and Paoli’s Van Cleve Collection is rolling out the pink carpet for a little birthday bash. Actually, a rather big bash. Because when has diminutive Deborah Van Cleve ever thought small? Hope you’ll join yours truly, along with Deborah and Unite for HER founder Sue Weldon as the Main Line “Rocks the Runway for Unite For HER at the Van Cleve Pavilion, 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17. Light bites, cocktails and a splashy runway show for women and men. No charge to attend but monetary donations for Unite for HER will be gratefully accepted at the door. Space is limited. RSVP pronto to [email protected] or call 610-647-5055. Never heard of Unite for HER? The fast-growing West Chester nonprofit pays for health & wellness services – outside the scope of traditional medicine – for women with breast and ovarian cancers.