Prioritizing Focus on Community Health, Brandywine Health Foundation Ends Oversight of Annual Strawberry Festival

Dear Brandywine Health Foundation Community Partners,

We are writing to share an important update regarding the annual Strawberry Festival. In light of the Foundation’s new strategic plan and a desire to focus all of our limited human and financial resources on addressing the current and emerging health needs of Greater Coatesville residents, the board of directors has determined that the Brandywine Health Foundation’s oversight of the Strawberry Festival must come to an end.  This community event, which began over forty-five years ago, was initially organized in partnership with nurses from the Coatesville Hospital and the Coatesville Rotary and, for several decades, has been held on the grounds of what is now the Brandywine Hospital-Tower Health.

Eighteen years ago, the Brandywine Health Foundation assumed the role of overseeing and securing sponsors for the Strawberry Festival.  Each year, the foundation staff and board of directors invested hundreds of hours of labor to plan, organize and operate the event. As the Festival grew, so did the demands on the foundation’s small staff which led to straining resources and distracting us from the real work that is our mission.  This reason and several others, outlined below, led us to our decision to end our role as the Strawberry Festival event organizer.

As many of you are aware, the foundation is operating under a new strategic plan that clearly details our role going forward as working to positively impact the health of the Greater Coatesville community on a daily basis. Dedicating so much time and energy to a four-day event is not feasible, does not reflect proper stewardship of our resources, nor does it align with our mission and vision. In addition, similar to other nonprofits, the foundation too faces challenges justifying the value proposition of organizing such a large event with skyrocketing expenses and diminishing net gains over the last several years.

This decision was extremely difficult to make. As members of this community, we share fond memories of the Strawberry Festival and the many great partnerships with businesses, organizations and the hundreds of volunteers, that, each year, helped make it all happen. But, we also realized that our community is better served when the foundation does what it was created to do and that is to devote 100% of our resources and attention to making our community healthy and leading positive community-driven change.

You may be wondering how this decision will impact other Brandywine Health Foundation events and initiatives.  We will, of course, continue to host our annual Garden Party in May and we will begin to develop and expand on new and existing programs, such as our Greening Coatesville: Parks and Playgrounds Initiative, which our community can benefit from all year long.  We look forward to your continued support as together we move forward with our new direction for a healthier Greater Coatesville.

Kindly direct all inquiries regarding the Brandywine Health Foundation’s future role in the Strawberry Festival to Vanessa B. Briggs at vbriggs@brandywinefoundation.org.

For more information about Brandywine Health Foundation and our new strategic plan, please visit: www.brandywinefoundation.org

With thanks for your commitment to improving the health and well-being of our entire community,