by Sam Loth, Fund Drive Committee Member

Several years ago, my spouse and I attended a cousin’s destination wedding in Puerto Rico. It was a marvelous affair at a five-star resort at the far end of the island. After two days, we felt utterly bored by those glittering amenities and penned in by the limited resort bus schedules that encouraged guests to stay within the fences.

Louise and I couldn’t stand it any longer, so we rented a car and made our escape into the real world of San Juan’s “old town” neighborhood. We set out on foot and had a glorious day exploring the original Puerto Rico. We spent our time discovering the neighborhood, its hole-in-the-wall bodegas, cafes and shops, and we met wonderfully warm and inviting people who made a lasting impression. This, in fact, was Puerto Rico — not that clipped, squeaky-clean, fenced-in pen.

Here’s the point. When you travel to a new destination or locale, you tend toward the ‘old town’ because that’s where the heartbeat is to be found. That’s where you’ll find the reality of that place. That’s why, in America, we need historical societies.

In America, more often than not, we don’t have laws and policies or general frames of mind that prevent the destruction of historic treasures, architectural and otherwise. You can’t build a gas station across from town hall in a typical European town. If that were only true in America; our historical societies wouldn’t need to be forever vigilant in their quest to save community treasures from wrecking balls. That is why we need to support the Chestnut Hill Historical Society.

What too many people miss in the march toward a better tomorrow are the economic consequences of ignoring our historic fabric. People who want the real Chestnut Hill are not going to the strip shopping centers or the nearby big box stores – they are coming to Germantown Avenue and surrounding neighborhoods.

If you believe in sustaining the high quality of life you have come to enjoy, you need to contribute some dollars to the Chestnut Hill Community Fund now, during our annual drive. The Chestnut Hill Community Fund is your community aggregator. When the $100,000 goal is reached, the CHCF distributes grants to the Chestnut Hill Historical Society and many other worthy nonprofits working in Northwest Philadelphia.

It is in your own enlightened self-interest to contribute because “what goes around, comes around.” If you want your quality of life to be maintained, you need to see to it that these nonprofits stay in business. Give to the CHCF, and it will give back to you.

The CHCF wants to continue funding the Chestnut Hill Historical Society. Isn’t that what you want also? You can make a contribution in person or by mail to CHCF at 8434 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia 19118, or online to, or contact Noreen Spota at 215-248-8810.

Also join us Wednesday, Jan. 28, for our Big Night Out with proceeds benefiting the Chestnut Hill Community Fund. Participating businesses include Campbell’s, Iron Hill and Artisans on the Avenue.