"Mona Meets" - Interviews Featured In Our Newsletters

Gently Used Books has long been sending a monthly newsletter to its devoted patrons, advising them of upcoming sales and special events, and giving these preferred customers in-store coupons and special offers. Mona DeWalt, the former owner of Gently Used Books, frequently wrote a column she called "Mona Meets" in which she talked to a local "person of interest" who is a friend of Gently Used Books and "introduced" them to the rest of her "Gently Used Books family." The "Mona Meets" columns were then added to this page of our website.

Mona sold the store, and below is her last "Mona Meets" column that appeared in the January 2014 issue of the Gently Used Books newsletter. Below is a table of contents listing the people Mona "introduced" in her columns:

Mona Meets: Becky Cinti, New Owner Of Gently Used Books

It's been a fun run, but now I'm done. That's the poet in me announcing that I have sold my Gently Used Books store and begun my retirement. I thought it was only fitting that I should write a final "Mona Meets" column to introduce the new owner to you.

And so it is with great pleasure that I introduce Becky Cinti as the new owner of Gently Used Books. Becky had already shopped at our store and was part of the "Gently Used Books family" when she first heard that I was planning to retire and was looking for "just the right person" to take over my dream.

 Becky Cinti

Mona Presenting Becky Cinti With The Keys To Gently Used Books

Becky has been in the book business for over 20 years, the first 18 years of that as an assistant manager with Walden Books and most recently as the manager and book buyer at Trappe Book Center. She has dual degrees from Bloomsburg University, and Becky and her husband Ruben and their three daughters live in Collegeville.

Becky is a true book lover who has had a successful career in the book-selling business, so she is uniquely qualified to take my dream to the next level. Gently Used Books is in good hands! I am confident that the store will continue to thrive and prosper under the guidance and leadership of new owner Becky Cinti.

A little bit about my dream...I had worked in the book business for many years before I opened Gently Used Books in June 2005. That first store was in a small out-of-the-way and hard-to-find strip mall in Douglassville, only accessible from 422 West or residential streets. There wasn't much parking and people had a hard time finding us, but find us they did. When we opened that 900 square foot store, there was lots of elbow room for us and the several thousand books that we had in inventory. But word got out and soon a steady stream of people were coming to the store. They loved our selection, prices and trade-in policy, and within a very short time we were bursting at the seams. We continued to grow as more and more people found their way to our store, and it soon became obvious that we had already outgrown the location. But what to do?

And so it was that only a little more than two years after Gently Used Books opened, a larger space became available in the nearby Douglassville Shopping Center. The location was great, not only because it was more than triple the size of our existing store, but also because it was in a busy shopping center, right next to Redner's Market, and there was lots and lots of parking. We would be moving from a small out-of-the-way, hard-to-find location to a much bigger and highly visible store in the busiest shopping center in the area. We were certain it was a God-sent opportunity, and we decided to "go for it."

Once we moved into the Douglassville Shopping Center, we grew even faster and soon we were again bursting at the seams. Yes, it was a good problem to have, but it was still a problem. So in late 2009 when the 2,000 square foot location next to us became available, we again decided to "go for it" and expand into that space. In a little over 4 1/2 years, we had gone from a little 900 square foot start-up store with a few thousand books to a 5,000 square foot store with over 100,000 books. Incredible!

It's been four years now since we expanded to our current size, and once again I am ready to "go for it." But this time I'm moving on to another dream: this time it's retirement and traveling with my husband Ken. I am handing off to Becky a loyal customer base, a great staff, and a great location where we provide a valued service to the community. I thank all of you, my wonderful customers that I affectionately consider my "Gently Used Books family," for your support all these years. We share a love for reading and books and I am so happy to have been able to help you find quality and educational entertainment in great reading material. It has been my pleasure and honor to serve you the best way that I possibly can, and building Gently Used Books has truly been a labor of love for me. I already miss you all, but I am so looking forward to my retirement.

Please give Becky your full support and visit the store soon to meet her. Becky has exciting plans to add new inventory and has told me that in the near future she plans to offer a select few new releases of bestsellers. She has already expanded the Saturday hours and started opening on Sundays, so it will be more convenient for you to shop. And Becky has plans for sales and promotions and events that will certainly be fun for you - she will tell you more about that in future Gently Used Books newsletters. But here's an example: Becky has invited book clubs in the area to hold their meetings at Gently Used Books free of charge, and also will offer the book club members discounts on their club selections.

Again, thanks to everyone for helping to make my Gently Used Books dream come true!

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Mona Meets: Desiree James of Douglassville, Founder of Open Arms

Most people don't realize we have a hunger problem here in the United States, but we do. When we see anything on TV about "hunger," it's almost always about starving people in third world countries, not here at home.

 Desiree James

Desiree James

Desiree James of Douglassville knows that while our hunger problem is nowhere near as serious here as it is in parts of the world, we DO have a hunger problem in America. Desiree (pronounced 'dess-a-reee') was so passionate about the problem she founded Open Arms Food Ministry to do something about it!

As a young girl, Desiree was inspired by her late grandmother to get involved; "when you see a problem, don't just sit there, do something about it!" Many years ago, when Desiree was just a child, her grandmother worked to feed the homeless in New York City, cooking chickens and muffins and breads, and Desiree was her little helper. Helping to feed the needy became Desiree's life passion.

When Desiree, her husband Tony and their five children moved from New York to Douglassville 11 years ago, she brought that passion with her. Desiree helped to feed the homeless and needy in the Pottstown area, but eventually became frustrated with both bureaucratic and policy limitations.

"The groups I worked with had rules that I did not think were right. I think that if someone is hungry and can't afford a meal, it shouldn't matter what their income is. If they're hungry, just feed them! And I think that people should be allowed to take leftovers home. If they need the food, and you've got it, give it to them!"

Desiree continued, "My grandmother would have told me to get busy and do what I thought in my heart was right. The groups I was helping at the time were doing a lot of good in the community, but I did not like the fact that they would not help every single person who asked for help. My husband Tony and I brain-stormed about all this one evening, and he said to me, 'Desiree, you open your arms to anyone that needs help, so Open Arms is what you should call your ministry.' And that's how Open Arms got started!"

 Getting Ready To Serve A Community Supper

Desiree James and some members of her Open Arms team, getting ready to serve a community supper.

Desiree shared this statistic: 87 families in Amity Township currently get their food from a food bank. But a major difference between the organizations is that Open Arms does not have any forms for people to fill out, or income requirements, or ask for donations from people they are feeding. And of course, Open Arms actually cooks the food. Desiree said, "It's really very simple. All that matters is they're hungry, and if they're hungry, we feed them!"

Since February 2011, Open Arms has been hosting a community supper at 6pm on the last Friday of every month at Hope Church in Douglassville. The supper is absolutely free and totally unconditional; Desiree and Open Arms do not even require that people give their names! Turn-out varies depending on the weather and the season, but an average of 50 people, and as many as 80 people, have been served at the free community suppers. Most of those attending are from the Douglassville, Birdsboro and Pottstown area, but again, Desiree has no conditions or restrictions. Open Arms just feeds the hungry.

The Open Arms Community Suppers are complete all-you-care-to-eat meals. The next one is scheduled for Friday, June 29th and, weather permitting, will be held outdoors. The menu will include hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta salads, fruit salads, cucumber salads, cole slaw, chips and dip, pickles, sodas, ice tea, and of course desserts.

 Thanksgiving Baskets

Thanksgiving Baskets Made By Open Arms

Desiree says "I don't care about a person's income or status, or if they have a job or are unemployed. I don't care if they come all dressed up in a 3-piece suit or if they're homeless, or if a family comes in or just individual people. All that matters is that they're hungry. If they're hungry, we feed them!"

Open Arms also goes into Amity Manor several times each years and prepares meals for the area's seniors, and Open Arms also prepares food baskets for people at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Desiree has a team of motivated and energetic volunteers helping with Open Arms, including Dortha Williamson (her mother), Robert Johnson (her uncle), Sherri Bender, Carole and Paul Yost, Bonnie and Dave Reppert, Tiffani Bailey, Gail Grady, Audrey Dunekack, Cris Yahner-Divadkar, Kim and Bob Simcox, Mary and Harold Hummel, Jen and Tony Choudhry, Daria Fontana, Garry Lucas, Sharon Janof, Desiree's children Denzel, Christion, Myell and Sonae, and Pastor Ken DeWalt of Hope Church. The Open Arms team meets each month to plan the supper menus and fund-raising, and discuss opportunities for additional events.

 Open Arms Christmas Dinner at Amity Manor

Open Arms Serving Christmas Dinner at Amity Manor

Where does all the food come from? Well, Desiree laughingly says she "follows the bargains." She shops at lots of different grocery stores, including Giant, Redner's, BJ's and Sam's Club. Open Arms has several fund-raisers each year, including bake sales and community yard sales.

How can people help? Desiree says, "First of all, help get the word out to people about the community suppers that Open Arms has on the last Friday of every month. Hungry people need to know they have a place to go for a free big meal. If people want to volunteer to get involved with us at Open Arms, that would be wonderful. It is a lot of work to set everything up, and obviously to cook everything and prepare the meals, and then to clean everything up afterwards. And if people wanted to help with a donation of food or money for the meals, that would be greatly appreciated."

Desiree is just one person, but she saw a need and started a small operation in one small town in the United States. My feeling is that we need a Desiree and organizations like Open Arms in EVERY town in America! I encourage you to support Desiree and Open Arms in every way that you can.

For more information, and to contact Desiree, please visit the Open Arms Food Ministry page at the Hope Church website.

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Mona Meets: Ron and Holly Miller of North Coventry - "In Ian's Boots"

Few parents have ever had to endure anything like the tragedy that happened to Ron and Holly Miller of North Coventry. In January 2010, their 12 year old son Ian Joshua Miller was fatally injured in a sledding accident while on a Boy Scout outing at a ski resort in a mountainous area of north-central Pennsylvania.

 Ian Joshua Miller

Ian Joshua Miller

Ron and Holly got the phone call that every parent dreads and prays never to receive, telling them that their child had been seriously injured in an accident. The emergency room doctor told the Millers that Ian had suffered blunt force trauma and had severe brain injuries. The doctor told them that she had been working on Ian for over an hour and he was non-responsive. The emergency room staff was going to try for a little while longer, but the prospects were grim.

Ron and Holly rushed to the hospital. It was a four hour drive, although it surely must have seemed much longer than that.

It was a night that the Millers will remember forever. "We kind of already knew what we would be told when we got there," Holly said. "As we walked through the emergency room door, the doctor's face told us everything. We knew that our baby was gone."

 In Ian's Boots - A Non-Profit Organization

The logo of In Ian's Boots

Later the county coroner asked to speak privately with the Millers, and he said, "I have to tell you what happened when Ian was brought in."

He told an amazing story: when the emergency room staff took off Ian's snow boots, they found a neatly folded piece of paper. On the paper, these words were written: "James 1:2-4 - Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

The coroner told the Millers that when the emergency room staff read the note, some people started crying, and other people went running to get their Bibles.

Holly says, "It really touched people there, and it has touched us tremendously. It was a message to us to persevere in the face of the greatest trial of our lives, the loss of our precious son. That night, in the midst of unspeakable tragedy, we were certain that God used the message in Ian's boot to speak to us."

Ron and Holly were determined to keep Ian's memory alive, and they considered several possible methods, including establishing a college scholarship fund for a boy and girl in the community. But they were not satisfied with the scholarship idea, because they would just be benefiting two people per year. The Millers sought something bigger and better - and they found it!

 Ian Joshua Miller

Ian Playing Goalie For The Coventry Red Storm Soccer Club

Ian had loved soccer and played the goalie for the Coventry Red Storm Soccer Club for several years, and the Millers had many good friends in the Coventry Youth Soccer Association. In July 2010, the association established an annual "Ian Miller Celebration Soccer Tournament," and the tournament committee asked the Millers how they would like the proceeds to be used.

Holly says, "The answer was there all the time: God had left the message for us in Ian's boot. We decided to establish a non-profit focused on giving shoes and boots to those in need, wherever they may be. And we would spread Ian's story of faith in Jesus. And that was how our public charity was born: In Ian's Boots, A Mission for Soles."

Today preparations are being made for the 2nd Annual Boots Bistro at Cedarville United Methodist Church in North Coventry, on the evening of May 19th - visit the church website for the address and directions. The Boots Bistro is a fundraiser for "In Ian's Boots" and features an Italian dinner, live music and a raffle of over 50 donated items and services. Here is a link to a Boots Bistro page where you may purchase advance discounted tickets and read about other upcoming fundraising events for "In Ian's Boots."

And the Coventry Youth Soccer Association has scheduled the 3rd Annual Ian Miller Celebration Soccer Tournament for the weekend of June 22, 2012.

The Millers, through "In Ian's Boots" have a simple mission: provide shoes and boots to those in need, whether they are struggling families in Honduras, or the homeless in Pottstown or the underprivileged in Reading. In February 2012, "In Ian's Boots" contributed nearly 6,000 pairs of shoes that were shipped to Haiti.

When asked what the Millers want the community to know about "In Ian's Boots," Holly was quick to answer: "We want the community to understand that we are a resource - we want people to know that there is no excuse for a 3 year old child to be without shoes because he has outgrown his shoes and his parents don't have money to get a new pair of shoes, not when we're here to help!"

Holly continued, "People need to know that there are no questions asked - people can come to us, tell us what they need in terms of shoes and boots, and we will do our best to fulfill their needs. Or if anyone knows of someone in need, or knows of a family in need, please direct them to our "In Ian's Boots" website, or tell them to call us at (610) 970-8820.

Ron, Holly and Ian Miller

It has been said that when a person tragically loses a loved one, the pain is there forever, but after a while you learn to live with it. Ron and Holly Miller have turned their personal tragedy into a victory for the needy, and they are absolutely certain that Ian would be proud of what his parents are doing with "In Ian's Boots."

For more information and further details about upcoming events and what you can do to help, please visit the In Ian's Boots website. There is also an In Ian's Boots - Facebook page. You can also view In Ian's Boots - Videos at this link.

I encourage you to support the Millers' efforts in any way that you can - and you can start by making a donation or attending the Boots Bistro.

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Mona Meets: Michelle Kehoe of Douglassville

Tucked away on a quiet side street in Birdsboro is a wonderful resource for the community - the Boone Area Library. Michelle Kehoe of Douglassville is the Director, and she must also be part magician. How else can anyone explain how much gets done in this one small building? I find it incredible that this small library provides so many services "above and beyond" merely checking out books.

 Boone Area Library in Birdsboro, PA

Boone Area Library in Birdsboro, PA

To look at it, you would never guess that this small building has 30,000 books, 22 computers with Internet access that the public can use for free, and offers free rentals of 1,200 DVD's, plus games for X-Box360 and Wii, and even E-books and audio books! In a typical month, the Boone Area Library checks out anywhere from 5,000 to 11,000 books and serves 4,000 area residents!

 Michelle Kehoe - Director at Boone Area Library in Birdsboro

Michelle Kehoe - Director at Boone Area Library in Birdsboro

Michelle says, "I have a truly A-Z job; I never know what I will be doing on any given day. I do a lot more than just a librarian's work - we're not just about books! We do so much more! Plus, I've painted every room in the building, installed new ceiling tiles, worked on the roof, even installed new toilets and flooring - I did all that work myself!"

The library's DVD's are new and old movies and TV shows, plus cartoons and even old family-friendly programs like The Waltons and Little House On The Prairie.

Michelle lives in Douglassville and has been with the library since 2005, and has been its director since 2007. Pennsylvania born and bred, Michelle grew up in the small town of Tidioute, about a six hour drive from Douglassville. "Everybody knows everybody," she says, and that's not hard to understand since the population is barely 700. Not very many people do what Michelle did: go to school in the same building, from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade! Most of the 20 kids in her high school graduating class had been in her kindergarten class!

Michelle never dreamed that one day she would be a librarian - she loves to read and loved books, but as a child Michelle was more interested in digging up her yard and being an archeologist like Indiana Jones. Michelle majored in History and Art History at Lycoming College in Williamsport, and after college worked as a graphic artist.

Michelle's husband John is a police officer in Limerick Township, and it was following his career that led them first to Cape May, New Jersey, then Lower Merion Township, and then to Douglassville.

Michelle was a typical stay-at-home wife and mom who became "bored out of my mind" only three weeks after her youngest child started kindergarten in 2005. That boredom led to her volunteering at the Boone Area Library, and then accepting a part-time position there, and eventually becoming the director in 2007.

Michelle says, "I enjoy being involved with the community; that's one of the perks of the job, meeting people and working with the children." She laughs and says it is nice to be recognized everywhere she goes in this area.

"I was recently in Redner's here in Douglassville, just back from vacation and in a sweatshirt and ponytail, and three people approached me about the library! One wanted to save a trip and return a book she had in her purse, and another wanted to renew a book, and still another wanted to request a book! Michelle smiles and says, "Of course I helped them all - I guess I'm always the librarian!"

Here's one last example of an unexpected, surprising service offered by the library: home delivery for the home-bound, for elderly who cannot get to the library, or people recovering from surgery, etc.

Michelle and her husband John live in Douglassville with their son Johnny; their daughter Sydney is a freshman at Susquehanna University.

Next time you're in Birdsboro, stop into the Boone Area Library and meet Michelle and her staff. The library is located at 129 North Mill Street in Birdsboro, just 2 blocks north of Route 724 and 2 blocks east of Furnace Street. The library's hours are Monday: 10am - 8pm, Tuesday: 1pm- 8pm, Wednesday: 9am - 4 pm, Thursday: 1pm- 8pm, Friday: 9am - 4 pm, and Saturday: 9am - 4pm. The Library is closed on Sunday.

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Mona Meets: Garry Lucas of Douglassville

I am blessed to know many very talented people who are "multi-taskers" - people who not only do many different things, but do all of them exceptionally well. Garry Lucas is one of those "multi-taskers," or as Garry humbly says, "I just have lots of layers."

Garry owns Sunstroke Custom Painting plus he is a teaching tennis professional at Hillcrest Tennis and Racquet Club in Exeter, a Sunday School teacher and occasional preacher, plus he has worked on an ABC Extreme Home Makeover TV project, and now he is about to add even more layers: Garry has been named head coach for both the boys and girls varsity tennis teams at Daniel Boone High School.

Garry Lucas - owner of Sunstroke Custom Painting in Douglassville

Garry Lucas - owner of Sunstroke Custom Painting in Douglassville

Tennis will be a new sport at Daniel Boone; boys tennis will be in the spring and girls tennis in the fall. The varsity tennis programs are being added at absolutely no cost to the school district or the taxpayers, and all of the costs associated with both teams will be covered by donations and fundraisers run by the players.

The first Daniel Boone Tennis fundraiser will be a bake sale and gas card raffle at Redner's Market right here in the Douglassville Shopping Center on Saturday, March 10th from 8am to 4pm (hint hint).

Garry, as Sunstroke Custom Painting, has painted for Gently Used Books several times, including when we first opened at our original location, and then when we moved here to the Douglassville Shopping Center, and then when we expanded the store two years ago.

Garry's sense of humor is quiet but constant - he's one of those quick-witted people who frequently use clever, descriptive expressions that just reach out and grab your attention. Examples are his "layers" comment, which I had never heard before, or Garry saying he "paints like his hair's on fire" - meaning of course that he works very fast and wastes no time. Which I can personally vouch for!

 Garry Lucas - painter, tennis pro, high school tennis coach, Sunday School teacher, plus a lot more!

Garry Lucas - painter, teaching tennis pro and head coach of boys and girls varsity tennis teams at Daniel Boone High School.

His many "layers" include leading the men's Sunday School class at Hope Church in Douglassville, and even occasionally preaching when the pastor is away. He's definitely a well-rounded guy: he plays on a softball team, loves to read, especially the Bible, and he plays the guitar too. A person could get tired just thinking about all the things Garry does!

Garry first started painting while an 8th grader in the Owen J. Roberts school system, and he painted during the summers of his school years. Garry's older brother Rick was a teacher who took summer painting jobs, and Rick taught Garry the ins and outs of the painting business.

When Garry started Sunstroke Custom Painting about 10 years ago, he chose the name "Sunstroke" to honor his late brother: Rick's affectionate nickname for Garry was "sunstroke." Now every time anyone says the word "Sunstroke," Garry has fond memories of his brother.

He gets most of his painting jobs as personal referrals, not just because he is a quality painter, but also because Garry is known as a person who can be trusted. He says that many times he paints in a home when the house is empty because the homeowners are working, and they trusted Garry to have access to their house even when no one would be home.

Garry says helping with ABC-TV's Extreme Makeover Home Edition in July of 2010 is something he will never forget. You may recall that the TV show stepped in and totally remade the home of Trisha Urban, a young widow who was chosen by the staff of the show to get a new home built by volunteers here in Berks County. Trisha surely had a tragic story that touched the hearts of everyone who heard it: her husband died of a massive heart attack in February 2009, just hours before their daughter, Cora, was born.

Garry says he felt honored just to be asked to volunteer for the Extreme Makeover program, and he says "It was very rewarding to be a part of large human effort to accomplish something great on behalf of someone I didn't know, and in fact never even met. I think there is something inside of all of us that wants to be part of a movement for positive change. Newspapers and TV news shows tell us all the negative things, but I think most people enjoy being a part of something that works for good."

Garry and his wife Wendy live in Douglassville and have two sons, Tyson and Evan. If you need any painting, or would like tennis lessons, or if you would like to help to raise funds for the Daniel Boone High School tennis program to help pay for balls, uniforms and transportation, call Garry at (610) 385-6440.

And when you're here in the store, just look around and you can see Garry's work!

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Mona Meets: Scott Armstrong of North Coventry

Looking for something to do with the family this weekend? Or perhaps you're looking for a good adventure story? The answer to both questions may be the work of the same man: Scott Armstrong of North Coventry.

 Scott Armstrong, Publisher of Parents' Source and Author of Russian Snows

Scott Armstrong of North Coventry in a scene from a Revolutionary War re-enactment.

Scott is one of those very busy people who wear two hats: he is the publisher of Parents' Source, the local family activities and resource guide, and he is also an author who recently published his first book: "Russian Snows: Coming of Age in Napoleon's Army."

First, let me introduce Scott Armstrong, the Publisher - Parents' Source is a bi-monthly publication that is distributed free through schools, libraries, daycare centers, medical offices, retail stores and other family-oriented locations. There are two editions of Parents' Source that are a great resource guide to services, support and entertainment for families: the Tri-County edition covers Southern Berks, Western Montgomery, and Northern Chester counties, and their Berks/Lancaster edition covers Berks and Lancaster counties.

  Parents' Source is published by Scott Armstrong

Parents' Source publishes a Family Events Calendar filled with local activities for families. In addition, the Parenting Connection calendar lists workshops and classes for parents.

The award-winning Parents' Source website includes an on-line version of their publications, an archive of past articles, hundreds of local and worldwide resources, plus it even includes links to all their family-friendly advertisers.

Want to list an upcoming event in the Parents' Source calendar or advertise? It's simple - visit the Parents' Source website to learn more about this valuable family and parenting resource!

Now lets meet the other Scott Armstrong, the author of Russian Snows. For Scott, writing a history novel was a natural choice. Scott was a history major in college and he is a life-long Revolutionary War re-enactor. Scott and his wife, Sandie, met while re-enacting the siege of Savannah, Georgia.

 Russian Snows

"Russian Snows: Coming of Age in Napoleon's Army" is the fictional story of 14-year-old Henri Carle as he accompanies Napoleon's army during the disastrous 1812 invasion of Russia. Henri's story is woven into actual events and incidents from that terrible campaign. This sometimes humorous, sometimes heart-wrenching, but ultimately uplifting adventure paints a picture of what life was like for the common soldier in Napoleon's Army.

Henri is forced to use his wits, skills and quick thinking to survive as the army deteriorates around him in the fierce Russian winter. He draws on the lessons learned from the people he meets and his own inner strength. Henri sees the horrors of battle, the heartbreaking agony of the wounded left behind and the death of those around him.

To find out more about Russian Snows and to order your own copy, visit the Russian Snows website. You can also follow Scott's blog about the 1812 invasion of Russia at www.Napoleon1812.wordpress.com. Scott is also available to speak to groups about Napoleon's Russian campaign (this year is the 200th anniversary) - you can contact Scott through his Russian Snows website.

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Mona Meets: Michelle Hackman of Douglassville

Michelle Hackman is an active community leader and volunteer who lives right here in Douglassville. Michelle is an accountant and tax professional who has a passion to serve and generously share her gifts and skills with her community.

 Michelle Hackman - Douglassville Accountant, Bookkeeper and Tax Professional

Michelle Hackman - Douglassville Accountant, Bookkeeper and Tax Professional

For 10 years, Michelle has been volunteering her tax preparation expertise to help senior citizens and low income families during tax season through Boyertown Area Multi-Service, an independent, non-profit social service agency. The Boyertown Area Multi-Service agency is dedicated to meeting the needs of the residents of the Boyertown Area School District as well as the townships of Amity and Oley. The agency also operates a Senior Center, offers volunteer transportation to medical appointments, serves Meals on Wheels, provides energy assistance and has a daily emergency food pantry.

Michelle also serves on the board of the Eastern Berks Business Alliance (EBBA), a group of local business owners who have joined together to form a unique organization to promote strong economic growth in this area. EBBA's principle objectives are to serve as a referral organization and support local non-profit organizations. The group prides itself on a committed work ethic, based on trust, integrity and customer service to the surrounding businesses and residential community it serves.

Michelle, who divides her time between her office in Douglassville and the offices of MFB Wealth Management in Harleysville, has also served for many years as the treasurer of her church. Michelle's education is in Accounting/Bookkeeping through American Institute of Banking and is a Certified Budget Counselor through Crown Ministries and Good Sense Ministry. Michelle also holds life, health and long term care insurance licenses.

Michelle and her husband Bryan have been married for 30 years and have two adult children. They are very active in their church and both serve on the board of Light of Life missions.

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Mona Meets: Matt Kessler of Douglassville

Anyone who hears the Praise Band at Hope Church in Douglassville says, "These guys are great!" But few people would guess that the one of the guys playing the guitar so wonderfully well is in "real life" prominent local attorney Matt Kessler!

Matt Kessler - Douglassville Attorney

Matt Kessler - Douglassville Attorney and Guitar Player in the Hope Church Praise Band

Yes, during the week he is "Matthew R. Kessler, Esquire" of the Law Offices of Matthew R. Kessler, LLC here in Douglassville....but at Wednesday evening band rehearsals and Sunday morning worship services, he is Matt Kessler, accomplished guitar player with the awesome Hope Church Praise Band.

Matt is a very busy guy - he is a Board Member of Devlin Fund for Cancer Research, a past President of the Eastern Berks Business Alliance, a member of the Board of Trustees at Hope Church, and a past Board Member of the Amity Township Lions Club.

Matt has been a soccer coach at the Amity Township Athletic Club, and has been a sponsor of many youth activities in our community, including Daniel Boone High School Boys and Girls Basketball, Daniel Boone Youth Baseball, Exeter High School Sports and Daniel Boone High School Yearbook.

Matt is Pennsylvania born and bred - born in Bloomsburg, raised in the small town of Millville in north central PA. After high school, Matt graduated from Pennsylvania State University, earned his J.D. at Widener University School of Law, passed the Pennsylvania Bar Exam and was admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Matt and his wife Jennifer and their daughters Madison and Avery, and their new-born son Carter, live in Douglassville.

To find out more about attorney Matthew R Kessler, Esquire, visit his Law Offices of Matthew R. Kessler, LLC website.

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Mona Meets: Walter Mouse (and creator Pam Frame)

Walter Mouse is the creation of Pam Frame, an author from Birdsboro. Walter has just published his second book, "Mousetails" as a follow-up to his first book, "Squeaks." Each book is a daily devotional with interesting observations of common occurrences as seen through Walter's "mouse-eye" view.

Walter Mouse - Field Mouse Evangelism - created by author Pam Frame

Walter Mouse, the "author" of Squeaks and Mousetails - he's the "brain mouse" of author Pam Frame and her unique style of "Field Mouse Evangelism"

Walter has a different way of looking at things - very fresh and thought-provoking, to say the least. Walter's devotions are only one or two paragraphs long, but he seems to say much more in that time than many people would be able to say in 30 minutes or more.

For example, in a recent devotion on Walter's website (yes, he even has a website), Walter watched someone working on a crossword puzzle, and he wrote, "Isn't life like that - full of input and connection, but often equally full of empty spots and obscure places as well? Through it all, we know that God is watching over us, and that life, like crosswords, comes together as we live it."

Pam Frame, the mind behind Walter Mouse, worked for over thirty years as a teacher of special needs youngsters in nearby Pottstown. After retiring from teaching, Pam became the Director of Pastoral Care at Cedarville United Methodist Church in North Coventry. After seven years at Cedarville, Pam stepped down from that ministry to concentrate on helping Walter get his thoughts on paper...and into books.

Walter even sends a free weekly devotional email - visit his Walter Mouse website to subscribe, read more "Field Mouse Evangelism" devotions and purchase books.

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