Nile Swim Club’s Anthony Patterson (center) organizes the loading of food parcels for a local family. The regular Saturday event now takes place at the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital office parking lot at 1501 Lansdowne Avenue in Darby.
Distributes parcels weekly to area families
By Ted Behr
The members of the Nile Swim Club in Yeadon are used to being leaders – whether in the pool or in public service!
Late last summer, the Covid-19 surge was imposing more and more restrictions on club activities, and Nile was finding it difficult to keep its head above water. “About that time,” said Anthony Patterson, the Club President, “we were approached by the Blessings of Hope food pantry out in Lancaster about distributing food to our Delaware County community.”
Nile members quickly realized that their big parking area on South Union Avenue would be well suited for a drive-by operation and agreed to take on the project. At the outset, several hundred families began stopping by at midday on Fridays for pre-packaged cartons containing both perishable and non-perishable pre-packaged food.
“The word got around very quickly, and the traffic flow became a major problem,” Patterson recalled. “With the help of our police chief, Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital graciously agreed to let us use their big office parking area at 1501 Lansdowne on Saturdays. Now we’re parceling out enough food to feed about 1000 kids and 1300 adults every week.”
Distributing hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. or until whenever the food runs out. “But our helpers from the club and the community have to start arriving much earlier to receive the food and organize the 3 or 4 lines needed to process the early influx of cars efficiently,” noted the Nile leader.
“We can use anybody age 13 and up, so please consider volunteering with us,” added Patterson. “Please plan to arrive no later than 8:30 a.m.
Taking time from his stacking of the heavy food cartons, André Andrews, club Aquatic Director described another of the Nile Swim Club’s unique contributions to local families. “We hope to see an early return to normal conditions this summer so that we can resume our ‘No Child Will Drown in Our Town program,’” he advised.
“This is free for youngsters in two age groups, 12-months to age 4, and 3 years to 12 who live in the borough and are part of the William Penn School District.” Andrews referred to the fact that CDC health statistics indicate that African American children are a much greater risk for drowning.
The Nile Swim Club, the nation’s first African American-owned swim club, seems to attract help from other civic-minded people.
Jeff Brown, owner of the ShopRite supermarket in the Penrose shopping center on Island Avenue pitched in a short time ago to help restore the club’s popular basketball court. “It’s really a difficult time, and I think we need to think about how we can help each other because [many people] are not in good shape financially,” he is quoted as saying.
For more information on club activities and how to volunteer or contribute, visit www.nileswimclub.org or www.facebook.com/nileswimclub or phone (610) 623-1535.