In the Kennett Spotlight
Leah Reynolds
Executive Director of Kennett Area Community Service

Leah Reynolds, Executive Director of Kennett Area Community Service (KACS), lives every day by the motto on the wall behind her desk, “If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you.” Since taking the position in 2019, she has been a passionate and tireless advocate who has guided the organization through a fire, flooding caused by Hurricane Ida, the Covid pandemic, and more flooding, as she dries out the building on Cedar Street once again.

The 67 year-old KACS agency is much more than a food cupboard.  As the largest social service agency in Chester County, they help the “poorest of the poor” with a comprehensive array of services.  Leah is proud that no one in need is every turned away.  Last year they helped 548 families with emergency assistance, including 39 who were stably rehoused.  They provide whatever is needed to help keep people in their homes, including help with utilities and rent.  When required, they also temporarily house families in motels, as there is no shelter in Southern Chester County.  Despite a 30% increase in need due to Covid and inflation and a decrease in retail donations, their food cupboard serves an average of 464 families a month with milk, eggs, and dairy in addition to shelf-stable foods.  KACS on Wheels delivers food to the elderly and disabled.

Leah believes KACS should step up where there is a need, providing vaccine clinics during Covid and Getting Ahead classes in English and Spanish to help people get out of poverty and Staying Ahead classes to keep them there.  They will soon be offering financial literacy classes as well.

Leah thought that taking the job as Executive Director in 2019, in quiet Kennett Square, would be a way to calmly transition to retirement.  It’s been anything but.  Her first challenge, three months into the job, was a fire that destroyed 2,500 pounds of food.  The Kennett community rallied, donating time, money, gift cards, and 60,000 pounds of food.  As Leah puts it, “the Kennett community believes in what we’re doing and that’s why we’re open today.”  Two particularly generous community members (Nancy and Mike Pia) have supported KACS by donating six acres of land on Cypress Street for a new building.  Leah is excited at the prospect of a location which would be safe from flooding and also allow the expansion of their operations to become a Southern Chester County food hub.

Leah was raised in a family with very little, where she learned to help those with even less. She has a Masters in Professional Leadership with a focus on nonprofits from Carlow University.  When not busy at KACS, she volunteers to help with issues on suicide prevention and assisting people in recovery.  Leah is also a talented photographer, and her photo of the sailing ship, Kalmar Nyckel, hangs on the wall of the Delaware Governor’s office.

Leah thanks “KAD for their faithful support.”  More help is always needed, and KAD members can help by volunteering to sort and distribute food, donating money, and dropping off groceries.  Help is particularly needed in the lean months after Christmas.

~Tammis Dowling