Pottstown High graduate and Alvernia University master’s degree student Thanea Redrovan (at top left) joins Maria Heffner and university assistant professor Dr. Paul Heffner in social work on the streets of Philadelphia
READING PA – Thanea Redrovan, a Pottstown resident earning her master’s degree in social work at the Philadelphia campus of Reading-based Alvernia University, was among members of its Social Work Club who distributed bagged lunches to a portion of the unhoused population in Center City, the university said Tuesday (May 2, 2023).
Redrovan was joined by club President Michelle Johnson, fellow students, university social work Assistant Professor Dr. Paul Heffner, Heffner’s mother Maria, and other volunteers in collecting donations to pay for, adding essential gifts in, and handing out the bags (above) to those in need.
Along with foods like hot cocoa packets, tuna cracker packs, granola bars, and bottled water, the bags also contained winter hats and scarves, hand warmers, travel mugs, and packets with information on local resources on which the unhoused might rely.
As a student determined to pursue social work, Redroven said, the event represented an opportunity for “going out into the real world, and engaging with the community to the best of your means.” She wanted to “be the reason someone feels welcomed, seen, heard, valued, loved, and supported,” she added.
“Social work education is more than classroom experience,” Professor Heffner agreed. “We are a profession that is about a call to action. There are always so many folks in need, and if we can contribute a small bit of care” to them, he observed, then “that feels like a win for everyone.”
“Making outreach to the community is an action that all social workers are required to execute,” Johnson explained. “Providing service to the unhoused community is what we do at the Philadelphia campus,” she said, in part by “showing compassion and care to each person we encounter. One kind gesture goes a long way.”
Redroven is a 2020 graduate of and former class president at Pottstown High School, according to her Linked In profile. She is pursuing her master’s degree in social work, with anticipated completion in May 2024. Since January, Redroven also has worked as a student intern with Community Health and Dental Care in its Shoppes at Coventry offices at 351 W. Schuylkill Rd., North Coventry.
Alvernia University describes itself as “a Catholic university with a liberal arts foundation, founded by the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters in 1958.” The university serves more than 3,000 students at campuses in Reading, Pottsville, and Philadelphia.
Photos provided by Alvernia University