In February of 1989, a community representative Board of Directors was formed to address the increasing need for community-member empowerment, community revitalization and the need for affordable housing and health care within the City of Coatesville, PA. The directors were chosen from Allegheny East Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; First Seventh-day Adventist Church of Coatesville; community members; leaders and consumers. They established the W.C. Atkinson Memorial Community Service Center, Inc. as a nonprofit 501 (C) 3 corporation.
The Directors named the Center in honor of Dr. Whittier C. Atkinson, an African-American physician who built the first portion of the Clement Atkinson Memorial Hospital in 1932; having been turned away from practicing medicine at the local city hospital. His primary goal was, “to provide an efficient, voluntary institution (democratic in its conception and practices) for the medical and surgical treatment and temporary care of the sick and injured.” The hospital, named in memory of his father, met and surpassed its goals; serving the health needs of the community for more than 40 years; under the most dire of circumstances. The former hospital is now on the registry of Pennsylvania historic sites.
Today, the mission of W. C. Atkinson Memorial Community Services Center, Inc. (AMSCI) is “to enhance neighborhood revitalization through housing for lower income families and homeless men, to provide supportive and cultural service; and to promote a healthy lifestyle through community education”.
AMSCI continues to serve the needs of the community as was the intent of Dr. Atkinson so many years ago. AMSCI provides emergency shelter for up to 22 men per night, and transitional and permanent housing; providing the most basic needs whereby many of these men become contributing citizens in their community; they find jobs, locate permanent housing, alter their lifestyles toward a more positive pathway, return to school and/or family, volunteer for community organizations and become fully self-respectful and self-reliant. AMSCI co-partnered with the Housing Development Corporation to develop 18 low to moderate income housing units; and provided over the years piano and organ lessons for youth, computer literacy, grandparent support groups, diabetic support group, a variety of community health initiatives, after school homework assistance, youth summer camp, community gardening and more. The non-profit organization has provided space for community groups, legal aid, and a foster care program among others.
Having set very aggressive goals from the onset, the Board finds itself continually validating its purpose and expectations. We cannot attain these goals without collaborative effort with other service providers and volunteers. The W. C. Atkinson complex, as it has been called, has been the grateful recipient of the generosity of hospitals, individuals, foundations, corporations, clubs, organizations, churches, schools/University and government.
Together, we do make a difference!