Arts Holding Hands and Hearts is a non-profit that was started by Jan Michener, its current Executive Director, in 2013 to serve the vulnerable youth in Chester County.  Its goals is to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations that traps multiple generations in poverty. To accomplish this goal AHHH focuses on the arts, literacy, and mindfulness.
  • Arts stimulates brain growth, promotes healing and connects the head and heart.
  • Literacy defines a child's future success in school and life. If a child is not reading at grade level in third grade there is very high probability they will become a societal problem. 
  • Mindfulness improves attention, self-control, and emotional resilience to offset the high level of stress these kids experience. 
The impact of the full AHHH program is being studied now. The results will tell Jan how successful AHHH is in changing the multi-generation cycle of poverty and provide the information she needs to expand and improve the program. 
One of the best ways Jan has found to engage the community in this effort is through Pop-Up Lending Libraries, or the PULL campaign. These are small boxes filled with books for children that are available in public spaces such as restaurants, stores, and non-profits. Each box is unique in design and decoration. The design is determined by the volunteer builders, as long as the box meets the size criteria. Artists then take over and paint each box with a unique design. Boxes are being built by high school students, residents of Kendal-Crosslands, and others. Many of the boxes are being painted by recognized artists, as well as students at the Garage and the Unionville High School arts society. The demand to participate is so strong in the Kennett area the planned number of PULL boxes has almost doubled to 27. Longwood Rotary has funded 10 of the boxes. 
Jan knows the books are being used. 40,000 books have been distributed through the PULL program in the past 3 years. That means 40,000 books are now in the homes of children where they can practice their reading skills at their own pace. 
To support this rapidly expanding program, Jan is beginning formal fund raising efforts. One new effort consists of partnering with the Kennett Book Resale shop. Customers can buy bags of children's books for $10 and donate the books to PULL. This supports the PULL program and the Kennett Area Senior Center. Another effort will be a 5K and 1K walk/run scheduled for April 27, 2019.