Main Body

Chapter 6: Informal Community Groups and Organizations

Reading Schwinn Classic Bike Club visiting the Reading Bike Hub. Photo Credit: Reading Bike Hub

The Reading Schwinn Classic Bike Club is a local organization focused on collecting and riding vintage Schwinn bicycles. It has been a fixture in the Northwest Community since 1995, according to Rich Rodriguez. However, it was a largely insular collective for many years until Pancho Rosa became President of the club in 2008, with Rodriguez being his Vice President. Both Peña and Rodriguez were active in the local Northwest Reading community before joining the Bike Club, including organizing Little League games at Lauer’s Park and local basketball games. As executives of the Bike Club, they began to push the Classic Bike Club to participate in more community efforts, such as joint events with the Reading Bike Hub, a nonprofit bike shop in downtown Reading, and in the Northwest Reading area, becoming involved with the Friends of the Schuylkill River Trail, a community group formed in November 2016 to pursue the revitalization of the Schuylikill River Trail section in NW Reading (R. Rodriguez, personal communication, April 3, 2017).

Kelley Coates, the former community outreach director at Neighborhood Housing Services, provided a list of local community groups that existed during 2006. Organizations in Northwest Reading included the Outlet Area Neighborhood Organization, Centre Park Historic District Neighborhood Organization, Center City Community Organization, Northwest Neighborhood Association, Bethany Area Neighborhood Organization, 15-1 Neighborhood Organization, Dare 2 Care, Greenwich Seed Neighborhood Organization, Community Hope of the 6th Ward, and the Reading Elderly Housing Crime Watch. However, currently only three of these organizations still exist. These groups are spearheaded by community leaders and are formed to allow residents to take control of their neighborhood and provide the community with support.

Recently, many residents choose not to participate in local community groups anymore. Peggy Harter, a Northwest Reading resident since 1966, noted the drastic change of community involvement within Reading. Community groups, most notably the Baer Park Association, would host events and fundraisers benefitting their neighborhoods. However, many of these community leaders moved out to the suburbs. Since then, to her knowledge, few residents have maintained or created those types of informal groups (P. Harter, personal communication, March 17, 2017). We were unable to locate any other groups.

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A Portrait of Life in Northwest Reading by Penn State Berks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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