In the United States, it is an unfortunate truth that most of us are just one crisis away from poverty. Loss of a job, loss of reliable transportation, loss of a spouse — there are many reasons people might find themselves in crisis. And right now, so many of us are in crisis mode.
In the current economic climate, organizations such as Oxford Area Neighborhood Services Center (NSC) are more important than ever.
Located in the Borough of Oxford, NSC exists to assist members of the community break the cycle of poverty. Since 1971, NSC has provided a centralized location where residents of southern Chester County can access social services and find help to meet their most basic needs. NSC assists people who are experiencing a crisis or sudden hardship by administering an emergency food pantry, providing financial assistance with rent or utilities, and connecting them to additional community resources.
I recently spoke to Rachel Lebus, who will join NSC as the organization’s executive director at the end of April. (Full disclosure: it has been my great pleasure to serve as Oxford Area Neighborhood Service Center’s interim executive director, and I look forward to watching the organization grow and thrive under Rachel’s leadership.)
Lebus holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in urban community development from Eastern University and is passionate about ensuring that community systems benefit all members, regardless of economic status.
Currently a community support professional working with adults on the autism spectrum, Lebus has lived in the Greater Philadelphia area since 2005 and was in the process of moving to Oxford when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Chester County.
Krys: What interests you about nonprofit work, and what attracted you to NSC in particular?
Rachel: I think that my interest in nonprofits started with the church I attended while in high school. Acts of service are an integral tenet of my expression of faith, and I strongly believe that the gifts I possess are to be used in service to others. During graduate school, learning about Robert Greenleaf’s concept of “servant leadership” really spoke to me.
I’m excited about working with the NSC staff; about leading people in a different way than I’ve been able to before, by helping them reach their full potential so we can best serve the Oxford community.
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In my current job, I work with someone who lives in Oxford. I was walking around town one day, and I struck up a conversation with a local business owner. Oxford seems like the kind of community where all the residents are genuinely invested in its success. I’m really looking forward to living and working in the same town and to helping NSC grow along with the community it serves.
Krys: Where do you find inspiration?
Rachel: I love the outdoors and I spend a lot of time running or hiking various local trails. I also enjoy having conversations with people who have vastly different backgrounds and ways of thinking than I do. Seeing things from other peoples’ perspectives has really shaped the way I view the world.
Krys: What is your superpower?
Rachel: Empathy. I can do more than simply listen to others; I have a way of reading people’s emotions and the emotional feel of a room.
Krys: You are starting a position leading a nonprofit during a really challenging time. How do you think the current pandemic is going to impact your first year as NSC’s new executive director?
Rachel: In an ideal situation, I would come in and take a lot of time to learn about the organization, to really get to know each staff member, and to take a close look at each of our programs. The health crisis we are currently facing will mean that I’m going to need to hit the ground running and learn as I go. It’s an exciting challenge.
If you live in southern Chester County, and find yourself in need of food or emergency assistance, please visit www.oxfordnsc.org or call 610-932-0887.-30-
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