About the Value of Community Reconciliation

In the late 1969’s, Hermann Schlömer and Carsten Cordes were one of the very first ASF volunteers in the US. They engaged in community reconciliation.

Hermann Schlömer (right) with his US American colleague Bill Buckmann † at Pottstown Neighborhood House. In Germany, Hermann counceled drug addicts and trained teachers.
© Schlömer

Shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, five white middleclass families in Pottstown Pennsylvania, highly motivated for reconciliation, bought a house in the black ghetto. They founded the Pottstown Neighborhood House and hired in November 1969 two white German young volunteers from the United Church of Christ to identify the community needs and to utilize community resources to meet them. Although we were able to organize tuition and recreational programs for children, we failed in motivating black adolescents and young adults to take over responsibility for this center. It seemed to them a nice, but a white paternalistic project. Our lesson: Participation of the community from the beginning is crucial for successful community work.

Hermann Schlömer, 1969-1971, Pottstown, PA, addiction councelor and teachers’ trainer.