PHOENIXVILLE — The Board of Directors of Phoenixville Women’s Outreach (PWO) announces the retirement of Executive Director Cheryl Messere. Cheryl’s passion, innovation and deep commitment over the last six years has elevated PWO as a leader in providing safe and affordable housing solutions in the community.
“We have the deepest gratitude for Cheryl who has served so generously,” said Mike Bryson, president of the PWO Board. “While she is retiring as Executive Director, Cheryl will remain on the Board as the founder. Her giving spirit has been as inspiring as her vision for this mission.”
Messere and husband Barry founded PWO to solve the needs of single women experiencing homelessness. Both had already spent decades devoting themselves to helping the needy and underprivileged on the streets of Philadelphia and through the People to People ministry at First Presbyterian Church. But soon they were fielding calls for help from women in their own hometown.
“The working poor have come to the suburbs,” Messere said.
While Phoenixville had a family and a men’s homeless shelter, it did not have a housing option for single women. Messere’s dream soon became a reality and “The House” opened its door and welcomed its first resident on New Year’s Day in 2015. PWO’s program now provides women with safe housing as well as training and guidance in essential life skills such as economic planning, resilience, and self-sufficiency. It recently expanded to include a second property – the Next Step House – a permanent supportive housing solution for women with limited incomes.
Andrea Blue was selected as PWO’s new Executive Director, effective March 1. She comes to Phoenixville from upstate New York. “Everyone has been incredibly welcoming and so proud and happy to live and work in the area,” she says.
Blue brings with her an extensive career in nonprofit leadership with a background in management, event planning, and community outreach, combined with her many accomplishments in counseling, crisis intervention and youth education.