Rashika West hit the ground running when she launched Essential Community Connections at 8030 Germantown on the first floor of the Venetian Social Club.
Rashika West hit the ground running when she launched Essential Community Connections at 8030 Germantown on the first floor of the Venetian Social Club. Since opening in August, the venue has hosted a multitude of events, including: Yoga classes, a Date Night cooking event, Candle-Making in the shape of martinis, children’s birthday parties and even a bridal fitting.
“The space had previously been a pharmacy and was vacant when I leased it in 2019, just before the pandemic,” said West, a registered nurse for whom opening a 501c nonprofit community space has been a dream long in the making. While waiting for Covid restrictions to lift, she did not sit idle.
“The space was in very bad shape. I hired a terrific female contractor, Alisha Curry of Iconic Flips, to take down a wall, install beautiful flooring, and remake the space to match my vision,” said West. A graduate of Jumpstart Germantown, a training program for aspiring local developers created by developer Ken Weinstein, West has big plans for Essential Community Connections. Her business card says “A Sophisticated Community Space.” Looking at the gleaming marble flooring and elegant lighting, West is clearly determined to live up to that promise.
“We will provide a plethora of engaging community events, including Networking Nights, Book Clubs, Poetry Night, Bridal Showers and Photo Shoots,” said West. But the real focus reflects her career in healthcare.
“I want this to also be a Wellness space that offers CPR training, Covid testing and vaccinations. I am reaching out to the Health Department to become an authorized immunization hub,” said West. “I welcome collaborations with other organizations striving for the collective goal of wellness.”
Why offer testing and vaccinations when they are available at area pharmacies? “There’s more attention, time, and care provided by a community-based testing center, as opposed to a corporate testing center,” she said. If you’ve ever waited in line at CVS for a Covid test, you understand.
West, who currently lives in Delaware, grew up in Germantown and North Philly. Her 21 year-old daughter Zaira Ford is an important part of Essential Community Connections, and staffs the business while West continues to work as a school and corrections facility nurse.
Covid safety measures for all events at Essential Community Connections include temperature checks and face masks are always required in the space. Case in point, West aimed a temperature device at my forehead before inviting me inside.
“We also have a guestbook used for contact tracing. If a guest were to report a positive Covid test, I have rapid Covid tests I can administer to other attendees if they have a temperature of 100 degrees or higher or they experience two or more COVID symptoms,” said West.
West’s ideas about wellness go beyond physical health. She also plans to host events concerning mental well-being. “We will host support groups and sound baths,” she said. What’s a sound bath? It’s an hour-long, relaxing meditation experience using musical instruments such as metal bowls or gongs. The benefits include stress reduction and improved sleep.
Essential Community Connections will also host events benefiting financial well-being. “We will collaborate with finance and banking professionals to provide home ownership information sessions and job training,” West said. “Essential Community Connections acknowledges wellness as an interconnected system; we hope to give insight into the many ways to improve and sustain wellness.”
“I want to thank the Venetian Social Club for leasing me the space,” said West. “They have been supportive and accommodating during all of the building’s Covid closures.”
The Local welcomes Essential Community Connections to Chestnut Hill’s business community and invites readers to learn more about upcoming events visit https://essential-community-connections.business.site or call (267) 206-9107.