Many fascinating conversations between people in and around Kennett Square could begin with a question about the concept of home. Where is home? What does it mean? Is it a place? Is it possible to think of two places as home?
Raúl Toledo, Adriana Bedolla, and Elideth Navarro first connected with each other around these kinds of questions and soon discovered they share something far deeper than their Mexican heritage and love for Southern Chester County and the greater Kennett area. They all learned not only to adjust to their new lives here, but to thrive and ultimately embrace this new place they also call home. And they want other immigrants to know they’re not alone. “It feels like coming to another world,” Adriana says. “We want to give others who come here compassion, as well as information and new tools so they can enjoy living here.”
The pain of being away from one’s country has many layers—the confusion of navigating a different culture, new systems, and rules in a new language; the ache of missing family and friends; the loss of that sense of control and independence that’s only possible in a familiar place; the fear of the unknown. There’s also a hurtful sense of disconnection.
“People who come here often feel left out,” Elideth explains. “They feel isolated, living apart from the rest of the community. But there is help, and hope, and there are so many opportunities available now that we didn’t have. We want to use social media and technology in a good way to share those opportunities with people and encourage them to participate fully in all life here has to offer.”
They also long to see unity in this diverse community—among people from different backgrounds, but also among those from different generations. “Our generation is different from those who are born here,” Elideth says. “We see both sides. Many of us are still learning the language while we translate for our parents, and then we see our nieces and nephews not wanting to speak Spanish because English has become their first language. We don’t want them to lose that spirit of the immigrant, which is still part of them, their heritage, and their story.”
A Dream Called Kennett Multimedia
With these goals in mind, Raúl, Adriana, and Elideth compiled their skills to create a creative digital agency called Kennett Multimedia. The mission of Kennett Multimedia is to inform, educate, unify, and promote the Latin and immigrant community. The three work well together, Adriana says, because their different skills complement each other. Adriana has a degree in Business Administration from a university in México, Raúl was a computer teacher in México and is a tech guru, and Elideth has a diploma in immigration process through a course called “The Power of Migrant Women and their Families” from the University of Guanajuato in México (UGTO) and recently completed a course called “Education for Youth and Adults with the Support of Technology. Elideth also has the highest comfort level speaking English—and all three are creative, passionate, and thoughtful.
“We want to share smart content with a purpose,” Elideth says. “Kennett Multimedia has three pillars. The first is to improve the community’s mental, physical, economic, and social well-being and help people to enjoy and take advantage of the little things around them—for example, letting people know about the trails, that they can enjoy an ice cream in town, that they can get free admission to museums through the library—stuff like that. The second is educating people about where they can access help. There are so many people suffering from cancer, diabetes, and other diseases and they don’t know where to turn.” Elideth speaks here from her painful personal experience of losing a seven-year-old nephew to leukemia. The third pillar, she says, is to connect people through storytelling and creative expression.
These stories, often told through videos, seek to bridge the gaps of language and culture while also embracing the dialectic shared by everyone who has come here from somewhere else. “We want to increase understanding, both here and in México, of what life is like here,” Adriana says. “We want to give a voice to those who pick mushrooms, work in construction, or clean—those who do all the hard jobs that people often don’t see or appreciate.” She gives the example of her father, who came to Pennsylvania to pick mushrooms and after a lot of effort and dedication became a supervisor at a mushroom farm. “He took classes at the library, got his GED at LCH, and worked hard to give his family a better future,” she says. “There are millions of stories like that.” The Kennett Multimedia team also wants friends and loved ones living in México to have a realistic vision of what life is like here. “Many people in México have the idea that you can pick money off trees here,” Raúl says. “And those expectations can make it even more difficult for those who are here, working hard to send money home.”
In their own lives, individually and collectively, Raúl, Adriana, and Elideth model the kind of integration they’re talking about. “Regardless of your story, the decision you made, or the one that was made for you—even if your dream is to go back to your country someday—it’s important to settle here,” Elideth says. “As an adult, I could go back to México. But that part of my life is missing now. My friends there don’t know me. I’ve spent half my life here.” The painful reality is that either choice involves loss.
“This is how you feel when you make another life outside of your country,” Raúl says. “Our stories connect us to our countries, but our lives are here,” Elideth says. “And it’s still really hard here sometimes.” On both sides of any border, there are always tears.
Three Stories, One Heart
“We have a voice and we want to contribute,” says Elideth, who serves as vice president of Kennett Multimedia. Her desire to help people trust the community where they live enough to put down roots and embrace the life they’re living—instead of living their lives longing for another—comes out of painful personal experience. She grew up in the Tierra Caliente region in Guerrero, México with her mother, four brothers, and grandmother. She saw her father, who came to work in Kennett Square’s mushroom industry when Elideth was a child, only once every two or three years.
Her father took full advantage of opportunities here. He worked hard and established residency. While Elideth remembers hearing talk of the family moving to America one day to be with him, she never saw it as a real possibility. But after her grandmother died, her parents made the decision to move the family here in 2002. Fourteen-year-old Elideth thought her world had ended. “I felt that they brought me here without my permission,” she says. She started high school here with no English. “I couldn’t even ask to use the restroom.” She learned the language through this experience of complete immersion. While there was no one to guide her to apply to colleges and seek financial aid, she found a full-time job as a production schedule manager for domestic export and import products. Her fluency in English continued to improve, and she currently works as a specialist with a career in consumer credit assistance.
Raúl, Kennett Multimedia’s founder and director, is a city boy, born and raised in México City. He remembers the first time he visited Kennett Square, soon after he arrived in the US in 2012. Driving into town on Route 82 at night, the first thing he saw was the cemetery. He wondered what kind of place he’d come to. “Then I saw the Genesis clock tower,” he says, “and I felt something special. I felt I belonged here.”
Raúl was a computer teacher in México and was amazed when he learned that some of his co-workers here didn’t know how to use a computer. “They didn’t know how to speak English or how to use a computer, or how to access services that are available to them. I knew I had to do something to help.” He’s since taught GED and computer classes at the Kennett Library and other places. He’s also involved with Casa Guanajuato, loves graphic design, and is a visual artist whose recent projects include some murals commissioned by local people.
“Raúl knows everybody!” Elideth says. “He always takes the initiative to smile, say hello, and break the ice.” She also points out that he’s a perfect example of someone taking advantage of the opportunities available for people in the community. “He used to have a tutor in the ALP program at the Kennett Library, and now he’s a tutor himself.” These values of friendship, honesty, service to others, and respect are held in high regard by all members of the Kennett Multimedia team.
The biggest obstacle for Adriana, Kennett Multimedia’s secretary and treasurer, was learning the language. She had taken English classes in México, but when she arrived in the US with her family she realized that those lessons weren’t enough to navigate this new country. She took ESL classes at Delaware Technical Community College and at the Kennett Library, and she’s grateful for Philomena Elliott and her tutor.
“I spent five years going and back and forth to México,” she says. “But then I realized—my life wasn’t there anymore, and I was missing my life here by wishing I could go back. I accepted that this is my new reality and I knew I had to find a way to enjoy being here.”
Sharing “Smart Content with a Purpose”
The three friends continue to wrestle with these issues, as do the others who are part of the Kennett Multimedia team, which includes a current Drexel student who came to this country when he was two years old and also a father with two children who works as a picker. Because every one of them has a full-time job, it’s challenging to find time to continue to build this dream and keep up the momentum. But a standing-room-only presentation at West Chester University in September 2019 gave them some well-deserved confidence. They screened a video called “El Otro Norte” (The Other North), which they created under a tight deadline with cell phone shots and a voice-over, by Elideth, in English. “To live away from home is not for everyone,” it begins. “You must have a big heart—big enough to be able to pack everything you’re leaving behind . . .” As the credits rolled, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Kennett Multimedia has also created a video for Kennett Greenway, as well as one on the 2020 Census to share information (and to correct misinformation), in addition to interviews with local immigration lawyer Lindsey Sweet and beloved chef Nicandro Quiroz (formerly of La Madera Bistro). Raúl, Adriana, and Elideth laugh as they describe how they realized they need to translate their materials into English as well. “We are bilingual—we have to create our materials in both languages.” One of Kennett Multimedia’s current projects is creating a video for the Kennett Community Grocer.
Raúl graduated from True Access Capital’s business planning course last spring and is in the process of registering the company. “In the near future we want to be self-employed, to have an office and studio space so we can create and share more content,” he says. Because of the immediate relevance and enormous impact of what they want to do, they feel a sense of urgency. They need more hands, and better equipment, and would love to find a way to fully make their dream—to create and share excellent, compelling, and life-transforming content—become a full-time enterprise.
In the meantime, as all entrepreneurs must do at some stage, all three are putting in late nights. “We’re writing scripts, shooting video, doing translations, voice-overs—it’s a lot for the three of us,” Raúl says. When doubts and exhaustion creep in, they remind themselves of their mission and of the people they want to reach with hope, help, and joy.
“We’re very new, very small, with big, big dreams,” Elideth says with a smile.
The Kennett Multimedia team would be happy to discuss media projects and Latin community outreach campaigns for your business or organization.
Please contact them at: