The seed of Andrew Monastra’s prosperity was formed early in life, thanks to a nugget of wisdom handed down by his father.
“After I got my first job,” he recalls, “my father said to me, ‘Put $5 aside from each paycheck, and at the end of the year you’ll have 52 times what you started with.’”
Learning such a valuable lesson so young has helped Monastra realize an opportunity to not only become a skilled real estate attorney but also achieve a rather ambitious yet worthwhile goal: revive a community that has seen better times. Having drawn inspiration from his father’s words, as well as nationally recognized philanthropic groups such as Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Monastra is architecting another success.
His law practice—Andrew J. Monastra, P.C.—is based in Pottstown, the community in which he also resides and hopes to restore to its prior glory. This lifelong resident of the Philadelphia area is excited about giving back to the region as gratitude for all it gave to him, including his education. He earned his multiple degrees at revered institutions in and around the city: bachelor’s degree in business from Villanova University; master’s degree in business administration from Drexel University; juris doctor from Widener University School of Law.
Monastra joined a general-practice firm in 1991 and later, after realizing his fondness for real estate law, branched off to form his own practice. Today he is one of the suburbs’ most experienced real estate attorneys. “I used Pottstown as my central hub and, magically, I was successful,” Monastra says. Besides managing his own firm, Monastra owns Heartland Abstract Inc., and also serves as managing partner of Venture Settlement Services LP.
Although real estate law remains a deep-rooted passion, he is committed to breathing new life into Pottstown with help from likeminded businesspeople. “The idea is about a way to help revitalize the hometown,” Monastra says. “At one time there were all kinds of industry here. … Then the factories closed, jobs moved and we were left with a town that had lost a lot of its shine.”
In order to revive Pottstown, he has begun promoting and implementing something known as “planned giving.” The process entails a technique for raising money painlessly and easily in order to give back to a community in which one works and/or lives. He believes that local businesses can and should help fund locally based nonprofit organizations by taking a small amount of their daily, weekly or monthly revenue and setting it aside to give back at the end of the year.
“I’m a real estate attorney,” Monastra explains. “From each closing, I will set aside $40 to $60, and I have five nonprofits that I give the money to. At the end of the year, what I give is somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000 per entity. I think that’s easier than coming up to someone and asking, ‘Hey, do you have $2,000 for this company?’
“If we could somehow convince local businesses to give up something that they would never miss,” he continues, “you could do that and never really know that you did it because you never missed it.”
Monastra encourages local professionals such as accountants, doctors, dentists and financial advisors to get involved by donating consultation fees or some other form of noncritical proceeds. “You don’t survive on consultation fees,” he adds. One local business that has already gotten on board with the program is Wrigley’s Office Supply, which donates a portion of its quarterly revenue to local nonprofits.
“There are a lot of nonprofit organizations that exist in our community that are working hard to make your community better,” he says. “They’re usually headed by really nice, intelligent and motivated individuals with a passion for something. ... These people exist, and their plan, if it comes to fruition, will make the community in which we live and work a better place.”
A large part of Monastra’s goal is to find a way to help local nonprofits sustain themselves. The creative visionaries who head these organizations are “busy doing ministerial work instead of being visionary,” he says. This is because many do not have the means to acquire funds needed to pay support staff, so they’re too busy tackling small chores to focus on more important tasks.
“You can’t go to the government for money to pay your assistants,” Monastra explains. “They’ll give you money for projects but not money for support staff.”
Local nonprofits Monastra donates to include Mosaic Community Land Trust, the Foundation for Pottstown Education and the Pottstown Downtown Foundation, as well as ArtFusion 19464 and the Carousel of Pottstown. These organizations have found a devoted partner in Monastra, according to Erika Hornburg-Cooper, executive director and cofounder of ArtFusion 19464, a community art center in Pottstown.
“What has always intrigued me about Andrew is his sense of community building,” she says. “We have partnered with some of the organizations that Andrew serves by providing arts enrichment to the youth in our community. In addition to forging partnerships, Andrew helps to make these community partnerships sustainable by providing monthly donations. This consistent giving is huge for nonprofits. His giving trickles right back into the community to which he has dedicated himself.”
Mosaic Community Land Trust, another of the local nonprofits Monastra supports, has a mission to provide permanently affordable housing and healthy lifestyle choices for people of modest means. Through education, participation and a focus on arts and culture, Mosaic Community Land Trust helps stabilize neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for those who live in Pottstown, according to David Garner, cofounder and secretary of the board of trustees for the nonprofit.
“Andrew is a tireless cheerleader for Pottstown,” says Garner. “He serves on the boards of organizations that he believes are critical to the revival of our community. He takes a hands-on approach with each organization that he supports or is a part of. He is recognized and respected by everyone in the community for being a doer.”
With enthusiasm continuing to build around him, Monastra expects to see more local businesses follow suit. This “painless giving,” in turn, should allow local nonprofits to spend more time focusing on their missions, which will ultimately enrich the community as a whole.
“Most people like to live in thriving, bustling and pleasant towns,” he says. “Those people who don’t live in such towns seek to regain the livelihood of the thriving, bustling and pleasant nature they once had. That’s why it’s important. It’s important for the quality of life for businesses, children and basically everybody.”
Likewise, Sheila Dugan, Main Street manager for the Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority and Pottstown Downtown Foundation, stands firmly behind Monastra’s cause.
“If every person took their loose change and put it in a jar,” Dugan explains, “by the end of the month, they would be able to help give to their favorite local nonprofit—whether it’s the arts, the business community or events. They all matter and play an important role in the revitalization of our town.
“Andrew’s generosity, in both time and treasure, proves that every little bit from many goes a long way.”
Andrew J. Monastra, P.C.
740 E. High Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
484-941-0912 | www.monastralaw.com
Photograph by Jody Robinson