Sandy Santello grew up in Philadelphia and came to New Hope with her wife Sharyn over 25 years ago. She said, “I have been out most of my life. Living in a Philadelphia neighborhood, that was not always easy, but somehow playing sports helped. By the time I was in my late 20s early 30s, I was completely comfortable as a lesbian and lived openly but was not involved in any organizations nor participated in LGBTQ events. Moving to New Hope changed that. I was embraced by the LGBTQ community and embraced it back.”
After a career in global marketing and communications, Sandy is now retired and able to pursue her passion for photography. She said,” This community welcomed my talents and I had my first show at a local gallery. Since then I have photographed numerous local events. Additionally, Bucks County/New Hope is an artists’ dream, a feast for creativity. Galleries, museums, the river, the change of seasons, the list is infinite.”
Besides her photography, Sandy has been an active member of the community. She served on the Zoning Board in New Hope and coordinated a Political Action Committee, “New Hope Residents for Positive Change.” The committee supported local progressive candidates and coordinated with other groups on state and federal levels. Sandy organized events at the Raven to meet candidates.
She has also been involved with FACT and New Hope Celebrates. Sandy said,” FACT was the first event I attended and immediately made fast friends, especially Louis Licitra and Ken Black, who introduced us to the community and our Realtor, Jim Briggs. We became immediate friends, and almost 25 years later, we remain close with Jim and his husband, both instrumental in introducing us and getting us involved in the community.”
Family is very important to Sandy, being a parent and now grand-parent. She raised her children in Philadelphia and moved to New Hope when they went off to college. They stayed here during their breaks and summers and now her grandchildren come here during the summers.
She said, “As a lesbian parent, we raised our kids in a Phila. suburb and, once they were off to college we moved to New Hope because it embraced our lifestyle, loved living along the river, the history, the arts and the warmth of the community. While I have always been out, the freeness of being who you are is the bedrock of living in New Hope.”
“It is essential, especially in these times, to be proud and out, and to be comfortable where you live. New Hope is the quintessential community for all ages, supporting the LGBTQ community, especially those dealing with difficult issues related to acceptance. I am proud to be part of the LGBTQ community.”
Her fondest memories are of her wife Sharyn being sworn into New Hope Borough Council, her first of many New Hope Celebrates’ parades and the floods. She said they were living in Waterworks on the river, “While it was a difficult time, the memories of the community coming together and helping us and then helping others, the Wedgewood putting us up for a week, neighbors helping neighbors, amazing.”
Sandy loves going to The Raven, The Cub Room, Cafe Blue Moose, Tastebuds, and the Michener Museum.
She said, “I love living here, the warmth, the support, the sense of being, living openly with my wife, completes my life. Living here is like living in a big family house, we argue over what’s best for the town, we hug when someone is down, we agree to disagree, and no matter what, we are always there for each other.”