Sunday, October 31, 2010
Hundreds of families from the Cedar Park, Spruce Hill and nearby neighborhoods gathered together at 45th St. and Baltimore Ave. today for the annual Halloween parade through the neighborhood. The parade kicked off at 4 p.m. and took residents up 45th St. and winding through the neighborhood with participating households along the way providing candy for the kids in a safe and fun environment. Philadelphia Police officers cordoned off the route while University of Pennsylvania and University City Green safety patrols watched the streets as the children ran from house to house filling bags and plastic buckets in all manner of shapes with treats.
Jason DePietro and his children, Ava and Miles all dressed as a zombie family and are participating for the first time this year. “We live at 36th and Wharton. We came over 'cause it's a safe place for the kids to run around,” Jason said of the event.
Dressed as mama and baby bears, Wilder Scott-Strait and her daughter Ellie came down from 50th St. and Chester Ave. for the parade. “I've lived in the neighborhood for 7 years now. This is Ellie's second halloween,” she said.
“It's safe and it's fun. The whole neighborhood is here!” Andrea Geralds said with her daughter Simran.
The Spruce Hill Community Association put on a block party at the end of the parade route just east of 43rd St. on Osage Ave.
Christine Bright and Philip Forrest
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
A local effort to combat children’s illiteracy takes places every Wednesday at Martin Luther King High School. The school hosts a book bank each week serving as a project of Philadelphia Reads, development between the School District of Philadelphia and the Free Library.
However, unless the book bank is able to raise an additional $40,000, it will no longer be able to operate. It takes approximately $100,000 a year to keep Philadelphia Reads running. Typically, donations from companies and individuals fuel this project, but this year the costs are exceeding their donations.
Teachers of all calibers, from public to charter schools and day-care centers and after-school programs, utilized the book bank at Martin Luther King High School to expand their libraries for their students. These teachers often would reach into their own pockets topurchase books and school supplies for their classrooms.
With the book bank teachers can now, depending on classroom or school size can take between 200 and 400 books and 50 to 100 school supplies.
Only open from 2:30 to 5 p.m. once a week, the book bank serves hundreds of teachers on a monthly basis. Closing this outlet would have devastating effects on schools.
The largest insect museum in the nation, and Philadelphia’s only all-bug museum is creating quite a buzz. Steve’s Wildlife and Insectarium, located on Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia is housing a working beehive now through Nov. 27, 2010. Onlookers can observe the honeybees in action from behind the safety of glass. Children can dress up as beekeepers, complete with the hat, smoker gloves and smoker, as they watch the bees fly in and out of the tube that is linked to the outside neighborhood gardens and back to the beehive.
With more than 5,000 square feet of exhibits showcasing thousands of different species of insects both alive and mounted, its ironic the Insectarium started as an exterminator business.
Ida Steer, one of the tour guides agrees and says, “We kill them down here and we keep them alive up there.”
Steve Kanya created the Insectarium, the owner of the exterminator business who would bring home "the catch of the day" from various jobs he went on. He would put these bugs on display in the front window of his business, where they caught the attention of many people walking and driving by. People’s great interest in the bugs in the window was where Kanya received his vision of educating and entertaining children and adults about the world of arthropod insects. His collection has vastly grown since and includes bugs from all over the world.
Steer says the kids get so excited when they’re here. Busloads of kids come every week to eat bugs, the current menu is cheddar-flavored larva, and to enjoy the cockroach kitchen display, which has a countertop and bathroom façade that is teeming with hundreds of live cockroaches. This is in conjunction to being grossed out by all of the bugs the museum has to offer that are at their disposal.
“The add requesting for tour guides simply said ‘must love children, it didn’t say anything about bugs,’” Steer says. “I’ve learned to love bugs along the way, but not in my house.”
By Nicole Dalrymple and Shaun Gallagher
Team 3: Northeast
Yesterday, Oct. 26, the Portside Arts Center (Portside) had its annual free pumpkin painting event. Local children and their parents dipped brushes in gobs of paint make ghouls, vampires, silly faces and much more in celebration of the upcoming Halloween holiday.
It was the first visit to the Portside for Daniel Dietsch who found out about the free event from a flyer his three year old daughter Molly brought home from preschool.
"Its pretty nice. Everyone seems to be outgoing," said Dietsch. He added that the Portside is offering some new and different for people in Port Richmond and surrounding areas to do. Something he said he was not really offered as a child. "There's a lot of big chances going on [in the neighborhood] for the better."
Impressed by the activities the Portside offers, Dietsch said he plans to enroll his daughter in some classes. "Definitely music," he said. "[Molly] sings all day."
That is not all the Portside had in store for this year's Halloween. On Sunday, Halloween Day, a costume competition will also be held at the arts center.
By Chesney Davis and Ashley Huber
Team 12, Port Richmond
Everyone can relate to the fearsome thought of burglary. Unfortunately, Germantown residents are increasingly being targeted.
While the above scenario described was reported this past Sunday in a Germantown home, officials are realizing the rise in robberies throughout the past month. Philadelphia Police in the 14th district are warning local residents of the increasing theft reports. While much of the property crimes that have happened are burglaries, officers encourage residents to pay specific attention to their homes. Likewise, it is being stressed to keep residences looking alive by keeping them well-lit.
“It’s important that everyone keeps an eye out,” expresses local resident Marcia Grey. A benefit to urban life is the close proximity of living, as many can watch over their own setting and their neighbors. As well, attendance at the upcoming town-watch meetings is being urged, and should-- for the most part-- look up. Many in the Germantown community are familiar with eachother, whether they still live in the home they were raised in or new to the neighborhood. “We’ve got a strong feeling of brotherhood,” one man comments while passing by, acknowledging Grey with a head nod in the process.
Aiming to slow the increasing robbery numbers, officials are trying to get a step ahead by asking residents to notify police before leaving their homes for vacations. In order that they maintain some peace-of-mind during travels, officers aim to prevent potential burglaries by checking up on homes of those who are away. While Germantown has seen a fair-share of violence, consistent safety precautions can prevent crime statistics like these from increasing. The community plans to go into some of these issues at the town-meeting on the 27 of this month, while many can look forward to networking with other families at the Anti-Violence Fair on Friday the 29th.
Altogether, members of the community are advised to be in tune with minor precautions that are easy to overlook. Things like bringing in the newspaper and mail daily, keeping windows and doors locked at all times (even when home), changing up your daily routine, keeping shrubbery trimmed, and communicating with local officials all help. By residents paying a bit more attention to their surroundings, officials can hope they’re community is one step closer to being, well, “safe as houses”.
Team 10: Maria Santilli and Kali Wyrosdic
Every second Saturday of each month Hunting Park United, a community organization of Hunting Park, holds a community meeting. While each meeting discusses a different topic or upcoming event, every gathering provides residents with the opportunity to voice their concerns about the community.
At times, district representatives attend the meetings to hear such concerns; something Ruben Jones, a Hunting Park resident, believes is good to see.
“If you have whoever saying ‘Listen, I put you in office, I support you” they’re (representatives) going to represent your interests,” he says.
The meetings also allow other organizations such as the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and the Esperanza Health Center to inform members of the community of upcoming events. The residents, in turn, then circulate the information throughout the community. This leads to a better turn out for events held in the area.
“The people present here are the eyes and ears of the community,” says Jorge Santana, a member of Hunting Park United.
It’s those eyes and ears that are working to provide new programs and fundraisers to aid Hunting Park. And those programs and fundraisers would not be possible without Hunting Park United’s monthly meetings.
By Brittany Miller and Kenneth Marone
Team 14: Hunting Park
The gallery was founded in the mid-1970s by Lucien Crump and was the first African American art gallery in the city. Crump died from multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, at the age of 71. A lifelong painter and educator, Crump and his art gallery left a mark on the Germantown community.
Today Crump’s legacy is kept alive through educational and inspirational programs created by his wife Loretta Tate. After her husband’s death in June 2006, Tate decided that she did not have time to grieve because she needed to help keep the gallery open.
“The programs that I created, both those that are currently operating and those proposed, are elements of his commitment to humanity and art,“ said Tate.
As the Executive Director of Lucien Crump Gallery Art Education Resource Center Inc., Tate organized the youth art program on Jan.12, 2010. The program initially began with a pilot group participating for eighteen weeks meeting once a week from 4 P.M. to 6 P.M.
On Oct. 18 the gallery reopened its doors for the program with two classes offered each week. Four students from the first group were asked to remain at the center for therapy becoming the Tuesday night class. However a Monday class was also added with a total of nine students in the class. Both the Monday and Tuesday night classes are now going to last for 30 weeks instead of 18 weeks.
Once students arrive at the gallery they are given a healthy snack. Then they learn how to create artwork with their feelings, which are presented to everyone at the end of the session. A certified youth counselor will help students try and explain what their artwork means and how they can accept those particular feelings.
The youth program focuses on using the visual arts to help students express emotions associated with grief and loss.
“We allow them to use drawing, painting and primarily photography and videography to put visuals to feelings that often cannot be expressed,” said Tate.
Photography and videography are the primary visual arts used for the program because an actual photographer volunteers to teach the children through these mediums. Ellen Contrevo, a volunteer and the program co-director, works as a hairstylist but does photography as a hobby. She is an art educator teaching students how to use a camera or to paint a picture for their final masterpieces.
“[Contrevo] has a very good way of having kids bring out photographic stuff,” said Tate. “She is magical with them in terms of how they use a camera and pull out stuff for their projects.”
The gallery also provides transportation to and from the gallery for each student. A SEPTA vehicle picks students up from their local schools, takes them to the gallery and then takes them back to school when the session is over. The transportation costs for this non-profit organization are over $13,000, which had dramatically increased from the original pilot group from the Spring.
Since the gallery is a non-profit they rely heavily on the funding for their Art from the Heart programs. The youth program is not only art therapy sessions held by the gallery. Their first program was for women in transition, which started on May 1, 2007 as a six-month program but now lasts for a year.
Participants who meet on Mondays and Tuesdays for the program are women dealing with substance abuse. The other group consists of women who are diagnosed as HIV+ and they meet every first and third Thursday of the month.
Tate believes that her husband would pleased with the direction his beloved gallery is going due to the programs that are now in existence. Her vision of the future for gallery is one that is continuing to grow and has potential to reach the community through cultural exhibits.
Funding is the primary barrier holding back the expansion of the Art from the Heart programs. If you would like to donate or help volunteer at the gallery, please call (215) 843 – 8788.
In Germantown, right off of Germantown Ave is the Black Writers Museum, a museum dedicated to having “a positive impact on urban education through black literature.”
The museum, which has been open only since 2009 has a focus on youth education. This is not surprising when one considers that founder/executive director Supreme Dow has worked for 25 years in youth programs around the city of Philadelphia. Beyond that, he has experience as a writer and has been involved in politics.
“I’ve always been about getting other people published,” he said, although he has been writing poetry and essays his entire life.
The museum has several programs in the near future directed toward youth. First, they are having a story time for children ages four to seven. There they will invite professionals from the community to come in and read to local kids for around an hour. They will also have two book clubs directed separately towards teenage boys and girls. Beyond teaching, the programs seek to build positive self images for the kids involved in them.
There will also be a Umoja community dinner sponsored by the Black Writers Museum. Umoja is the first day of Kwanzaa, and it will be held on the evening of December 26th.
“These kids need to learn to put down the Wii and pick up a book,” says Dow, “we’re using black literature as a teaching tool, we want to teach youth to grow up speaking and writing well. If we continue to teach what has come before, we will have others who pen stories of the future.”
By Sarah Fry and Chris Banks
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The Second Mile Center in Walnut Hill is a unique establishment. The Center is a group of thrift stores in Walnut Hill, located between Walnut and Locust on 45th street. Their mission is to provide used clothing, furniture, electronics and household items, and give back to the community. From their website, "For those marginalized by society, struggling to recover from addictions, abuse or crime it is a 'hand up, not a handout', a second chance at life and a job in a faith based, structured and supportive environment."
Even on a weekday the Second Mile thrift clothing store is bustling. Estelle Andrews, a lifelong resident of Walnut Hill who lives with her son, says they both shop there often. "I can find almost anything I would find somewhere else, but for cheaper here. Plus it supports a good cause and helps the community. These stores have become sort of a staple of this area," she says. The Second Mile stores are open every day except Sunday, 10 am to 8 pm. They accept drop-offs, and also offer a delivery service free of charge.
On Tuesday, October 26th, the Philadelphia Horticultural center celebrated its grand re-opening. The building itself is a modern exhibition hall and greenhouse. It was built for the Bicentennial celebration in 1976 and sits on the site of the former Horticultural Hall, an 1876 Centennial Exposition building. Located just west of the Strawberry Mansion Neighborhood, in Fairmount Park, the building sits tucked back in a dense forest surrounded by fountains and streams. As with many sections of Fairmount Park it can at times be hard to believe that an urban environment is just a few minutes down the road. The re-opening celebration included live music, drinks, food, an eclectic crowd, as well a few members of the press and was held in both indoor and outdoor settings.
Sparkling mosaics line the walls of The Magic Garden, located on 1020 South St. This project all began with Isaiah Zagar who has been dedicated to beautifying the South Street community since the 1960s.Before The Magic Garden was built, Zegar and his wife Julia began the spark of the revitalizing of South Street. They started this by buying buildings in the area and renovating them, usually decorating with mosaics. Their first project was the opening of a folk store located on 402 South Street, which is still thriving today.
Zagar and his wife started building The Magic Gardens in 1994 in hopes to educate the area about the art of mosaics and folk art. The construction of the started with building a fence to protect the half block area. It took Zagar 14 years to completely finish the designs of garden.
In 2002, the owner of the land decided to sell the property in result of the rising property values of South Street. The community refused to let this artistic mosaic area be destroyed, so they made the project a non-profit organization that aims to preserve and promote Zagar’s work.
Today, The Magic Garden offers both an indoor and outdoor gallery of mosaics which is open to visitors throughout the year. The project also holds tours of the artistic labyrinth, workshops led by Zegar and hosts various public events such as concerts and dance performances.
The mosaics that are a part of The Magic Garden illustrate Zagar’s artistic influences which include his life experiences, his wife and two children, the Day of the Dead, the dance community of Philadelphia, and even Sept. 11. The half a block is made up of mostly found objects and contributions to the community. Some of the objects featured are bicycle wheels from local South Street shops, sculptures from Latin America and Asia, various shaped mirrors and Zagar’s handmade tiles.By Sheila Kane and James Rose
Something very unusual happened at the federal bankruptcy hearing for Germantown Settlement, a social services and housing non-profit that has been awarded over $100 million dollars over the past 25 years in grant money. Community members, not creditors, debtors, or attorneys had a chance to let their voice be heard in court.
Over a dozen residents came to last Thursday's hearing, where Settlement's plan of reorganization was supposed to be discussed. However, the plan was formally withdrawn just a day before. Irv Ackelsberg, a pro bono lawyer for the community, was the first to speak up.
“Many of us can surmise the day we can say Germantown Settlement is over,” he said. “The people and the institutions and businesses of Germantown have suffered.”
Ackelsberg requested that residents be permitted to be heard and the opportunity to question if another plan is presented by the bankrupt non-profit.
“It’s not a high hurdle given the circumstances, I wouldn’t deny them [residents] the opportunity to be heard,” said Chief Judge Stephen Raslavich.
As a result, Jim Foster, life long resident and current publisher of the Germantown Chronicle testified about information that was being withheld from court. He says that when Settlement attorney Thomas Bielli withdrew the plan of reorganization Settlement requested to be able to sell all three assets, the YWCA, the Burgess Center, and the Wayne Ave office space to a new buyer they had found. The attorney told the judge the YWCA was a gift to Settlement from the City of Philadelphia.
"That was incorrect, the YWCA was bought with a $1.3 million dollar loan with help from the city, " said Foster. "It was also 110 percent of the asking price for the building, more money than what it was worth, and Settlement never made a payment on it," he added.
Also, the Settlement attorney, Thomas Bielli, did not file any court document or notify the judge about the arson fire that destroyed two floors of the YWCA just a week before the hearing.
Needless to say, the judge was not pleased about the lack of information. In a turn of events, the judge decided that the Germantown community should have a representative in the case. Ackelsberg volunteered to be the attorney and Germantown Community Connection president Betty Turner will be the representative.
Debra Roberts, Director of Operations at the Wister Neighborhood Council, attended the bankruptcy hearing too. Wister NAC had paid Settlement to do their bookkeeping and when Roberts became a board member in 2006 the NAC took over their own financials again. They were shocked. Their taxes hadn't been paid, financial statements to the IRS were incomplete, and had to pay about $10,000 in liens.
Roberts doesn't think that Settlement has the ability to restructure, "Most of their properties have been vacant for 7 or 8 years. Settlement has been giving us this story of restructuring and reorganizing for almost ten years now. I don't believe they are capable of doing that."
The RDA is one of Settlement's largest creditors. Overall, including Greater Germantown Housing Development Corporation (GGHDC) a Settlement subsidiary, the non profit owes more than $38 million to date in loans from federal, state, and local government.
However there was no Redelvopment Authority (RDA) official present at the hearing on Thursday. Afterwards, Ackelsberg said he was disappointed that the RDA was not there.
“Perhaps we’re not seeing that much aggressiveness from the government because the government enabled and funded this disgrace for so long,” he said. “The big question is who’s calling the shots from the city [government].”
Instead, the RDA had filed a default notification on Thursday that said it is going to sell the YWCA by Dec. 7. Terry Gillen, Executive Director of the RDA, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the agency decided reclaim the property so it can be restored and put back into use.
In 2006 the RDA loaned Settlement $1.3 million to purchase the Germantown YWCA. Court records indicate the loan was given to Settlement despite their past financial struggles at the word of City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller. She is a former Settlement board member.
In a Philadelphia Inquirer interview Miller said, "I had no knowledge of their financial situation then. I just knew it used to be one of the city's best social-service agencies."
Despite concerns of dismissal, the Germantown Settlement bankruptcy case continues, but now with more community accountability.
By Kristen Mosbrucker and Josh Fernandez
Take a drive down any street and you will see several houses per block totally decked out in decorations for the upcoming holiday this weekend. It has become evident that many citizens of Fairhill are full of spirit and love to take part in any celebration and holiday they can.
Another reason Hispanics take joy in celebrating Halloween is due to the fact that places such as Spain, Latin America and Mexico take part in “El Dia de los Meurtos.” This is a three day joyous party in order to celebrate life. They also honor those who have died by taking food, flowers and photographs to the graves of their deceased relatives.
There is no doubt the Hispanic and Halloween combination is an exciting time in Fairhill.
By Samanth Bucher and Jarrett Barbour
Group 1, Fairhill
A recent study released by the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that when consumers pay for groceries with plastic – whether credit or debit card – they’re more likely to purchase and consume junk food.
Professor Manoj Thomas of Cornell University said in a post on the Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog that “people feel a physical pain when they spend cash,” so they’re less likely to spend that cash on unhealthy food.'
Sheree Jones of 20th Street and Montgomery Avenue said while she thinks those findings may hold some truth, people’s purchasing and eating habits ultimately are influenced by the individual, not the payment method.
“If you have kids, it’s a different story,” Jones said as she was leaving the Fresh Grocer at North Broad Street between Oxford and Jefferson streets, adding that her payment method has little to do with her budget. Jones has three elementary school-age girls. “They can snack every now and then. But I consider the ‘x’ amount of money I have, how much sugar, how many calories.”
Nikia Bailey, a Fresh Grocer employee and mother of two girls and one boy, ranging in age from 8-15, said she mostly pays for groceries with a credit card, and agrees that her children’s health is what dictates her food purchases.
“It’s not really about splurging,” Bailey said. “Children want everything, and if you take them [shopping with] you, the amount on your card will double. You have to balance what’s healthy with what they’ll eat and consider the price.”
Roc Ramos, a single man who lives at Broad street and Girard Avenue, said that while he mostly pays with a debit card, he is a “health nut” when it comes to purchasing groceries and sticks to lean meats and vegetables like salmon, kale and spinach.
“I’ll have a candy bar once every three months maybe,” Ramos said. “But if I’m buying it, it’s not because I’m paying with a card.”
The first phase of the plan focuses on improving the walking and riding conditions in areas such as Northwest Philadelphia, North Philadelphia, Center City and South Philadelphia. The second phases, which won’t be completed until 2012, deals with Southwest Philadelphia, West Philadelphia, Olney/Oak Lane, Northeast Philadelphia. West Philadelphia citizen and faithful bicyclist Alia Davis, is very anxious to see the city’s new plan in effect. “I’m really excited to see how this plan is going to change things. I’m one of those obnoxious bike riders that rides all over the place. It seems like it will be pretty beneficial because I can finally have a designated area where I can ride safely. I feel like we’re finally being acknowledged and it’s about time.”
From the outside, 555 West Annsbury St. doesn’t look like much. A short, unpaved lot rolls up to the partially grey-painted brick building, with room for about four cars. Barbed wire hangs from the flat roof. A window is boarded up. Above the lone metal door, a fresh overhang sticks out like a sore thumb, it reads: “Feltonville Dream Center.”
A young woman exits the door with a large poster in her hand, props the door open with a folding chair and stands on it, raising the poster to the overhang. “We have to put out the sign every day, someone would steal it,” explains Dream Center Coordinator, Rasheedah Waters. The Feltonville Dream Center serves children, ages 5-14 ,through afterschool tutoring and a variety of creative workshops.
Each day of the week has a specific focus: Mondays are art, Tuesdays are dance and drama, Wednesdays are social skills, Thursdays are music and creative writing, and Fridays are karate and modeling. Each subject is taught by a volunteer with schooling or professional experience in that field, and tutoring is provided by the staff and volunteers from Temple University and Drexel University.
The Center just finished its first year in September. “It’s been a struggle,” explains Program Administrator Jasmine Brown, “we’re taking it one step at a time.” The Dream Center was started by Christian Waters, the Pastor of the adjacent Chosen Generation Worship Center and owner of the building. The location was home to a food bank and clothing bank before the Dream Center was established. Now, the staff is hoping to expand its youth services.
Brown and Waters would like the center to be a free after school program at some point. It currently costs 30 dollars per week for one child, with discounts for multiple children. “A lot of parents don’t mind the price,” says Brown, “the whole point of this is to help people who can’t afford other services.”
Usually, the Center sees 12-16 kids a day. With ten workers, the classes are intimate, but they could be larger: “we definitely want more children and volunteers,” explains Waters.
Brown and Waters feel that the Feltonville Dream Center has the potential to be one of the best afterschool programs in the city. The Center already boasts a well educated staff and a newly renovated three story interior, complete with a wood-floored mirror-walled dance studio and karate space. Needed, are computers and revitalization of the exterior. “We’re going to apply for grants, and we’re always seeking donations,” says Brown. She is confident that they will obtain funds to further their project, ensuring that the Dream Center remains a reality and the go to place for area children.
By Alex Onkow and Stacey Naughton
“The casino is already here, but let’s make the best out of the situation,” he said. “I promise to be the advisor to make sure money goes to the right places.”
O’Brien has been a representative of Philadelphia County since 2006. He also lives in Fishtown and is the founder of the Fishtown Neighbors Association. Throughout his two terms, O’Brien has opposed the building of SugarHouse Casino on the waterfront and as the Committee of Seventy website states, “this election will be the first test of his support with the voters [on this issue] since being elected to office.”
O’Brien is also an advocate for women’s health issues, green spaces, with his main priorities being access to the Delaware waterfront and the effects of prescription drugs on drinking water.
Next on the agenda was an update on a non-profit organization called Philly Tree People and their continued project to beautify the Fishtown, East Kensington and Kensington neighborhoods by planting trees. PTP was formed in 2007 by Dina Richman, Nykia Perez and Jocelyn Blank after they participated in a free Tree Tenders Training offered by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Perez and Blank spoke to neighbors about their Pruning Club which will meet on November 14th from 10 a.m. to noon on Emerald and Dauphin Streets.
Perez and Blank explained to the neighbors how they should be caring for trees outside their homes, how to use mulch properly (don’t let it touch the bark!) and how often trees should be watered. Perez then reminded the FNA that volunteers in Philly Tree People “aren’t with the city.”
“Don’t ask us why the city hasn’t come out to do X, Y, and Z because we don’t know,” she said with a laugh.
What Philly Tree People does know is how to prune, plant and save trees. They also know how much work goes into using trees to beautify a neighborhood.
After a day of planting and pruning, “you’ll never look at a tree the same way again,” Blank said.
Lauren Macaluso & Tyler Laurie
Monday, October 25, 2010
The town meeting began with prayer and proceeded to five speakers. After each speaker people asked questions. This forum stirred up many different emotions in people. Some were extremely excited and hopeful, while others worried about future reforms, like health care. Madaline G Dunn (right) says she loves the new strip mall on 52nd and Jefforson Ave. She adds that residents really appreciate that the mall provides every-day necessities; it's a nice convenience.
Sherrell Leland (left) is concerned that if Republicans take over the House in November, President Barack Obama will not be able to pass any reforms. She says that the other party will veto his efforts. Later on, others also felt that the election is extremely important to the outcome of Philadelphia's future. Although some of the representatives spoke about politics on a national level, the people of Carroll Park want to know how politics will effect their health care plan and financial situation.
Calvin Royster loves his job. He’s a full time life guard at the West Philadelphia YMCA. “I came here because I was out of a job and had bills to pay,” explains Royster, “I was working part time at a couple of places then found the West Y who said they’d take me on full time. I needed the money and now here I am!” Royster has been at the facility for a few a years and has seen how much a difference this YMCA branch has had on the community. “You know, it keeps the kids out of trouble. The fact that they know they have a place to come and hangout and be proactive and learn things really helps,” says Royster.
When asked if he would ever transfer to another branch or perhaps a different profession, his response was a quick no. “I know Ms. Terry would kill me if I left West!” laughs Royster. Senior Operations Director of over 10 years, Terry Henry, explained how she would hate to see Royster leave the Y. “He’s one of my top life guards. We love Calvin here and wouldn’t want to lose him, but if we did I know he’d be great where ever he’d end up.” Next time you’re in the West Philadelphia area by 52nd and Chestnut streets stop by and see what the West branch YMCA has to offer.
Lea Coyle and Aigner Cleveland
Since we knew unreported facts, Phil and I launched our own investigation into how Hines’ unknown “associate” escaped. We first re-visited Phil’s source, a gentleman who runs an appliance shop just below the tracks, but found nothing new. Afterwards, we examined the area where Hines was initially located and tried to decipher the other involved party’s escape route. Phil figured it was possible that the “associate” ran across the roof of the appliance shop and lowered himself to the sidewalk behind the establishment.
We hit a dead-end and decided to visit the memorial/vigil site. The vigil was held the day after Hines’ death and close to where she was dragged, at 49th Street station. We couldn’t understand how the train was unseen or heard until the last minute, so we waited for a train. The Rail was incredibly quiet and we only heard it as it was pulling up to the station; however, there were three unmissably -bright lights. Did SEPTA start brightening the lights postmortem as a precaution? Our investigation continues.
-Christine Bright and Phillip Forrest
“When you work here it’s like a family, it’s not just random,” Cubes continued. The number of people circulating in and out of the barbershop is astonishing. Each person who walks in is not only welcomed with open arms, but is familiar with all of the employees.
Cubes has two sons, Andre, 6, and Quasim, 4. Andre attends Overbrook Elementary in West Philadelphia while Quasim attends Kid’s Academy in West Philadelphia. She describes North Philadelphia as the perfect place to raise her kids, who are the number one priority in her life. “I love North Philadelphia,” Cubes says, “ It is very family oriented.”
At work that day Cubes discusses Halloween plans with her co-workers. She has plans to take her sons out trick-or-treating and coordinating their costumes. “Andre and I are going to be Batman and Cat woman, Quasim had to throw everything off by being Jason from Friday the 13th instead of Robin.” In a neighborhood with people as friendly as this, trick-or-treating should be candy in the bag. However, with Quasim throwing off the complimenting costumes, their evening should be interesting as they go door-to-door.
By Natalie Santoro and Lauren Hubbard