The Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, in partnership with Better Health Network, presents the Better Health Citywide Community Leaders Summit, Thursday, June 20, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, 20th Street and Lehigh Avenue. More than 400 Philadelphia faith-based and community organization leaders are expected to attend. The event is free and open to the public; Independence Blue Cross is the official sponsor of the Summit.
“Independence Blue Cross is pleased to support the Better Health [Citywide Community Leaders] Summit,” said Paula Sunshine, vice president for Product Services at Independence Blue Cross.
This year, Independence Blue Cross is celebrating its 75th anniversary and is the leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. With their affiliates, Independence Blue Cross serves approximately seven million people nationwide, including 2.1 million in the local region, “we value the role Better Health Network is playing in the community and want to do our part to make sure [the Summit] is successful…Looking forward to an informative and engaging event on the 20th,” Sunshine said.
“Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives is serving as the partner and primary linkage to communities of faith and local government concerning the Summit. The Summit was encouraged and sought with the recognition that the Affordable Care Act will fundamentally change the character of health care and wellness in the nation,” said Malcolm Byrd, Director, Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives-City of Philadelphia.
According to Byrd, “MOFI works across government levels and social and community sectors to appropriately connect the faith community in a sustained way. We’ll continue to liaison with federal and state offices as needed… there are very significant and persistent chronic illnesses and health disparities having deleterious effects on the quality and length of life of many urban residents who have meaningful and long term mutually beneficial relationships with places of worship and faith leaders. These faith leaders are in strategic position and frequent access to those with such health disparities and they seek to be holistic in attending to both the spiritual and physical well being of those that they serve and fellowship with.”
Jermaine Bromell is the founder and CEO of Better Health Network and the organizer of the Summit. He said the network has several objectives.
“This is a critical event in the future of health care in our region. Better Health Network’s objective is to create clarity around the strategic short and long term direction of our health system. Better Health Network will be coordinating health insurance and provider access community outreach activity among faith-based institutions,” said Bromell,a member of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.
For the Summit, Bromell has convened a luminary panel of top government/healthcare experts to discuss health and well-being issues and details and impact of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
The VIP panelists will include: Vincent Gordon, deputy secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare; Dr. Giridhar Mallya, M.D., health commissioner, city of Philadelphia; and Joanne Grossi, regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Grossi was appointed by the Obama Administration as the Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Region III. Her territories include the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Grossi serves as the key representative in this region in working with federal, state, local and tribal officials on a wide range of health and social services issues.
Commenting on her role in the Summit, Grossi said, “My role is that, I’m going to be making a presentation on the health insurance marketplace. And the marketplace is where people who are currently uninsured, or who buy their own private insurance, are going to go starting Oct. 1, to purchase healthcare insurance; coverage that’s going to start Jan. 1, 2014.”
“There are over 205,000 Philadelphians who don’t have health insurance currently. It’s a lot. In the state, there’s about 1.3 million Pennsylvanians who don’t have health insurance; again, over 205,000 here, just in the city of Philadelphia, who don’t have health insurance. And I think, clergy certainly have the relationship with their congregants and their parishioners — to know their people’s certain situation. [Clergy] know who don’t have health insurance, they know who are struggling, and so they are such a trusted resource in a community that we think it’s important for them to know this information, so that they in turn, can help the congregants, their parishioners get health insurance, that everybody has a right to — and needs.”
Bromell has lined up other VIP guest speakers for this summit including Laval Miller Wilson, executive director, Pennsylvania Law Project; Dr. Donee Patterson, M.D., community health educator and radio personality; Natalie Levkovich, executive director, Health Federation of Philadelphia; Curt Schroder, regional executive/senior vice president, Delaware Valley Health Council. The Summit moderator will be Dr. Gerald DeVaughn, M.D., cardiologist and president of the Medical Society of Eastern Pennsylvania. The Rev. Glen Spaulding, Senior Pastor of Deliverance Evangelistic Church, will provide closing remarks.
The Better Health Citywide Community Leaders Summit is free and open to the public, but anyone interested in attending must register online at http://www.bhnphilly.org/. For faith leaders who are interested in gaining more information about how to provide post-summit healthcare advocacy, contact the Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives at: (215) 686-3905.
The Marriage Enhancement Phone Line is a ministry service of “2 Hearts That Beat As One Network.” The ministry provides counseling and spiritual support to married couples to affirm and strengthen marriages.
Minister Colin Clarke and his wife Sharon are the creators and leaders of the 2 Hearts That Beat As One Network.
“About a year and a half ago, the Lord spoke to us. We were at a marriage ministry at our church,” said Clarke. That’s where he got the idea to create a phone call-in ministry for marriage couples to anonymously receive spiritual support and resources.
“We use Biblical principles and announcement tools to help marriages. We found that, even in the churches, that marriages were falling apart, and (couples) weren’t getting the help that they needed. We started the call-in line a year and a half ago, and we’re doing very well with it,” he said.
The Clarkes are originally from Kingston, Jamaica, but they moved to the United States in 1984, and currently reside in Philadelphia.
He has been a member of True United Church for approximately twenty years. The church is located at 6201 Old York Road and Bishop Shawn D. Bartley is the senior pastor. Clarke serves in multiple ministry capacities including senior elder, men’s president, co-leader for the marriage couples ministry and a mentor for the young men of the church. Clarke earned a Bachelor of Science degree from La Salle University and an Associate Degree from Community College of Philadelphia. He has several certificates in communication, psychology and counseling which he utilizes professionally and spiritually.
Sharon Clarke is an accountant and the CEO of Sharco Financial Services. She, too, is a member of True United Church, and some of her past and current ministry service includes working with the Youth, the missionaries and the women’s ministries. She also serves as the financial/business administrator and conference coordinator at True United Church. She has facilitated numerous marriage conferences, woman’s workshops, seminars, prayer breakfasts and retreats.
On June 25, the Clarkes will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.
Some of the most common marital issues that the Clarkes deal with from callers are, “mostly trust issues [and] conflict resolution, where people are not able to deal with conflict resolution because they don’t have the tools provided to them to do conflict resolution. So they tend to deal with it on their knowledge and it creates a big problem, a diatribe instead of a dialogue. A relationship isn’t about winning a conversation, it’s about [the husband] listening to [the wife] and [the wife] listening to [the husband]. And we listen to our hearts, we listen with our ears and we listen with our mind,” said Colin Clarke.
He said, based on his research and study, three of the most common marital problems involve, “sex, finance and communication. My research tells me that the number one problem [in marriages] is communication, [bad communication] can cause a relationship to fall apart.”
He noted that when couples constantly degrade each other in conversation, it’s hard to establish intimacy and trust within that relationship. “There’s a thing called a Love Bank, and if I keep making withdrawals from the Love Bank (i.e., bad communication), then after a while, the Love Bank is going to be dry…you’re not depositing in me, you’re pulling from me.”
Colin is an avid reader of books dealing with relationship topics, one of his favorites is the book “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman, “[Chapman] speaks of physical touch, he speaks of quality time, he speaks of affirmation, he speaks of gift of service, and he speaks of gift [giving].”
Nichole Keffer, an eHow contributor, has reviewed Chapman’s book .
“The Five Love Languages is an ideology developed by Dr. Gary Chapman that discusses relationships between couples. He stresses to his audience in his book that all people express their love for one another in various ways and it is essential for couples to identify how they communicate their love to one another so that they are able to improve upon their relationship,” said Keffer in a recent article.
The Clarkes admit that married couples may all have overlapping love language needs, but that each spouse possesses one dominant or “primary” love language. Colin Clarke admits that his dominant love language is affirmation, his desire and need to be affirmed by his wife. His wife’s dominant love language is physical touch.
Sharon Clarke said most of the callers that call-in to their Marriage Enhancement Phone Line are generated from various sources.
“The calls that come in vary, I see most of our callers are by referrals. Or they may have gotten…we do have a flyer that we pass out. We Facebook and we email,” she said adding that callers often request prayer. Some schedule private counseling with her and husband. “We have an office attached to (our) house,” she said.
The Clarkes are hosting their 2013 Marriage Conference on June 21-23 at the Hilton Valley Inn Hotel, 500 Cresson Blvd., in Oaks. The event is $450 per couple and there are several more affordable packages for couples on a tight budget. For details, go to their website: www.2heartsas1.org.
Every Wednesday, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., married couples can participate in the call-in to the Clarkes’ ministry Marriage Enhancement Phone Line at (661) 673-8600, Access Code: 926050#. For more information about the Clarkes’ marriage ministry and their relationship support services, call (267) 230-2291.
In Ecclesiastes 3:4, in the Holy Bible, it states that there’s “A time to weep, and a time to laugh,” and there will be plenty of tears of laughter occurring on June 16, at 3 p.m. at the Father’s Day Clean Comedy Show and Dinner, at Temptations Ballroom #3, 218 W. Chelten Ave. The event will be presented by It’s Ok 2 Laugh, a Christian entertainment business that specializes in producing clean comedy shows.
According to its website, www.ItsOk2Laugh.com, the organization’s “goal and mission is to provide various venues that Christians and families may utilize to enjoy a good time…We want Christians and non-believers to know that it is okay to laugh and enjoy themselves. We want people and comedians to know you can still be very funny without use of profanity, derogatory comments and obscene gesture in order to receive a laugh. Our goal and mission is to share these concepts to churches and Christians and to bring lost souls to Christ.”
Anthony Trott, a native Philadelphian, is the founder/owner of It’s Ok 2 Laugh. Trott is an alumnus of Bartram High School who distinguished himself playing football. He matriculated to Temple University and graduated with honors and received The Real Estate of the Year Award from Temple’s Fox Business School for graduating with the highest GPA. Trott also serves as a deacon at Word Tabernacle Church, 5200 Chester Ave.
Approximately seven years ago, Trott originally got into the business of producing Christian comedy shows when he organized a fundraising event for Word Tabernacle Church, 52nd and Master street, where he served as a trustee.
“Sometimes, small churches can’t survive off the tithes and offerings. So you have to figure out other ways to bring funds into the church,” said Trott. He decided to tapped local comedians and his cousin, Alonzo “Hamburger” Jones, a well known national comedian who performs clean comedy. The fundraising event was a sold out success. Churches then began inquiring and soliciting Trott to produce his fundraising comedy shows.
In April, Trott recalls one of his more memorable comedy shows being held at Triumph Baptist Church, 1648 W. Hunting Park Ave.
“Based on size [of the venue], Triumph has a very large membership, and the show did actually better than they projected it would do,” he said.
Trott is proud that his comedy shows have had positive impact in drawing families out for wholesome fun entertainment.
“I like comedy,” he said. “I like to laugh. God gave this to me, it’s something that I like to do.”
Trotter is happy to provide a platform and venues for Christian comedians and Gospel performers to present their talents .
His shows aren’t just humorous events, they are making personal impact. He recalls the testimony of an estranged married couple that attended one of his shows.
“This husband and wife weren’t feeling good about each other, they said ‘Let’s go there [to one of Trott’s comedy shows]’ and they said they never laughed so hard together, that it had been a good while [since they’d spent quality time together].”
Trotter is encouraged that his comedy shows humorously inspire and uplift people who are experiencing some sad or difficult times in their life. Comedian Bill Cosby once said, “Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”
Trott believes that, “You can be filled with the Holy Ghost and still have a good time. My shows are safe, faith-based Christian comedy.”
His comedy shows typically include “Gospel singers, spoken word artists, or praise dancers” showcasing their talents. Some of the local and national Christian comedians that Trotter work with include: Buddy Love, Marcus D. Wiley [from the Yolanda Adams radio show], Hamburger, Les Long, and Grandma G.
This summer, Trott is organizing a national conference in Washington, D.C., called Living on Laughter Comedy Conference. He wants to bring together a host of Christian comedians to create a business network and showcase for clean comics.
Tickets for the Father’s Day Clean Comedy Show and Dinner, are $35. For more information about this or any of his upcoming Christian comedy shows and events, contact Trott at (215) 715-9486 or at his website, www.itsok2laugh.com.
Fatherlessness is a pervasive social problem that has negative rippling effects on families in America. To help fathers bond and become closer in healthy relationships with their daughters, Calvary Christian Church will host its first father-daughter luncheon, scheduled for June 15, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., at 6000 E. Roosevelt Blvd. (Roosevelt Blvd. & Large Street), in Northeast Philadelphia. Ticket donations are $35 for fathers, $15 for the first daughter, and $10 for each additional daughter.
Statistics on fatherlessness in America are staggering. According to Fathers.com, “Fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America.”
An estimated 24.35 million children (33.5 percent) live without their biological father; of students in grades one through 12, 39 percent (17.7 million) live in homes without their biological fathers; and 63 percent of Black children, 35 percent of Hispanic children, and 28 percent of white children are living in homes without their biological father.
“The purpose of the event is to affirm and promote the unique and meaningful relationship between fathers and their daughters… We want to create a healthy spiritual and social enrichment environment for fathers to celebrate their daughters,” said Rev. Robert Fontell, senior pastor and luncheon organizer/founder. Fontell said the idea for the father/daughter luncheon was birthed from the scripture Ephesians 6:1-4, where the Bible instructs children and parents to respect and honor each other.
“The event will feature live entertainment, a DJ, spoken word, a comedian, free give-aways, gifts, fun, games, food, and there’s also going to be a special father/daughter dance.” Fontell also said that the luncheon will include a special segment where the fathers will make a special covenant with their daughters “to pour into their life.”
Fontell said, “I’ve always had a passion to build up men. [The men’s ministry] recognized the problems with our young girls and the (negative) decisions that they and our young males make.” Fontell lamented over the spin-off problems that fatherlessness has had on daughters, so he decided to create an event that could become a positive counterbalance to the negative effects and created by fatherlessness in the city of Philadelphia.
In an article entitled, “Statistics on Fatherless Children in America,” Wayne Parker, a work-life balance specialist, reports that 63 percent of youth who commit suicide are from fatherless homes; 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes; and 71 percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. These social ills are not gender specific; they impact both daughters and sons.
There are secular organizations in Philadelphia that provide related positive programming and services — one such prominent organization is Daddy University. According to its website, “Daddy University is dedicated to helping all fathers appreciate themselves and the responsibility of fatherhood. We cater to soon-to-be fathers, new fathers, existing fathers and second-time parents. Our goal is simply, to heal the world one father and child at a time.”
For the last 12 years, Fontell and his wife, Tirzah, have mentored a fatherless young lady at their church.
“I have a spiritual daughter, she just graduated from Millersville University with a social work degree. Her name is Tamara Renee Smalls,” he said. “How that relationship came about is she asked me if I could be a father figure in her life. She didn’t know [her father] — she didn’t have her biological dad [in her life]. So I asked her mother if it would be okay, and her mother approved it. And so, for the last 12 years, I’ve been her father figure.” Male mentors of fatherless girls are strongly urged to attend this special luncheon event with their female mentees.
Fathers and daughters of all ages are invited to participate in this funfilled ministry event; it’s open to the public. For more information about Calvary Christian Church and the father/daughter luncheon, contact the church at 215-288-2880.
Local Christian entrepreneur Shelena Broaster, an anti-bullying expert/certified life coach, is hosting a citywide teen girl empowerment conference entitled: “D.I.V.A. Academy: My BFF” on Saturday, May 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Calvary Christian Church, 6000 E. Roosevelt Blvd.
This event is free, but teen girls must register online at www.divaacademy.eventbrite.com.
Broaster, 34, is the founder of “Shalena D.I.V.A.,” an organization dedicated to the uplifting of middle school and high school girls.
Under the umbrella of Shalena D.I.V.A, the organization has a broad menu of female-driven empowerment workshops and conferences, mentoring initiatives, online motivational and empowerment tips, a call-in hotline and public speaking engagements, all designed, according to Broaster, to “Unleash the D.I.V.A. within!”
“D.I.V.A. is an acronym for Discover, Invest, Value, Appreciate your God-given gifts and talents. That four-step process is what helped me, starting at the end of 2009, to turn my life around,” said Broaster.
The “D.I.V.A. Academy: My BFF Conference” is designed to engage teen girls in interactive workshops: healthy self-esteem and self-confidence, positive self-image, self-awareness through artistic expression, effective decision-making skills, goal-setting skills, better study habits and basic etiquette.
“(In 2009), I was very depressed, despondent, hopeless, and I really needed to get back on track. I wasn’t praying like I used to, I was backslidden, and the D.I.V.A. process, my four-step process, helped me to get back into fellowship and commune with the Lord. And I felt God was speaking to me, that I needed to share this process with others to help them, to not only live their lives, but to please God and to serve him in the process.”
Broaster did not always have an easy life. “I grew up in the housing projects, Bartram Village in Southwest Philadelphia. I didn’t have any positive role models around me. I was the smallest of four children, my mother wasn’t into education — none of my neighbors, no one. But my father told me, ‘One day you’re going to go to college.’ He told me that when I was about 5 years old. He used to take me to the Philadelphia Public Library, where he used to work. And every time I finished a book, he would give me a 50 cent (coin), so, that really made me want to read more.”
It was that incentive that helped Broaster develop a reading level that was far beyond her peer group’s.
Broaster was accepted into the elite Julia R. Masterman High School, and when she graduated she was offered a full academic scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania.
Instead, she elected to attend Duke University on a full scholarship. She desperately wanted to get away from Philadelphia, to put her family and neighborhood drama behind her.
“My father, I found out years later, was on drugs. But he planted that seed of education in me when I was five. In the housing project, none of my friends, no one talked about college.”
Broaster admits that some members of her family were involved in the drug game, and that placed her and other family members at risk to the dangers of the street life.
“My oldest brother was murdered at a crap game. They robbed him and they took $20. My stepfather, he sold drugs, he put us into harm’s way. I remember he got kidnapped by a rival drug gang, and they held me and my little brother at gunpoint. My life flashed before me — I was only 12.”
These, along with other family and external dramas, pushed Broaster to leave Philadelphia to startcollege life in a fresh, safe environment. She graduated from Duke in 2001, earning her bachelor’s degree in political science.
It was approximately four years ago that Broaster began her mission to empower other young girls to succeed. Broaster attends Calvary Christian Church, under the leadership of the Rev. Robert Fontell.
“The parable about the ten talents (Matthew 25:14-30), that’s what being a D.I.V.A. is all about. You discover what your talent is. (The teens) discover what their talents are, that they are gifts from God, and then they are prompted to invest in them. The Scripture, it tells you what to do.”
D.I.V.A. Academy is presented in secular and Christian formats. Broaster runs many D.I.V.A. Academy programs in area schools, aiming to turn around the behavior of at-risk young girls.
She has been featured on the Dr. Oz program, Women’s World magazine, Philly Hot 107.9FM and a host of online television and radio shows. She is also a regular small- business contributor to the International Women’s Entrepreneur Association. Her clients include: Wharton School of Business/University of Pennsylvania, American Society for Training and Development, American Paradigm Schools and Career Wardrobe.