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August 30, 2014, 12:20 pm

‘Yes I Can’ Expo celebrates community

In the midst of the Cinco de Mayo activities around the city, a north Philadelphia church decided to host a day dedicated to its community.

The historic AME Union Church partnered with a local nonprofit I Can Ministry, Inc. and Wells Fargo Bank Saturday May 5 to create a day of empowerment and uplift through their “I Can” Empowerment Expo.

The AME Union Church, located at 1614 Jefferson St., hosted workshops, vendors with products sold by community members and activities for kids. The workshops were financial literacy workshops that were instructed by a representative from Wells Fargo and were catered to all age groups. They focused on areas such as; entrepreneurship, mortgages, budgeting and credit scores. Simultaneously, various community members held tables both inside and outside with information and products from their respective organization.

Guests were able to browse through tables, get a soul food platter, sit in a financial workshop or take their kids outside to a bounce house or for face painting. The church was full of activity that day.

“With all the unrest going on in the community, we wanted to bring something positive to the neighborhood that families could come out to,” said the Rev. Mary Lou Moore, senior pastor at AME Union Church. “I Can Ministry is a nonprofit to help struggling families mature.”

At the event, Moore released her first book “Rescue ME! Save the Children,” and did book signings.

“It’s a book to bring solutions to parents about saving the children through effective parenting,” she said. “This story tells about my mother and my feelings as a parent — then my daughters tell their stories about growing up with me — the great-grandchildren even have a part in here.”

Pastor Paul Thomas has been pastoring at AME Union for about a year and believes there was a need for the church, “the castle on the hill” as he calls it, to engage the community.

“We saw the need as a church and community to engage some of the activity in the area, he said. “What AME Union wanted to do free of charge was provide the space — we have a lot of space that the community can take advantage of, we really wanted to just be that light.”

Community members mingled and participated in the various activities throughout the day. The organizers were pleased with the turnout and success of the event.

Ron Davis, Philadelphia resident and native, heard about this event through his family members and was enthused to participate and bring his seven children along.

“We need this right now because there are two many kids running around and too many shootings,” he said. “So any event that keeps them off the streets from any aggravation that’s going — I’m with it.”