The line grew lengthy with men patiently waiting to see medical professionals to assess the state of their health during the annual “Know your Numbers” Black men’s health fair at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, 2800 Cheltenham Ave., on Saturday.
Men from across the city gathered at the church to have their blood pressure checked, cholesterol levels read, receive cardiovascular risk assessments and much more.
The event which started at 8 a.m. and continued until 5 p.m. and, to prevent those who intended on staying the duration from getting bored, Enon also provided a game room complete with a ping pong table and colored television.
“We recognize that men tend to be the ones that don’t get to the doctor, that they tend to be the ones that don’t take care of themselves,” said the Rev. Alyn E. Waller, senior pastor at Enon Tabernacle.
Waller says that the reason that men are often not swift to seek medical attention is because they are often busy taking care of everyone else.
“We are also intimidated by process so we wanted to create an atmosphere where men can come to a safe place, their church, and get a baseline understanding of what’s going on in their bodies,” said Waller.
Materials released by the church cited a public health report which ranked Philadelphia last on health outcomes.
Along with assessing visitors for HIV, prostrate cancer, hyperglycemia and other illnesses, Enon and its participating partners provided with information the men could take with them to learn about key health issues.
Some 800 men registered for the event in advance of the event which was expected to reach more than a thousand at its conclusion. To facilitate such a massive undertaking, two facilities — Chestnut Hill and Penn Medicine — helped to coordinate the event.
Einstein Medical Center had sponsored the annual event in the past. However, Waller said that Einstein requested that Enon push the event back only to later drop out of altogether without explanation.
Waller said he then turned to Chestnut Hill Hospital and Penn Medicine who agreed to help and, with only a few months to do so, turned the church into a triage center.
“It’s really complicated when you only have a month and some change to do it and that was my job, to get that done,” said Dr. John D. Cacciamani, Chief Executive Officer of Chestnut Hill Hospital. “We coordinated a huge effort here and we’re very excited.
“Being a hospital, I think it is very important to be integrated into your community. The community, and the health of the community is really what the hospital is about and this is what Chestnut Hill is about.”
According to Cacciamani, there were about twenty doctors from Chestnut Hill Hospital and others from Penn Medicine. There were 15 nurses, emergency medical teams and ambulance workers on hand in case there was a need to immediately transport someone.
“We’re plugging people into the system and I think access to care is one of the important things for the community in general.”
Cacchiamani said that the fact that Enon could attract so many men to its church to get medically assessed was miraculous.
Albert Black, CEO of University of Pennsylvania Hospital, said that the objective of the forum was to educate men and to prevent them from suffering from many of the diseases which affect Black males that are typically preventable if the numbers are known early enough.
In the evening, the church held an information session on the Affordable Care Act where there were people on hand to answer questions.
Thanks to Mont Brown of the musical group, Astronauts Really Fly, 150 families were given Thanksgiving meals Tue., Nov. 12 during his holiday meal giveaway held at Myers Recreation Center.
With congress recently reducing public assistance benefits to those receiving public assistance, especially given the fact that the economic recovery has yet to improve the financial conditions of those who need it most, some might not be able to provide for themselves and their families traditional holiday meals this Thanksgiving unless they receive additional help.
Brown, who says that he desired to use his celebrity to serve the community, says that he aspires to be a positive role model and has taken steps to provide meals for those who will need it this holiday.
“The holiday meal giveaway is something that we wanted to do to help some of the families in my community,” Brown said. The goal is to feed 150 people.
“I’m in a position now where I can help people and my community and, with my celebrity, I chose to do that. I want to be an example of how you can make a positive situation out of a negative one,” Brown said.
And he should know, Brown lost a father to the streets at 13, and later his mother to the criminal justice system after she was incarcerated. He had his friend Ivan to lean on but he too later died.
According to some sources, Philadelphia’s deep-poverty rate stands at 12.9 percent, the highest poverty rate of any large city in America.
Brown knows from first hand how difficult life can be and have had to overcome some significant challenges of his own.
“I can take all the negative energy that I was feeling and all the rage I was feeling and I just turned that into a positive thing and said I can use that as motivation to get out of the ‘hood, to get out of my situation and that’s just what I did,” Brown said
Music was one means Brown chose to make positive out of a negative.
“I have a strong team around me, my Astronauts Really Fly [ARF] family are really supportive, we are all from different backgrounds and we keep one another grounded. We are like family,” Brown said.
Brown says that his group has been referred to as the new roots of Philadelphia and plays what he calls high energy hip-hop and he believes God brought the members of the group together.
It was the connections he made as a musician which helped him pull together the Turkey giveaway.
“I am in a position to help people and that is exactly what I am going to do.”
A little more than a week after the increase in Welfare benefits expired and Congress reduced the benefits for millions of Americans receiving government assistance, the nation is still writhing.
Elected officials in West and Southwest Philadelphia had a few choice words to say about the cutbacks.
Ronald G. Waters, state representative of the 190th legislative district covering large parts of West Philadelphia, blasted the cuts as ill conceived an ill timed.
“At a time when many Americans are still feeling the affects of the recession, I think the cutbacks are poorly timed,” Waters said.
Waters said that increasing money for things like the expansion of prisons while cutting funds needed for food assistance for the poor or the school system for the cities children sends a startling message to residents.
Waters knows first hand how the cuts impact West Philadelphia residents since many of those in need receive food vouchers which they then take to local food banks to receive groceries to feed themselves and their families.
Councilman Kenyatta agrees.
“During these tough economic times these cuts to welfare will severely impact the love income residents I represent. Congress must stop seeking to balance the budget on the backs of the poor,” Johnson said.
The cuts are actually not cuts but a return to benefit rates made before a 2009 congressional measure which expanded benefits to those in need during the recession. Last week the Congress refused to sustain those rates and returned to pre-2009 benefit levels.
Those living in deep poverty are those who subside on less than half of the poverty rate, this is 12.9 percent of Philadelphia’s population which is equivalent to some 200,000 people.
Philadelphia is expected to be especially hard hit since, at 28.4 percent, it is rated the city with the highest poverty rate among America’s big cities.
“We are already going to be stretched as it is and when you add this food stamp cut on top of that, its going to be really difficult for organizations to meet that need,” said George Matysik of the group Philabundance which provides food for those in need of assistance.
“This is nothing short of catastrophic,” said Bill Clark, the group’s executive director.
“I think the cuts are a drastic decision which will affect thousands of people who need assistance, I think it is a ploy and politically influenced,” said community organizer Paul Earthquake Moore.
“This is something that is going to hurt all ethnic groups and you talk about job training and job assistance but there are no jobs,” Moore said.
Moore quoted the Bible and said that we are our brother’s keepers and says that the Republicans are using the people to make a statement to hurt Obama.
“You are not only hurting the poor but the middle class also, especially working mothers who need this assistance.”
“We cannot let them starve, there are no jobs; most of our jobs are going overseas or outsourced but there are no jobs here in Philadelphia,” said Moore who plans to hold a 24-hour Food-A-Thon from noom Saturday to midnight Sunday.
The Food-A-Thon will be held at Woodland and Island avenues.
Supporters and family members gathered at Galdo’s Catering and Entertainment at 1933 W. Moyamensing Ave., in South Philadelphia to celebrate the re-election of District Attorney Seth Williams on Tuesday night.
Williams, whose opponent, Republican Daniel Alvarez, conceded the race at approximately 9:30 p.m. that evening, was greeted with cheers as he took the stage surrounded by colleagues and his daughters Hope and Taylor.
Williams began his victory speech by thanking his supporters and the people of Philadelphia. He also acknowledged Alvarez and asked his guests to give him a round of applause, which they graciously complied.
“Eight years ago I first ran for district attorney against a Philadelphia icon who made fun of me for being smart on crime, who made fun of me for saying we could change the system, we could reduce gun violence,” said Williams about his predecessor Lynne Abraham.
During his speech, Williams thanked those who helped him to make real his vision of community engagement and being smart on crime.
“They said it couldn’t be done, but homicides are down 18 percent this year; shootings are down almost 30 percent. We have tripled the number of people we are charging — but we are only charging the right people and for the right crimes,” said Williams.
Less crime and more convictions weren’t the only changes Williams said were made in Philadelphia during his first term as DA. There was also hope for those who have erred.
“We are also giving hope and a second chance to thousands of young people, the way that I’ve been given a second chance,” said Williams, who was orphaned at a young age until adopted by Rufus and Imelda Williams, who took him into their home and raised him as their own.
Williams spoke of diversionary programs — which he says help give young offenders hope instead of another conviction.
“Today we met with the Attorney General of the United States, and the system that was once broken is seen as an innovative leader in finding solutions to prevent crime,” said Williams. The DA ended his speech with an appeal to the public:
“All of us are connected — and so I need all of you to help further reduce crime; to get more people a second chance — to spare the lives of more people from senseless gun violence.”
How do you know if your relationship is healthy or not?
This question was addressed during the “Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationship” forum hosted by Josephine Frank of Empowered Communities CDC at Myers Recreation Center on Wednesday.
The women-only forum was the first in a series on relationships and, according to organizers, is intended to help women to identify whether or not they are in abusive relationships.
“It’ was more so about domestic violence and what domestic violence is specifically,” Frank said.
Although there are some forms of abuse that are quite obvious, there are some forms of abuse and some relationships in which those involved might not know constitutes an unhealthy or abusive one.
Frank said she was motivated to organize the forum because she herself was in an abusive relationship for five years and wanted to help others who may be facing the same issue.
“Some people don’t even know that they are being abused,” Frank said.
So how do you know whether or not you are in a healthy relationship or an abusive one?
“It’s important to get out and to realize that he is not the one for you, even if he tries to make you feel that way,” said Frank who fought back tears as she spoke.
Frank noted she would also like to host forums and workshops for teens and have separate workshops for them.
“[Forums and workshops] let them know that this is not appropriate behavior, this is not a healthy relationship that you are in and to market towards men who are abusers because maybe they don’t know they are abusers,” Frank said.
Asked why she chose Empowered Communities CDC to facilitate her workshops, Franks said that she loved and admired the work of Regina Young, of the CDC and that Young was open to her suggestion was made.
“She was very much on board with what I wanted to do; she’s kind of my mentor,” Frank said. “Even though she was never in an abusive relationship, she understood the importance of the issue to women.”
Franks said abuse typically affects low-income and African-American families more than other demographics.
Once you discover you are in an abusive relationship, Franks said a planned exit strategy is best.
“You have to have a plan and if you call the domestic abuse hotline they will help you formulate a plan to get out,” Frank said.
She advised those in abusive relationships to prepare for leaving by secretly putting money away, packing belongings and clothing and emotionally preparing to leave.
“When the time is right, when you know its right, get out,” she said.
Upcoming forums are scheduled for Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. and Dec. 18, 6 p.m. at Francis Myers Recreation Center.
For more info about upcoming forums, contact Regina Young, executive director of Empowered Communities CDC at (267)-388-1250.