There’s a new bank coming to Germantown. In case one may think it’s means there is yet another bank merger, think again. It is a new student banking program at Germantown High School Promise Academy.
The “Paws in the Money” program will create the so-called Germantown Bank, sponsored by The Business Center for Entrepreneurship & Social Enterprise and PNC Bank. The program’s name reflects the fact that Germantown High’s mascot is the bear. Information also reflects the schools colors of green and white.
Over at the secondary school located on Germantown Avenue between Haines and High Streets this spells good news. Assistant principal Sherin Philip Kurian is quick to point out that this is just one of the programs in the school’s Career and Technology Education program. Germantown teacher Patricia Harrell the Business Center’s educator Henrietta Hadley helped the students set up the program.
The Germantown Bank will officially be unveiled today. It will be with much fanfare and revelry as every freshman, sophomore, junior and even the graduating seniors will have the opportunity to open their own bank account. With as little as $5 and their identification in hand all are eligible—and for some this will be the first bank account they’ve ever had.
“We have a strong Career and Technology Program here,” said Philip-Kurian. “Under this umbrella are three programs. We have culinary arts, business administration and graphic design. This is an opportunity for students to acquire real life skills. They all have a double period of their major subject. We have about 250 students enrolled in these programs.
“I think it is important to give students the opportunity to get practical knowledge. We realize that not every student is going to go to college. So having them hear the manger of PNC Bank talk about that business or a chef come in from the Culinary Art Institute, they learn about opportunities. This bank, for instance, will open up the students’ eyes.”
Philip-Kurian added that those students on the college preparatory track are excelling alongside their counterparts who may opt not to go on to higher education. This is indicated by the rising scores at Germantown on the PSSA and SATs. There has been a recent “30 percent increase” in the scores, according to Germantown’s assistant principal.
To further stimulate the students they are all involved in enrichment programs. This includes robotics, filmmaking, aerobics, and other courses related to the creative arts, engineering or language. Every nine weeks the students change the course that is offered the next to the last period from 1:39 to 2:35 p.m. So, every student has a chance to experience four enrichments courses a year. “They do tend to rotate and explore all the disciplines,” Philip-Kurian said.
Much of the energy at Germantown High recently has been focused on the banking program.
Germantown Bank and learn more about business. Students like 16-year olds Barry Boyd and Shanae Thomas are among those who are actively participating in the program. Boyd, who lives in North Philadelphia, is a sophomore. Thomas is a junior from Logan who has had the opportunity to pen much of the promotional materials and correspondence distributed to staff, faculty and students about the banking program.
The students have already put together the banking paperwork. They have deposit and withdrawal slips. There is a way to track interest, balances and the type of deposits. The student tellers even have a space for their initials.
Germantown pupils also filled out a banking project survey. The form asked whether they had a bank account, at which bank, and whether they save money regularly. It also inquired of them whether they had a checking or savings account as well as would they be willing to open a new or additional savings account at the new Germantown Bank. Furthermore, students were recruited to work at the school bank and were asked how much per week did they anticipate they would deposit in it.
The School Bank Program encourages students to take an interest in saving and banking. Usually the PNC initiative targets elementary and middle school students, so the Germantown Bank marks the first time that the financial institution is doing a larger scale partnership at a high school. PNC branches and their Community Development Banking Department staff collaborate with schools like Germantown to do financial education.
“This will help students learn about responsibility first hand,” said Boyd “By working here and making deposit transaction you learn a lot. This is something positive for our school. We’ve been looking forward to May 15 because there are going to be raffles, giveaway of gifts and a lot of excitement. We’ll have the chance to tell the others about what baking is about.”
Thomas agreed. She said that as a precursor to the Germantown Bank’s grand opening she went on a trip excursion to the Federal Reserve Bank. There, she said, she learned about the banking position beyond simply being the teller. “I thought it was interesting how they had to be (diligent) about shredding certain papers because before I went I never really thought about that,” Thomas said.
One staff member who is working closely with the students is business teacher Harrell, who is a Germantown alumnus herself and a longtime Germantown resident. She said that since there are students at Germantown who already have part time jobs and some are anticipating working in the summer, having way to open a bank account at school is an educational it itself.
Harrell said that after the survey results were compiled one trend was that only a small percentage of students even had a bank account. “Some students come from backgrounds where they are just not familiar with the banking culture. They know about check cashing places and never thought about the importance of having a bank account or how this relates to their credit,” she said.
Hadley from The Business Center also teaches courses at the school. She assisted the students in making a pitch as to why get involved in the Germantown Bank. She said that students want to learn about banking and even want to take leadership roles in the Germantown Bank.
“This is going to help teach the students about financial literacy,” Hadley said. “They learn that banking is a growth industry. Many of them will be entrepreneurs and they need to understand banking. This is kind of our pilot program that was launched last December. Son we plan to take it to Overbrook and other Philadelphia School District high schools.”
That’s not all that is going on at Germantown High School either. The Associated Alumni of Martin Luther King High and the Germantown High Alumni Association held a fundraising basketball program on Friday, May 11. Proceeds from this benefitted various departments including the CTE, athletics and even provided for scholarships for students. The event was held at King, 6100 Stenton Ave. in East Germantown.
There is plenty of positive energy going around at the John B. Kelly School in southwest Germantown. It’s not hard to figure out why the school that extends from kindergarten through eighth grade has made AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) again and again. With an interactive reading initiative, ballroom dance classes, and middle schoolers adept on Apple computers, these Northwest Philadelphia youngsters are clearly getting a well-rounded quality education.
When The Learning Key caught up with Principal Fatimah Rogers, she didn’t want to sit and chat. She felt it was better to show rather than tell why students at the building located at 5116 Pulaski Ave. earned the AYP for the past three consecutive years she has been at the helm. Yet it was the students who were most vocal about their educational environment.
Fifth-grader Jeremiah Montgomery was sprawled across a beach towel on the school’s front yard reading to kindergartener Rakiyah Burrell. This is part of the school’s “Day at the Beach” where upper classmen share their love of reading with those who are just being introduced to the art.
“It can be fun reading to kids in kindergarten,” said Montgomery, who was reading books like “Old MacDonald” to his younger reading partner. Five-year old Burrell agreed. “I like someone reading books to me and sometimes I try to read to him,” she said.
Kindergarten teacher Lori Brager and fifth-grade teacher Kara Scartelli supervised the open-air classroom setting for the Friday morning. “It’s a fabulous way for the more mature fifth-graders to role model both reading and behavior for the younger ones. It just works out beautifully because whenever we do this we never have any behavior problems whatsoever. So, it’s a great way for the kindergarteners and the fifth-graders to learn together,” Scartelli said.
A trek through the rear yard revealed more groups of students sprawled across blankets listening to their teachers read to them. Through the back door one enters a hallway leading to the gymnasium, where instead of the sound of reading it sounds like New Orleans’ French Quarter. This is where teacher Mark McLeod is having fifth-graders warm up before they engage in swing dancing followed by a tango and even a merengue.
McLeod gave specific instructions, including how to hold one’s thumbs when preparing to dance to the boogie-woogie-style music in the background. The boys easily swung around the girls, who with opened “jazz hands” shake them to the music’s polyrhythmic beat. The smiles on their faces demonstrated their enjoyment.
“Before this program came to the school the students would not even touch each other,” said Rogers. “They didn’t know anything about these dances. Their body language showed (resistance). Now they love it and will be performing in a show soon.”
Dancing is not the only cultural art that Kelly students have mastered. Fourth-graders in teacher Nicole Khan’s class were writing cinquain poems for Mother’s Day. Each one colored the form they were given.
Among those coloring butterflies and creating artwork in one classroom are 10-year-olds Diamond Riley, Simiyah McNeil, Jordan Dennis and John Fansworth. While Riley is quick to point out the poetic words “loving and hardworking” to describe her mother, McNeil describes her mother as “pretty and loving” and always “cooking and cleaning and working.” Dennis, an aspiring professional draftsman, calls his classmate Farnsworth “the class” neatest artist.”
Among the mothers who received hand made artwork was Tanya Cleveland of Germantown. She serves as the Kelly Home and School Association president. Linda Scott is vice president, Denise Tillery is secretary, and Charise Jackson is treasurer. Cleveland’s three children, 9-year-old Amari, 7-year-old Cameron and 6-year old Hassan are all Kelly students.
“We really have no problems at this school,” said Cleveland. “We work well with Ms. Rogers. Our board comes up with ideas and we all are able to put it together with the help of the staff. Rogers works well with the teachers, so this is a place where no one is hesitant to share ideas. If we have questions about anything, they are always answered. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Teacher David Gross has a theme lesson on “Charlotte’s Web” for his third-grade class, while teacher Anika Collington is giving out “Collington Cash” rewards for the students who go the extra mile in her class. Another third-grade teacher, Michelle Izzard, had her students bring in stuffed animals to share why they chose it and to hold during reading time.
Community members are also involved in enhancing Kelly’s educational lessons. Among them is Dennis Barnaby, who has lived in Germantown for more than 40 years. He is a board member of the nearby Hansberry Garden and Nature Center. Students take walking tours of the garden and gardeners come into the school and create special projects.
“The students are learning what it means to go green,” said Barnaby. “We have had the kids help us plan and plant beds in the back. Last year they had crops, and some were able to market them to raise funds for the school. This is all about learning how to make the world a better place.”
Rogers is quick to add that students regularly go on excursions. Besides exploring the Germantown community, they also go on traditional school outings to places of interest in the Delaware Valley area. Additionally, they bring the community in for arts programs like their “Dance in Philly” show on Friday, May 18 and their upcoming musical “Alice in Wonderland” which will feature over 100 students from grades K to 6 on Friday, June 8 at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 9 at noon.
Sharon Crombie, the instructional school liaison, said Kelly teachers cooperate in larger programs and are receptive to professional development. Whether the teacher has been at the school for a long time like Crombie, a 17-year veteran, or is fresh out of college, they learn from each other. “I work with the teachers who are experienced and succeeding and with those who are struggling though workshops,” she said.
The Philadelphia Eagles Eye Mobile was on hand to give vision screening and to help the student population select eyeglasses. The green and white van visits Kelly, as well as many other Philadelphia School District schools, about twice a year, according to Rogers. “We have so many things here to help our children, and we are very proud of the job we’ve been doing so far,” Rogers said.
The Germantown High School 1976 Reunion Committee is making progress in bringing together its Bicentennial Class over Thanksgiving weekend.
They are also making a call for alumni of Germantown High School to attend the Black Friday evening’s party as a kick-off for the 35th anniversary event.
Festivities are to be held at the City Line Avenue Crowne Plaza on Friday, Nov. 25 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 26 at 6 p.m.
One of the highlights of this year’s event is the honoring of the Germantown 76 Outstanding Services Award. The class has already notified this year’s recipients. They include entrepreneurs, corporate executives, professionals and philanthropists who graduated from the high school located on Germantown Avenue and High Street in 1976.
“This event will recognize the exemplary services that Germantown High School alumnus has displayed over the years,” said Marcia Willis of Mount Airy, one of the members of the reunion committee. “Proceeds from the All-Alumni Party and the reunion will go towards a scholarship that will be awarded to a student graduating from Germantown High School this school year.”
“We’ve been having a series of successful fundraisers leading up to the reunion weekend,” said Darlene Roberson of West Oak Lane, another committee member. “We are still coordinating a flapjack fundraiser for early October. We had a Spirit of Philadelphia event in August. These were all designed for us to get together and keep the cost down for the actual reunion weekend so that more monies can go directly to the scholarships.”
Germantown’s Class of 1976 is proud of the fact that they are one of the most active alumni groups from the Northwest Philadelphia high school.
Yet committee members will admit it is not all due to the tenacity and hard working spirit of the reunion organizers. “Being the Bicentennial class gave our class an added edge in having the class spirit,” said Marlene Bailey, another committee member in a previous interview.
In addition, the class also has a special bond with their counterparts who attended the Martin Luther King High School, Stenton Avenue and Haines Street in nearby West Oak Lane. King, a newer edifice than Germantown, was completed in the mid-1970s and many members of its first graduating class started their secondary school education at Germantown. Hence, some King alumnus attend Germantown reunions.
Reunion tickets are on sale now for $75. Those who only want to attend the All-Alumni Party can purchase those tickets separately for $20. Those who plan to attend both events will receive a discounted price, according to Willis.
For more information about the Germantown High School All-Alumni Party or the Germantown Class of 1976 reunion one can contact the committee. Willis can be reached at (267) 974-8444 or one can call Stephen Kinsey at (267) 258-3673, Roberson at (267) 257-5711, or Marlene Bailey at (215) 680-8932.
A few Mount Airy parents were taught city curfew laws recently.
When the Finley Advisory Council held its “Back to School Safety Initiative and Non-Violence Rally” at the Finley Playground, 1000 E. Hortter St. on Saturday the keynote speaker was the Philadelphia Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner Claudette Council. She outlined exactly what Northwest Philadelphia parents needed to know.
Council noted that many parents are unclear about the city’s curfew ordinance. She said that adolescents ages 13 to 17 must be indoors from Sunday to Thursday night between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m.
They must be in between midnight and 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday night. Those under the age of 13 must be in by 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Sunday to Thursday night and on weekends by 10 p.m. to 6 p.m. There are earlier curfews for Center City and the University City area.
“The other night I heard that there was a 15 year old shot between 2 and 3 a.m.,” Council said. “The first thing that I thought was why was that 15 year old out without his parent. Really when you think about it all young people should be home studying and doing their homework on school nights. So these curfews are really protecting your child.”
Also on hand for the “Back to School Rally” was Ninth District Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco of Mount Airy. Tasco commended the Finley council for their commitment to Northwest Philadelphia youth. She said that after moving to Mount Airy in 1969 she became involved with the council in 1972. At that time its current president Walter Marlin and other officers like Gerry Sizemore and Margaret Turner were active on the board.
“We all need to continue to work together to spread the information that Deputy Commissioner Council shared today,” Tasco said. “I am glad that the Philadelphia Police Department is vigilant about cracking down on young people. These are difficult times and we need to do our part to share information and provide programs that keep our young people on the right path.”
The day’s event also featured Tyra Wright-Johnson, founder and director of the Women’s Solo Project; Leroy McKinney, a representative from the Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network; and Leland Kent, executive director of victim’s rights for the District Attorney’s office.
Students from the Philadelphia Multicultural Music Center for Non-Violence performed under the direction of founder Stan Davis.
In addition, Charles Donaldson of West Oak Lane, a representative from the Safe Corridors program spoke. The program concluded with remarks from Michael Rice, the community engagement specialist for the Philadelphia Department of Human Services. Information was also distributed from the Bullying Prevention Program.
“We were a little disappointed with our initial turnout,” Sizemore said. “But around 11 a.m. more parents and children started coming in little by little until we had a standing room only crowd. A standing ovation was extended to Stan Davis as he did a rendition of Ray Charles’ America the Beautiful in remembrance of Sept. 11. Michael Rice stressed the importance of a good education.”
The unemployed and underemployed in Northwest Philadelphia, Hunting Park, Logan and adjacent communities will now have new opportunities.
Thanks to the Bakers Centre shopping complex located in the old Tastykake headquarters located where Hunting Park Avenue, Fox Street and Roberts Avenue intersect.
The new $60 million project is expected to bring 350 construction jobs and some 700 permanent jobs to the area.
State Sen. Vincent Hughes presented $12 million to the Bakers Centre economic development project recently. Hughes, who serves as Democratic chair of the state Senate’s appropriations committee, was instrumental in securing funds through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. He made the official presentation on Sept. 15.
“This is all about jobs for the Hunting Park, North Philadelphia and Germantown communities,” Hughes said. “This money is coming to communities that need not only a retail complex, but are distressed. Those who work there will have permanent jobs so that they are able to support their families. People in the community will get these jobs so that it will be a convenient (location).”
Hughes was quick to point to a similar economic development project that he played a key role in bringing $17 million to the Mantua section of West Philadelphia. He added that these are the kinds of initiatives that spark economic growth in local neighborhoods. Since small businesses play a pivotal role in creating jobs, these projects will do just that, according to the state lawmaker.
“We realize that folks need help getting jobs,” Hughes said. “When people have jobs they get more respect. These new jobs will play a major role the security of families. So many times people come up to me and ask me to help them find a job. Our communities need these jobs in order to not only provide for the family but also to keep the neighborhoods up.”
Bakers Centre will be anchored by a 71,000 square foot Brown’s ShopRite supermarket owned by Brown’s Super Stores. The family-owned company operates several ShopRite supermarkets in the Philadelphia area, including the Cheltenham ShopRite.
The project will be a mixed-use urban redevelopment project by Metro Development. This company’s mission is to invest its energy and talents into developing projects that meet the specific needs of local communities.
“I applaud Jeff Brown and Brown’s Super Store for once again leading the way by building in challenging neighborhoods and showing others these projects can be successful,” Hughes said. “US Realty Associates and Metro Development Company are to be commended for their personal investment in this site. Together, we are moving Philadelphia forward during difficult economic times.”
Among those who are excited about the project is Henrietta Jones of Lower Germantown. A longtime Northwest Philadelphia resident, Jones readily admitted that she often has to travel a distance to do her shopping.
“This will definitely be closer to home and I may even want to walk to work over there,” she said. “I think this is good news for this community.”
Local organization Together as Adoptive Parents (TAP) is scheduled to hold its 2011 AdoptWalk to raise money for the non-profit organization.
This year’s benefit is scheduled to be held at Lorimer Park, 183 Moredon Road in Huntingdon Valley on Saturday, Sept. 24. Registration time will be 9 a.m. and the 5K start time is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.
Meet Phyllis Stevens, the TAP organizer. According to her, this year’s walk will help more foster children find permanent homes. The TAP brochure features 14-year old Shawn who is among the youngsters looking for a forever family.
“The funds raised will be used for the recruitment of adoptive and foster families,” Stevens said. “It will also be sued to promote permanency for children and youth by providing support, resources and services. Please ask family, friends, classmates and co-workers to support by contributing to the AdoptWalk.”
Participants in this year’s walk-a-thon will have the opportunity to meet the Chick-Fil-A Cow and spin the Chick-fil-A wheel for prizes.
All attendees will receive a free picnic lunch and T-shirts as well as coupons for Chick-fil-A sandwiches and a free frosty from Wendy’s. There will also be prizes given to the person that brings the most people to the walk, including children. Furthermore, there will be door prizes.
One need not be present or a participant at the walk to donate to the cause. Contribution forms and money will be accepted during next Saturday’s walk. One can also donate before or after the AdoptWalk by mailing their contribution to TAP.
“If you are unable to attend AdoptWalk but wish to support TAP’s work on behalf of children and families please send your donation directly to TAP,” Stevens said.
TAP is a non-profit, multiracial adoptive, foster and kinship organization. Most of TAP’s members have adopted children with special needs from the foster care system. TAP believes that the adoption, foster and kinship road should never be walked along and that no family or child should have to figure out where to find help.
The AdoptWalk registration fee is $5 per person or $10 per family. For more information about TAP visit www.taplink.org. One can also access their helpline or pre-register for the AdoptWalk at (215) 256-0669 or (443) 616-9067.
Fannie Moore Murray will be sharing how residents in Philadelphia can learn more about their family history with a special program this weekend.
She will be the guest speaker at the genealogical library at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) church located at 2072 Red Lion Rd. on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 11 a.m.
Murray is the founder of the local chapter of the African-American Genealogical Society.
For those who live in Northwest or Northeast Philadelphia and other parts of the city, Murray will share how they can learn more about their roots by attending the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society’s 2011 conference.
This will be held at the Double Tree Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas from Sept. 22 to 25.
“I am one of the founders of the national organization in addition to being the founder of the local chapter,” Murray said. “We started in 2001. Now we have 30 chapters who are all dedicated to people doing research about their family history. When you know who you are you feel more a part of our community, and you will want to contribute more to your community.
“Just finding and touching original documents make you connected to the past,” she added. “It gives you a stronger sense of personhood. For African Americans, seeing how your family moved through generations from slavery, through Jim Crow and down through the Civil Rights Movement gives you a stronger sense of courage. You learn how our families survived and that we are where we are because of their prayers for us.”
One of the highlights of this year’s conference is a Black History tour through Little Rock.
Murray notes within some of the older historical library branches in Arkansas there is a wealth of information, including original slave documents that are connected to many citizens who now live in the Delaware Valley region.
Yet even if one cannot make the Sept. 17 local event or the national conference, Murray said that she will be making her annual trek through many neighborhood libraries this fall. She finds connecting with library patrons, students and others often serves as an impetus to do family research.
“Some people are surprised as to whom they are related to and then when they gain access to those (relatives) there are many benefits,” Murray said.
For more information about the genealogical conference, visit www.aahgs.org/conference.htm.
Robert X. Golphin is continuing to shine as both a filmmaker and an actor.
The West Oak Lane native who starred alongside actor Denzel Washington in the “Great Debaters” and earned several awards for his film “Inside of Me” is once again being nationally recognized.
His latest film “Punch Me” earned him the Best Actor and Best Film nominations at the Atlantic City CineFest presented by the Downbeach Film Festival.
“Punch Me” made its New Jersey premier at the Ocean Tower at the Resorts Casino Hotel last Friday and the awards ceremony took place at Caesar’s Palace on Sunday. The film has been selected for 23 screenings nationally and abroad.
The film, that tells the story of a young homosexual man’s relationship with his diabetic father, focuses on the unique father-son dynamics after a parent learns his child is gay.
“This is not always an easy or open two-folded subject matter in the African-American community,” said Golphin, who began writing films while in high school. “The film brings into focus an aspect of relations within the gay community that are not always considered. It gives thought to the issues of the civil rights of gay people.”
Besides Golphin, “Punch Me” also stars Brian Anthony Wilson and Elwood Idris Simon. Wilson’s film credits include “Limitless” and HBO’s “The Wire.” Simon starred in “I AM MAN.” A Blue Angel Entertainment, LLC film, the executive producers are Lori M. Childress and Michael J. Panichelli, Jr. It is also produced by arts and cultures advocate Gail Y. Bennett. Golphin is the screenwriter, director and co-producer in addition to acting in the film.
The film “Punch Me” will make its next première at the Queer Black Cinema Festival in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday. It will also screen the same weekend at the Black Hollywood Educational Resource Center’s African American Film Marketplace and the Southeast Manly Short Film Showcase in Hollywood. At the end of October the short film will be shown at the Nashville Black Pride in Tennessee.
“Punch Me” was previously recognized as the “Best Short Subject” at the Philadelphia International Film Festival and Marketplace. It earned a second prize finish at the Black Maria Film Festival. It also received an Honorable Mention at the Love Unlimited Film Festival & Art Exhibition in San Diego.
Golphin hopes that “Punch Me” will earn even more recognition that “Inside of Me” which did well. “The film is the story of a married couple unable to have children,” Golphin said.
“A desperate wife refuses to accept this shocking news,” he said. “Eventually she experiences symptoms of pregnancy, and her skeptical husband begins to question her sanity. The outcome of this emotional story may surprise many. But, what’s even more intriguing is that this story is inspired by reality.”
Golphin was previously nominated for Best Actor in his role in “Beautiful Man in the Buff” at the 2008 Downbeach Film Festival. To learn more about “Punch Me” visit Facebook.com/punchmefilm.
Concerned Black Men member Zamani Feelings of Germantown is inviting the public to remember his mother, Muriel L. Feelings, on Friday.
A memorial service for the well-known children’s author will be held at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church East, 230 W. Coulter St. on Oct. 7 at 11 a.m. Feelings died on Thursday, Sept. 29 surrounded by her two sons. She was later cremated.
“I was in San Diego visiting my brother when I learned that my mother was not doing well in the hospital,” said Zamani Feelings, who was the central character in his mother’s first children’s book “Zamani Goes to Market” published in 1970. “I immediately came back home. Now that my mother is at peace we would just like to let the community know and for all those who knew and loved her to come out to her memorial.”
Feelings was born on July 31, 1938 in Philadelphia in a home surrounded by books. After finishing high school she attended what is now the University of the Arts before relocating to California with her mother and sister. She transferred to what is now California State University at Los Angeles earning a bachelor’s degree in art with minors in Spanish and education.
As a young adult, Feelings returned to Northwest Philadelphia where she taught junior high school. She then moved to New York City where she taught in the public school system and soon joined the Organization for Afro-American Unity. Joining the latter was an impetus for her to accept a teaching assignment at a high school in Kampala, Uganda in 1966.
After returning to New York two years later she rekindled a romantic friendship with artist and book illustrator Tom Feelings. The two wed in 1969. Tom Feelings encouraged his wife to write a children’s book. The couple then immigrated to Guyana where Muriel Feelings continued to write and also trained teachers.
While in Guyana, Muriel and Tom Feelings collaborated on their second book, “Moja Means One: A Swahili Counting Book” which earned them the Randolph Caldecott Medal in 1972. After moving back to New York and having a second son, Kamili, the couple published “Jambo Means Hello: A Swahili Alphabet Book” which also won the Caldecott award in addition to the honors from the Pennsylvania State Library Association and the American Library Association Notable Books in 1972.
Muriel Feelings retreated from the public eye after her 1974 divorce. Yet even up to her death she never gave up her love of children’s literature. One could often find her signing books at the Wadsworth or Sedgwick branches of the Philadelphia Free Library or reading her book/conducting workshops at the African American Children’s Book Fair.
In lieu of flowers the family is asking that donations be sent to Zamani Feelings, 5720 Wissahickon Ave., Apt. D7, Philadelphia, PA 19144.
If there was a way to combine pampering women and helping young girls during the holiday season, Gail Bennett of West Oak Lane has found it.
Bennett added a twist to her annual tea party gala where women come together to be the guest of honor after they have shopped and are preparing to serve everyone else. This year Bennett also raised funds for a new mentoring effort called Teenagers in Charge (TIC).
The tea party is something Bennett and other women look forward to. It is really an outgrowth of the Annual National Women’s History Month Celebration Bennett used to coordinate.
“I have created this new theme because beyond merely raising awareness, I am now imploring my guests to remember to mentor,” she said. “When they ponder what organizations and causes to support, I want them to strongly consider giving to the good works of TIC. So, I sent them all information on this organization.”
On hand for this year’s gala were women from all types of professional backgrounds. They work as entrepreneurs, executives in entertainment or other corporate environments, and in government or politics.
Since all have what Bennett calls “multi-layered lives” she wanted to spend time with them at the end of the year pampering them. This is also a way for the women to consider the philanthropic endeavors they will engage in during 2012, according to Bennett.
The guests included: Karen Wilson-Lynch; Crystal Lauderdale; Colette deChalus Lee; Cynthia Martin; Bettye Ricks; Ruth Harris; Shirley Green; Pamela Bennett-Bryant; JoAnne Robinson; Rosalyn Mattingly; Rebecca Clarke; Jacqui Bennett; Carmelita Roderick; Celeste Smith; Clara Jackson; Linda Bennett-DeBoine; Dasanji Aberdeen; Zoe Lynch; Franne McNeil; and Cosonja Bradham.
“This year marks the 11th Christmas tea,” Bennett said. “It is a pleasure to honor these tireless troopers. So, I lure the women away from their busy lives into a world of fine china, exquisite lines and dainty pallet-pleasing delights. They are attended to by white gloved butlers as they chat and chew. Each year there is a different theme.”
The 2011 theme included “A Tale of Three Gifts” alongside the non-profit idea of “Friends with Benefits Raiser.”
TIC is a non-profit organization structured and designed with a full agenda for youth ages 13 to 19. Each woman was encouraged to bring a Pollyanna gift for each other as well as to donate to this cause.
“All of the women left feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and with arm loads of gifts,” Bennett said. “Before the hugs and well wishes were over, the afternoon ended with a toast to the new year.”