Every year we can count on the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter (SCDAA/PDVC) to pull out the stops as they raise funds for a much needed cause. This year’s 5th Annual Dancing with the Philadelphia Stars fundraiser was held at the Crystal Tea Room in the Wanamaker Building in Center City. The organization’s signature event was held to raise funds to continue providing supportive services and programming for individuals and families living with sickle cell disease. It also helps to increase awareness about the genetic disease that exists in startling numbers in the African and Hispanic communities, affecting 1 out of every 500 African- Americans and approximately 100, 000 across the country.
The event proved to be a great success with about 300 people in attendance. Stanley Simpkins, the organization’s dedicated executive director, was joined by Father Canon Gregory Smith of St. Luke’s Church of Germantown and many members. Simpkins is an active member of St. Luke’s Church.
This year’s host was NBC-10 news anchor Lori Wilson and actor and singer, Chaz Shepherd, was the post -dance commentator. The evening’s activities included a cocktail reception, jazz combo, full course dinner, silent auction, dance performance by Eleone Dance Theatre, ballroom dance competition and a presentation of “Voices of Sickle Cell” with personal stories shared by four people who are living with sickle cell disease.
This year’s enegetic, talented team of contestants gave their all to everything from the elegant Foxtrot to the sensual Cha- Cha! They were: Carrie Denny, editor of Philadelphia Magazine’s Philadelphia Wedding ; Yael Lehman, executive director of The Food Trust; Q102’s Chris ‘Maxwell’ Jones; Alison Young, vice president of external affairs at the National Constitution Center; Dr. Vera Tolbert, past president of AFRICOM and senior project leader at Independence Blue Cross; Albert Lee, community and content manager at the Independence Visitors Center; Danielle Cohn, vice president of marketing and communications at the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and Dr. Marjorie Dejoie, medical consultant for SCDAA/PDVC.
LaDeva Davis, dance director, Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts; Shawn Lamere- Williams, artistic director, Eleone Dance Theatre, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown and State Sen. Larry Farnese served as dance judges.
Alison Young won first place in the completion with Chris “Maxwell Jones” coming in second and Kacie McDonnell taking third place. Everyone did an incredible job and all of the contestants were winners. The event raised more than $45,000!
Dancing with the Philadelphia Stars would not have been possible without the support of our host committee: Councilwoman Marion Tasco, Audrey Johnson-Thornton, Miller Parker, Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, Judge Renee Caldwell Hughes and presenting sponsor, Brownstone PR and official sponsor, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
For more information about sickle cell disease and ways to support the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter and upcoming events go to www.sicklecelldisorder.com or call (215) 471-8686.
Have a fantastic week “Out & About” everyone!
Michael A. Major Sr. and Monica A. Major experienced a complete formal wedding ceremony at Zion Baptist Church in North Philadelphia after 25 years of marriage. The wedding was officiated by the Rev. Gus Roman and the Rev. Clifton Bundick. Monica was given away in marriage by her cousin, Clayton T. Cooper Sr. and the couple made it clear that this ceremony was beyond a renewal of vows. Monica was beautiful in an elegant white satin strapless gown accessorized with silver sandals and a crystal headpiece.
Monica was married at age 25. She is the daughter of the late Walter B. Shirley and Alafare Shirley. She was born and raised in the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood in Philadelphia and attended Gillespie Junior High School. In May of 2012, she received her master’s degree in teaching in visual arts from The University of the Arts. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in textile design from Philadelphia University. She is currently an art teacher at the Young Scholars Fredrick Douglass Charter School.
Michael married Monica at age 26. His parents are the late Solomon Major and Albertha Major.
He also attended Gillespie Junior High School and grew up in Philadelphia’s Tioga neighborhood. Michael is currently a doctoral student at the Biblical Theological Seminary. In June 2012 he received his master of divinity from the Biblical Theological Seminary. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer and information science from Temple University. Michael is an associate minister at Zion Baptist Church. He has worked at Susquehanna International Group as a software development manager for the past 17 years.
The Wedding Party
Monica’s maids of honor were Cynthia L. Shirley, Monique A. Major, Michele A. Major; her bridesmaids were Fay Francis, Lauren Williams, Jenna Arnold, Tiffany Huynh and Breana Cooper, Brittany Cooper and Cashana Cooper. Kheziah Kinsey was the beautiful flower girl.
The groom’s attendants were: best men Arthur A. Davis Jr. and Michael A. Major Jr. Groomsmen were Reginald V. Cooper Jr., Atif Hassan Sanford, Brandon Kinsey, Micaiah Conway, Jeremy Cooper, Christopher Murray and Jared Arnold. Colin Cooper was the ring bearer.
The couple was blessed to have the godmother of the bride, Helen Toodle;, godmothers of the groom, Annabelle Dow and Katie Myles, and godfather of the groom, Jim Davis,in attendance on their very special day.
How They Met
Although Monica and Michael attended the same junior high school and grew up in the same neighborhood, they never actually met during this time. Many years later both started attending a Bible study class at Zion Baptist Church led by the Rev. Clifton Bundick. Michael would visit Monica’s house on his bike and they would sit on the porch and talk for many hours.
The couple’s journey of love began as friendship. Monica planned to go on a, “Singles and Second Honeymoon Conference” sponsored by Christian Research and Development . Michael gave her a small bear with a small picture and asked, “Why are you are going to Washington, D.C. to find a boyfriend when you may have one right here?” He proposed to Monica on a day trip to Baltimore. They traveled to the Inner Harbor and shopped for rings, and the rest is history.
Monica and Michael decided to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary because they wanted to take time to recognize this special moment in their lives. They believe strongly in the institution of marriage and wanted to make sure that others were able to celebrate with them.
Monica decided to have the couple’s children, godchildren, nephews, nieces and younger cousins serve as bridesmaids and groomsmen. They also wanted to include members of the original wedding party. The original wedding party members walked in first and the younger ones followed in the procession.
The bride shared, “Mike and I shared personal statements with each other that reflected our love and how it has grown over the last 25 years.”
A joyous reception was held at Zion’s Fellowship Hall. Guests dined, danced and enjoyed a video of the couple’s first wedding ceremony.
“It was moving to see our family and friends enjoying the first ceremony and reception. It was bittersweet because so many people on the video are no longer with us. However, our children, family members and friends have new memories. It was also very special to see the younger ones share with us in the ceremony,” Monica said.
Twenty-five years ago, Monica and Michael enjoyed a fabulous honeymoon in the Bahamas. Mike shared, “Even after 25 years with life’s ups and downs, I am still honeymooning with the woman of my dreams.”
Congratulations and very best wishes to Otho Poulson and his beautiful wife, Matilda Poulson , who are blessed to celebrate seven decades of marriage. The couple celebrated their 70th anniversary on March 22.
Matilda, 90, was born in Gloucester, Va. and moved to Philadelphia many years ago as a teenager. The beloved family matriarch is affectionately known as “Tilly.” She recalls her year’s at Overbrook High School and how much she enjoyed being an amateur track star. In addition to being a dedicated mother and homemaker, she was the proprietor of her own business.
The couple met in the early ’40s when Otho was employed at a peanut product factory in South Philadelphia. Matilda’s cousin, Eugene Gayle, who worked at the same factory, introduced the couple. As with most enduring, loving relationships, a solid friendship and dating evolved into an incredible love story and marriage on March 22, 1943.
Otho, 93, is a affectionately known as “Buddy.” He is a Philadelphia native and graduated from Overbrook High School in 1939. He is a retiree from the U.S. Postal Service and a World War II U.S. Army veteran. He served in the Philippines from 1942-1945. He was deployed to the Philippines following the birth of the couple’s first child, Lola Poulson Bailey.
After he returned to Philadelphia in 1945, the couple settled into their first home and their family continued to grow and flourish. They were blessed with two more children, sons Willis Poulson and Bruce Poulson. They have five grandchildren, Troy, Monika, Jamal “Will”, Andre and Elliott. They also have three beautiful great-grandchildren
For more than five decades, their home in West Philadelphia has been the venue for countless family gatherings. Family members travel from as far away as Tacoma, Wash. for a traditional Thanksgiving holiday with the Poulsons.
The Poulsons are proud to have participated in this county’s Civil Rights Movement. One of their most vivid memories is attending the March on Washington in 1963. The couple has been members of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in West Philadelphia.
The love and respect for this wonderful couple was evident when I spoke with their grandson Elliot about them. May God continue to bless this family.
St. Martin de Porres(SMdP) is a beautiful jewel in North Philadelphia where our children shine brilliantly. Hundreds of supporters came out for the African-American Catholic School at its fourth annual Spring Gala at the Hilton Philadelphia Hotel. The theme, “Bright Minds Under Construction,” is perfectly matched to the students who were front and center during the school’s signature event. The gala supports SMdP’s mission to educate and enrich the lives of students from the economically strained North Philadelphia neighborhood.
Last year’s event raised more than $94,000. This year’s gala exceeded that amount and raised $214,000. There were 92 sponsors. The live auction was a major hit and featured a vacation in Nantucket, fine dining, lunch with the honoree, Brian P. Tierney and his wife, Maud, and a luxurious Caribbean Getaway. The silent auction was also a success.
I was delighted to be the guest of one of the school’s newest board members, James E. Andrews, attending the gala with his wife, Dee Andrews. Andrews approaches everything, whether serving as Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. past polemarch, past president of the Cheyney Foundation and St. Martin de Porres with tremendous enthusiasm.
“I am thrilled to be involved to be a part of this very necessary and worthwhile event for this great school in the Kingdom of North Philadelphia,” Andrews said.
At the cocktail reception I had a chance to learn from a bright seventh grader, Chad Williams, about the beautiful art displayed by his fellow classmates. He was confidant and proud. There were other wonderful displays by talented students focused on math, science and other disciplines.
The dinner program began with an enjoyable dance presentation and readings of African American poetry by the students. I was moved when former SMdP student Megan Green spoke. She is a shining example of what education and nurturing can achieve. Megan shared the ups and downs of her young life and how she, with the help and support of SMdp, has been awarded a full scholarship to Villanova University. She is the first student to have the Connelly scholarship reinstated following a few bumps in the road and has travelled abroad extensively.
Award winning NBC-10 anchor Renee Chenault-Fattah was the evening’s emcee. She and her husband, Congressman Chaka Fatah, have been very instrumental and hands on in supporting the school, as has Brian P. Tierney, CEO of Brian Communications and Realtime Media.
Chenault-Fattah acknowledged how uplifting it was to be at such a positive event in view of her reporting so many negative news items. She introduced Tierney as a champion of the school. Tierney was presented with the first ever St. Martin de Porres Medal in honor of his leadership, support and advocacy of the school by Father Edward Hallinan who served as pastor of Saint Martin de Porres Church for 14 years and president of St. Martin de Porres School. He now serves as pastor of St. John Chrysostom in Wallingford, Pa and was this year’s honorary chairman.
The Rev. Stephen Thorne, former executive director, Office for Black Catholics, is currently pastor of Saint Martin de Porres Church.
Tierney has provided resources and financial support to SMdP since 2005. His remarks reflected a tremendous sense of caring and humility. He thanked all supporters including Congressman Fatah and Rene Chenault Fatah, his wife Maud; son Billy, brother Michael , Jack Donnelly, SMdP board chair and president/CEO, L. F. Driscoll Co. and colleagues from Brian Communications and Realtime Media for their support.
“I am always amazed at the transformations that take place within the walls of SMdP, watching youthful students mature into future visionaries of Philadelphia. Their vibrant spirits mean great things for our city, all thanks to the dedication of the teachers and community at large,” said Tierney. “It is such an incredible honor to be awarded the first St. Martin de Porres Medal. I feel blessed to have met many of the students and their families, as they give me the gift of continuous inspiration through their inexhaustible work ethic and love for this school. They’ve touched my heart and I’m grateful to the teachers, faculty, community and other supporters for sharing my passion and helping to keep the St. Martin de Porres spirit alive and thriving.”
Among those “Out & About” enjoying the gala were Cheyney Foundation President Irving D. Bailey; Ronald G. and Netta Johnson; AMERIHEALTH Mercy Foundation President, Maria Pajil Battle; Jerome M. Dean, Jerry J Martin, Jacqueline Sharkley Lewis, Sister Nancy Fitzgerald; Principal of Saint Martin de Porres and member of SMdP Parish Council, Melody Cooper, Monique Wright, Kevin Gray, Kimberly Coleman, Terrance Landham and Sister Lynn Marie Ralph, Director of Religious Education.
Congratulations, best wishes to all who supported this event. The event committee: Susan and Stephan Costalas, Geradine and James Heldring, Jant and Bruce Peacock, Betsy and Charles Minnich and Katie and John Cinter did an incredible job.
For more information about Saint Martin de Porres School, please visit: www.smdpschool.org.
Have a fantastic week “Out & About,” everyone!
The hats were fabulous and the attitudes were fantastic at the Drifters Inc. of Southeastern Pa. 10th Annual “Hattitude for Education.” This year’s lively hat auction and luncheon was held at the Desmond Hotel and Convention Center in Malvern, PA. Chapter President Donna Rodericksaid, “This is our signature fundraising event that supports our scholarship fund. More than 200 people came out for a great cause while having a wonderful time fellowshipping with friends and family. We are so appreciative of our every one of our guests, and patrons who participated by buying a ticket or making a donation to this event so that we can assist deserving minority students in our area.”
Other Drifter, Inc. officers are vice president Drifter Leah Williams, treasurer Sydney Howe-Barksdale, financial secretary Tomika Bryant and recording secretary Priscilla Jackson. They, along with fellow members Debbie Dickinson, Iva Ferrell, Sydney Howe-Barksdale, Chalena McIlwan, Sheila Mitchell, Rosalind Realer, Kim Reed, Jaynee Reeves-Baptiste, Judith Thomas, Brenda Williams and Debbie Wood pulled out the stops to entertain their guests in grand style.
Hattitude Fundraising Chair Debbie Dickinson, and her committee Tomika Bryant, Rosalind Realer, Debra Wood, along with assistance from Leah Williams are all very well versed at putting this elegant affair together after serving on committee over the last couple of years but this year they took it to the next level by using CarbonSquare.com services and leveraging social media with a website http://www.sepahattitude.org/ that included PayPal services to purchase event tickets and make scholarship fund donations. The day of the fundraiser was even smoother with guests having the ability to use credit cards to buy their hats, silent auctions baskets and purchase additional tickets, a Tech first for this chapter!
Drifters from sister chapters in Montclair, N.J. and Mitchellville, Md., came to support SEPA Drifters along with Madam National President Lisa Johnson Tonkins from Greensboro, N.C. She looked stunning in her chapeau bought at auction and stated, “This is the best affair! I enjoyed it thoroughly! I was especially impressed with mistress of ceremonies Drifter Leah’s ability to keep the hat auction portion of event upbeat, lively and moving seamlessly. Best of all national vice president Roderick modeled a hat auctioned at $300. That was the highest bid of the afternoon!” Drifter Roderick also showcased several of her fabulous brims from her personal collection bought at previous Hattitude fundraisers.
Driftwoods (spouses of Drifters) consistently support their dynamic ladies and are Tim Roderick, Rougon Baptiste, Greg Barksdale, Saeed Bryant, Marke Dickinson, Darrin Ferrell, John Jackson, Rodney McIlwan, Norman Mitchell, Walter Realer, and Chistopher Rippie. Several of the Kindling (children) and splinters (grandchildren) were also in attendance assisting with raffles, auction bidding, hosting guests and supporting the chapter.
Among those “Out & About” having a great time for a great cause were Barbara Gee, Tracey Benson, Shelly Pullian, Cecilia Robinson, Sheila Bruce, Joy Hamer, Lillian DeBaptiste and Stephanie Humphrey.
The mission of the Drifters Inc. is to. “Strengthen Our Families to Build Better Communities: Save our children, assist our seniors.” They are known as a group of dynamic women with charitable, civic, educational and social interests who have dedicated their talents to the enhancement of their chosen communities and the universal image of womanhood.
In accordance with their mission the Drifters Inc. provided scholarships for many deserving students. The outstanding young men and women who were awarded scholarships in 2011-2012 were: Lauren Duckett attending Liberty University; Kyra McFadden, attending Gettysburg University; Christeva Smith, attending Spelman College; Joy Hamer, also attending Spelman College; Amisa Harrell, attending Moore College of Art and Design; Shantell Crawford, attending Urnisus College; Joseph Gray III, attending Pennsylvania State University and Kevin Smith attending Youngstown State University. Scholarship winner Shantell Crawford expressed her gratitude to Hattitude guests for being one of last’s year’s scholarship winners.
Congratulations to the hat auction and luncheon committee chaired by Drifter Debra Wood and co-chaired by Drifter Debra Wood and committee members Drifters Tomika Bryant and Rosalind Realer who did a fantastic job!
Have a fantastic week “Out & About” Everyone!