The Germantown ’76 Reunion proved after 35 years these 50-something year old alums are moving forward.
With their graduating class theme “Stepping into Tomorrow” more than 100 of the 800-member class gathered at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Ballroom on City Avenue on Saturday.
After the three-hour banquet they were joined by dozens of other Germantown graduates for an “All-Alumni Party” that had them dancing well after 1 a.m.
For the Germantown ’76 Reunion Committee the gala was a success. It’s been something that they have coordinated every five years since 1988 when they held their first “10 plus Two” reunion.
Committee members are Marlene Bailey, Stephen Kinsey, Darlene Roberson, and Marcia Willis, who all still reside in the Northwest Philadelphia area.
“I heard about the reunion on the radio,” said Marcella Williams of Northeast Philadelphia.
Michael Harris of Southwest Philadelphia said he’s been to at least four of the class reunions and plans “to continue to give our class shout outs” on the airwaves.
“This is my first time being here and it feels great,” said Sandra Derry of Germantown. “Since I never left Germantown I do see a lot of the class all the time. But, I think this is needed to see those faces that you will never forget.”
For Nadene Edwards Parlow of Germantown attending the gala reminded her of the talented and gifted programs at her alma mater. Harry Hall, also of Germantown, shared memories of playing on the Cougars football team and later meeting and marrying his wife Helene. She is a member of the Germantown Class of 1974 and had a brother who played alongside her husband of 24 years.
“I knew I had to be here because in another five years when the class turns 40 I may not be here,” said Harry Hall. “I am now disabled and you just don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I’m just glad to be here.”
During the brief awards ceremony many were honored. Prizes were given to the alumni who traveled the greatest distance. “Minnesota Joe” and Cheryl Ray of Atlanta walked away with these accolades. Members of the class who are members of the clergy were also recognized.
On a more somber note, there were 36 members of the class who had passed and were listed in the program. After lighting of white candles in their honor audience members called out the names of three additional classmates who died recently. Prayers were then offered up for the deceased alumni.
The sponsors the 1976 reunion gala included businesses owned by alumni and other supporters. They included Northwest Futures PAC, the Green Thing, Executive Event Planners, “She’s My Lady” recording artists Sirenity, Emmanuel Johnson Funeral Home, Clark’s Tires, Jim and Rita’s Fine Cuisine, J&K Roofing LLC, and Senior Helpers.
In addition, Lubels House of Learning Christian Academy, Moody & Shields Group LLC, Silk Designs by Toni, Crosswalk International, evangelist Deborah Murphy, and Derrick Wade. Furthermore, Expert Exterminating, Images by Robert, and Germantown Class of ’76 alumnus actress and singer Joilet F. Harris were sponsors.
“Get Out the Vote” is the new mantra for citizens living in Northwest Philadelphia and Lower Montgomery County.
To help ensure voters get to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 8, there have been election forums, voter registration drives — leading up to the “Get Out The Vote” (GOTV) drives on Saturday in addition to the weekend leading up to Election Day.
In Cheltenham the local branch of the NAACP held two “Meet the Candidates” nights recently.
They drew residents from Lower Montgomery County to the Lamott Community Center on Willow Avenue and Sycamore Street. Attendees heard from candidates such as State Rep. Josh Shapiro, who is running for County Commissioner and Sheriff Eileen Behr. Candidates for common pleas judge were also in attendance.
“For any person of color not to vote in unacceptable,” said Harvey Crudup, president of the Cheltenham NAACP. “At every meeting I stress that I don’t care who you vote for as long as you exercise your right to do so. Many have fought and died for us to vote and we need to do so to suppress those forces that are trying to take our vote and our rights away.”
Those in Northwest Philadelphia were invited to the Committee of Seventy and League of Women Voters debates for City Council-At Large and City Commissioner seats. They took a trek to Center City to hear from at-large candidates like Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown, Joe McColgan, Dennis O’Brien, David Oh, Al Taubenberger and Michael Untermeyer.
State Sen. Anthony H. Williams shared why it is important to vote on Nov. 8 as well as next year on April 24 for Pennsylvania’s early primary and Nov. 6, 2012. Williams addressed many from Northwest Philadelphia and other parts of the city at the opening party for President Barack Obama’s Center City headquarters located at 42 S. 15 St. on Thursday, Oct. 13.
“We didn’t vote for President Bararck Obama because he was African American,” he said. “We voted for him because he was the best American for the job.”
The senator drew spontaneous applause for this remark from the potential GOTV volunteer crowd.
Williams said he would be among those in Harrisburg who will ensure no one “tries to steal this election.” He said it is important that Southeastern Pennsylvania addresses issues such as unemployment.
Also on hand for the recent open house were Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, former Mayor John Street’s son Sharif Street, Obama for America state director Arleathia Henry, OFA regional director Allison Zelman, and OFA Philadelphia area regional field director Philip Gaskin.
“We’re going to be engaging in a massive GOTV drive on Oct. 22,” Zelman said. “We need to be sure that the right local leaders are put in place to make sure we are ready in 2012. This is a movement. We need everyone to be involved.”
Queen Afua is set to bring her play the “Secret Healing of the Lotus” to the “Culture of Wellness” pavilion at the three-day “Connecting People to Art” 26th Annual Philadelphia International Art Expo sponsored by October Gallery.
Her presentation will be presented on at 7165 Germantown Ave. (formerly North by Northwest) on Sunday, Oct. 16 at 4:30 p.m.
The play is a creative venture that was written, directed and choreographed by Queen Afua.
The cast takes the audience through the “Womb Wellness Journey” as bridges are created from sister to sister.
Afua, who penned the work, is the author of several books including, “Heal Thyself for Health and Longevity, Sacred Woman and Overcoming an Angry Vagina” as the inspiration for the play.
“It is a collection of stories from women I’ve counseled and treated over the last 30 years,” said Queen Afua, CEO of the Queen Afua Wellness Institute in New York. “They come to me with tumors, cancers and all kinds of disease to the womb and body.
I found so much of it connected to old emotion hurts and wounds. I found so much connected to an inability to forgive and to let go of the hurt we suffered as women. That’s what they play is all bout — letting go, forgiving, being joyful and grateful.
“So many women underestimate the role and power of their wombs as they try their utmost to fit into a stress-ladened lifestyle that undervalues their roles as women,” she added. “In fact, I think it safe to say that most women forget that they have been blessed with the enormous capacity to not only love unconditionally but also co-create life itself.
“This disjointed approach to life promotes frustration, which in turn produces anger on a number of different levels,” Afua continued. “This energy left ‘unchanneled’ destroys the very essence of who we are and along with it the balance we bring to life. I advocate that the only way this can be addressed is if we focus on the places where we all come from — the womb.”
The author brings with her 30 years of experience as a holistic health therapist. She specializes in family wellness, colon cleansing, hatha yoga, raw food living and spiritual empowerment.
She has written articles on healthy eating habits, therapeutic herbology, essential oils, hydrotherapy, body work therapy and spiritual balancing techniques — many of which are included in the new book.
The book has already been well-received abroad. She began her European launch at the “Celebration of My Sisters International Event” in London last year. Queen Afua began her American tour of the book on July 21, 2010 at the Harlem Book Fair. She toured Washington, D.C. before coming to the Delaware Valley area. She then toured the Caribbean, Texas and the West Coast during the remainder of the year.
Queen Afua’s new play will be followed by a reception and book signing.
Tickets may be purchased at 7165 Germantown Ave. or at Atya Ola’s Spirit First Foods, 45th and Baltimore Avenue.
The cost is $20 for the play and $30 for the play and reception/book signing. Visit www.phillyaces.com for information and tickets.
While most quilts are made of old bed linen pieces sewn together by women in a communal atmosphere, some of the ones created by Joann Frasier Dasent of Cheltenham, are unique.
Dasent is also known by many in storytelling circles as “Auntie Jo Jo.”
The quilts are created by children and adults in a storytelling atmosphere and many are created by recycling old neck ties.
One of the special quilts was presented to Dorothy Beam recently. Dasent and Maria Lobaton, who takes care of several elderly people in her Center City building, draped the quilt across Beam’s bed after a special ceremony.
On hand were members of the QuiltersRound Table club of which Beam, a retired educator, is a member. This took place at the JFK House last Tuesday.
Beam is among the more experienced quiltmakers who come to the Regenerating Our Offspring Through Stories or ROOTS sessions.
It was in 2005 that Beam enjoyed an “Auntie Jo Jo” quilt story based on Dasent’s uncle, Tom. This was the start of a bonding relationship between the two women revolving around their loves of quilts.
“Mrs. Dorothy fell in love with my presentation,” Dasent said. “She collected over 100 neckties from the distinguished gentlemen in her apartment building. She handed me a duffel bag filled with ties and told me to do something with them. Since I was taught as a youngster to take what people give you, I took them though having no idea what I would do.
“There draped across a chair was a sansan, fabrics sewn together,” he said. “In 2006, I journeyed to Ghana. In 2007, I sought the advice of my elders on how to put this project together. Mrs. Anne Hyman, the founder of PASCEP, encouraged me via telephone calls all the way from Alabama. The girls (I worked with) formed a sister bond sewing, writing and camp.”
The young girls were able to gather at the LaMott Community Center in Cheltenham Township for the play “The Ties That Bind Us.” One of the girls in the sewing camp gave Dasent more neckties.
The young sewing circle also created a quilt out of ties. “The girls were encouraged to bring a tie from one of their male family members to put on the quilt,” Dasent said. For Dasent this is a new tradition done in honor of the late Hyman.
“Mrs. Hyman would be happy to know that her idea and words of wisdom inspired a group of girls,” said Dasent. “The camp was a success. The second quilt is just as beautiful as the first. A small group gathered to present it to Mrs. Dorothy. It was wonderful.”
ROOTS, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. It uses the art of storytelling to promote literacy and to reach various types of learners in a multicultural society.
Residents in the area attended the Ausar Auset Society’s Philadelphia headquarters on Germantown Avenue recently to learn about the “Four Pillars of Destiny” — just in time to make their New Year’s resolutions. The pillars are components of Bazi, which is a realm of Chinese astrology.
Bazi master Sanu Pera commuted from New York City to give a Bazi lecture and personal readings last weekend.
One Mount Airy woman said the reading was so accurate she left with ambivalence. On one hand, she was grateful for the insight on what she had to work on when making her New Year’s resolution. However, the accurate description of her past life experiences left her a bit startled.
“It’s just that I never knew something like this could read me that well, but I am glad that I know what to do in the New Year,” she said.
Pera said he became interested in Bazi a few years ago.
At that time he knew the “Four Pillars of Destiny” had Asian roots and related to helping one understand their destiny.
The pillars are unbalanced so they point to the work or challenges one may need to work on while realizing one’s destiny. For a few, the pillars are balanced and they have to accept their calling and make the most of their fate.
The pillars also show when one has “periods of ease” when opportunities will abound. In addition, there will also be “periods of challenge” which just translate into times when growth will be more evident, according to Pera.
Tamera Baggett, a local astrologer who has taught astrology at Temple University’s Pan-African Studies Community Education Program, is fascinated by both the Chinese astrology premise and the added Kemetic angle that Pera brings to it.
“I was talking to another astrologer, and we were agreeing that if there is another modality that says basically the same thing as what we do, then it’s pointing the listener to the truth,” she said. “We are finding that every culture has its own way of reading the stars. The world is moving to embracing this more and more. This will become more evident as we move into the 21st century.”
State Sen. LeAnna M. Washington of Mount Airy has her portrait hung in Benbow Hall at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia’s (LTSP) Brossman Center. The unveiling of the honor was done in a brief ceremony held at the seminary located at 7201 Germantown Ave. on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 9:30 a.m.
The accolade was given because Washington, who represents the Fourth Senatorial District, has spearheaded efforts to secure funds from the state to help pay for the state-of-the art structure. Washington secured a $250,000 grant to aid in the construction of a connector between Brossman and the century-old Krauth Memorial Library. This gives the handicapped access to this historic resource center.
“I am really excited that this seminary was so gracious in recognizing me this way,” said Washington after the ceremony. “I always try to do all I can do when it comes to bringing funds back home. It’s clear this campus deserved these funds because they are truly a part of this community. They are Christian leaders in Northwest Philadelphia and around the world.”
The Rev. J. Louis Felton, the new pastor of the Mount Airy Church of God in Christ and pastor to Washington, was on hand. He said that Washington’s contributions to the seminary proved that there need not be a separation between church and state. He pointed to the fact that this is often the case in countries like Canada and Norway.
“As far as church and state though we may be separated we are not divorced,” said Felton. “We can still have a relationship where we come together for the good of the whole. I think that Sen. Washington is a fine example of how church and state can have a balanced relationship in doing thing that are nurturing and beneficial for our communities.”
In his remarks, the Rev. Philip D. W. Krey, LTSP president, commended Washington’s contributions to LTSP and Northwest Philadelphia. He said that she has shown this through her domestic violence walk and annual banquet on behalf of victims. “No public official has done more for this school than you have,” Krey said.
“These are challenging times for the seminary and challenging times for political leaders,” added the Rev. Dr. John Richter, chair of LTSP’s board of trustees. “We are grateful for your partnership and generous commitment to do what you have done for this little corner of God’s kingdom.”
The program also included a brief religious service delivered by the Rev. Dr. Jayakirian Sebastian, LTSP chaplain. She called the seminary “a real anchor” in Mount Airy and stressed that LTSP is not just located on Germantown Avenue but “is really a part of the community.”
Also present was the Rev. Claire Schenot Burkat, bishop of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The ELCA offices are on the LTSP campus.
The Northwest Philadelphia ladies who make up the American Women’s Heritage Society, Inc. are moving forward.
On the heels of their 25th anniversary, the private, non-profit historic preservation organization has much on its agenda for the 2011–2012 year.
Besides the work the group does for the Belmont Mansion and its museum in Fairmount Park, it is doing extensive community outreach.
Perhaps no one is more excited about the latter than Audrey Johnson-Thornton of Mount Airy, the founder and executive director of AWHS.
She is quick to point out that the group is going to adopt a charter public school, host tourists interested in learning about the history of the Belmont Mansion and even manage the expansion of the Belmont property to include a state-of-the-art facility.
“We are really ready to expand,” Johnson-Thornton said. “We celebrated our 25th anniversary in grand style, but we are also looking forward to the next 25 years. We know that we must preserve the history of this place while putting into place ways to teach that history to the future generations. They are, after all, the future, and that’s why we will be adopting some local schools.”
Johnston-Thornton said those beyond the traditional school age will find that there is much AWHS is working on to attract their attention in the coming year.
High on the list is the all-glass enclosed banquet hall which is part of the capital improvements plan for the Belmont Mansion property.
“This is going to be the showcase of the Belmont Mansion that will enable us to hold many programs and provide a beautiful setting for others to host their events,” Johnson-Thornton said.
Yet the AWHS founder is still relishing the success of the group’s Sept. 23 gala. Many braved the scattered thunderstorms to bring a bit of sunshine to the Belmont Mansion that evening. There they listened to video streamed greetings from former Gov. Edward G. Rendell, Mayor Michael Nutter and Congressman Bob Brady. Former Mayor W. Wilson Goode Sr. and his wife, Thelma Goode, were present.
AWHS honored Linda Watson, Gail Dickerson and Jeayne Janes. Poet Sonia Sanchez of Germantown was a special guest speaker. The Freedom Choir, the Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Warren Oree and a group of African stilt walkers performed. Under the outdoor tents all were privy to greet Ms. Black Pennsylvania Julia Patrice. Also on hand were state Reps. Ron Waters and Vanessa Brown as well as state Sen. LeAnna Washington of Mount Airy.
“It was a beautiful and awesome affair,” Johnson-Thornton said. “We celebrated this society that is historic in its own right. Now we are looking towards a bright future. We know that we will continue to make history over the next 25 years.”
There is a mix of holiday toy and food drives in the Northwest section of the city.
Ninth District Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco is partnering with CH2M Hill and Neighborhood Bike Works to distribute 80 bikes for the holidays this week.
The Mount Airy/Chestnut Hill Organizing for America (OFA) team partnered with Northwest Interfaith Movement (NIM) for food drives over the last two weekends.
Also, the East Mount Airy/West Oak Lane team is partnering with SEPTA’s Yuletoy Drive to distribute gifts to homeless and unemployed families.
Tasco’s office is scheduled to do the bike giveaway at the Kinsey Elementary School, 6501 Limekiln Pike in West Oak Lane on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Public school children from Kinsey were to be on hand to accept the bicycles at the formal ceremony.
“For the fifth year in a row, CH2M has partnered with us to distribute bikes to the less fortunate children for holidays through the Bikes for Kids Program,” Tasco said. “New to the partnership are Councilwomen Maria Quinones Sanchez and Councilwoman-elect Cindy Bass. (They) will distribute bikes to students in their respective districts.”
Also scheduled to be on hand for the Dec. 21 event are staff members from CH2M Hill. They were responsible for raising funds to purchase the bicycles. It was the Neighborhood Bike Works that assembled the bicycles.
Over the weekends of Dec. 10 and 17 OFA volunteers stood outside of the Chestnut Hill Pathmark for their community food drive.
They handed out flyers asking Northwest Philadelphia shoppers to consider purchasing non-perishable food items for the holiday drive for needy families.
The results over the first weekend were overwhelming, according to OFA regional field director Philip Gaskin. “We received several full boxes of food items during this drive,” Gaskin said. “We will be doing another community service over the Martin Luther King weekend.”
Also, many dropped off toys for neighborhood children at the Stixx N’Snips Hair Salon, 1614 68th Ave. with the entrance off Smedley until Friday, Dec. 23. On that date they will also pick up toys from other business sponsors such as SEPTA. The toys are scheduled to be delivered Saturday, Christmas Eve.
Two neighborhood groups of the lower section of West Oak Lane are continuing their protest against the Resources for Human Development facility in their neighborhood.
They met on Monday to discuss more strategies to address the coming facility. Next week, they are scheduled to present protest signs outside the old Kemble Park Apartments at Ogontz and Kemble avenues.
This comes on the heels of three protests where dozens of residents held up signs and chanted against the drug treatment facility.
Since last Thursday, a multigenerational group of homeowners and other citizens have been holding a rally outside the Kemble Park Apartments. They protested again on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 5 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17 at 5:30 p.m. and last Saturday, Nov. 19 at 11 a.m. They have collected more than 100 signatures in their petition drive.
Among the protesters are members of the newly formed Concerned Community Association (ACCA) and the Belfield Neighbors Association or BANA.
The latter has a long history of service to the lower end of West Oak Lane. The rally is a public demonstration against the Resources for Human Development for excluding the neighborhood from airing their concerns before Kemble was being transformed from apartments to a treatment facility.
“We feel that this facility will further destroy our community,” said Lorraine Payne, president of ACCA. “That’s why we are having 50 to 70 people protesting this. This is a community of children and families, but we have had many drug problems. Our community is so saturated with problems that we know we cannot absorb a facility with a concentration of those with mental and behavioral issues.
“We also feel that this facility is too close to schools,” she added. “There is the Pennell School as well as Girls’ High and Central near here. We have a new charter school coming. We want our children to be safe. Already we are dealing with issues, so we feel it is unfair to put a facility like this. If they had a community meeting about the zoning or rezoning of this we would have said so. We feel that without a voice we were disrespected.”
ACCA has taken the initiative to hire attorney Yvonne B. Haskins to represent them in this struggle. In a recent letter to city officials she outlined their concerns. This document raised questions about the building permit and that there were no community meetings.
“We believe that all of the funding sources involved in this project should have made certain that the surrounding community (and not just the Democratic ward leader and a defunct civic organization leader) were made fully aware of this project and RHD had obtained all required permits for operation of a residential drug and alcohol treatment center and homeless shelter,” the letter stated.
Many in Northwest Philadelphia are helping others during the Thanksgiving holiday. The Men of St. Therese and state Rep. Cherelle Parker hosted holiday gatherings.
The Men of St. Therese hosted more than 150 for their annual jazz night held at the church located at Anderson and Upsal streets in Mount Airy on Saturday. The event raised more than $2,000 for the ministries at the parish.
Arnold Hall, one of the event organizers, said the all-male team who put the benefit together was at the church until 2 a.m. cleaning up.
They didn’t mind since the crowd was dancing and networking a little past the midnight hour. They were enjoying the sounds of vocalist Michelle Beckman and the band she put together specifically for the fundraiser.
“We were actually surprised by the support we received,” Hall said. “I had a feeling that this was going to be a blessed event. It was just a blessing that was more than we anticipated. Both of our parking lots were full and we had to bring in extra seats.”
Hall lamented that the Men of St. Therese did not organize a food drive. Since it was a BYOB and BYOF event those in attendance brought platters and trays of food. There was much food left over that many took home.
“Next time we will have to plan a way to give to the needy even though when we end it’s rather late — about midnight,” Hall said.
Though the organizers are still tallying up the financial figures from the fundraiser, Hall said it has exceeded expectations.
This is good news for St. Therese since they recently lost the contract with the Amy Northwest School, formerly the building that housed the old St. Therese Catholic School. They are in the process of finding new tenants for that facility after the Amy program relocates to the Levering School in June. “We are just pleased all went so well,” Hall said.
Northwest state Rep. Cherelle L. Parker held her pre-Thanksgiving annual dinner for constituents in the 200th District.
This was held at the Upper Room Missionary Baptist Church, 7236 Ogontz Ave. in West Oak Lane on Tuesday from noon to 3 p.m. The event was hosted along with Kitchen of Love.
“Our annual dinner is open to all interested in joining our feast,” Parker said. “This event gives seniors and low-income families an opportunity to mingle with others who may not have a family or the means to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner.”
Parker’s event also included a presentation from General Mills’ “Feeding the Dream” initiative. This program promotes health and education advocacy in African-American communities like West Oak Lane. It does this by recognizing mothers who are committed to their families and neighborhoods.