Tribune Staff Report
Warming the hearts of Sixers fans despite frigid weather on Jan. 27, a group of 7 to 10-year-olds from the Feltonville afterschool program, Out of School Time, of Episcopal Community Services, took center court, drumming, dancing and singing to showcase their talent and energize the pre-game audience.
Julissa Espinosa was one of the 20 performers from the Feltonville afterschool program, Out of School Time, of Episcopal Community Services. Expressing what many of them felt, she said, “I am shy but I think it’s good that I get to perform in front of everyone so I can face my fears.”
Exposing youth to positive experiences is a focus of the ECS OST program, and performing at the Sixers event was a first for these children. Carletta Skipworth, elementary program coordinator, explained why she and other ECS OST staff pursued the idea.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity for them to showcase their talent,” she said.
The group practiced for months, which is why Malik Lewis was ready to dance for the crowd.
“I got to show my talent to the world,” he said with a big smile before adding what he knew was an even bigger benefit. “In order to dance right, you have to listen. If you don’t listen, you can’t learn.”
In diverse Feltonville where children are at risk of substance abuse and school failure, ECS OST helps them beat the odds. With an emphasis on academic enrichment as well as fun activities, ECS OST can point to impressive success: 80% of students maintain a C average or better in math, science and reading. With that come improved graduate rates, skill building and a decrease in youth violence.
“At a time when the city’s kids and families are seeing cuts in programs,” said Dave Griffith, executive director of Episcopal Community Services, “ECS OST is providing a safe, constructive environment in the crucial time when school is out and many parents are still at work.”
Episcopal Community Services is a high-performing, social service organization that is embracing new models of effective delivery and outcome measurement amid a changing, unpredictable social service environment. As a result, ECS is leading the way in empowering and transforming the lives of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable children, youth, families and seniors through a broad range of educational and social service programs.
Construction of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Buerger Center for Advanced Pediatric Care has been boosted by a $5 million gift from GIANT Food Stores.
Children’s Hospital officials said the center will be the most advanced outpatient pediatric medical facility in the world when it opens in 2015.
In recognition of GIANT Food Stores’ gift, the lobby of the Buerger Center will be named the GIANT Lobby.
“GIANT has built such a powerful legacy of support at CHOP over nearly two decades, and with this incredible gift, there is no more appropriate way to recognize their generosity than to name the lobby of the new Buerger Center in their honor,” said Dr. Steven M. Altschuler, chief executive officer of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“The GIANT Lobby will be the most visited, and most visible, space in the building. We deeply appreciate GIANT’s significant investment in this project and their longstanding commitment to helping children enjoy healthy futures.”
GIANT Food Stores’ contribution punctuates nearly 20 years of philanthropic support for patient care programs at Children’s Hospital.
GIANT Food Stores is a top fundraiser in the U.S. for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, which includes CHOP, through the sale of paper balloon and candle icons in stores. GIANT has contributed nearly $8.5 million to support patient care at Children’s Hospital as well as the remodeling of the hospital’s physical therapy gym, now named The GIANT Food Stores Physical Therapy Gym. The recent announcement brings their total contributions to nearly $13.5 million.
“It’s an honor and a privilege for GIANT Food Stores to support CHOP’s Buerger Center for Advanced Pediatric Care,” said Rick Herring, president, GIANT Food Stores.
“We know this gift will have a long-lasting impact on the exceptional care that will be provided there, and it underscores our commitment to improving the quality of life for children.”
The Buerger Center was announced in June 2013, with a gift from the Buerger family of Pennsylvania to name the facility. The center will feature 12 floors of integrated clinical care facilities and patient, family and visitor amenities including “wait, play, learn” area for patients, a 14,000-square-foot roof garden and a 2.6-acre landscaped outdoor plaza.
The Buerger Center will be environmentally friendly, with a targeted LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Five levels of underground parking will accommodate 1,500 vehicles.
The 9,000-square-foot GIANT Lobby at the Buerger Center is designed to be the focal point for family arrivals at the Center and will feature a reception area providing information, directions and assistance to families. The GIANT Lobby will offer views onto a landscaped plaza, with a two-story, glass-walled ramp winding overhead to the second floor.
“We spend a great deal of time as outpatients at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where my two boys are treated by more than a dozen specialists for a rare disorder called mitochondrial disease,” Meredith Hardy said.
“Entering the GIANT Lobby in this new state-of-the-art Buerger Center for Advanced Pediatric Care will provide my family a welcoming experience filled with opportunities for my sons to explore and learn. We so look forward to continuing our world-class care in this new, incredible facility.”
The Pennsylvania Convention Center is slated for a strong convention season during 2014.
Meetings currently scheduled for 2014 will fill 484,496 total room nights, generating more than $729 million in economic impact for Philadelphia, a figure projected to rise as the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) sales team continues to book short-term groups during the year for 2014.
Convention officials said the center experienced its busiest January in more than five years with four city-wide meetings — among the first held under the new SMG professional management team — generating more than $92 million in economic impact for the city.
“Working with the SMG team and the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association (GPHA), the PHLCVB has strategic and tactical initiatives underway to book even more short-term business at the convention center and for the future, with the goal of ensuring that our hotel rooms remain filled,” said Jack Ferguson, PHLCVB president & CEO.
“Excellent customer service will be our culture and everyone’s top priority at the Pennsylvania Convention Center this year,” said Lorenz Hassenstein, general manager at PCC for SMG. “Importing SMG’s best practices from other properties around the country will ensure fast progress and our team’s eventual success.”
Strengthening Philadelphia’s calendar of activities this year are several major sporting events which collectively solidify the city’s standing as a top national sports destination. Those events include the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four Championships in April, the National Veteran’s Wheelchair Games in August and the Rock n’ Roll Marathon in September.
In 2014, a wide variety of notable conventions and tradeshows will occupy the center. In the first half of the year East Coast Volleyball, April 12-14, will take place over the traditionally slow Easter holiday weekend, followed by the American Academy of Neurology, April 26-May 3. During the summer — considered a need period for area hotels, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., July 10-18, and the National Association of Letter Carriers, July 21-25 will convene in Philadelphia.
In the fall, the National Society of Hispanic MBA’s will meet in Philadelphia for the first time, from Sept. 25-27, followed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Oct. 8-12.
Noteworthy conventions to conclude the year include the American Society of Nephrology, Nov. 11-16 and the American Society of Cell Biology, Dec. 6-10. Combined, these highlighted conventions will generate more than $195 million in economic impact.
“The years 2014 through 2016 are challenging years for our industry but we are very optimistic about SMG and the work of the PHLCVB going into the coming year,” said Jim Gratton, GPHA president.
PHL Local Gaming, LLC, one of five bidders for the available Category 2 casino gaming license, in Philadelphia, on Thursday announced the addition of H.J. Russell + Company to the project team.
H.J. Russell is an Atlanta-based construction firm and is also the 15th-largest African-American-owned business in the United States. Should PHL Local Gaming be selected as the licensee, the company is targeting the construction management on the proposed $428 million gaming facility to a potential joint venture, between Bala Cynwyd-based L.F. Driscoll Company, LLC and H.J. Russell + Company.
According to PHL equity participant Joseph Canfora, who also serves as PHL Local’s president, the arrangement would “combine the collective expertise and capacity of Driscoll, the largest regionally based construction management firm in the Philadelphia area, with completed projects including the city’s tallest structure, the Comcast Center; and the Russell firm, whose recent projects have included the Atlanta Falcons football stadium.”
“Perhaps more importantly,” said Canfora, “our approach ensures that PHL Local’s ‘Philadelphia First’ economic impact philosophy is carried out. Aside from its extensive general construction market experience, the Russell company will be primarily responsible for ensuring that local minority and female construction firms and suppliers are also appropriately included during the proposed casino’s construction phase.
“We are absolutely confident that utilizing primarily Philadelphia-area construction firms, and workforces, we can achieve our goal of being able to open the casino at least six months earlier than any other bidder would be able to do so,” Canfora said.
Michael Russell, CEO, H.J. Russell, said “We’re looking forward to being engaged on what would be a transformative project for the city of Philadelphia. We’re also anxious to attract to the project a broad array of high-quality female and minority firms, consistent with the goals in the company’s Construction Diversity Plan.”
As part of its previously announced commitment to local workforce inclusion and minority workforce inclusion, PHL Local has committed to goals of 75 percent local workers, 35 percent minority workers and 7 percent female workers.
Included in the company’s construction-related supplier diversity goals, PHL Local Gaming has said it will do 32 percent of its construction contract revenue with minority firms and 15 percent with female firms.
It has also stated all Philadelphia-based firms, regardless of race or ethnicity, will be eligible for a 7 percent bid preference and all southeast Pennsylvania-based firms will be eligible for a 5 percent bid preference.
Regina R. Lewis was a longtime employee of Thomas Jefferson Hospital.
Lewis died on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 after a brief stay at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse. She was 56.
She was daughter of the late Eugene Jinwright and Rosa Council. She was born and raised in the Yorktown section of North Philadelphia.
Lewis was educated in the School District of Philadelphia where she graduated from William Penn High School in 1975. Lewis was employed by Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for 35 years serving in several administrative capacities. She was well known and liked by fellow employees.
Lewis was an active member of Bright Hope Baptist Church up until her illness.
Her family said she loved R&B, soul and gospel music. She loved to dance, having danced on “The Georgie Woods Show” as a teenager. She was an annual season ticket holder to the Robin Hood Dell East in Fairmount Park and enjoyed attending the summer concerts. Her family said she had a love of flowers and looked forward to planting new flowers each spring.
She is survived by her husband David Lewis; daughter Kimberley Lewis; sisters Dorothy Dandridge, Sharon Sanders, Darlene Orr, and Cassanda “Yvette” Steward and other relatives and friends.
Services will be held Jan. 24 at Bright Hope Baptist Church, 1601 N. 12th St. Viewing is at 10 a.m. Services will follow at 11 a.m. Burial is private.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Susan G. Komen Foundation in her honor.