The 36th Annual Pre-Labor Day Soiree drew those from Northwest Philadelphia outdoors despite inclement weather.
This was good news for the hostess, Ruth Sizemore of Laverock, who draws more than 150 to her backyard for philanthropic and professional networking.
The 2012 soiree included live entertainment. On hand was Mickey J., who did a crowd pleasing Michael Jackson interpretation. Other performers included Diverse & Company consisting of bassist Robert Johnson, vocalist and drummer Howard Burton, and keyboardist Christopher Burton.
“So many responded to the invitation and had a wonderful time,” Sizemore said. “This is just something that so many look forward to. I loved seeing people who never met get to know each other. That’s why I have a (revolving) list so that new friendships and professional relationships can be forged.”
Ron and Vernesa Brodie of East Oak Lane were among the newcomers to the soiree. Ron Brodie, a detective, met Sizemore in a home improvement store and wound up doing some work on her home a few years ago.
“I used to only see pictures of this event or read about it in the paper so I am happy to come out to this,” he said.
Mount Airy real estate broker Shirley Armstead brought along her 90-year old mother, Hazel Jiles of Abington. She was able to meet fellow entrepreneur Mary Prettyman, who owns a healthcare agency in Delaware. They discussed the challenges of owning a business in a fluctuating economic climate.
“I have not been here in a few years and missed coming,” said Julie Welker. “It’s the perfect way to pass the end of summer. You meet some of the most wonderful people.”
The 14th Police District wants to hear from those who live in Germantown, Mount Airy, Chestnut Hill and West Oak Lane.
District Captain Joel Dales hosts the Captain’s town hall meeting, which is scheduled to be held at the Chestnut Hill branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, 8711 Germantown Ave. on Wednesday, Aug. 29 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“We need your help in giving us information,” he said.
Most of the Captain’s meetings run for more than two hours; block captains, committee persons, homeowners and other representatives from the Northwest Community Coalition for Youth asked questions.
Besides Dales, Lt. Anthony Buchanico, community relations Officer Calvin Johns and victim assistance Officer Sabra Johnson are usually on hand.
“Please call me with your concerns because I am here to address them,” Buchanico said.
Johnson, who handles victim services for the 14th Police District, added sometimes neighbors are apprehensive about reporting nuisance or more serious crimes because they fear retribution from the perpetrators.
Johnson said the local police department has resources for victim assistance. She can help Northwest Philadelphia citizens fill out the paperwork.
Dales and Buchanico also said the nuisance task force is back. This entity that once was a mainstay in some parts of Northwest Philadelphia has been resurrected.
The police personnel said they are now on the job of deterring crime, including nuisances such as loitering, noise and street gambling.
“We have met with the district attorney, state Rep. Dwight Evans and others who are supportive of having the nuisance task force in the area,” Dales said. “It played a role in cleaning up some parts of Mount Airy, East and West Oak Lane, the lower part of Germantown and other areas. So, we are going to deal with abandoned properties and anything else that is a nuisance. We do need your cooperation.”
The World Changers and Volunteers for Change are two Northwest Philadelphia-based organizations intent on getting the vote out in November.
World Changers has scheduled a prayer meeting at the New Covenant Campus Founder’s Hall, 7500 Germantown Ave. on Saturday, Aug. 25 at noon.
The Volunteers for Change meeting — originally scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 25 — has been postponed until Labor Day. The session will be held at Laborers Union 332, 1310 Wallace St. (off Ridge Avenue) on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 10:30 a.m.
Voter registration and educating local citizens about the November election will be high on both groups’ agenda.
World Changers will have a unique theme for its Saturday meeting, according to organizer Verileah Teets.
“Since this election is really about justice, we will be praying that the rhetoric on the Democratic side will rise to such a high level that the voters will be able to clearly see the contrast,” she said. “Many voters on all sides are getting disgusted by all the negative campaigning. Right now we are praying that in the name of justice, which the better candidate’s dialogue is of such that those with open hearts will be able to clearly see who the best choice is.”
Lucille Ijoy said she will open the Volunteers for Change meeting with the jingle she created about voter identification.
“We don’t want anyone to slip through the cracks,” she said.
When the new Black Butterfly Book Club held its August session recently, Vanette Jordan, of West Oak Lane, came ready for the group’s September book selection.
She sported red, white and blue “Hope” earrings with the posters of the 2008 Obama campaign. Her “Obama for America” T-shirt was donned with Neighborhood Team Member and other Democratic buttons.
“I am already ready,” Jordan said as she sat down in a member’s home in Cedarbrook.
A dozen women were reminded by the club’s coordinator, Angela Harrison, of Mount Airy, they were charged with reading “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” penned by President Barack Obama.
Though Harrison did not select this title, as an Obama for America (OFA) neighborhood team leader for the Washington Lane district, she felt it would help her while making phone calls and canvassing for the president over the coming weeks.
She and Jordan had spent part of Aug. 18 doing just that at the OFA Northwest Office located at 7171 Ogontz Ave.
“We are not all organizers or campaign volunteers, but it’s good to read about the president’s life especially now,” Harrison said. At the recent session, the focus was clearly on best-selling author J. California Cooper’s short story collection, “Wild Stars Seeking Midnight Suns.”
Though the book has characters that are searching for love and finding “their own sun” so to speak, the conversation quickly focused on the story, “Just Life Politics.”
The story is told through the voice of a maid discussing her ultra-conservative boss. When her employer faced a terminal illness, he not only wanted his avid Democratic maid to pray for him, but also hoped God was “a liberal.”
“I found this very ironic since it spoke to what is happening now,” said Jordan, of the story published in 2006. “Though I thought some of the stories started to repeat themselves, I really liked this one. It reminded me so much of tea party and how they will vote for things against their own self interest until it hit them.”
The October book will be Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow.”
Other books on the Black Butterfly radar include Patti LaBelle’s “Don’t Block the Blessings,” Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and “Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You’ve Made” by Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant.
The club’s membership is already capped, but they are planning how to become more inclusive. The group is also toying with the idea of making excursions to book fairs as well as inviting other book clubs and book lovers to accompany them.
Nicetown and Germantown are two communities that cannot be written off. While these adjacent neighborhoods have had all the challenges facing any older urban neighborhood, it is clear that they are coming back. This was the focus of two youth-oriented events that happened recently.
First, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah joined the Firebirds Robotics team at the Wissahickon Boys & Girls Club, 328 W. Coulter St. in the heart of Germantown.
This took place on Friday, Aug. 10 at 10 a.m. There, neighborhood youths met the hoops-playing “Rebound Rumble” robot and learned how to build a “bristle bot” battery-powered toothbrush.
“This is a program that will eventually reach 4 million young people,” Fattah said. “This is a youth mentoring program for the Boys and Girls Clubs including their headquarters here in Philadelphia. This is an investment in our young people and is a major new thrust of getting them involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. So, it’s a great partnership.”
The Wissahickon Boys and Girls Club program is an outgrowth of the partnership between FIRST, the national robotic/science education mentoring program and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Fattah forged this national partnership by bringing together the top officials of FIRST and the Clubs to sign the American Innovation and Mentorship Agreement last April. This will provide programming at 3,000 Boys and Girls Clubs nationally by 2015.
The 10th annual Give Back Festival drew a cross-section of residents from the Northwest Philadelphia area to Nicetown Park, 4300 Germantown Ave. on Friday, Aug. 10 and Saturday, Aug. 11.The scattered thunderstorms and humid weather did not completely damper the spirits of those who came for the full roster of activities. It ranged from an HBCU fair and Walk for Peace to live entertainment and a boxing competition.
Those who came could see firsthand the development that is taking place in Nicetown. This includes many of the projects of the nonprofit Nicetown Community Development Corporation and its private and public partners.
Perhaps no one is more aware of the revitalization taking place in the Nicetown and Germantown areas than Zak Abdur-Rahman, the head of the Nicetown CDC.
“Sometimes developers come in who just want gentrification,” Abdur-Rahman said. “They think they know what is best for the community. They just want to control the land and create value in the marketplace. They are more interested in their return than they are in cleaning up the neighborhood, improving the schools and making it a better place for the people who are already there to live. That’s not what we do.”
Nakira Reed concurred. The single mother recently relocated in Nicetown.
She loves the transformation and the community events in her community.
“This is just a dream come true, and my son and I love it here,” she said.