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BRIDGING THE GAPS

SUMMER INTERNSHIP 2020


Table of Contents 3 -- Aderinsola Aderonmu 4-6-- Sixtus Akinlosotu 7-- Rick Alfera 8-- Allie Hamilton 9-11-- Anne Claire Macalintal 12-14-- Sarah Badlis 15-- Allie Beer 16-17 --- Brooke Benardin 18-- Casey Boone 19-- Aisha Bosula 20-- Jeremy Braun 21-22-- Brian O'Sullivan 23-24-- Chelsea Budde 25-26-- Garrett Candelaria 27-- Hannah Cao 28-30-- Linda Chan 31-- Casey Cheng 32-33-- Maria Cheslock 34-- Anna Chin 35-36-- Tiffanie Chiu 37-38-- Olivia Chough 39-- Sophia Conners 40-- Emelyn Cruz 41-42-- Preya Desai 43-44-- Clifton Dietrick 45-50-- Thomas DiFilippo 51-53-- Tess Doran 54-56-- Abigail Dugo 57-58-- Alex Eaton 59-- Alex Eiman 60-75-- Emily Danilak 76-78-- Courtney Eng 79-81-- Mia Fatuzzo 82-83-- Erika Fish 84-85-- Frances Calingo 86--Tyler Francisco 87-88- Sabrina Gonzalez 89-- Carter Griest 90-- Carina Guerra 91-97-- Kris Guru 99-108-- Katherine Hall 109-110-- Brianna Hamilton 111-113-- Amanda Horowitz 114-- Aliya Hutman-Zahler 115-- Nicholas Ihnatenko 116-117-- Shreya Inala 118-120-- Andrea Jin 121-122-- Joseph Gonnella 123-126-- Kelly Noel 127-129-- Meedeha Khan

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130-- Annette Kim 131-133-- Taylor Kvilhaug 134-135-- Jeemin Kwon 136-138-- Gianna LaBella 139-Vivian Lee 140-141-- Alethia Li 142-143-- Thomas Lucido 144-145-- Madeline Seiden 146-Rebekah Madrid 147-148-- Talia Magoon 149-150-- Saba Mahmood 151-Madeline McAvoy 152-- Mary Elizabeth McLaverty 153-154-- Sejal Menghani 155-157-- Ahmed Mirza 158-160-- Brett Mitchell 161-162-- Joseph Norton 163 Arelis Thalia Nunez 164-165-- Isha Pandya 166-- Shrey Patel 167-- Peace Nosa-Omorogiuwa 168-169-- Daniel Phillips 170-171-- Rashiqah Syed 172-Justina Refela 173-175-- Roslyn Devassy 176-177-- Christian Sanchez 178-- Sarah Svetec 179-- Lake Seymour 180-- John Shin 181-182-- Kelli Sloan 183-- Meghan Swyryn 184-187-- David Taft 188-189-- Sanjana Venkat 190-200-- Victoria Ramey 201-202-- Matthew Viggiano 203-- Nadirah Waites 204-- Charlene Weiner 205-206-- Jessica White 207-- Josie Wiklund 208-209-- Amy Xia 210-211-- Jingyu Zhang VIDEOS: 212-- Jamie Chung 213-- Sierra Ceullar 214--Francis Calingo 215-- Taylor Goldberg 216-- Morgan Karcher 217-- Sam Shovers


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Two Faces   I am not who you see.   I’m not sure if I am even me.   Smiles, hugs amongst one another   We all know everyone’s father and mother,   But all you can see is the pain that lives within   Not that we are loving and kin   Pain runs through me,   Fueling the fire underneath   I quell the burning with self‐harm, self‐hate, self‐deprecation  All is taken from me  All the love   All the smiles   All the hugs   But still I stand.   Here I will remain.   

‐Aderinsola Aderonmu  


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Luke and The Village  By Sixtus Akinlosotu 

The Village has been around for a long time and has a commitment to young people and to the  community as well as a strong commitment to the healing brought on by art and creativity,  Luke told me.  “I love the devotion everyone has at The Villages, bringing out people’s artistic  expression” he said, “helping them see it and nurture it and help them grow as creators and as  people and as a community... it is very big”.  The Village of Arts “is a 30+ year old arts  organization in the heart of North Philadelphia that amplifies the voices and aspirations of our  community by providing arts‐based opportunities for self‐expression and personal success that  engage youth and their families, revitalize physical space, and preserve black heritage”, as so  well stated on their website.  Luke is a teaching artist at The Village. I am someone who had the  pleasure to work with him and The Village this summer.  This is a story about him, The Village,  and my experience. 

“Engage youth and their families, revitalize physical space, and preserve black heritage” 

I met Luke for the first time at the end of June after his coordinator at The Village put me in  touch with him. He was beginning to prepare a Photography and Video class for the kids along  with his coworker N... and they believed I would be able to help.  I was nervous to meet him for  the first time, but after speaking to him over zoom I realized I had no reason to be. He  apologized for his poor connection, as he was staying at a friend’s mountain house at the  Poconos and took some time out to touch base with N... and I.  He was very calm, polite, and  patient. We discussed what the project would look like and what my role would be, and I knew  from the start that I would have a good experience working with him for the summer    Luke Butler has an educational background in psychology, neuroscience, and public health. He  has worked at The Village as a teaching artist, teaching classes on professional development,  storytelling, branding, and many other topics. “The Village gives a good counterpart to the  westernized psychology and neuroscience” he told me when I interviewed him. He believes the  art of expression is healthy for the kids, and it seems that that is a belief held strongly by The  Village as a whole. “Expression of experience is needed, and young people don’t feel they have  the outlet”, he told me emphatically. When Luke spoke to me about the importance of  expression and art he always talked with the utmost sincerity, and you could tell he really felt  strongly about his work. Luke, with his own background and expertise, looks at how people  learn and understand things and what tools can be used to help in their development.  This is  something that he says has been slightly missing with COVID, with the inability to have face‐to‐ face interaction with the kids. 


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“Expression of experience is needed, and young people don’t feel they have the outlet” 

Other things that have been missing, according to him, are the in‐person feedback, the “energy’  of the space, and the spontaneous moments of a summer camp that you can’t have digitally.   When he explained this to me, I understood how much the kids must be missing without the  physical camp operating this summer, as it tends to offer up a safe and nurturing place for  them. Ironically, at a time like this, a time of such uncertainty and turmoil, they could have  benefitted tremendously from being at The Village. But at the same time this was the worse  time for all of them to come in and gather together.  However, the Village has been adapting  and aiming to get creative equipment in students’ hands to still provide as much as they usually  do and that has been one of the most important aspects of this summer.   Since my original meeting with Luke I have talked with him a couple times, including the  interview I did with him and his time at The Village. One time we met online and we began the  process of organizing the different topics of the class on an app that allowed all 3 of us (Luke,  Namoieh, and I to work together at the same time and see what was going on.  Luke had taken  the time to find the app and start it for us and we added notes to the document.  The class was  about Photography and Video, but the idea was to connect that with Public Health by  introducing the idea of “social marketing” and public health campaigns.  Luke expected the high  school kids to learn the technical aspect of photography and video and mesh that with what he  taught about Public Health campaigns with the ultimate goal of the students forming opinions  on these campaigns to then create their own. Initially I thought this may be too much to ask of  high school age students in a 10‐week course, but during our interview Luke told me a story of  one of his favorite experiences that illustrated why I was wrong to assume that.  In 2017 R... was awarded Humanitarian of the year by Harvard University. She gave a speech to  accept the award for her charitable efforts and it was met with applause.  Luke showed this  video to his class.  He was teaching a course on Personal Branding/Storytelling and figured this  video would be interesting to discuss.  The subsequent discussion he had was a great one.  Ranging from thoughts about R... as a person to curiosity as to how the R... they knew didn’t  necessarily fit the idea of “humanitarian’ in their world.  He discussed with them the  importance of branding and how a person brands themselves isn’t necessarily exactly who that  person is all the time.  An idea that isn’t readily apparent but one the students were slowly  edging near with their own thoughtful discourse. The students absorbed this perspective  changing lesson in personal branding, and I wish I had the pleasure of absorbing it with them,  participating in the discussion and learning just as much as they were. “People don’t think  teenagers have a nuanced opinion or a valuable view of the world” Luke said, and at times I feel  like I am one of those people.   ‘“People don’t think teenagers have a nuanced opinion or a valuable view of the world”  The Village seeks to foster this belief in the youth and their capabilities. They do this by having  these discussions, offering various means of expression, and most of all listening to and 


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understanding them.  There are many different classes and activities at The Village and thus  there are many spaces for “expression of experience”. Art is growth, art is compassion, art is  healing. And for students at The Village it is an essential means of expression in a world that  doesn’t listen to them or even let them express themselves in a safe space.  I have learned that  Luke embodies this idea of listening and fostering and that it is crucial for anyone working there  and anyone working with the youth in general.   “Art is growth, art is compassion, art is healing” 


Page 7 of 211 Rick Alfera Strength. United. Resilient. These are the words used to describe the North Philadelphia community. My interview with a community health worker, V..., conveyed to me that these are the words she wants people to use when thinking of her community. A Philadelphia native, V... grew up in the northside of Philly. She experienced firsthand the hardship and problems that plagued the community; however, she does not define herself or her community by these problems. Rather these issues have pushed the community to become innovative and find new solutions to their problems. “Despite not having a lot of money, the people here always find a way to figure things out”, she states. How do they do this you might ask? Well it would be through the unmatched community support and strength. Philadelphia has tons of community resources that are hidden away. Wanting to give back to the community and in need of a job, V... joined the St. Christopher team. In her role, she has been able to connect patients and their families with critical resources in the community. They visit families in their homes to check up on them, and conduct emergency visits themselves when families need them most. Given the current pandemic, in person visits have been cut back severely limited but that has not stopped them. These workers continue to provide a myriad of resources such as food, diapers, formula, housing assistance and more. Moreover, the community hardships were exacerbated by the COVID-19 and protest situations. While many stores were either closed down or out of important supplies, the community health workers and organizations came together to provide. Despite living in the community, she is continually learning about new local support programs, but says she is never surprised. There is a strong sense of community and support here, so finding kindness in new ways is never shocking. In addition, despite the situation the patients are still coming into St. Christopher’s. The community is continuing to show its trust in the institution that will put their health first. This has to do with the relationships built with families and being part of the community has set the foundation for these connections to be built. There is fear and uncertainty involving the past few months, but the fact the community has a strong sense of trust and unity has paved the way for the community to overcome everything that has been thrown at them. All in all, V... described the strength of her community. She stated, “Although we have our problems like anyone else, we are united. We cherish our community and are proud of it. Although we don’t always agree, we will always support one another”


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BTG Storytelling Project Allie Hamilton- Together for West Philadelphia 7/24/20 Subject: E..., Episcopal Community Services (ECS) Humans of Philadelphia “We work a lot with helping people shape their executive functioning skills. Have you heard of them? They are the skills that come from a developed prefrontal cortex, like planning, decision making, and time management. I worked with this returning citizen that went away for 20 years. Imagine going away in 1998 when the internet was just starting, and returning in 2018 where the internet is accessible in the palm of your hand. He really wanted to get a job. We set up weekly meetings to help him figure out the steps he needed to reenter the workforce. He was missing these meetings a lot though. He said he would just completely forget about them. I worried how we would be able to manage a job schedule if he cannot make it to these weekly meetings. He was 17 years old when he went away. In jail, he had no control over his schedule hence, he probably never got to fully develop his prefrontal cortex. Through some digging I was able to discover that he was embarrassed to admit that the only way he knew how to keep his schedule was with a pen and a paper calendar. He was overwhelmed and unable to adapt to the newer ways he saw his friends and family scheduling their appointments on their phones. I bought him a new paper calendar and reassured him that that is still a very acceptable way to organize his schedule. He started making meetings again. And along with working on workforce development skills, I helped him learn how to use his smartphone.” E... is a workforce development coach at ECS. He meets one on one with clients to help them achieve their goals they set for themselves. His parents inspired him to go into social work. His father is a recovered alcoholic and growing up E... remembers all of the people and programs that helped his dad achieve sobriety. As a teacher, his mother taught E... that “your job is to help people, money comes secondary.” The story above is one that E...told me about client he helped. E.. is really proud of following in his parent’s legacy and serving his community.


Page 9 of 211 Student: Ann Claire Macalintal Interviewee: Jawana Marshall | Mazzoni Center


Page 10 of 211 Student: Ann Claire Macalintal Interviewee: Jawana Marshall | Mazzoni Center


Page 11 of 211 Student: Ann Claire Macalintal Interviewee: Jawana Marshall | Mazzoni Center Jawana “Jae” Marshall is a Case Management Services Manager at the Mazzoni Center, a facility that focuses on LGBTQ health and well-being. And while this site highlights their work with the LGBTQ community, Jae is simply a supporter for “all spectrums of living, love, and life.” Through this piece, her view of the Mazzoni Center and the LGBTQ+ community that it serves are represented by her glasses. The rim of one glass explains what the center is to clients and briefly describes the strengths of the employees – how they are filled with excitement & passion for the work they do and how they strive to be involved & connected with all people. The other rim describes the LGBTQ+ community and reminds us that they guide where a community goes, they have agency over their lives and as care providers we sometimes need to step back, and that as clients they have made it this far and will always continue to do so no matter what. The bridge of the glasses states “community” to emphasize that that is how the center and the clients are connected. Within both glasses are words that describe the changes that have happened due to COVID-19 and also state the changes that still need to be made to ensure the best quality of life for all. And the words within the lips and mouth are words of advice given by Jae to remember as we encounter the changes and challenges that will come as we enter our future careers has healthcare professionals.


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Analyzing the Southwest Community Development Corporation: What They Offer and How We Can Help By: Sarah Badlis I had the pleasure of interviewing Greg McKinley, a man of community and service. From cofounding Men of Works, an organization dedicated to neighborhood restoration, to serving on the board of Philadelphia Habitat for Humanity, Greg has dedicated his life to giving back to his community. From the onset of our conversation, I knew he could paint a thorough picture of community engagement, specifically in explaining his prior role at the Southwest Community Development Corporation (SWCDC). SWCDC is a community-oriented nonprofit organization in Southwest Philadelphia, striving to improve the quality of life of this region’s residents by providing them with resources and support since 1987. It serves more than 75,000 residents through its programming focused on financial assistance, community outreach, ESL classes, job searching, and more. Greg had spent ten years on the board of the nominations committee, on which he facilitated the organization’s board membership. I took this as an opportunity to hone in on SWCDC’s culture and mission — the vision and essence of this organization embody the importance of community engagement and social change. When I asked what Greg loves most about SWCDC, he mentioned the thoughtful, diligent staff and plethora of resources the organization is able to provide to its constituents. Their programs alleviate life stressors, like language barriers and unemployment, with the intention of improving neighborhood satisfaction and overall community wellbeing. Most importantly, SWCDC provides assistance for energy, gas, and water bills, allowing residents to comfortably support their families instead of weighing different necessities. With this support, Greg says, “you don’t have to say, ‘do I use heat, or do I buy medicine, or do I buy food?’” SWCDC uplifts the people of its core operational area, working tirelessly to provide aid, alongside other nonprofits in the area. They’ve partnered with organizations, like the CityLights Network, to come together for monthly networking meetings to share and learn from each other and increase community-building initiatives. Although most CDCs, including SWCDC, aim to cater to whole communities, in reality, they are only able to serve the “nucleus” of their map; as Greg explains, “they have a seated location, and then their service spirals out from there, or their understanding of their existence spirals out from there.” One of Greg’s goals at SWCDC was to increase awareness to parts of their service map to expand access and improve the quality of services offered, such as in the area he resides in. Greg “want[s] people to become aware of its [SWCDC’s] existence in the community and that there is a premium asset in the community, whether they personally utilize it or not.” On the surface, it appears that the Southwest CDC serves a predominantly Black community, but that viewpoint is narrow; Greg clarifies that we must also consider “the African immigrant population, the Southeast Asian immigrant population, and the Central American population” within the organization’s scope of influence. So, Greg made it a point to reach out to spokespeople of different segments of the community to ensure that their strongest representatives had voices on the SWCDC board. For example, Greg sought out people from the Liberian community to join the board, a population that was underrepresented. At times, however, some trusted leaders of


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communities were not able to actively join; yet, Greg still found it imperative to continue sharing resources with them, focusing on expanding outreach and reinforcing inclusivity. Despite efforts like Greg’s, one of the shortfalls of SWCDC is its lack of outreach, which subsequently results in minimal awareness of the organization’s existence. Ultimately, this negatively impacts fundraising, a point of concern for Greg. Oftentimes, there are shortfalls between contracts, state budget failures, and delayed payment provisions by contractors. This creates a financial burden for an organization completely reliant on contracts for funding. “It doesn’t build up any opportunity to have any emergency funds,” insists Greg. Lacking emergency funds means repairs cannot be made during shortfall periods. Amassing a contingency fund dedicated to deficits is paramount; Greg believes that in times of need, “[SWCDC] should be able to say ‘oh, the financial contract is being delayed, but we can pay.’” Furthermore, SWCDC ought to dedicate a point person to organize its donor list, hold fundraising events, send out email opportunities, reach out to individuals for financial donations, and create a volunteering program that can combat these financial dilemmas. Frequently touching base with community leaders and city officials can help raise awareness for this organization, building its credibility and drawing in clients that have the means to bolster its reach. If SWCDC is able to partner with neighboring universities, like the University of Pennsylvania, then increased local interaction can occur, the culmination of which will bring in volunteers who can provide fresh perspectives and give back to the community. To be able to resolve fundraising issues, there must be strong outreach. Yet, another overarching issue for the Southwest Community Development Corporation is its lack of digital communication and social media presence; Greg mentions, “We’re not in as technically-illiterate community as people would like to think. We have more access just via telephone, a cell phone, than people would imagine.” By having someone designated to handle their marketing and outreach, SWCDC can garner awareness about community issues and increase its scope of influence. Subsequently, Greg wholly believes, “People could be inspired to say, well, how do I help the organization? Do I physically volunteer, do I make a monetary donation to the organization?” Although social media platforms are essential for publicity in today’s world, SWCDC frequently utilizes its online newspaper, The Southwest Globe Times, to circulate opinions, programs, and events among community members. The organization’s focus is to publicize positive, rather than disturbing, news – “if the daily news and the Inquirer are giving the crime report daily, why should the community newspaper do the crime report locally?” insists Greg. Despite their optimistic stories, The Southwest Globe Times still has room for growth, as it has the potential to resolve both fundraising and social media issues. By placing advertisements in the newspaper and advertising the social media on the newspaper’s home page, not only will the newspaper be free, but it can also improve access and expand outreach. I have personally interacted with wonderful, humbling individuals during my internship at SWCDC and now recognize that they are a community of driven, emphatic community builders who’ve dedicated themselves to the individuals and families in their area. By getting involved, I have increased personal awareness of my community’s needs and vulnerabilities and learned how to actively volunteer locally, skills I could not have received solely from classes. As Greg puts it, “you’re getting more than you’re giving” from this experience. For those reading, I encourage you to reach out to the Southwest CDC in whatever capacity you can, whether it be by making a financial


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donation, taking some time to volunteer, or understanding their mission and vision. In the era we live in, it’s our duty to work towards bettering our communities, both for ourselves and for each other.


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Allie Beer, UPenn, Social Work Summer 2020 Video-Magazine for WorkReady https://www.canva.com/design/DAECKwibKG4/TljFhYv8cyAH1a7XEPxHQ/view?utm_content=DAECKwibKG4&utm_campaign=designshare&utm _medium=link&utm_source=publishsharelink#1


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Brooke Bernardin BTG CHIP Storytelling Project July 20, 2020 I did not ask T... about her life before coming to Covenant House, but even without hearing about her past, I know that she is no stranger to change. Every Covenant House resident has experienced change in some form, whether it is moving through the foster care system, being treated differently after coming out, or finding themselves unable to continue school. At the very least, every Covenant House resident has experienced a change in their life that left them without housing. Yet, T... has not been defeated by the changes she has faced in her life. I imagine that it is because of the resilience that she possesses. After hearing about T...’s time at Covenant House, it is clear that she has bounced back from a number of challenges. Now, with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on life as we know it, it is no surprise that T... still has a smile on her face and a plan for self-improvement. T... is on hiatus from her job at a day care center while Philadelphia inches towards reopening. She has “graduated” from Covenant House and currently lives in transitional housing. For now, she is focused on getting her Child Development Associate certification and said she is “not complaining” about the extra study time. She also said that she has been sleeping a lot which did not seem to bother her too much. The thing that she does miss, though, is being at work. T... genuinely has fun looking after the children at day care. She says that they keep her on her toes. “You can’t sit down,” she said with a smile. Though some people might complain about a setup like that, for T..., the fact that she can never sit down at work is a bonus. From T...’s descriptions of her time in the Covenant House community, I can tell that her job at the day care center was hard-won. T... described Covenant House as “stressful at times,” particularly in terms of her job search. In order to stay in shelter, Covenant House requires that the youth they house be actively looking for a job or engaging in educational or vocational training. When she arrived at Covenant House, T... had never had a job, so she had to navigate the process of job searching and interviewing for the first time. Although the process of getting a job was intimidating, T...described significant community support from the staff at Covenant


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House. She says that the supportive staff are the thing that makes the Covenant House community so great and emphasized that “if it wasn’t for the Cov, I wouldn’t be here now.” During her job search, the staff supported her with technical help as well as words of encouragement. T... remembers that Ms. Aimee, the clinical coordinator, encouraged her to “just have fun” at her interview for the daycare job that she has now. T... took Amy’s advice to overcome her nervousness and landed a job where she can still have fun every day. T... counts interactions like these, when she turned to the Covenant House staff for guidance and reassurance, as her best memories from the community. Beyond her job search, T... described difficulties with her emotional health that improved because of her relationships with the Covenant House staff. She described herself as being a “mess” when she arrived in shelter with “panic attacks and everything.” But through the emotional support that she received from the community, she was able to make it to where she is today. T... did describe some things that were tough about the current environment. In addition to her work being closed she said that it has been tough to go outside since the pandemic. Although she feels cooped up, she is uncomfortable with the fact that the people in her neighborhood do not wear masks when they go out. T... seemed frustrated that people were being irresponsible in a way that kept her from going outside and prevented Philadelphia from reopening. Overall, though, T... didn’t seem to be letting COVID-19 hold her back, viewing it as a temporary setback rather than a more permanent one.


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MANSION EVENING HOUSE CAMPUS A STUDENT'S PERSPECTIVE

Over a phone interview, Bridging the Gaps connected with a successful student from Mansion Evening House Campus, the adult campus of One Bright Ray's high-school diploma granting program. Below are some of the highlights from this conversation: Experience at Mansion Evening House The student shares she is greatly enjoying her experience at Mansion Evening House Campus, largely due to the fact that the school welcomed her with open arms. She states that this environment is greatly refreshing compared to her other schools. Previously she faced racism which thankfully she did not encounter at Mansion Evening House. In fact, she says that teachers check in with her every day when she comes in, and earnestly engage in conversation. If students seem upset or impatient, they can consult the school counselor. Additionally, her teachers also tried to make class fun. The student recalls one of her fondest memories involves her Spanish teacher when they were playing an entertaining game for getting to know classmates. Life Beyond School This student has a non-traditional schedule. She starts off her day by getting her children ready for their school. Then she goes to work as a house help. She has two classes from 4:30-8 pm for two days a week. She is very family orientated, often meeting with her mother and brother in her spare time.

Impact of Coronavirus Pandemic Next, we talked about how she has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Since March 2020, she has not been physically in school, which she observes has led to a significant decrease in her productivity. Especially given that she has two children at home and she moved to a new house with a poor WiFi connection, she finds focusing more difficult. This has hindered her academic achievement. She recalls how much more effective in person classes were, since she is a hands on learner and works best under the supervision of a teacher and other students. Hopes for the Future Given all the novel obstacles due to Covid-19, the student said she even considered stopping her education or asking for extensions. However, she has not followed through with these plans because she is passionate about completing her diploma. She aspires to continue her education by going to college, and pursuing a degree in early child development. Ultimately, she wants to work in obstetrics and gynecology, and help deliver newborns as a healthcare provider. She states this interest has come from her love of her son and daughter, whom she has been raising as a single mother with support as needed from her family and the children’s father. She aspires to move out of Philadelphia and start a fresh and peaceful life with her children after earning her diploma from Mansion Evening House Campus.

Thank You for Reading!

ONE BRIGHT RAY MANSION EVENING HOUSE CAMPUS


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Storytelling Project   Brian O’Sullivan  I spoke with Ted Behr, a longtime volunteer with a close relationship community to  Southwest Philadelphia. Ted began volunteering in Southwest Philadelphia with his church over  30 years ago and now helps manage the Globe Times, a local newspaper that shares positive  stories of the Southwest Philadelphia community. In our time together, Ted and I discussed  how COVID and the current Civil Rights movement in the country has affected the community  of Southwest Philadelphia. Ted described how COVID‐19 has hit the people of this community  at a much higher rate of sickness and death than the national average.  He described how much  of this problem comes down to frontline workers without frontline protection. The adults in  this community are exposed to the disease at a much higher rate because they are forced to  work low income wage jobs and due to little savings. At the same, time there is little done and  few resources provided that could protect them from spreading the virus. We discussed how  the civil rights movement in the nation has brought to light many of the racial injustices  experienced by this community and he hopes that the discussions will bring about real change.  It is Ted’s belief that less money should be allocated to the police’s weapon’s budget and that  there should be more ways to establish positive relationships and rapport with community  members and law enforcement.  He also touched on how violence from some of the protests  and subsequent looting resulting in property damage of many small businesses in the  community. Ted also discussed the concept of Toxic Charity; how people from outside the  community will come in with the intention of helping but leave after they have a “feel good”  experience. This creates a revolving door of volunteers and begs the question of for whom does  this volunteer and community relationship benefit?   I chose to depict our conversation in the form of a picture of a ship navigating through  rough and stormy seas (see below). The turbulent waters represent the threats and barriers to  the people’s health and wellbeing as identified by Ted. Written on the waves are words like  “lack of support”, racism, underfunding, police violence and poverty. I included the concept of  “toxic charity” we discussed because it serves to reinforce this dynamic. I drew a large surging  wave approaching the ship with the word “COVID” written on it to represent how the virus has  exposed and amplified the toxicity of all these other barriers to health. I chose to represent  these threats to health through waves because they are all part of the same ocean, the same  underlying problem and they work in synchronization to batter the ship and the safety of the  people on it.  The ship represents the strengths of people in southwest Philadelphia: their  strong foundation, faith, and sense of community are written on the ship representing what is  keeping them afloat. Additionally, written on the ship are assets to the community like  education, behavioral health supports, housing and establishing rapport with law enforcement  (something mentioned by Ted).  Together, these determinates work together to keep the ship  above water, and the people on it, alive and well.  


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1/1/2020

Budde, Chelsea  BTG‐CHIP 

Since graduating college, Chris Stout  has been passionate about the  mental health field and human  services. For the last three years,  Chris has devoted his time and  efforts in helping individuals in the  Allentown community with  intellectual disabilities as the  Director of The Clubhouse of the  Lehigh County. The mission of The  Clubhouse is to offer a safe and  healing environment for persons  with mental illness to reach their full  potential. The Clubhouse provides  members with opportunities and  support, reminding every individual  they are wanted and needed. Using  photos provided by Chris Stout, I  created a picture collage to provide a  visual of the connections and  support provided by Chris and The  Clubhouse. Membership to the  clubhouse is a membership for life. A  safe center where community  members can come together to  teach and empower each other and  build lifelong meaningful  connections.  


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Oppori i


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BTG Story Telling Project  P. Garrett Candelaria

Centro Nueva Creación is a nonprofit organization that operates and after‐school program and  summer camp for elementary school students in the Fairhill neighborhood of Philadelphia. Fairhill,  Philadelphia is the city’s the poorest neighborhood with 61% of the population living below the poverty  line and more than a 50% of children do not graduate high school. These numbers are stunning and  overwhelming. Centro exists to provide opportunity to children to assist with academic performance, try  new activities and experiences they may not have had otherwise, and to promote health and skills for  lifetime success. Despite best efforts, the ongoing covid‐19 health crisis has significantly impacted  Fairhill and the efforts of Centro.   Centro Nueva Creación is operated by community locals and funded through donations and  public funds from the DHS. Executive Director Maribel Lozada Arzuaga states her favorite thing about  working at Centro is the community. All the staff members involved at Centro are committed to “going  one step above” what is necessary for the students. At times this has been without pay due to delays  with funding. Lozada Arzuaga recalls a time where the staff, herself included, went about two months  without pay, despite this everyone still showed up for the children. Centro’s impact on the community is  evident in the fact that many staff members and volunteers are past students who wish to give back.  The 2020 Covid‐19 pandemic has had significant impact on Centro and the Fairhill community  leaving many with a feeling of uncertainty. Many families have lost their jobs and have had to search for  other forms of income as many do not qualify for public assistance programs. With schools being closed  this has forced families to leave their younger children with family, friends or older siblings. Centro itself  has also been significantly impacted. The staff members faced difficulty in having to adapt an entire  summer camp into an online format. The camp’s attendance has been decreased significantly due to a  lack of internet access and other difficulties. When purchasing computer equipment for the site three 


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years ago having webcam and microphone capabilities were not a concern which has left Centro in a  difficult position. Centro does not have adequate funding available for IT personnel and technological  issues can cause major issues and delays. It has also experienced a decrease in funding as most of its  public funds are paid by attendance. Without adequate attendance Centro cannot be supported.   Families and educators have also been concern about the Philadelphia School District’s push to  return to in‐person instruction this September especially as COVID‐19 cases are on the rise. This could  lead to increase in number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths as well as present a financial burden.  The pandemic has already disproportionately affected minorities and impoverished communities and a  return to normal social interaction could accelerate this issue.  Coronavirus has left the Fairhill community and Centro Nueva Creación in a difficult situation.  Despite best efforts to adapt to virtual education it has been evident that it has created larger gaps and  left many more children slipping through hem. Without access to a computer or internet online  education is impossible and even with access the challenges of converting a curriculum to online and  maintain student attendance is daunting. A return to in‐person instruction does not fix this issue either.  With COVID‐19 cases on the rise teachers and families feel increasingly anxious about a return to in‐ person education. Many community members have expressed sentiment that they would not return  their child to in‐person education regardless of the recommendation of the School District. As a  community with many uninsured, contracting an illness can create an entirely new financial burden for  the families.  The pandemic has made disparities in our communities increasingly clearer and despite  best efforts to bridge the gaps many continue to fall through. 


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UC Green Presents: Tree Stories The Caucasian zelkova The Woodlands

THE CHARISMATIC TREE Trees have historical significance to both individuals and the community. For Robin, the Facilities and Landscape Manager at the Woodlands Cemetery, her favorite historical tree on the grounds, “Is the Caucasian zelkova. It is incredibly rare in the United States and is in a very obvious place on-site. It is very charismatic and eye-catching because the branches are fused together so it has this fairytale look.” A tree can tell the story of those long gone, but it can also provide an explanation as to how we got to where we are today. Robin reflects on William Hamilton, whose residence is the mansion at the cemetery, and how his passion for botany allowed one of her favorite trees to exist at the Woodlands. “Hamilton introduced a lot of new, non-native plants to the area. He had an array of Zelkovas planted between the house and the stables and all of them have died. But the one we have now came as a rootsucker from one of the original trees. So, though it is not one of the original trees, it has a tie to the original trees which is super cool.” As for the future, Robin believes that is the beautiful potential of trees. “They can and should outlive us all. Something I plant now will, hopefully, be around for a very long time. Thus, we are not just planting these trees for our enjoyment right now, but also for many years to come.”

They can and should outlive us all. - Robin


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Philly SoftPretzels BY LINDA CHAN ABOUT AMIRRA JENKINS

You will need: 1 pkg. Active Instant dry yeast 4-5 cups of all-purpose flour 2 tsp. Salt  4 tsp. Baking soda  Coarse Salt

FOR DETAILS ON THE RECIPE, CHECK OUT:HTTPS://WWW.COOKS.COM/RECIPE/9D5RL4HG/PHILADELPHIA-SOFTPRETZELS.HTML


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Instructions

1. Mix 4 cups of flour and 2 tsps of salt in a bowl. Add active instant yeast and if necessary, additional flour to make dough stiffer. Let the process begin! Throw in some motivation and enthusiasm into this pretzel to let it rise! Yeast is a key ingredient in baking or in this case, the making of pretzels to help the dough rise and double in size. Though Amirra does not look for yeast to help build herself up, she loves to scroll through Instagram, looking for inspirational people to follow. In fact, that was the platform that drew her and No More Secrets together. 2. Kneading of the dough: This action helps to make the dough smooth and elastic. Just like the making of the pretzel, Amirra and her community show great resilience throughout the hardships they face and have overcome. Surprisingly, it is the kneading and hardships that draw them even closer. 3. Roll the dough into a ball and let it rise for ~45 minutes With the addition of yeast and introduction to Ms. Lynette of No More Secrets, Amirra became more involved with No More Secrets. Other than receiving free menstrual products for herself and her family, Amirra brings in No More Secrets to her school for workshops about periods, feminine hygiene, female reproductive system, and the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit. She continues to share information about No More Secrets with her community and peers and even prepares small little period kits for her friends in case of emergencies. Though she has found Ms. Lynette and see her as a mentor, Amirra never stops searching for more mentorship through various ways to improve herself and help her achieve her goals of becoming a social worker. 4. Divide the dough into quarters, then divide each quarter into 4 balls of dough. Take one ball of dough and roll it between your hands to form a coil and shape it into a pretzel shape (repeat) COVID-19 made an abrupt appearance in the United States, causing cities across the country to lock down and families to stay at home in quarantine. The lack of community and social interaction has been difficult for many, including Amirra and her neighborhood. However, despite the physical separation and social distancing, Amirra loves her community for how closely knit they are. In fact,COVID-19 brought them closer than before! Even during these tough times, her community comes together by offering to help with groceries, hosting socially distanced block-parties, and checking up on one another. No matter the difficulties COVID-19 may have placed on the community, they will find a way to continue supporting one another.


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5. In a pot, dissolve 4 tsps of baking soda in 4 cups of boiling water and drop the pretzels into the boiling water. Let the pretzel boil until it floats. Remove the pretzel and drain. Baking Soda in this step serves to help create the nice golden look on pretzels without the need to over bake it in the next step. Prior to No More Secrets, Amirra did not know what Period Poverty was nor was she aware of how prevalent the issue is within her own community. However, after she shared with others about the free menstrual products No More Secrets provides and the menstrual education that she received from Ms. Lynette, a new fire was lit inside of her to help end Period Poverty and make it known to others. 6. Place the drained pretzels on buttered baking sheets, sprinkle salt and bake at 475 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes or until golden brown. 7. Place on a rack to cool and you may now enjoy your warm and beautiful pretzels. This recipe can make at least four soft-pretzels, which means a great opportunity to share with others and spread the love! Amirra has participated in protests to end Period Poverty in Washington DC and has even appeared on CBS Philly to spread awareness of Period Poverty! Looking at the ingredients individually, it is very difficult to piece together what the final product may be. However, when mixed together it can create something as unique and tasty as soft pretzels. Likewise, Amirra’s background and experiences have shaped her to who she is today, a proud, motivated, and resilient young Black women who aspires to become a social worker in the future and help more people. As an ambassador for No More Secret, Amirra speaks out against Period Poverty and seeks to help others not only be educated on menstrual education, but get access to menstrual products. With her bright and cheerful personality, she offers a helping hand to those who are unfamiliar with menstruation and destigmatize the topic. She hopes that people around her will be more proud and accepting of their own body and the menstrual process just as she has come to appreciate it over the years.


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Who is CLC? - BTG Storytelling Project By: Casey Cheng at Community Learning Center https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GWQGu5TOU8


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Mia Cheslock Interview with Ms. L 1. Tell us a little bit about yourself  Born in Detroit, MI but moved to Philadelphia when she was 2 years old  She is 67 years old and has resided in North Philadelphia for 33 years now  Was married to her husband for 33 years  Lost her husband (51yrs old), her son (31 yrs old) and her grandchild  Has stayed strong through her religious faith and her close relationship with her daughter in law and her grandchild  Loves to cook and bake which she uses as a stress relief  Sees numerous doctors for every part of her body but her heart being the most severe o Was put on a lot of medication but she said it was not working so she stopped taking them o Ended up going through withdraw, not realizing she was addicted to them in the first place 2. How covid-19 has affected you and your community?  Two positives are… o She hasn’t gone into those stressful doctors’ appointments that she had before Coronavirus o She got a new cat to keep her company during quarantine and the pandemic  Her street isn’t as busy and not many cars anymore, so she is able to go for long walks o But since the weather is getting hotter, she hasn’t been able to get outside much o Also, she had a TV fall on her foot which has kept her from her daily walks, but she said it is feeling better  Part of the Farm to Families Program, who delivers her food every week which she calls one of her biggest blessings o Has kept her away from walking to the market and contracting the virus o Has become close with the college students who have been delivering her food who have been a great support system for her o She has received necessary supplies to bake for her neighbors and cook healthier options for dinner 3. Strengths and Weaknesses of your community  Addresses that her community is in a food desert o Little access to quality produce o There are cheap takeout restaurants nearby, but they negatively affect health outcomes  High in sodium  Decrease in cardiovascular health  Tries to put her passion of love into the community o Is nice to everyone in the community and even if someone isn’t nice back, she does not let it bring her down


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  

A lot of the neighbors play their music really loud which she doesn’t like because then it’s hard for her to hear her own tv and music Addressed that a lot of the black residents in her community are set up for failure Acknowledges that there is a lot of violence in the area which makes it stressful for the residents living there; and the younger population who lack education and/or income are at risk in getting involved and/or they go to the corner store to get alcohol or marijuana

4. What does cardiovascular health mean to you?  She addressed that heart health is a huge aspect in her life  Her son who passed away, died from an enlarged heart  Right now, her heart is her most severe medical issue, so she tries to eat heart healthy foods and exercise as much as she can  She’s thankful that farm to families provides her with what she needs and also this program benefits her from avoiding painful situations that she usually would run into if she had to go to the market herself


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From Pittsburg to Philadelphia: A Pursuit of Purpose

The Secret of MANNA

Joe Fogiato, Logistics Manager at MANNA Joe Fogiato moved from Pittsburg to Philadelphia in August 2019 after wanting to have a change in the direction of his life. He was working at a corporate job in retail, but every night he would go home and feel bad and unsatisfied. He questioned the purpose of his job.

“What impact am I making?” He had an opportunity to move to Philadelphia and took the chance. This chance would allow him to do something that would make him feel good, something that would be purposeful, and something that would make an impact a positive impact on others. This was when he found a job opportunity at MANNA as a logistics manager

Favorite Memory at MANNA During the first two months of working at MANNA, one of the clients somehow didn’t receive his meals for the week. This was an already stressful day and Joe did not really need to add onto that day. Nevertheless, Joe called and said that he would be able to deliver the client’s meal at the end of the day. He arrived at the client’s door, rang the bell, and opened to see a beaming smile. The client was so thankful towards Joe for delivering the meal.

This moment has really stuck with Joe and has demonstrated to him how impactful MANNA and his work is. That admits the craziness, there is still good.

The community of MANNA, for Joe, is demonstrated through the executive leadership team. This was a team that stood up to the challenge of COVID, a team that is passionate and dedicated to the clients of MANNA, a team that was open and honest about the uncertainty of how to best lead the organization under unprecedented circumstances. This is a team in which the team is willing to do everything they can to ensure that their clients get the food that they need.

“MANNA uses nutrition to improve health for people with serious illnesses who need nourishment to heal. By providing medically tailored meals and nutrition education, we empower people to improve their health and quality of life.” This mission statement of MANNA really impacted Joe. This was an organization that was good, purposeful, and impactful. It would benefit people who need support throughout an aspect of an individual’s health. He knew the importance of nutrition after seeing his mother pass away from cancer when he was young. He knew how nutrition could impact someone’s healing process and he wanted to be able to contribute to the health of someone in such a way.

Now, as the logistics manager of MANNA he helps with the operational side of MANNA. He supervises the cooking of food, the packing, to storage, and the delivery of the meals to the clients.


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I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Ms. S, a teacher at East Norriton Middle School who is actively teaching students in the gifted education program for grades 5 to 8. Ms. S specializes in teaching creative writing, and her goal is to help children write professionally. She is currently partnered with Healthy NewsWorks, an organization encouraging young writers to interview health professionals and write journal entries on what they’ve learned. The entries are combined into a newsletter, and each year East Norriton Middle School produces 2-3 newsletters. Ms. S is proud of her community (Norristown) because she sees it as a place filled with diversity, friendly families, and an abundance of different cultures despite the bad reputation commonly associated with Norristown due to the prevalence of gun violence and poverty in the area. One of her favorite memories as a teacher there was hosting a 5K run that raised $1200 as a part of a community outreach project to donate to the salvation army and families in poverty. After the recent protests that occurred in their community, Ms. S is sad to see all the racism arising against her students, whom she claims are good kids and not “thugs”. In addition to the protests, her community was also negatively affected by the Covid-19 global pandemic. Although all her students are provided with a chrome book, many students have poor internet connection at home, which on top of the lack of hands-on activities, makes online teaching quite challenging. She is also worried about her students who are facing depression due to the lack of social interaction during this global pandemic. Ms. S is always stressing the importance of cardiovascular health to her students and encourages them to keep moving and doing physical exercise. She serves as the coach for “Girls on the Run” (program enhancing physical and mental health for young


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adults) and recommends the “gear up� program for those struggling with mental health problems. Despite all the negativities of the pandemic, Ms. S sees positive outcomes as well, such as spending more time with her students and building a closer relationship with her co-workers through zoom meetings and remains hopeful that the recent events will teach us all to become better citizens and people in general.


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BTG Storytelling Project   Olivia Chough  

For my storytelling project, I had the pleasure of speaking with a long time member of the 11th  Street community.  I often saw her name as a frequent participant in 11th Street’s yoga classes, and  recognized her friendly voice and attitude.  She answered the phone with a joyful hello, and I knew it  was going to be an enjoyable conversation.  All of the experiences she shared with me exemplified her  supportive character, and I feel grateful that I was able to interview her.    She spoke of the supportive nature of her community, remembering how her neighbors shared  candles during a power outage, their community food exchange at the Salvation Army during the  current pandemic, and their constant support for each other surrounding the Black Lives Matter  movement.  When she was new to the neighborhood, as well as a new mother, she discussed a time a  neighbor offered to watch her kids, allowing her to rest.  As an oath to her and the community’s  uplifting spirit, I drew the yogi’s hands holding each other up.  In addition, their hands complete the ‘Y’  in “Family”, symbolizing how 11th Street and the community members are a family that truly cares about  one another.  Around 5 years ago, she began frequenting 11th Street’s yoga classes, where she met  lifelong friends in community members and staff.  I drew the two women to represent the friendships  and meaningful connections that she has made over the years.  Lastly, she is a proud Drexel dragon, and  we were able to bond over our shared experience.  Our phone call was a joy to have, almost as if I’d  known her for years.  I am lucky to have had such an incredible person to speak with, and I know her  community is lucky to have her.   


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Sophia Conners- Storytelling Project Final video with Casey Cheng Interviews conducted individually https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GWQGu5TOU8


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CITY WITHOUT LIMITS By Emelyn Cruz Community prevails Isolation from the virus has only brought us closer The perfect storm has brought us all together You will fall in love with the culture With gentrification, we demand the inclusion of the community Illustrating what we want our future to look like Trusting each other to push forward the community Helping ourselves and our future generations Opportunities are coming Ultimately our destination is in our hands The fight against injustice will never stop Las bodegas forming part of the culture of the city Inclusion for all Many cultures blending together Inevitably you will fall in love with the energy The possibilities are endless Stigma surrounds the city, but the city’s real values triumph


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Preya Desai 

Center for Advocacy for the Rights & Interests of the Elderly  BTG Summer 2020 Storytelling Project  Connection matters.   Nursing home residents have not seen their loved ones in over 100 days. Since the beginning of  March when the COVID‐19 pandemic ravaged nursing homes, visitation was restricted  immediately and the ban has yet to be lifted. Residents are suffering from social isolation,  frustrations/anxieties, care, and oversight. The right to visitation matters equally as much as  protecting residents and staff from the virus.  For many nursing home residents, a visit is not simply a social call. Many family members serve  additional roles, such as acting as essential caregivers and care monitors. Their involvement is  crucial, especially at facilities with staffing shortages. Visitors make sure that their loved ones  eat, receive daily hygiene, and maintain communication with the staff. Family members are  often the first to notice changes in a resident’s condition. As could be expected, without regular  visitation, the quality of care has been found to be poor for residents. The sudden disruption in  residents’ contact with loved ones has led to significant declines in residents’ cognition and  function, in addition to distress among family members.   June 30th was officially deemed Visitations Saves Lives Day, a national movement to restore  visitation to long‐term care facilities through a safe, designated visitor program. Families were  able to share stories about their loved ones in long‐term care facilities and how over 100 days  of isolation has impacted their lives.   The devastation that the lack of visitation has brought to residents and family members is  captured below:  “…My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s … in addition to the Alzheimer’s, she has  mobility issues and leukemia (it was well managed with medicine) so she needed more  care than my sister or I could provide, especially as mothers of young children … She is  no longer able to walk or participate in meaningful conversations. However, before this  lockdown, she still recognized my sister and me and enjoyed our visits.  On March 6, I stopped by to see her in what would turn out to be our last physical visit  together. If I had only known, I would have stayed much longer. On the evening of  March 10, I received a call that the nursing home was locking their doors that night.  They were the first local home to lock their doors, well before the governor started  shutting things down. They provided no notice for us to say goodbye. I expressed my  concern that Mom being isolated from her family and friends would kill her.  Unfortunately, my predictions are proving correct. My mom has been losing weight  every month and sleeps for most of the day. She has qualified for Hospice but even that  can't get me in to see her. I will be allowed in only after it has been decided that she is 


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within her last week of life. I do the weekly window and video visits but the best way to  communicate with her is through physical presence and touch. The lack of real visitation  is hastening my mother's death and is robbing her of any quality of life during these last  precious months. Most of her days are spent alone in her room. Due to her  communication difficulties, my mother usually sleeps through or interacts only with the  staff member during our weekly video and window visits. The few times she does  understand and is awake enough, she cries. My memory of our first window visit is heart  wrenching, she asked me to come in and when I said I couldn't, she started to cry, I  cried, and even the staff member cried. This is a fate worse than death. Although it will  break my heart to never see her again in person, I now pray for a painless death in her  sleep so this horrible nightmare can be over for her.”  The clock is ticking. Visitation must be restored to further prevent the damage that prolonged  isolation is imposing on residents and their loved ones.  Visitation saves lives. 


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Interview with North Philly Community Member Ms. L  1) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? a. Born in Detroit, MI but moved to the Philadelphia area at a very young age and has resided in North Philadelphia specifically since 1988 b. Has experienced a great deal of loss throughout her lifetime (husband, son, grandchild) but has persisted through her strong faith, close relationship with daughter‐in‐law/grandchild, and stress relieving activities like cooking and baking c. Sees a number of doctors for conditions all over her body with heart being the most severe so very familiar with the healthcare system in North Philly/Temple 2) How has COVID‐19 affected your life? a. Actually has been a slight positive for her…has cut down on stressful doctor’s appointments and has a new kitten to keep her company b. Does not leave the house outside of a walk around the neighborhood occasionally but does not seem to mind it much c. Food deliveries via Farms to Family has been her biggest blessing as she no longer needs to go to markets where she could potentially contract the virus 3) What do you want people to learn about your community? a. Has a positive outlook on her community but emphasizes that a lot of the black residents are set up for failure b. Specifically acknowledges that it is a food desert with little access to quality produce and instead numerous Chinese restaurants and other cheap takeout restaurants that negatively affect health outcomes down the road (high sodium/ cardiovascular health) c. Attributes a lot of the violence in the area to the above as it sets up a high stress environment; and the younger populations that lack education and income instead chase a high or buzz that they can afford from the corner store like alcohol and marijuana 4) How has the Farms to Families program influenced your life? a. Ms. L considers it to be a true blessing and incredibly beneficial to her lifestyle  and hobbies.  Receives the necessary supplies to cook healthier options like stir‐ fry and is able to bake because of the fruit provided to her at a reasonable price b. Additionally, she has connected with a few graduate students that complete her delivery, and they seem to be a strong support system for her (referred to them as her sons) c. I am inferring a bit here but with her history of cardiovascular disease, Ms. L is a  great example of the population whose short and long term health relies on programs like F2F providing healthy dietary options at a reasonable price. Because of her history of arthritis and fibromyalgia, eliminating painful trips to the stores is an added bonus 


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Though I have only known Ms. L for a few weeks now, she has been one of the most  influential people that I have met in Philadelphia.  I greatly admire her courage to persist  through numerous emotional and physical hardships, keep a strong faith, and continue to  provide help in the community despite the hand she has been dealt.  People like Ms. L  encourage me to play a part in positive change in communities like North Philadelphia, and I  intend to continue throughout my career as a physician.  Additionally, I believe that‐with her history of cardiovascular disease‐Ms. L is a great  example of the population whose short and long‐term health relies on programs like Farms to  Families providing healthy dietary options at a reasonable price.  Numerous times throughout  the interview, she referenced how difficult it was to get quality produce in the area and foods  extremely high in sodium were the only affordable options for most community members.  The  cardiovascular disease that results from such food scarcity is obvious, but Ms. L also taught me  something that I had not previously considered:  The poor dietary options and resulting poor  health contributes to a high stress environment that leads to poor decision making and  violence in the community.   Though she does her best to seek out quality produce through  organizations like F2F, many community members settle with the cheap options in the area.    Bridging the Gaps has taught me so much about the people in different neighborhoods of  Philadelphia, provided the opportunity to connect with a new friend in Ms. L, and proved to  me that I can help to make a difference as a community leader my entire life; and for that, I  will be forever grateful. 


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STORYTELLING PROJECT THOMAS DIFILIPPO – BTG 2020


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ABOUT THE INTERVIEW • For my storytelling project I decided to interview Christen Johnson from Philadelphia Futures

• She has been with Philadelphia Futures for 8 years, is currently the Director of Outreach and Engagement


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TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU DO WITH PHILLY FUTURES


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WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT THE COMMUNITY YOU SERVE?


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WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE RESOURCES AND STRENGTHS OF THE COMMUNITY?


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HOW HAS THE PANDEMIC AFFECTED YOUR WORK?


Page 51 of 211 Tess Doran July 20, 2020 University of Pennsylvania Students Run Philly Style Radical Running Running has always been seen as a sport where more affluent predominately Caucasian men have excelled. Women were not only discouraged from running, but not too many years ago it was actually forbidden for women to compete in marathon races. In 1967, Kathrine Switzer at just 20 years old made running history by becoming the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon. Race officials and other male runners tried to physically stop her from running and even went as far as to push her out of the way while she was running. This woman is still alive, and so is her legacy. Today, running is embraced by many of all backgrounds and communities. It is a sport where little equipment is needed in order to succeed. However, something that is vital to success in the running world is the community the runner is a part of. Students Run Philly Style (SRPS) is that community for many young runners in Philadelphia, and serves to not only help youth become better runners, but also to help them navigate some of the difficulties of this world. Students Run Philly Style is a mentor-based program and community which uses running to help students improve their confidence, discipline, and goal-setting abilities. Students and mentors train together and set a goal to run a long-distance race of either 10 miles, a half marathon, or a full marathon. SRPS seeks to provide students the opportunity to build confidence, social skills, work ethic, and an overall healthy lifestyle. One staff member in particular who helps make this happen is Amy. Amy started her career as a program manager working with Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) in Philadelphia. Her focus was on nutrition where she worked with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to ensure that children and young families 1


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received the necessary nutrition education for them to make healthy eating and food choices. She remembers discovering Students Run Philly Style when the former director of the non-profit described the purpose of the company (using running as a vessel for mentorship) at a conference in such a fun and impactful way that she knew she had to be a part of it. Amy thinks of her community at SRPS as being a safe, inclusive, and positive space where the staff and students always bring their best selves. She remembers fondly her first marathon experience on a chilly day in November where as part of the staff, she spent the day encouraging and high-fiving runners. She recalls thinking to herself, “this is the right place to be right now� as she experienced first-hand all of the support the company provides to both herself and all of the students accomplishing such an amazing feat in the form of completing a marathon. As a non-profit, Students Run Philly Style receives many resources from the community in terms of funding and support. However, its biggest resource is the passion each member has. SRPS would not be possible without the community of mentors who volunteer their time each year to help lead and mentor a group of runners. Though the vast majority of these volunteers have full time jobs and families of their own, they still make it a priority to create relationships with the students which last years into the future. Training for a marathon takes dedication and commitment, and some of these mentors spend up to 10 hours per week running with their group and along with it spend time having conversations which may have an even bigger impact on these youth than the running itself. In recent months, SRPS has faced both COVID-19 as well as civil unrest in the city of Philadelphia. Amy pointed out that while it would have been very easy for staff members of SRPS to sit back and do nothing, this is not the SRPS way. Though runners were not able to meet in person to train, and though several of the organization’s biggest races such as the

2


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Philadelphia half and full marathon have been cancelled, this has not stopped SRPS from excelling. The program team has been hard at work to move the platform to that of a virtual one, which has allowed runners and mentors to connect in new ways than ever before. Everyone has been invested in working things through in order to see the success of the young runners. Additionally, SRPS released a full statement following the death of George Floyd and the initiation of protests in Philadelphia reiterating SRPS’ core values and promise to stand up against systemic racism and other injustices in the city. Currently, an initiative called “Radical Running� is being developed by staff members which speaks to the issue mentioned earlier in this piece of running being predominantly a white, male sport. The students who participate in Students Run Philly Style come from very diverse backgrounds and many of them identify as a minority. They live in zip codes with statistically higher poverty levels and thus have a higher likelihood of poorer cardiovascular outcomes. Therefore, the fact that our students are able to push the boundaries of what running is, proves that they are in themselves, radical runners. To be a radical runner one must encompass the values of passion, diligence, and the willingness to push for positive change. Amy and the other members of Students Run Philly Style are the definition of radical runners, as they truly believe in the power of the running community and all it has to offer those that choose to join. SRPS is a community that cares not only for the success of their runners on race day, but during every day of training and recovery, and the relationships that are formed side by side in strides will continue much further past 26.2 miles and into the walk of life.

3


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Allentown: Then, Now, & in the Future  By Abigail Dugo  2020,  July  17.  Allentown.  A 

Allentown is  a  unique  place. 

city of  cultural  diversity.  A  city 

The combination  of  being  close  to 

that, despite  changing  economics 

major cities  like  Philadelphia  and 

and

populations,

New

remained

unified

has

as

a

York,

its

large

Hispanic

community, and  the  Pennsylvania 

community. RB,  a  near  lifelong 

Dutch population in the area make 

Allentonian, adores  learning  about 

it a  melting  pot  rich  in  culture. 

the different  cultures  of  his 

Despite these raving reviews, there 

neighbors and  the  sense 

is a  stigma  posited  by  the  media 

community

that

of

comes with 

living in Allentown. 

that

Allentown

is

a

dangerous place,  something  RB

Growing up  he  remembers 

says just  isn’t  true;  instead,  he 

the culture shock when moving to a 

urges people  to  take  part  in 

predominantly

events such  as  the  Puerto  Rican 

Hispanic

community in  the  fifth  grade.  He 

Day Parade,  visit  local  restaurants 

recalled learning  about  Latinx  food 

and

and music,  learning  to  dance 

conversations with the residents.  

bodegas,

and

have

Merengue and  Bachata,  saying,  “It  was a wonderful thing growing up.” 

“What makes  Allentown  is  the  people,”  he  says.  “Don’t  let  what  the  media  tells  you  …  hinder  you 


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from the  opportunity  to  meet  the  wonderful  people  and  wonderful  relationships 

and

great

community.”   As  a  long‐term  resident,  RB  has  seen  how  Allentown  has  changed.  Gentrification  in  center  city has pushed out many black and  brown  people  who  can  no  longer  afford to live there. “We used to go  to  Hamilton  Street  and  Hamilton  Street  had  everything.  [They  had]  our cellphones, we used to get our  shoes and our clothes and we used  to  go  through  the  bodegas  and  the  Chinese  restaurant  …  that  energy  has changed.”   More  recently,  COVID  has  brought even more change. Schools  closed  and  people  lost  their  jobs.  More time was spent at home, and  families bonded and grew closer.  

Protests for  racial  justice  brought  neighbors together in the streets as  soon  as  quarantine  restrictions  began  to  lift.  But  an  even  bigger  storm was brewing. A few days ago,  Allentown  made  national  news  when a video circulated of a police  officer  kneeling  on  a  man’s  neck.  Though  this  brutality  is  not  new  to  Allentown,  RB  said  it  was  the  perfect  storm  for  action  to  finally  be taken. With people still spending  lots  of  time  at  home,  they  had  nothing to do but watch  the  video  and  collectively  become  upset.  People 

who

have

gotten

participating

wouldn’t

otherwise

involved in 

are

protests.

Politicians are feeling the pressure.  “Things  have  to  shift,  and  they’re  going to shift.” 


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In the  future,  RB  hopes  for  what  any  parent  and  community  member  hopes  for:  that  education  will 

be

improved,

after

school

programs will  be  created  and  funded,  people  will  be  paid  livable  wages,  and  the  housing  crisis  will  be addressed. “If you’re not getting  with the program of the people then  your  seat  and  your  position  is  in  danger.” 


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Alex Eaton  BTG CHIP Storytelling Project  7/23/2020 

Today I met with a woman that I’ll call Mia, and we spoke about her, her life, and her  pregnancy experience as a woman at 37 weeks. I was connected to Mia by my site who has an  interest in the Doula program that Mia is a part of, and as I asked her the questions that the  organization is hoping to learn, I also learned a lot about her and who she is.  Mia is an only child born to older parents in Betheham, PA. When she was about 3.5  years old, she moved to Philadelphia, and at 12 her parents split. While her mom stayed in  Philly, she was constantly moving around to visit her father as he moved from Norristown to NJ  and then finally back to philly. She now lives in Delaware county, where she lives by herself, but  soon to be with her newborn son.   Mia is a staffing coordinator for a home health company, and is a self‐described  “workaholic”, calling work her “comfort zone”. While she may be working a lot, the past few  months have been immensely busy for Mia in other regards, as she is nearing the end of her  pregnancy. As a woman with PCOS, asthma, and many other medical issues, getting and staying  pregnant has been a problem for her. In fact, she shared with me how in the past she had a  miscarriage, and how terribly difficult that was for her. Because of this history, she called her  current pregnancy a “rainbow baby”, as she and her doctors didn’t think it would every be able  to happen for her.  As a very independent person, it was very interesting to hear about Mia’s work with her  Doula Keacha. Keacha has been an incredible resource through the whole pregnancy for Mia,  and when I asked how she would rate her services, she said Keacha is 1000. A large component  of their positive relationship is the strength Keacha has instilled in Mia to be persistent, to ask  questions of her doctors, and to not accept a half‐assed answer from them. Mia new early on  this pregnancy would be difficult, and when her baby started growing faster and larger than  normal, she was disappointed to find doctors wouldn’t listen to her concerns. Mia was in  considerable pain as her baby grew rapidly inside her, not giving her body the chance to  properly reorganize. This problem was compounded even further by COVID‐19, as telehealth  visits don’t lend themselves towards physical examinations. It wasn’t until Mia finally confessed  this discomfort and fear at an in‐person ultrasound visit that the physician noticed the  irregularity of her baby’s growth, as well as a serious case of gestational hypertension.  At this point Mia was frustrated and distrustful of the medical establishment, yet was  still clearly immensely grateful for the physician who finally listened to her and heard her  concerns. When I mentioned how meaningful it was for me to hear about these experiences  and to learn what to do as well as what not to do, she told me about her wonderful 


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pediatrician. Mia told me about how this doctor would work with her and her mother through  many complicated medical diagnoses from the time she was 6 years old. She told me about  how the doctor would sit down with them and research the conditions right there with them, to  show them trust and transparency, and to work with them to find a solution. Their relationship  is so wonderful, in fact, that she is now going to bring her son to see this very same  pediatrician.   All in all, the chance to speak with Mia was a wonderful experience, and reinforced for  me the type of doctor I want to be for my patients. I want to be a resource for the parents as  much as for the children, and to support them in every way I can. 


A Conversation with Helpers Working With Those Affected by Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)

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"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world." -Fred Rogers

How would you describe the community you work in? • Dynamic, ever-changing • Reflection of the clients at the time • Regardless of how the parents are, the children always forge friendships • There is less interpersonal conflict amongst the clients when the people in it are motivated to improve their situation

If there was one policy you could change, what would it be? • I would make our workshops on IPV education and awareness mandatory sessions (all workshops are currently voluntary per state guidelines) • Increase male volunteers because many of the young men need that male-to-male mentorship that often isn’t present in the shelter

What are the biggest challenges of working with people affected by intimate partner violence? • Once somebody enters a shelter, there is a schedule and structure set in place to help them adapt. Having people buy into and follow that can be hard. • Housing instability can be a result of IPV which causes learning loss in children we have to try to prevent • Children have various problems as a result of the situation they are in we need to be aware of What lessons have you learned working with this population? • IPV affects EVERYONE • IPV differs across communities and culture • There are detrimental effects on children even if they are not directly involved • How to be nonjudgmental and understanding of each person’s unique situation


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So Much Depends Upon Poetry Series   A Reflection on Bridging the Gaps CHIP 2020  By Emily Danilak 

This poetry series was inspired the author, Emily’s, talks with both of her site supervisors—   Kate Baumgardner at Visitation Homes and Marissa York at Urban Tree Connection. Although  these sites have vastly different goals and offer different services, one thing they have in  common is the race of people that they serve. At both sites, a majority of the individuals are  African Americans. At both of Emily’s sites, the supervisors highlighted the challenges being a  colored person in today’s world that their individuals experience.   Notably, this poetry series reflects the stories told by countless individuals that the student has  encountered throughout her internship with Bridging the Gaps. Although Emily’s conversations  with her site supervisors informed the creation of this series, it was also influenced by  observation, program speakers, and the book Between the World and Me.  As a result, Emily created a piece that was representative one common challenge faced by the  individuals at both of her sites, as well as many other people in the world— racism. Poems in  this series target that subject, as well as the themes of chance, privilege, and justice. Many of  the poems are inspired by events that have occurred during 2020, a year that saw many  demands for justice. Through the creation of these poems, she hopes to add her voice to the  growing chorus that demands the need to combat racial injustice. 


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Home So much  Depends upon   The street  On which,   The house  In which,  You’re born,  You live. 


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                      Chance    So much  Depends upon     The luck  Of the    Draw, things   Not controlled,    chance, circumstance,  your legacy.           


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Skin   So much  Depends upon   Your skin,   Its color  The privileges  It carries,   Or privileges  It denies.  


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                      Laws    So much  Depends upon     Laws. Written   And unwritten,     That give   Your skin     Privilege, Or   deny it.  


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Brutality So much  Depends upon   Many loved  Ones killed.   Disproportionately affected,  targeted. By   those who  should protect. 


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Guns So much  Depends upon   The heartache,   The hopelessness,   of watching   Your friend,   Your brother,   Shot dead. 


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Generational Trauma   So much  Depends upon   The fear,  Deep‐seeded from  The injustice,   Which Lives   And is   passed on. 


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Black Lives Matter  So much  Depends upon   A movement,   Its hope,  Solidarity, and  The courage   To right   Historic injustices. 


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Introspection So much  Depends upon   The vital   realization that   your luck,   your skin,  has granted  you privilege. 


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Eye‐Opening So much  Depends upon   The recognition  That justice   Doesn’t exist   for all,   even if  for you.  


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Listening   So much   depends upon   The willingness  To listen   to the   voices that   demand to  be heard.  


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Solidarity So much  Depends upon   The willingness   to stand   With those  Who yearn  For justice  And change. 


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Together So much  Depends upon   The courage  To join,   To stand  And demand   Justice for   All people.  


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Persistence So much  Depends upon   Persistence, to   keep fighting,  to speak   loudly, until  all voices  are heard.  


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Hope So much  Depends upon   Hope in  The possibility,  Belief in  The chance,  That justice  Will arise. 


Page 76 of 211 SUMMER 2020 | BRIDGING THE GAPS

Interview at

ST. RAYMOND'S HOUSE A GLIMPSE INTO THE LIFE OF "K," A RESIDENT OF ST. RAYMOND'S HOUSE OF PHILADELPHIA

ABOUT K By Courtney Eng | Drexel University College of Medicine I was born in New York state in the suburbs. I was the

I ended up moving out to Philadelphia, to Kensington,

youngest of my mom’s kids but not my dad’s kids, but I

five years ago. My mom wanted me to go there with her

was still treated like the baby of the family. I got

because my dad had a lot of family out there. But then

married at a very early age, at 15 years old. When I went

she actually ended up leaving! After that, I ended up in

to college, I was the youngest kid on my campus. I was

the shelter for one year, because something traumatic

there for two years before I had my first baby, my first

happened to me, but I wanted to do things for myself.

son. Then I had my daughter a year later. Eventually I

Although, when my kids found out about it, they didn't

became a full-time mom. I went on to have another

want me to be there.

daughter, and then my youngest son. I had a total of eleven kids in my house-four were mine, and seven were my step children. But then later, I got sick. Now, I have step-grandchildren! I feel so blessed to be a great-grandmother, because not many people live long enough to become one. *Some details have been omitted for privacy

I then started worked as a private patient caretaker, but lost one of my patients. I couldn't get over losing my private care patient because I really loved her and I get attached easily. At that time, I felt like I was constantly surrounded by death because of that, and because people were dying of drug overdoses in Kensington and being beat up by the police. Since then, I moved to St. Raymond's, and I've lived there for four years.


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What do you want people who don't know about

What do you love about your community?

your community to learn about it?

My favorite thing about St. Raymond's is that you can

The homeless situation and its people are some of the most vulnerable. There are such things as systemic racism. Our current system makes it look like it's doing things for people but it’s really not. It’s worked for some people but a lot of times it doesn't. When I was in the shelter, I witnessed people come in and then they [the system] tried to get them out really quickly without really any support, and then they ended up back in again or in a worse situation. On one side, they [the system] tell you you're empowered, but on the other side they try to rush you out without giving you the

be alone, but not alone at the same time. Due to my mental health condition, I can isolate, but they will come and bother me so that my mental health doesn’t deteriorate. I love all the interesting people I get to meet here. A lot of times, people will complain about things here and there, like the food, but all of that is just petty. None of it matters.

What has been your favorite memory of living in your community? Since I’ve been here we've had annual camping trips

help or support you might need.

each summer. I’d never gone before that. Even when I

It's a horrible situation, especially for poor people and

in the Catskills and I packed up my suitcase and

minorities. St. Raymond's is a unique program in that it covers people who are really vulnerable-people who are over 50, people with chronic homelessness and with mental health disorders. You come here and you have a

was a child, my parents took me to a sleep away camp everything. But since I was the baby, my father knew that I wouldn't be able to stay, and he was right. As soon as I got there I decided to go right back home, so I never went camping. Once I got to St. Raymond's, I

wealth of support. They give you housing and they

decided to finally go on my first camping trip. I went

make you feel like a human being. Human dignity really

and I had the time of my life! We hiked all day in the

goes a long way for building self-esteem, because being

woods and then at night time we sat around the fire

homeless really does make you lose your self-esteem.

and told scary stories and made s'mores and then slept

There needs to be more places like St. Raymond's. A lot of people living here have no family or anyone else who cares about them. Sometimes they [St. Raymond's staff] care for you when you're not able to care for yourself. When you want to move out, they offer assistance for everything you could ever incur. I was fortunate because my case manager [at the shelter] worked for RHD Connects. I was really skeptical, but she put my name in the system. I told her that I did not want to be in a drug rehab facility or somewhere like that.

in tents. It was a real camping trip! I’ve never had more fun in all my days. I just had a ball. It was just absolutely beautiful. Since then, I've gone camping every year, but this year we couldn't go because of COVID. The second beautiful thing in my life was learning to ride a bike. As a child I was very sick and spent most of my life in the hospital. I never got to learn to ride a bike. Then one day my best friend told me, "You're gonna learn" and he taught me how to ride. So I always made sure that to get all of my kids a bike and made sure they were able to learn.

I was the first female resident at St. Raymond's. It helped me because there were things about my mental health that I had to get together. It's been a terrific learning experience. It's not my forever home, but it's my home now.

Human dignity really goes a long way for building self-esteem, because being homeless really does make you lose your self-esteem.


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How has COVID-19 affected you and your community?

How have the events of the last month affected you?

Living at St. Raymond's, we’ve been pretty much

With the Black Lives Matter events, I have a friend of

on quarantine. Everyone is respecting social distancing

mine who is a Caucasian lady, and she was upset

and wearing their masks in the common areas.

about the monuments being destroyed. I told her that

For me, it's been hard because I have a daughter and grandson living in Philadelphia and they can’t see me or stay with me. It’s been hard having my other kids living out of state so far away. I've even had a couple relatives who already died from COVID.

one of these days, the world as we all know it is going to be so different. All the statues that you see in front of City Hall and the buildings and everything are going to be gone. All the things that we hold important will one day be gone. Eventually, there will be no one left in this world who will remember us. History teaches us

How have the events of the past month affected your community?

that. People are remembered by the things we do. It is

Seeing COVID hitting the Native American community

better and better until it's a place where we all can

hard has been so hard. As an African American, Native American, and Hispanic person, I’ve always known that the racism has existed, but now it’s been so blatant. All this hatred and white supremacy is all a lie. We are all each other. That is the reality of everything. It’s really hard for me to see how people treat each other they way they do. There’s this disconnect from nature. We were really all made to live and to be a part of each other.

It is our responsibility as human beings to make the world better and better until it's a place where we can all belong. The most important thing is that we live well and learn.

our responsibility as human beings to make the world belong. The most important thing is that we live well and learn.


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Community, Interrupted The Hall-Mercer Community Behavioral Health Center sits between Locust Street and Spruce Street on the Pennsylvania Hospital campus. The center’s red brick building is unassuming compared to the nearby rotunda of the old surgical amphitheater and the stately rowhomes that border the hospital campus. Before quarantine curtailed my movements, I would often pass the center’s blue and white sign on walk down Eighth street to Washington Square Park or Independence Hall. Although Hall-Mercer is perhaps more known for its inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities, the center also runs an adult day program for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Day programs like Hall-Mercer grew out of a larger move towards de-institutionalization and community living for adults with disabilities. Briefly and broadly, the standard of care both medically and legally has shifted over the last half-century or so from state-run institutions to the mandate of community-based services. For individuals with mental disabilities, this was codified in 1999 when the Supreme Court ruled that, under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals with mental disabilities have the right to live in the community, under “reasonable accommodations1.” Therefore, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act and subsequent legal efforts, Hall-Mercer serves a generation of clients that attended school, live either with family or in community settings, work, and benefit from day programs for socialization and life skills support. Hall-Mercer’s day program serves adults from Philadelphia with intellectual disabilities such as autism or cerebral palsy. Although Hall-Mercer draws clients from around Philadelphia, some of the clients already knew one another from high school when they joined the program. Special needs students may stay in high school until age twenty-one, at which point they transition to adult services, so Hall-Mercer clients currently range in age from twentytwo to sixty-seven. The center is directed by case manager Beverly Bradley, whom I spoke to in constructing this narrative. Hall-Mercer functions to provide socialization and teach life skills. A typical day starts at nine AM with an hour of socialization, tea, and snacks. Then, clients undertake structured activities. The program often took clients to nearby theaters for plays and musicals. Museums, including the Please Touch museum or the Mütter museum, were other favorite locations. On nice days, clients might go to a neighboring park and enjoy the weather. The center also organized more routine activities, like shopping trips, to practice daily skills and familiarize clients with tasks like grocery shopping. On rainy days, indoor activities included board games or bingo. Beverly and her staff are also assisted by student

1

https://www.hhs.gov/guidance/document/serving‐people‐disabilities‐most‐integrated‐setting‐community‐living‐and‐olmstead


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volunteers from both local master’s programs as well as Prep Charter High School. A master’s student in art therapy, for example, might organize an art project for clients. Each client has a specialized treatment plan emphasizing his or her goals and Beverly also designs small tasks throughout the day to help clients reinforce skills. A client working on writing, for example, may be encouraged to write his name on the sign-in sheet while the game Uno helps another client work on her recall skills. In March, Covid became a serious concern and the center was forced to send the clients home. Most of the clients live at home with family; one client lives in an apartment with aides. Beverly calls her clients daily to check in and offer support. The program also runs weekly conference calls for clients who are interested. Some of the clients are friends with each other and their families have been able to coordinate socially distanced outings. However, without the daily interactions and outings provided by Hall-Mercer, all of the clients are experiencing a significant decline in socialization. Watching the pandemic choke the social circles of her clients concerns Beverly: “They really need that socialization, just to be part of a community.” Telehealth or virtual interaction has not been a practical alternative for this population. The clients are adultaged, making their parents and caregivers older adults who do not necessarily engage with technology well enough to facilitate online contact. Furthermore, Hall-Mercer was a day program that not only gave clients the opportunity to socialize with peers in a new environment but also offered caregivers respite or time to work. Now, family members are now balancing working from home with full-time caregiving. Caregivers who are also working may be using the family’s only device or lack time to coordinate online communication. Hall-Mercer is set to reopen in August, albeit at limited capacity. Beverly’s classroom will now hold only four clients. This means that the program will have to limit attendance and cycle clients throughout the week. A smaller classroom inevitably means less socialization: “It will work, but it will be different… It won’t work as well as the large classrooms. We could do more, it’s more socialization, it’s more activities, they interact more with each other… it’s not going to work as well.” The community-based aspect of the program will also be fundamentally different for the foreseeable future. Trips to museums, which built social skills and provided education, will be challenging. Nearby playhouses and theaters, like the Walnut Street Theater, remain completely closed. Withdrawing from the community also carries additional, if less apparent, consequences. Beverly invites Bridging the Gap interns into her classroom not only to receive additional support for the program, but also because she feels the experience is deeply valuable for future healthcare professionals. She described in our conversation how challenging it can be for her clients to navigate a system composed of healthcare professionals who may never have


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interacted with a patient with an intellectual disability before. Beverly therefore brings interns into the program in an effort to educate a generation of professionals who will be better-equipped to take care of her clients. Similar arguments have been made in support of bringing students with disabilities into traditional classroom environments; proponents of this model argue that diverse classroom experiences engender students who are not only more understanding of disability but also more tolerant and inclusive. When schools, workplaces, and social service programs are forced to close their doors, community is fundamentally restructured. Furthermore, budget cuts and technology gaps continue to gouge the already-tenuous social networks on which vulnerable populations rely. Community-based care for individuals with intellectual disability required, predictably, a robust community. Now, as community is reorganized, at arm’s length, the community-based model of care will also require another evolution to keep pace.


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Erika Fish Temple University BTG 2020 For my storytelling project I interviewed Se’mona Camper-Williams, a Director at Spring Garden Academy. Throughout our time together this summer I’ve had the chance to see what an incredible artist Ms. Se is. Our talks together are always brightened up by her handmade colorful headwraps and bows, and she sits in front of a wall of vibrant paintings that she made herself. In addition to these talents, Ms. Se is a gifted poet and is in the process of editing her first book. Given Ms. Se’s love of art, I thought it would be the most fitting to share our interview in a more creative format than I’m typically used to. I took themes that were discussed throughout our interview and connected the ideas using some of Ms. Se’s words from the interview that really stuck out to me. The text in the piece comes from newspapers, books, and magazines to pay homage to Ms. Se’s love of poetry and writing. The relatively minimalist structure of the piece is my acknowledgement that although Ms. Se has been so kind to share many stories about her life, pieces of advice, and some insight into the community, her story is unique and far more complex than I could begin to fully comprehend in our time together. Using my own words to fill in the gaps did not seem to do her story justice, so I’ve left space for growth in both her story and my knowledge.


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I wrote this song based off the perspective of some members at the Philadelphia Senior Center.  It incorporates some of Mary Ellen Bolden’s comments about the Senior Center being a ‘depression  preventer’ and how without that structure and social interaction, many members end up staying at  home all day staring at the TV. It also incorporates some of my experiences calling various members  weekly and hearing general grievances about how COVID‐19 has severely disrupted daily life for these  older adults. Not only do these adults face the fear of going outside and getting sick, there’s also  isolation, loss of schedule, difficulty accessing online platforms, and the political rhetoric surrounding  stay at‐home orders and the necessity of protecting older adults. While this song does not reflect the  perspective of every single member of the Philadelphia Senior Center, I intended to capture some of  those feelings of uncertainty, boredom, grief, frustration, and desire to connect and survive despite the  pandemic. In my viewpoint, the members of the Senior Center want to get back to their everyday  activities and want to make it out of this pandemic as successfully and healthy as anyone else. Although  they acknowledge that these times are difficult, they have not given up. 

I have nowhere to go, no one to see  The money’s low, I’m glued to the screen  It’s safer to see the world through a screen 

All the children are grown, no friends anymore  Nowhere to explore that’s not on TV  As seen on TV, as seen on TV 

If I wanna hear a voice other than my own, well I’ll pick up my phone  Pick up my phone  But if you should call  I hope I’ll be home 

I have nowhere to go, and no one to see  But if you should call, I hope I’m in reach  Or sleep ‘til this ends  All things come to pass 

I gotta get out, I want to be free to walk down the street and breath mindfully. 


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Can you tell me when that’ll happen again? 

We all stay inside  Eyes peeled to the screen  But while you’re online  I’m here left behind  You structured this world to not include me. 

I don’t wanna die.  Your work’s not a right.  I don’t wanna die, I’m not a sacrifice for the economy  Do better for me. 

Do better by me. 


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Sabrina Gonzalez  Bridging the Gaps 2020  Story‐Telling Project 

“Bridging Relationships” by Sabrina Gonzalez  This collage, which I entitled “Bridging Relationships” was inspired and based on my  interview with Mr B, a resident, minister, and a ward leader of the Southwest Philadelphia 


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community. Throughout our conversation, Mr. Bused the term “bridging relationships” multiple  times, and in different contexts.   Mr. B first used this phrase when talking about his favorite aspect of the Southwest  Philadelphia community – bridging relationships with people. Mr. B spoke of the community’s  past history with prostitution and drug houses, and how he and others changed this. He talked  with the prostitutes and those involved with the drug houses. He heard a  “message of hopelessness,” but as he listened, he gave these people hope. He showed them  that someone cared about all of their trauma. He would tell them, “I don’t care what your  background is, I’m more focused on where your heart is.” Mr. B's philosophy is based on the  healing power of love, and the relationship between people.  In addition to interpersonal connections, Mr. B also spoke about his desire to bridge new  relationships between the Southwest Philadelphia community and other institutions, such as  the University of Pennsylvania, the broader City of Philadelphia, and the rest of the world. He  hopes, “that both sides can learn to help one another.” He spoke of an example of an  “awesome exchange” between Southwest Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania School  of Nursing with, “them receiving something and us receiving something.” The School of Nursing  brought 1100 face masks to the community, in exchange for survey responses on the impact of  COVID‐19.  In the collage, I represented Southwest Philadelphia with a slide from a playground and a  library. These two images reflect Mr. B’s favorite memories from the neighborhood. He recalled  the community coming together and organizing a movie night in the playground, despite  opposition and a concern of violence. He said, “we were successful with not only putting a  jumbo screen out there in the playground, we were able to collect about 400 bookbags that we  gave to the children in the community, and we had water ice. We had a couple hundred people  out there, that night, and we did not have one incident, and not a police officer was in the  area.” His other memory involved the community fighting to keep its library open after the city  of Philadelphia marked it for closure.    Bridging the Gaps amongst Philadelphia neighborhoods starts with Mr. B’s idea of   “bridging relationships” among people and institutions. 


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I chose to interview a supervisor at my site, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY). While I would  have loved to interview a community member that PCCY serves, PCCY does not actually offer any direct  service work, and being virtual would have made that even more difficult. Anyways, I felt very fortunate  to get to know my supervisor, we will call her “B”, better. Although B is not originally from the area, she  moved to south Philly when she started at PCCY 15 years ago and has been in her same house ever  since. Fortunately, she was incredibly knowledgeable about the rich history of the area.   South Philadelphia has long been home to diverse immigrant populations, and over time the ethnic  makeup of the neighborhoods has changed. Several decades ago, Jewish and Italian families were the  predominant ethnic groups, who were joined by Irish and German immigrants, and more recently, Latinx  and Indonesian immigrants have moved to their area. While the ethnic makeups of the neighborhoods  have changed, B says that overall, the socioeconomic makeup of the area has remained somewhat  constant until recent years. In the past, the neighborhood was composed of individuals with a relatively  middle‐lower class SES. More recently, however, gentrification has brought on new, starker divisions  between neighborhoods. As more and more of south Philly is gentrified, lower income immigrant  populations are displaced by middle‐upper income, young, white families. Despite the growing  differences, B says she feels that the diverse ethnic groups within South Philly mesh well. She and her  neighbors are all familiar with one another, and her son even attended a school where seven languages  are represented via multilingual counselors. B recalls some of her favorite memories in South Philly at  the local recreation center where she would bond with the diverse array of parents as they all cheered  on their children in soccer.   Just as the ethnic makeup of South Philly has changed over time, so too have the interactions between  children of different ethnicities. B recalls that when her son was in elementary school, there were never  any cliques or noticeable differences in the ethnic makeup of friend groups. As her son aged, however,  she noticed racial divisions emerge among the high school students. The Black and Brown kids were  friends with the Black and Brown kids, and the non‐Black and Brown kids were friends with the non‐ Black and Brown kids. While B mentioned that she is part of a tight‐knit community of diverse parents,  she said that the adults of different ethnic groups largely remain to themselves in South Philadelphia.   The story that B paints of the history of South Philadelphia seems all too familiar in American life. What  was once a rich, diverse community filled with opportunity has been defunded and neglected. The  history of South Philly is a reflection of the history of growing economic divide and neglect of non‐white  and poor communities in America. In recent weeks, the negative impacts of COVID have  disproportionately harmed communities like south Philly, where many of the residents have lost their  jobs and are unable to access the social safety nets that are supposed to uplift Americans in times of  need. B’s portrayal of South Philly was beautiful and sobering. The hardships that many American’s face  are relentless, but the communities that are hit hardest have displayed remarkable resilience and  continue to serve as a beacon of hope for the future.  


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For my storytelling project, I interviewed Brian Jenkins from the non-profit organization Chosen 300. Chosen 300 is a faith-based organization that provides a variety of services to those experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia. One thing that Mr. Jenkins mentioned during our interview was that Chosen 300 is currently giving food handouts and hosting their religious services at Love Park. That iconic image of Love Park paired with the love Mr. Jenkins clearly has for his community left an impression on me. I don’t think I could come up with a more straightforward exemplification of Mr. Jenkin’s love for Philadelphia and for those he serves than this Philly landmark.


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The Power of a Doula A Story


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What is a Doula • Doula’s are individuals who help mothers giving birth but do not have support by their side. • They run errands, provide personal support, and advice during the pregnancy Th

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th


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Main Current Challenges as a Doula • Utilizing technology is a huge barrier because during high stress times, being on video chat makes it hard to contribute • “We are still able to be there but the emotional connection is no where near how much it was originally”


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Effect of a Doula

Personalize d connection “Sometimes the mothers beg for me to actually be there and it breaks my heart that I am not able to�

Amazing mental support The current effect of a Doula is both hard for the mother and the Doula as they do not have in person support


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Virtually but not Enough • Ms. is currently under a lot of stress and talked about a specific experience she had with a mother. She was on the video chat with the mother she was providing support to. The mother said, “I have heard great things about you and what you do and this situation of you being over video chat makes me so sad.” This broke Ms.’s heart and after hearing this,


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Takeaway • Ms. also specifically mentioned how the population she helps is majority African American and how these mothers face many microaggressions and racism during their stay at the hospital. She tries to stand up for the mother whenever she can but during times like this, it makes it even more difficult. • Overall, Ms. is extremely thankful for the technology to allow her to communicate with the mothers she loves supporting. • Although it’s challenging, Ms. is extremely grateful that th i ti h k f i till t d h till


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- QUOTE OF THE DAY -

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.


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This project represents my perception of how COVID-19 has impacted my community site. After interviewing a few community members, I created this project based on a mixture of my personal thoughts and the responses of WorkReady staff


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Resilience is "the capacity to recover from difficulty quickly; toughness". I have heard this word more times this summer than ever in my lifetime.


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This virus is rated E for everyone. It doesn't care if you're rich, if you're poor, if you've healthy, or if your ill. Must unlike human nature, this virus does not pick and choose who it wants to spare.


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Screening for WorkReady has been exceedingly difficult this summer because there is a disconnect of face to face interaction between the staff and the student.


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Isolation for adolescents during this period might have more negative impacts than we know. Especially when adolescence is a time for socialization and group bonding.


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Learning and engagement is a worry for educators everywhere. The WorkReady participants continue to learn and grow through this program by gaining job experience.


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Encouragement, according to various both my interviewees, is something that is needed to keep younger popualtion motivated about the future, even when times are so uncertain.


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New memories are something that my community partners look forward to every summer. With virtual learning, there is no doubt that these memories will be different.


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Capitalize on the idea that what you're doing now is an investment for the future. It's hard to maintain this ideology when everythingjobs, school, religious gatherings- are at standstill.

a


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Everyone is going through something. Those struggleswhether it be food insecurity, transportation issues, sickness, separation from loved ones-all of which impacts mental our health. Kindness is our only armour right now.


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JULY 20,2020 / / MONDAY / /

ISSUE NUMBER: I

PHILADELPHIA FUTURES DAILY INTERVIEW WITH ACADEMIC SERVICE ADMINISTRATOR LAURA NAYLOR Philadelphia Futures provides low-income, first-generation-to-college students with the tools, resources, and opportunities necessary for admission to and success in college.

https://philadelphiafutures.org/about-us/

A Window into Philadelphia Futures BRIANNA HAMILTON 07/16/2020 Philadelphia Futures is a college access organization working with students up to and through college. This is what makes Futures different from other programs and allows it to really stand out. By providing financial, social, and academic support, the organization ensures that each student matriculates into a university that is well suited to them. They strategically help students fill out applications, apply for loans, and obtain scholarships. Furthermore, the organization works to expose students to the plethora of institutions accessible to them. Thanks to the academic support provided, the schools that students apply to and tour are those that are academically competitive. SAT Prep courses and College Prep courses, which include the College Seminar and College Success course, are examples of the academic support given to the students. The College Seminar course serves to equip students with skills they’ll need in

low income first generation college bound students, you get people placing them in one of two buckets; either they think they’re super high achieving go getters, or they think they need this astronomical support. Although we have students that fall at both spectrums, we wouldn’t want to put all students in such strict buckets, as a lot of our students get put into. Some students are very much into math and science while others like art and music. I want people to know that our students are typical teenagers, that have interests and are growing and learning and doing all these normal things” I proceeded to ask Laura what she loved about this community. Her answer is as follows: “First and foremost I love our students, I especially love the students that drive me somewhat crazy. I think because I’ve always loved that light bulb effect. Students who aren’t adjusting to the program as well or to high school or on the college train, and then when they have that moment of ‘no this is working, or actually I think I do want to go to college.’ I once had a fifteen-year-old students that just didn’t care that much and was kind of just going through the motions. But, I think the more everyone at Futures worked with this student, the more willing they were to improve. Don’t get me wrong it’s also great when a student goes off to college and we get to ring a bell for them, or seeing them talk at

COVID-19, racism in America, or health disparities. So I found it very important to include these topics in my interview with Laura. I asked her to speak on how the events of the past month has affected the community in which she works in: “With COVID, police brutality, marches, and just an overwhelming scene of uncertainty and fear, we really had to start thinking about what access actually means. So when talking about COVID, we had to figure out if we needed to get laptops out to students and how we would go about switching our programing online, which is something I am astronomically proud of my team for doing. However, access is more than just having the materials. It’s also having a quite space to do work and also having the mental clarity to work during a pandemic or even sit at a computer screen for that long. You know working through a pandemic is not a small thing. We had to redefine what it means to be an accessible organization to students... and then George Floyd happened. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, the laundry list of other atrocities has affected our students, I can only assume it has made them both angry and sad. Futures does have a staff of color affinity group as well as a white privilege group, both working together to become an organization of antiracist. Not just posting on the website that Black Lives Matter but also putting forth effort to make changes. PAGE 1


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college. The course is performed in a fashion similar to a freshman level seminar. The other course is called College Success, where they help students with things like selecting the right major, getting prepared for a career, and getting all the things needed for a dorm. There are also general coordinators providing both social and emotional support to students through the difficult process of graduating high school and going to college. As amazing as Philadelphia Futures already is, they also provide resources to students who are not in the program. A step up to college resource guide of how to get to college as well as a sixpart video on how to successfully apply to college are available at libraries and provided to all public school in Philadelphia. In an interview with Philadelphia Futures academic service administrator Laura Naylor, I asked what she wanted others to know about the community she serves. She stated “I want everyone to know how diverse our students are both racially and ethnically. Also, that they are such different students. Maybe I say this because I work in academics, but I think when you say

graduation. So all those big moments, but I’m also a sucker for those smaller things. Also just working with staff that is equally dedicated, although we come from such different backgrounds and walks of life.” I was very interested to find out how I, a medical student, could offer my help at Futures. Laura discussed how helpful it is when others share or repost content from the Philadelphia Futures social media accounts. To her, the slightest mention of Philadelphia Futures in conversation, especially in settings geared towards the younger population, can make a huge impact. Additionally, Laura mentioned the need for more minority volunteers within Futures, as there are also mentorship programs offered. We both agreed how comforting it is so see someone that looks like you in the position you are working towards. In today’s climate, it’s almost impossible to go a day without hearing any mention of

We then closed the interview by covering what cardiovascular health and wellness means to Laura and if and how this topic is covered at Futures. Laura actually had a very unique answer as she has a congenital heart defect that caused her to be hospitalized frequently as a child. This has also fostered her love for health and fitness. She aims to be the embodiment of cardiovascular health. “To address stress, we have coordinators checking in with students regularly. In terms of wellness, we offer the young men intuitive programs, young women rising, and the queer straight alliance.” There is also a Health Design course offered, however, Laura and I both delved deeper into the idea of starting a club centered around the teaching of wellness and other important health topics and possibly fostering a long and fruitful relationship between Philadelphia Futures and Drexel University College of Medicine.

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Amanda Horowitz Storytelling Project St. Joseph’s House I wanted to submit my story-telling project like an extended “Humans of New York” blog post. I imagined it to be one of those posts on Facebook or Instagram where they feature a person in a specific city or at a specific place. I chose to do this because I wanted to highlight the amazing, motivated, Black students at St. Joseph’s who are all balancing college courses, housing instability, and the world we live in right now. Each person has a unique story that represents where they have been with goals to move somewhere else entirely. St. Joseph’s provides them a residence where they can obtain meals and adult support within a community of other hard-working students. So I call this, “Humans of St. Joseph’s”. “Today was pretty busy. I work overnights and right after work I had to go to the garage and get my car fixed, and I stopped by St. Joseph’s to grab the last of my stuff, and now I’m preparing stuff so I can have a cookout, and then I work again tonight. I work the night-shift at Sunoco. I thought it would be like chilling just because I have the rest of the day to myself, but then I just realized, I just be too tired to do anything. So unless it’s really really important I’m not going to do it. I’m like the type that I like to work and then have the rest of the day to myself. Unless it's a holiday, [work] is pretty chill. I currently just moved out of St. Joseph’s. I was couch surfing since I was sixteen. Basically the last person who I was able to stay with was my older sister that I hadn't spoken to in years. I jumped around a lot because no one could really stay with me. So I lived with my dad, I lived with my cousin, I lived with a couple ex-girlfriends I had back then, I couch-surfed a lot at my best friend’s house. And then my senior year as I graduated my mom had ran away which was really really weird. And when we found her, when she decided to contact everybody, I was left with paying her bills, and they were backed up, and it was just so much that was going on, and I was telling my sister what was going on and what I was dealing with and stuff and she was just like, well, you can stay with me, and basically her only, I guess, not rule, but her only thing that she expected from me, was to go to school and keep working. Since I was young she didn’t want too much pressure on me, but school and work was enough. Then I felt completely safe and accepted. I told her my situation. It was cool for the first few months and then like a few months ago, a lot of issues started happening and she basically kicked me out again, well not again, but she kicked me out, and I was staying in my car for a couple nights. And then I stayed with a friend for a couple more nights, until I got into St. Joesph’s. And yeah it was really hard because I was still in school, I’m a freshman at LaSalle University, so I was falling back in school and stuff. I was reaching out to one of my political science professors and I opened up, I told him basically that I’m staying in my car and there really isn’t a way for me to do work, or anything. Basically not to cut me some slack but to have some understanding or whatever, and he gave me some resources and St. Joseph’s was one of them. I quickly got an interview with S.G. and he gave me a tour and allowed me to move in, and you know, get everything situated. This was in April or May. So I wasn’t there for too long. With my professor, yeah we both kept in opencommunication about my living situation, and other stuff. He gave me extensions on school work and tests especially since it was the end of the year and we had switched to virtual learning and it was really really difficult. Yeah so currently I moved to North Philly right by Allegheny. I don't know, it’s like a terrible area but I grew up around this area, my family is in this area. I’m comfortable around here. I didn’t think twice about it. I have cousins, my youngest aunt, they’re pretty close. My two


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oldest cousins live pretty close. I’m currently renting a house with my friend. They want to go to school but they’re just working right now. Yeah I miss St. Joe’s I miss the type of environment it was just because I’ve never had an environment where I found adults supporting me, offering support, or any type of situation like that. So I guess I do miss that environment. The building though, I’m definitely happy to be out, I didn’t want to stay there long term. I still speak to a couple of the students, the staff, not really. I was working at a restaurant before Covid. I had just lost my job around that time when Covid started, and my sister always had me with her kids and said I never helped, and now that I didn’t have a job I couldn’t pay the rent and blah blah blah. Yeah so it was just like we were going through a lot. It wasn't like space or anything, I mean we didn’t have space, because we were in a two-bedroom apartment with kids and stuff, but just like family issues that caused everything to build up, so she kicked me out. The restaurant is open now but I’m good with my current job at Sunoco which I got in March. The end of the school year ended up pretty good for everything I was going through the entire year. I was pretty satisfied by the time my classes ended up. Yeah, I mean, they weren’t good, but you know, I thought I was going to be failing all of my classes. But I just didn’t, and as long as I didn't fail. Yeah, I’m a happy camper at LaSalle. I am a first-semester sophomore this year. Hopefully in person. My school, they’re being really complicated right now. They’re going back and forth between virtual and in-person so I have to double-check. I'm supposed to be taking English for my major but I checked my schedule and everything’s messed up so I have to go through a whole process and fix all of that. I’m currently a political science major and I might add a minor or do a double major in social work. I chose this major because I did a lot of political work and activism in my high school. Not in my high school, but during my high school days. I was working at a political organization and that kind of led up to me picking political science. When I joined political science I wanted something more, like I wanted to focus on something, so I’m now choosing social work to go along with it. From my personal experience I have had two or three advisors. But my political science advisor he’s who I've been contacting about my schedule and stuff. That person has been not answering my emails and just being really hard to contact. I’ve gotten other advisors and success coaches to reach out to him and they find it difficult too. Okay so I went to Kensington Health Sciences Academy from my 9th grade to my 12grade year. I went to Bodine high school my freshman year. So I had two very different experiences just because I went to a magnet school and then I went to a neighborhood school. The transition was really difficult for me but I felt like what I had to do was just use what I had in front of me to my advantage, because in the neighborhood highschool they provided a lot more resources that I saw like, job-wise, internship-wise, while the magnet school was more pressed on academics than internships and stuff, which isn’t a downside of anything. After the magnet school, I didn’t feel prepared to even go to college because I didn't learn anything from 9th-12th. I did take advantage, I got a lot of internships and did a lot of hustling academics-wise what I did by myself, that I had to do. I had three AP classes and I had multiple jobs in high school. I had to do what I had to do. I didn't feel really prepared. I guess mentally people were trying to uplift, you know, that i was a pretty good student and stuff like that. But yeah I did take AP classes so that I could get ahead. I took college courses outside of school with Penn State and Jefferson. I did do that. I tried to do a lot of college exploring especially my senior year to help me feel more prepared. And then I decided on LaSalle because they were offering me the biggest scholarship. And I definitely could use the money. My high school was very tiny, less than 400 kids total so that’s less than 100 kids in my graduating class. About 4 or 5 students are at LaSalle that received the same scholarship that I did. I don’t really keep in touch with any of the students that I graduated with.


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I have another older brother and I have two younger brothers. My mom had Covid, but she said she was fine though. It didn’t hit her hard. I’m not too sure when she got it. Probably around the time I moved into St. Joe’s. I talk to my dad occasionally. He’s pretty good. During the protests yes- my store had gotten looted twice. But other than that right after all that rioting happening it was pretty back to normal, pretty chill. I was in the store for one of the nights when we were looted. It was really scary. I was mostly upset more with my bosses. M hiring manager, she didn’t really give two shits about anything, she didn’t express any concern, she didn’t feel bad. And like I’m really young, working overnights, and I'm a female, and she had me working alone. I did tell her I didn’t feel comfortable doing that and she eventually put someone else on the schedule with me. But now I’m back working alone overnights again now. Right now my plan isn’t to keep my job. I’m trying to work at a warehouse, or at Amazon’s warehouse, or at the airport because I know two people at those places. But if I don’t get the opportunity I’m just gonna stay where I’m at because, ya know, it’s income and I obviously need it. So yeah, that’s my plan. To maintain my scholarship I have to have a certain GPA. It’s really a lot of requirements, a certain amount of tutoring hours a semester. A lot of state requirements about how much money I'm receiving, and my family is receiving. Stuff like that. I have to fill out a lot of paperwork. I like to travel. Not like travel out the states because I’m not a big baller yet. But I do travel around the city. I like to explore the city as much as I can. I try to go somewhere new all the time. I just like to be out. I don’t know, I find myself to be, not an antisocial person, but I don’t know, I haven’t really been like out, or like seen friends, per se, or associates just because I’ve been dealing with everything that I have been through. My whole thing is work, home, school, and ya know, to do what I need to do. Other than that, I pretty much like being with family more than friends because my family is more connected, I guess. Family dynamics is actually very very interesting. I have a very on and off family dynamic because when i first got kicked out at 16, when I was younger, it was because of my sexual orientation and everyone really disapproved because everyone’s very into the church, very religious. So, just recently everybody’s been, not everybody, but for the most part, people have been accepting and I’ve been back in everybody’s life. It’s been mentally frustrating I guess because sometimes when I want them to approve of me, of some way, shape, or form, and sometimes I don't really get their approval, or like I want to be seen as one way, but I'm not. For the most part, I just appreciate that I just have a family to communicate with.”


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This is my interpretation from my discussion with a resident at Monument Village. The left side is ominous and uneasy; there are multiple obstacles to overcome to step into a brighter future. I want to keep some of the symbolism up for interpretation and some of the "Easter Eggs" available for discovery by viewers.


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I was fortunate to spend a few minutes chatting with an individual who incorporates spirituality  into her healing practices with every client. I want to share several of the highlights as part of the  storytelling journey. My main question was this, “What is it about having spirituality that gives us these  remarkable stories about healing?” it was very interesting to hear her response because she led with  what people are missing when they do not have that spirituality. What is it? —people do not trust.  When someone has that sense of trust, a truly deep feeling of trust, when they trust their bodies to heal  is when the body goes into the healing mode. Believing in something, whatever shape or form that may  take, gives the individual the ability to allow themselves to really believe that everything is going to be  ok. Without this belief and trust, is when people tend to struggle. That trust is not always for good  things to happen either, one must accept how things will end up good or bad. She equated it to the  sympathetic system being allowed to go dormant. The parasympathetic system would take over to  enable our cells to utilize their healing process. The stories of the truly “magical” healing? Those are  people who have given themselves fully to surety and deepness of that trust. Those individuals knew it  was going to happen, there was no alternative path for them.    One last token of wisdom she shared for the future physicians is to always recognize their own  path and how they got there. Not just once, but to give these thoughts a chance to be revaluated every  few months. There is no such thing as not having enough time during the day to do this. We all have  plenty of moments to turn our brain off for a few short moments. In those moments, wherever they  take place, is the time to check in with yourself. She also recommended to do utilize this practice with  seeing multiple patients each day. It is a valuable method to make space for each one, to enter the room  with their ‘stuff in the room but also letting them leave with all their ‘stuff’. She emphasized that we do  not have the space to take everyone else’s stuff into our own bodies. 


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Shreya Inala Storytelling Project: Interview with V... Change:

We had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with V... from Farms to Families. She was able to give us insight into how the program works: local farms contribute fresh produce, which then will be sold in boxes to families in Philadelphia at food insecure locations for an affordable price, around $10-15 a week. Healthcare providers also provide families with a “prescription� to receive the fresh food items at a discounted price. Poverty, and lack of access to food and other necessities severely impacts the health of residents in underserved areas, and this program works to decrease some of that disparity. Families are also assisted in learning how to cook the produce as well. However, with the pandemic, the program and the families using it have been severely affected. Many families cannot afford to pay for this service as the economy is down, so a few boxes are being sent out at no cost. V... told us that would have to end soon, as it's not sustainable. The funding will not be enough, and probably by the end of July it will be over. She told us she was not sure what would occur after that and seemed uncertain of what the future of the initiative here in Philadelphia would look like. It is a sad reality that we must persevere against in the face of the pandemic. For many communities, and community leaders, there is no one answer on how to proceed. When asked if she had a favorite expert or role model in the field of food insecurity, V responded no. She admires a few restaurateurs such as Massimo Bottura and Jose Andres, but ultimately she does not have a favorite. She


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said that no one has actually realized a sustainable way to extend proper access to food. The charity model is useful in emergency situations, but in this time of uncertainty a long term solution has not yet been realized. Society is facing unprecedented issues and we need unprecedented solutions to be able to serve everyone and ensure that all people are getting the resources they deserve. It is not just an issue of food insecurity either, but of the socioeconomic causes of it as well; “if we could fix income inequality, we could fix a lot of problems in our society...People have so few resources that they are forced into poor choices.� This is not simply a problem we can solve by just offering food, as that is just a treatment of a symptom rather than the illness. I learned a lot from this interview with V..., and it opened my eyes to the issues of food distribution and how social and racial injustices intersect with food insecurity. The efforts of organizations such as Farms to Families and others are inspiring, and while the future is unknown, I hope that one day we can eliminate the inequalities that plague our society and one day find better and more long term solutions to ensuring that no one is deprived of the right to have healthy and nutritious food.


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BTG Storytelling Project: Interview with S from the Sankofa Community Farm at Bartram’s Garden S is a bright young woman and a force who will undoubtedly forge a shining future for herself. She has worked as a high school intern at the Sankofa Community Farm at Bartram’s Garden for the past four summers, since finishing 9th grade. When my partner Gianna and I reached out to her to ask for a brief interview, we were eager to get the perspective of an experienced student who could tell us about the positive impact of the farm. We could not have expected to be the lucky recipients of the gift that is her story, reproduced here without the charisma and self-assurance of her own voice. S came to Philadelphia 7 or 8 years ago from suburban South Carolina. What she found in her new neighborhood of West Philly were many differences, both good and bad. On the plus side, she left behind experiences of overt racism from neighbors whose long looks made her family feel unwelcome for their boisterous nature and contrasting skin color. Her new community was far more diverse and she found it easier to make friends with fellow urban youth. In Philly, as she tells it, “everyone is cool with each other” and it’s normal to hang around people who aren’t like yourself in an increasingly blended community. People are physically closer together, living in pairs of joined rowhouses and spending time together on the block instead of sitting apart in large houses separated by wide lawns. S shared a happy memory of her 15th birthday when the neighborhood kids, so close by that point that she called them her cousins, played a game of manhunt in the woods behind the train tracks and she won bragging rights by hiding for an hour up in a tree right above their noses. There were also blatant downsides to the new neighborhood. Street fights and gun violence were part of the normal. In sixth grade, not long after moving, she watched someone get killed. Twice in one year. That made her realize that not all skinfolk, people who look like you, are on your side; she had to learn to keep her head down and always be nice because you never knew what someone was capable of doing. She worried often with the realization that her siblings’ and friends’ lives were easily endangered by a stray bullet or dirty knife fight. When S turned 19, she allowed herself to feel a deep relief that she had made it that far. A break from the intensifying nervousness. By age 18, so many of the neighborhood youth become pregnant, turn to selling drugs, or meet an early death that making it out successfully brands you a “lucky son of a gun”. That was the ultimate goal: making it out by chasing down education as the golden ticket. The neighborhood youth all had one role model in particular, basketball-playing Samuel who had always been a good kid and came back and lead a recent Black Lives Matter protest. S could readily be the next role model herself. She has earned a full-ride scholarship to study at Temple University’s nursing program starting in August and she looks forward to moving to her new apartment in North Philly. S didn’t know all along that college would be in her future, but she felt strongly obliged to her ancestors who fought to grant her that opportunity. It wasn’t easy -- she describes herself as a poor test-taker but lights up when recounting how she decided to withhold her standardized test


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score and showcase her strengths through her essay-writing. A career in healthcare was also not always her goal, not even for very long. She studied sports management at a technical high school and was originally focused on becoming a lawyer until the COVID crisis made her think it would be selfish to focus on her own aspirations. Inspired by the medical profession, she felt she wanted to make that personal sacrifice to help people. Upon hearing this, I couldn’t help but think that she had the perfect dedication for her chosen path. Despite witnessing its share of hardships, S also speaks highly of the positive forces in her community. As a high-schooler, she used to read books to younger kids and she wasn’t alone. A lady who lived at the end of her block would invite kids to visit her large library where she read to some of them passages from the Bible while her Muslim husband read to others from the Quran upstairs. S credits the couple with teaching her to look for similarities among people’s outward differences. She believes this mindset would stop some people from taking lives so easily, without thinking about how it affects not only the victims but the people everyone has who care about them. She likes teaching others because she feels it’s wrong to “steal” knowledge by keeping it to oneself. She wasn’t always a voracious reader. She couldn’t even read fluently until the 7th grade. Yet soon after, she was asking her 8th grade teacher to read Homer’s ​The Odyssey​ in class. On

Saturdays, the neighborhood teenagers grab lunch together and head to the park where they strategize about next steps to achieve their life goals. Some of the younger ones say they want to be writers but can’t read, so S and the older kids show them how. She also didn’t feel comfortable with public speaking until the past few years, something we wouldn’t have guessed from the ease with which she responded to our questions. For this newly acquired ability, she credits Ty Holmberg, co-director of the Sankofa Community Farm and our supervisor for the summer. When she started as a fresh high school intern four years ago, S was reserved and fearful of public speaking and it was Ty and his partner Chris who encouraged her and pushed her gently by providing opportunities to speak up in front of others. Ty, Chris, and the other regular farm staff serve as tremendously important mentors to her and the rest of the students, in addition to their other contributions to the community. The farm is a source of fresh, healthy food in Southwest Philadelphia, carrying out its mission through weekly farmers market stands and deliveries of free raised garden beds to community members. For the high school program’s culminating summer projects, S has also written books, gotten poems published, organized a panel discussion, and helped run volunteer days on the farm. Drawing a parallel to the farm’s role in Southwest, she also praised the modest community gardens that dot her own West Philly neighborhood, such as one tended by her old elementary school crossing guard. These gardens are an asset to residents because they offer food security, food sovereignty, and feelings of social connection. Sometimes the produce comes at no cost at all because people want to share and help others out. In times of pandemic, small community gardens may be a richer resource than ever. S lost one of her three jobs to COVID but knew she didn’t have it bad compared to others.


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Events of the past two months have also burdened her community. While her block did not directly experience the early protests to George Floyd’s killing, a nearby street was looted and a neighbor’s car was set ablaze. She felt that people’s outrage were misdirected, landing on their own resources instead of aiming to bring about positive change to the community. A military presence was even established around the corner of Sadé’s street and neighbors felt scared when they patrolled. They later felt the same when a lone police officer was stationed at the corner, until he started walking around making friendly conversation and people came to appreciate his presence as protection. Peace fell upon the block once more, but the unrest was not easily forgotten. In response to the challenges of 2020 thus far, S has turned increasingly to wellness practices. She does yoga and/or meditation every morning before work, goes on walks and runs, and makes personal health and happiness her priority. She says many people in her neighborhood live with mental health disorders such as depression and schizophrenia, which drives her to care for her own mental wellbeing. Her guiding philosophy is “being in her own peace” and not letting stressors affect her. Listening to S for an hour that flashed by, I felt deeply impressed with admiration and hope for the value that she brings and will continue to bring to our greater shared community. I think we could all learn a lot from her ongoing story.


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Joseph Gonnella Bridging the Gaps Storytelling Project I was recently assigned a trusted venue that I will be working with for Together for West Philadelphia. This trusted venue is called Chosen 300 Ministries, an organization dedicated to bringing people of various denominations and groups together and providing the homeless with food and other services, in the hopes of eventually making these individuals more self-sufficient. I, along with the other two people assigned to Chosen 300, conducted an interview with two of the executive directors, Brian Jenkins and Alesha Thomas. I will be focusing on Mr. Jenkins’ story and his path to establishing Chosen 300. The interview began with Mr. Jenkins diving right into his journey and some of the crucial events that led to him creating Chosen 300. He was raised in foster care after his mother died, from six to eighteen years of age, where he was the youngest of twenty-five kids. He went to Temple University and obtained a human resources background. Additionally, one of his more defining moments occurred in 1995. He was with his church, serving meals to the homeless in Philadelphia. He approached a homeless man and gave him his meal. But the man also wanted a Bible and asked him if there was anything more they could do. Mr. Jenkins did not have anything else with him, so unfortunately, he could not give him the Bible that he wanted. More importantly, after some thinking, he agreed with the man – that he could do more. In his mind, he believed that he failed everyone he was serving that day, especially that man, and did not want to have that feeling again. Thus, the essential groundwork and ideology for Chosen 300 was built, and from that point on, it continued to grow. As of right now, they serve 150,000 meals a year and provide other services like a free barbershop twice a month for free,


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expungement programs, some health screenings, and hopefully, a six-month overnight facility soon. After listening to his story, I found myself thinking whether I would have made the same decisions Mr. Jenkins did. I cannot imagine growing up in foster care, without my two parents to raise me and make me the man that I am today. Would I have been resentful or angry without that? Then, if I was handing out food to a homeless man, and the man asked for more, would I have agreed with him or thought he was ungrateful? I do not know how I would have acted in either situation. I believe myself to be a good person and do the right thing, but in those moments, would I have done the same? I certainly hope I would have, and I do believe that listening to these stories and others like it through Bridging the Gaps and elsewhere, I know I will be more confident in that answer going forward. Â


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An Inside View: Health Inequities in Allentown This article is based off an interview with community member Jessica Ortiz

Click here to enter text. Jessica Ortiz is a proud member of the Allentown community. She was born and raised in Allentown and continues to reside there in Center City. According to her biographical information on her organization’s website she is described as “a true Allentonian who loves her city.” This love for her local community is what drove her to open her nonprofit, The Ortiz Ark Foundation, as she saw a lack of these kinds of organizations in Allentown, and a need for the people of Allentown to have access to this kind of support. In my interview with her, she told me that her organization’s job is to “service the community with whatever is needed at the moment, whether it be black lives, health care, or hunger.” Jessica has held numerous leadership positions both within the community and nationally making her extremely qualified to service the needs of Allentown with her non-profit. I was very thankful to have been able to speak with such an influential member of Allentown, and the city is lucky to have her as its personal advocate.

(Photo of Jessica Ortiz, Founder of the Ortiz Ark Foundation. Retrieved on July 17th, 2020 from https://theortizarkfoundation.org/meet-the-board)

By: Noel M. Kelly July 17th, 2020 In our conversation, she enlightened me on exactly what injustices Allentown has experienced over the years as well as new struggles for the community during the current pandemic. In opening our interview, I simply asked the question of what was on her mind at the moment. In response, she shared with me some upsetting news she got from a recent phone call. For the past three weeks Panera bread had been donating sandwiches to her organization to help feed families in Allentown who were in need of assistance, which has increased due to the rise in unemployment from COVID-19. They were delivering 150-250 meals every day, and when the donation ended her office was flooding with phone calls of people asking if they had missed the sandwiches. She explained to me how a simple sandwich can make all the difference to these families during these trying times. “The sandwich helps them; it buys them actually time. The one mother comes outside everyday between 12:303:30pm. The kids have the sandwiches outside and get to ride their bikes. That’s her chance to be a woman she says. She’ll take a quick moment to maybe take a shower and just have peace of mind. Knowing she does not have that peace of mind today kind of really upset me. The sandwiches were more than just sandwiches. It also helps her create her budget because she is not working and gets unemployment. Although she gets whatever the pandemic food stamps are, the sandwiches allowed her just a little bit more. The fact that someone does not have their sanity today really saddens me.” In an attempt to fill the void of the sandwiches, her team called an emergency meeting to try and figure out how they can make their own sandwiches, so these families would not have to go without. She explained, however, that this task was going to be very challenging because, not only were they going to have to make time


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to make the sandwiches, but deliver them to the people in the community. During the day, most of the men who help with the organization are working, so that would leave the girls to have to carry the heavy boxes around Allentown. Not only are the residents of Allentown struggling with food security during the pandemic, but historically, there has always been a struggle to have access to nearby grocery stores which have affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. Jessica told me a story of how many years ago, her neighbors and herself attempted to grow these essential items, but again, they were faced with more challenges. “Right now, I can’t have a garden in my backyard because it brings rodents. I live in Center City, Allentown. Like three years ago, all my neighbors and I decided, okay you’re going to plant pumpkin, you’re going to plant peppers, you are going to plant this. But back lash; we discovered a mouse called a mole mouse. So, if you know what a mole looks like with a big long nose, put that on a mouse. It was the most disgusting thing ever. Fresh fruits are very expensive. A lot of people here in the city get food from food banks. They give out can goods, and processed meats, and pork in a can, and beef in a can, and that adds to health concerns in our community. Healthy eating changes lives, and changes mentality.” The Ortiz Ark Foundation does what it can to combat the food insecurity of Allentown. Every two weeks, the foundation organizes an event where they give out food at Steven’s park. She shared with me that this event in not usually only giving out food, but her team usually acts to provide medical assistance to the help who come and ask for help due to the disparity in access to affordable and equitable health care in the Allentown area. She commented on how her team often goes from serving food to health care providers in the middle of the street. “You know there are a lot of people who do not have medical assistance for one reason or another. The three main reasons that we have come to find are homelessness, drug addiction, and undocumented. This last weekend we had a man come [to the park for food] who lost his toe. He didn’t know where he lost it, but he lost it, he has diabetes, and lost a toe. We have a team of 6 girls out here with a man with no toe in the middle of Steven’s park. A few of the girls on the team are registered nurses, one is just a medical assistant. I have no medical training whatsoever except for watching

Grey’s Anatomy and House. We had to assess the situation, clean him up, get him fresh socks because they won’t go to the hospital either because of their addiction, legal status, or if they are homeless, they have to risk losing everything if there is one night without being homeless. Also, teeth, people’s teeth are failing apart. They ask us for toothbrushes, and now we are playing dental assistant, you know, because they are showing their mouths in the middle of 7th street.”

(Jessica, founder, and her board members. Retrieved July 17th, 2020 from the Ortiz Ark Foundation Facebook page)

Not only are there a large number of people in Allentown that do not get medical assistance because they lack insurance, but people with government-based insurance often are discouraged to seek care due to their poor treatment in the offices. In Center City offices, Jessica explained that the care she received there was very inadequate compared to the treatment she would get in other areas, which she called the “white area doctors.” Although it was very difficult to get in with these doctors in the areas surrounding Allentown as she had to call in many favors to get appointments there, Jessica thought it was worth it to make sure she was getting proper care that was not demeaning to her due to the color of her skin and government-based insurance. However, most of the residents of Allentown do not have access to these other doctors and are stuck in Allentown where their care is rushed and degrading. “It is very very different treatment, sometimes not even just racists, it’s economic status. In Allentown, and the whole valley first, they are prejudice against race, and then second economic status here. There is a very big prejudice on anyone who doesn’t make six figures, or they assume doesn’t make that.”


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same heat because there is no central air, and they can barely afford the electric bill for the electricity. Now you are in this mindset that you cannot even provide properly for my family. As black and brown men, I see the men on my block often look down. My husband does these little chats of encouragement during the week because often I do see them in a very bad mental state of health.”

The other two important concerns that we discussed for the residents of Allentown in relation to inequities in the social determinants of health were working conditions and mental health. Many of the people of Allentown work in factories which have atrocious working conditions. Many have no windows or air conditioning, so during the summer months they can heat up to extremely high temperatures. At some of these warehouses, they have an ambulance outside waiting as so many people pass out working in these conditions. Having a mother who worked in a warehouse for many years, Jessica was able to describe what the inside is like, and the current working conditions during the pandemic.

She then elaborated further with a story to explain how poor mental health in her community often leads people to turn to drugs in order to get relief from health conditions that they do not have health insurance to cover, and the adversities of their life in general.

“First of all, the dust that they endure every day, and then they have 5 minutes to eat a canned good, and then go back into a warehouse that is unsanitary. During COVID-19, I cannot tell you how many times I was on the phone because these warehouses were telling these people to work. They are already unsanitary, now imagine during this time. Most of them are minority workers. I remember when the Amazon warehouse open, I went for a tour. I can tell you the Lehigh county prison looks more comfortable than the Amazon warehouse.”

“I have a young boy right now; he joined our foundation. He did not have any health care and has very bad psoriasis. I have psoriasis, and I know when it hurts it is like having the worst rash possible, and it feels like it is eating your skin if you do not know diet or treatment. He has no medical insurance, so he ended up using drugs, heroin at that, because he was told this will alleviate the pain. So now he is in a state of depression, addiction, still no health care, and still no treatment. So, where does that leave it? Insanity.”

Lastly, we discussed how these working conditions, inequity in health services, inability to access healthy affordable food, and the current COVID-19 pandemic have an effect on the mental health of the people in the Allentown community. Jessica was able to communicate to me the hardships of her neighbors and friends as she disclosed to me that herself and the other people on her block had recently just had a discussion on the topic of mental health together.

This interview really highlighted the problems that the people of the Allentown community have to face in their everyday lives, which are especially elevated now during this pandemic. Jessica ended our interview with a positive message: a hope for change. She commended me for my willingness to ask these difficult questions in order to become more educated, and in turn, share this information to raise awareness so something can be done. She thanked me for starting this conversation as it is more than what other people are doing and expressed hope that our generation of millennials can begin creating some solutions and real change. Her closing statement inspired me to make the artwork on the next page as I interpreted it to be that our generation has the people who can begin fixing these problems to create a more equitable Allentown, and a more equitable world.

“I have a mixed, really odd block. I have a lady who just came her from Santa Domingo two years ago, I have a Mexican family, a Guatemalan family, and I have a Peruvian family. Then, I have black and Hispanics that are legal as well. We had a discussion on Sunday about mental health. We were talking about statistics when it comes to mental health, and they always say that the black and browns have more mental health issues like bipolar disorder and depression. It is the world that has created this for them. They have to work in a factory where they are unhealthy all day, then come to a home that they had to pick because they could afford it.” “So, my neighbor has 5 kids, and they live in a threebedroom apartment. Her husband works construction all day, he has to come and live back in this box that is the

Works Cited The Ortiz Ark Foundation. (2019). Retrieved July 20, 2020, from https://theortizarkfoundation.org/ Ortiz, Jessica. (2020, June 30th). Personal Interview. Ortiz, Jessica Lee. (2019, October 16th). The ORTIZ ARK Foundation. Retrieved July 20, 2020, from https://www.facebook.com/theortizarkfoundation/?ref=page _internal


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For my project, I decided to start an Instagram devoted to the cats and kittens I foster through  rescues such as Dirty Little Paws in San Diego and Philly PAWS in Philadelphia. Fostering is an  integral part of rescue systems and enables rescues to continue to shelter and save new cats as  fosters incorporate previously sheltered cats into their homes. I spent the past few weeks  updating the Instagram and Instagram stories with updates and lessons I’ve learned from  fostering, and now I’ve decided to start what I call “The Weekly Floof” which will highlight  rescues and/or specific volunteers to share the lessons that they can impart onto others  regarding animal care, fostering, and more. I save “The Weekly Floof” stories on my highlights  so anyone visiting the page can continuously refer to it. I also have ensured that I cataloged  with photos my experiences with animals, and that I promote adoption/fostering/TNR.  Throughout my fostering I’ve had incredible, and sometimes, frankly traumatizing experiences,  and those experiences can be found on my Instagram story/Highlights now and in the coming  weeks. I think social media is a critical part of promoting rescue work. For example, in the last  week alone, I had one friend inspired to foster and another interested in adopting. Together,  we can make a difference.     The following will be summarized and posted on the Weekly Floof (which begins this week) but  I have the original answers written below:    S Rescue (name concealed for various reasons until it becomes an official nonprofit)  Her dad did rescuing (was in premed school and had big hands and couldn’t do procedures on  humans and did zoology‐went to school to be a vet. Was also an EMT and firefighter. Was killed  in a car accident when she was 5.) Doing this (rescuing) since she was 5. Every animal ((horses,  chickens, cat, dogs) you can think of but does cats right now. Did it independently and last fall  started getting involved with rescues here (originally from AZ, lived in SD six‐seven years).  Started her own because she’s independent and lot of things that rescues do that she doesn’t  like. Met her husband when they were 13 (middle school), got married later, followed in her  dad’s footsteps (decided to be EMT and become paramedic‐21 years now.) EMT/paramedic  school they started that for 16 years. Office in 3 states (AZ, Texas, and California). 5 training  facilities.     Started S rescue a few months ago; filed for EIN and then you file for nonprofit part (need a  board, with board members). That’s been filed. Considered an independent rescue.   Do you have a website or Instagram?   Still has 5 foster cats via DLP.    Because of COVID …  Has a transporter that goes to Mexico and she brings cats up. Sometimes she can’t get rescues  to take them. The day she picked up a bunch of cats from her‐in March when they went on  lockdown‐humane society wouldn’t take owner‐relinquished cats so they had nowhere to go.  Some were pregnant, some had 5 kittens, had to find fosters and divvy them up. She brings  them to her home to quarantine to make sure they’re not sick (to not give foster a cat that’s  sick so they don’t’ have to deal with that). They come to her house to be quarantined and then 


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she takes them to the vet for FIV and feline leukemia (very contagious). Makes sure they don’t  have panleuk and ringworm. Treats them for flea and bathes them and treats them for worms.   Then they go to a foster. 2500 square foot, 3 car garage, home…  Meets lady at a gas station near her home, and had a big load coming in (late at night because  she has to go to TJ to pick up all the cats from different places). Too late to get them into  fosters. One night where she had 54 cats (with moms and babies). Next day they went to where  they needed to go.     Because of COVID a lot of shelters and humane society doesn’t have some services. Some vets  closed. Some weren’t doing spay and neuters because gloves and oxygen and medications went  to humans. Disaster.   Not usually like this.  One cat in oxygen tank‐had to pick her up and speed to another vet (suffocating) to get her to  another vet that had an oxygen tank. Oxygen tank needed to go to a hospital.   COVID‐can’t get stuff from China‐steroid injections.  Needed antibiotics today but vets were out so had to go to Walgreens to get the prescriptions  filled.   Also has two dogs (rescues from Mexico) + a house bunny (she will send pictures!)      Pays for everything out of pocket. 275 on a feral cat that got penumeonia (was trying to spay  her and then their lungs..)    Sometimes ppl donate food and blankets, toys, pet dishes. Supplies her fosters with everything.  Sends food to Mexico (since border is closed half the time right now); has fosters there.  Cheaper in Mexico. SO if cats there need medical she pays for that.   When transporter brings cats up here, she sends supplies and food back to Mexico. Hard and  expensive food there in Mexico. Fosters in Mexico and here around in oceanside and in  riverside.   All about not euthanizing?   Do you need additional fosters in LA or Riverside? She needs a foster for a pregnant cat. She  provides all supplies (litterbox, food). She has a vet that she uses in Rancho Bernardo that she  does spays/neuters with them.   She has twelve cats coming from Mexico on the 31st. A few have adopters waiting and a (kittens  and adults).  Beaten by an owner and was hospitalized for 5 days. In Mexico there’s no animal abuse laws  and one set of kittens she has – someone put 6 kittens and buried them alive in a bag and a dog  found them.   She has the runt (little black kittens).       Doesn’t cherry pick: just picks cutest and leaves mom+ not cutest     


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Aborting pregnant cats  ‐‐‐vets are not accurate  Nipples (a little bit sticking out and hair pulled out around the edges)  Cant’ tell even if the vet does an ultrasound , never right, don’t abort kittens.       PTSD her and her daughter  ‐helping animals helps her  ‐doesn’t handle cats dying well.   A lot of ppl in animal rescues do it to divert their feelings about trauma to something else.   Very healing (things that u can’t control but take whatever pain you have and use it to fix  something you can’t control).    Amazon wishlist? $50/supplies – spends a day on foster cats.   Even just a can of kitten formula.   Sick cats/bottle babies‐takes everything.  


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Annette Kim    I had the pleasure of interviewing a leader from the Sudanese American community of the  Greater Philadelphia area. I was moved by the support they provide for their community using  their medical background. They shared many stories about the immigrant experience, the  cultural differences that impact cardiovascular health, and the diverse strengths of education.  One that stood out to me was an incident of a Sudanese woman who suffered from  hypertension and diabetes for two years. A language barrier had prevented her physician from  obtaining the extensive history required to diagnose secondary hypertension.       Pheochromocytoma    There is a rare tumor  that starts in the adrenal gland,  pheochromocytoma,    whose chief symptom is hypertension  with paroxysmal episodes,  bursts of a fight‐or‐flight cocktail    tachycardia, palpitations, headache,  sweating, tremor,  and a sense of apprehension    like losing your job without money in the bank,  a hiss from a bus that won’t stop for you,  the dread of surrender to strangers    its triggers   palpation and exercise   and emotional stress    pandemic  social  financial  sacrifice    Strangers hearing horses  2 years with HT and diabetes    A zebra   hidden in plain sight  behind a blur of language 


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Story Telling Project Taylor Kvilhaug July 20th, 2020

Running for Success This summer I joined the Students Run Philly Style summer program through Bridging the Gaps. The program is a mentorship program that partners middle school and high school students with adults to help train and prepare for long distance running. The program helps the students develop goal setting skills while also enhancing socializing abilities and mental resilience. For the first part of the program I worked with Danny who is in charge of the background work. He has worked for several organizations but has made it very clear that Students Run Philly Style has been the most rewarding program to work with thus far. Danny was able to really give me a better understanding of just how impactful this program can be for kids developing into young adults. He has described this program as being one that students can turn to as a way to get both healthy physical activity and additional guidance. What I found very interesting when first started is that the students who join and run in this program are usually not what people would generally consider athletic. Instead, the majority of the students who join, are the ones that just need something to do to stay active, to have some type of afterschool activity and comradery.

Huntington is a prime example of being ‘that kid’, because Huntington absolutely hated running. He would say it at every race, every practice, every meeting. He would act like every time he showed up it was a chore and something he didn’t want to do. But Huntington came to every single practice and every single race. His mentor Leroy motivated, supported, and pushed him,


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and Huntington ended up completing not one, but two marathons and other races in between. I cannot even imagine doing that, and I have played sports all my life, even Division 1 college Field Hockey. But running a marathon feels insurmountable even to me and I think that is why Students Run Philly style is such a unique and positive program. Students who need the family feel that sports provide are able to get some semblance of that, while not being on such a competitive sports team, and still increasing their physical and mental health at Students Run Philly Style.

And it seems to me, that the students who get the most out of the program are the ones that struggle athletically the most; the students who finished the marathon, not in three or four or five hours, but that finished six plus hours after the start whistle. The children that persevere through hours upon hours of running, never quitting, and get to say that they crossed that finish line. There is nothing better than being at the end of the race watching one of the students finish, hear their name called out, and the smile of success that brightens their face. And it is that success that helps the students later on in life know that they can reach extreme goals if they just keep going and keep trying.

This success is from 10 hours a week of practice and working with their mentor continuously. Week after week, the students are putting in the effort, to reach their goals of finishing a marathon race. Thus, when the race comes and they cross that finish line, all that hard work has been validated.


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Succinctly, I think experiencing this feeling of success at a young age, while the student is developing into their own self is crucial for success later on down the road. Which is why, I believe Students Run Philly style is extremely important for the community of Philadelphia and the adolescents living here.


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The same but completely different.  To say the least, it’s an unusual time to be working. Despite being thrown into a global  pandemic that no one was prepared for and an explosion of anti‐racism protests sparked by the  murder of George Floyd, Jody and Emma are still able to find the energy to support acutely ill  people with medically tailored nutrition.   At MANNA, Jody is the Senior Manager of Community Engagement, and Emma is a registered  dietitian (RDN). MANNA is part of a growing “food is medicine” movement and its mission is to  use nutrition to improve health for people with serious illnesses like HIV/AIDS, cancer, and  kidney disease. People enrolled in MANNA’s program get (for free) 21 tailored meals per week  delivered right to their door.   Emma, who worked in the hospital setting prior to MANNA, explains how MANNA is not simply  a meal delivery service: “When patients are in the hospital, they are stressed, emotional, and  being seen by people left and right; it’s not a good teaching environment. Here, we can give  meals as an educational tool to start while hearing about patients’ struggles and challenges.”  Helping people learn about the food they eat and how it can either positively or negatively  affect them is her calling.   Nutrition counseling is not without its challenges. In particular, the people who MANNA serves  often don’t have great access to food or can’t even stand long enough to cook before rapidly  tiring. And, Emma expressed concern about her many clients who fall into the high risk category  for COVID‐19. In fact, some of her new clients have been referred to MANNA because of their  long hospitalization from COVID‐19.   “Things are the same but completely different.” Jody says this as she tells me that during these  turbulent times, the core mission of MANNA and the staff and volunteers’ dedication to serving  their community has not wavered. Most clients have not noticed anything different about their  meals thanks to (and in spite of) the many adjustments made behind the scenes. For example,  the number of volunteers per shift has been halved to follow social distancing guidelines, and  the menu had to become simpler due to fewer kitchen workers as well.   Jody has also noticed many more healthcare professional students from the Philadelphia area  signing up to volunteer, which she attributes to the widespread shutdowns of student clinical  activities. There was a note of pride in her voice as MANNA has quickly adapted many safety  precautions so that volunteers can continue to come in and serve the Philadelphia community.  Even among volunteers who have not been able to continue, many have called to check to see  how MANNA and their clients are faring during this time. Jody sums up the strength of this  network, “we are all bought into what it is we’re doing. We all believe in the power of ‘food is  medicine.’”   MANNA faces some tough challenges. The organization, like so many others across the US, has  been shaken to the core by the questions and demands of the Black Lives Matter movement 


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and is seriously reflecting on how that should manifest in their work. And, during a time when  the levels of food insecurity in Philadelphia are rising sharply due to the financial instability  caused by mandated shutdowns, employees at MANNA are unfortunately telling hungry  families who do not meet the eligibility requirements of acute illness that the only thing they  can do for them is to connect them to other resources. MANNA is aware that their role in  community health, while invaluable, is also limited due to the fact that it is really the systems  and structures we live in that most greatly impact our health.     It’s clear, however, that MANNA’s strength lies in its community of staff and volunteers who  believe in the transformative power of nourishment. It is this shared conviction that will allow  MANNA to grow and overcome the many stumbling blocks that this year has placed before it.  And, of course, at the center of this passion are the people who MANNA serves.    Emma wanted people reading this to know one last thing about their community: “MANNA  clients are really resilient. They’re battling multiple chronic illnesses on top of whatever life  throws at them. They deserve respectful care, and they deserve education around their meds,  diet, and conditions. They deserve to know what’s going on in words they understand. But, we  recognize that we don’t always have all the answers, because they are the experts in  themselves.”    Special thanks to Emma Leister and Jody McIntosh for allowing me to interview them and share  their stories.     By Jeemin Kwon     


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Gianna LaBella Storytelling Project Be in My Own Peace “​We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness ... It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together” - Marina Keegan. Through the lens of an iPhone camera and as her voice travels through the unembellished grey square that displays her name over Zoom, Sad​è Black seems like any other recent high school graduate. ​Sad​è, who spent the first several years of her life in South Carolina, now calls the wonderful and diverse community of West Philadelphia her home. She was part of the graduating class of 2020, and received a full ride to attend the Temple University to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. In the midst of this crazy world that has been uprooted by a seemingly endless list of setbacks, ​Sad​è emulates a spirit of true joviality, passion and tenacity through her words and story. When asked “why nursing?” her response was “I actually wanted to be a lawyer, but I just felt like it was selfish to focus on myself and was inspired to work in the medical field. I felt like it was a sacrifice to help others”. Ninety minutes later, her trait of selflessness continued to shine through as ​Sad​è shared her life, including many of its ups and downs and left us amazed at her perseverance and just her overall being. At the end of our conversation, it was hard to even know where to begin to reflect but there was one thing that stood out from her story: We all just want to belong. I look at my own reflection staring back at me on my computer screen, while I intently listen to Sad​è speak about her life. While I cannot see her, I am able to paint an unfaltering image of her in my head as she explains every detail.​ “The farm has given me two of my biggest mentors and I have learned so much from being there”. Sad​è has been a part of the Sankofa Community Farm for the past four summers and the way her voice lights up as she discusses what the farm has provided her, is enough to know that the farm at Bartram’s Gardens is a special and magical place, for not just ​Sad​è but for all who walk through its doors. “The farm just has a healthy role in the community; it gives people the opportunity for fresh produce without chemicals as much as possible”. She talks about how the Sankofa Farm allows residents of the Southwest Philadelphia area to rent a garden bed and grow their own food, which increases food sovereignty and lifts a financial burden on many families as growing the food is significantly more affordable and more accessible for many within this neighborhood. Although the farm mostly serves those who live in Southwest Philly, ​Sad​è wishes more people in her home of West Philadelphia knew that you can rent out little gardens to grow food. “My old crossing guard from like fifth grade had one and that’s how I heard about it. ​It helps people in the community because it's affordable and depending on who you're with it might be free because people just want to help out”. She explains that that’s all people want to do: help each other. “These places provide a sense of security and connection”. ​Sad​è wants people to see the beauty


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of her community that is often overcast by negativity: the way the people love one another, its many murals and gardens, the ambiance of South Street, all the activities outside and the shopping. ​Sad​è has certainly recognized the beauty within West Philadelphia and hopes others

see it too, but she pivots into her story of how she has also had to face the ugly within this world. Having grown up in a suburban area in South Carolina, ​Sad​è explains that she

experienced her fair share of racism while residing in a predominantly white neighborhood. “​People looked at my family like we didn’t belong especially because we’re like loud and stuff. People in that neighborhood are just not used to that”. Although we can’t physically see it, the way ​Sad​è speaks of her experience moving to West Philadelphia is telling of how much of a positive change it has been in her life. “​Neighborhoods just started to become blended so it's easier to connect with people. Everyone is cool with each other. Everyone bonds. Everyone belongs. It’s normal here to hang around people who aren’t like you”. She highlights how in her community, people are able to celebrate one another’s differences rather than using them as a way to divide. “I was reading to younger kids through National Honors Society, kids went to a lady on my block with a large library and read the Bible downstairs (for the Christian kids) and the Quran upstairs (for the Muslim kids) and later we discussed and found similarities between religions. We teach them that people are ultimately more similar than different”. ​Sad​è explained how confusing it is to live in a world that chooses to radicalize and politicize everything while focusing on the division of people, and the othering of people, but meanwhile her community thrives on doing the exact opposite. Her favorite memory in West Philadelphia was on her 15th birthday: “You know how when you’re ​around people for a while you just call them cousin?

Well me and my “cousins” played manhunt in the woods with me and my siblings by the train tracks and I hid in a tree for over an hour. Everyone was looking for me. I won because no one could find me for an hour”. She tells how easy it was for everyone to be one unit, and how everyone in the neighborhood had a place and a group to call home. Home is so much more than just a house you live in, it’s being able to say you have others and S makes this very clear. Although she loves her neighborhood, she carries her fair share of trauma and burden related to the stress of what simply trying to survive can look like. “Either you get pregnant young, you’re selling drugs, or you’re dead by 21. If you make it out you’re a ‘lucky son of a gun’”. You could feel the weight of these words through the screen as if you could cut right through the air in which they travel. She tells us that life is always trying to get to the next age bracket and to make it through without their life getting messed up. In an unwavering voice, she matter of factly, stated that she was nervous of having recently turned 19. “ I felt okay that I’ve made it this far, you’re expecting something bad to happen by age 18. I realized me and my siblings’ lives are endangered living in the neighborhood. You could get shot by accident or get stabbed in a dirty fight”. She recounts how the older she gets, the scarier her reality becomes. While she tells us this, my eyes well up with tears as I myself face the harsh reality of recognizing how my own privilege has made me blind to the actuality that many young


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people around me are facing. ​“This is just how it is”. A ​ s ​Sad​è pours out the fears she has of

simply surviving within her community, she doesn’t hesitate to highlight the positives within the community. She explains that everyone is just trying to “make it out”. And education is the ticket to do so. Everyone is just trying to be good, to stay on the straight and narrow but for some, they just don’t get the chance to make something more of themselves. “​Every Saturday a bunch of teenagers go to park and go get lunch and make a strategy of what to do to fulfill life goals”. She tells us a brief story of how some kids want to be writers, but can’t read so the teens teach them how. They come together to try and build up the community within themselves. They all just want to help each other because they know that it’s their only way to be successful. While she tells us this, she talks about how the recent protests have caused some chaos and pandemonium within the neighborhood and how many things within the community have been destroyed. Many were scared due to increased police and military presence. She feels as though the negative energy has been misdirected within instead of being directed outward to bring positive change. She described the impact of gun violence having seen two people shot and killed while just being a young child and the multitude of street fights she’s witnessed in her short life. “My neighborhood made me realize that all skinfolk aren’t kinfolk, You gotta keep your head down and be nice because you never know what someone’s capable of doing. I don’t ride the bus anymore due to a recent situation. It’s a lifestyle you need to get used to”. Despite this, she has nothing but love for her community and herself. To deal with a lot of this heaviness, she says she just has to “create [her] own peace”. She makes her personal health and wellbeing the priority and meditates and does yoga. She wants to be her best self so she can give that to the world. S is incredibly passionate about helping others and learning everything she can about the world. Her grit and resilience shines through and her willingness to get through anything and create an environment that furthers herself is astonishing considering all she deals with on a daily basis. Her idea of creating inner peace is so strong. As our conversation started to come to a close she said “Keeping knowledge to yourself is stealing” and she wants to share what she knows with all who will listen. Through our interview, she repeated many times that West Philadelphia makes people feel like they belong. At the end of the day, this is what we want. Because despite the trials and tribulations that life often throws at us, it is people that bring us out of all the darkness. S will say that many of these things are “just life” for her, which is why I think what Marina Keegan said is so powerful here when it comes to community: it’s people who are in “this” together, which is what West Philadelphia is for her. *I would like to make a disclaimer that I could not possible bring justice to Sadé’s amazing and touching story and that she is so much more than anything written could perceive.


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Vivian Lee Bridging the Gaps: Storytelling Project  7-20-20 I had the pleasure to speak with Ms. D, a menstruator and a mother of two menstruating  daughters. Ms. D and I talked about COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement, and period poverty,  and how they all have been experienced by herself, her family, and her community. Despite everything going on,  menstruation was an underlying worry in Ms. D’s life. This is something that every menstruator suffering  from period poverty in Philadelphia experiences. Living through a pandemic and systemic racism is already  traumatic, but also having to deal with period poverty is, as Ms. D put it simply, “stressful”. Ms. D also  explained that those in her community do not speak freely about menstruation in general, let alone about the  struggle of period poverty. However, she and her daughters have started becoming more comfortable talking  about their periods within their familial unit and with others. No More Secrets has helped out Ms. D’s  family and others like hers by fulfilling their requests for free menstrual products. When I asked Ms. D what  she would want someone to know about herself and the other people that No More Secrets service, she  answered that it’s okay to ask for help if you need it and, most importantly, that menstruation is not a secret,  but instead a natural part of life. In my embroidery project I wanted to reflect Ms. D’s sentiment that  menstruation is as natural as the change of seasons.  


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Art title: "Fledge"   When I (first) went there (Covenant House), it was hectic… like I had panic attacks. It was just  crazy. It was stressful at that time… the struggle when I didn't have a job and a place to live…"  T recalled. It was at Covenant House that she found her very first job. The Education and  Vocation Program at Covenant House helped T build resume and prepared her for job  interviews. "I had to do job search and I found a job! By myself! On my own! It's a daycare job.  It started when I was at Cov (Covenant House)… I LOVE my job!" she said excitedly. T was very  proud of finding her first job and found self‐competence in this process. One of Trina's favorite  memories at Covenant House was talking with the staff. "They (staff) kept telling me 'you will  be fine' and 'it will be okay' when I felt nervous and scared," T shared, "talking to them help me  do stuff in my life time." The staff was always there to encourage and support when she was  going through difficult times. "If it wasn't for Covenant House, I won't be where I am now.  'Cause I probably would still be here homeless with nothing…" Covenant House created a safe  nest for T where she was able to build confidence and regain a sense of control over her life to  prepare her to fledge. 


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Thomas Lucido BTG Storytelling Project COVID From the Perspective of Germantown Resident and Activist “There is a lot of fear in our community. It is quite a scary time” says Ms. A, an elected Germantown democratic official. Ms. A shares the sentiments of many of her neighbors. As an older adult, the pandemic alarming. However, if there is one thing that her experience has taught her, it’s that the community has a voice in the situation. Ms. A is a Germantown local. She attended the local Germantown Friend’s School, where she had some of her fondest memories. When she turned twenty, she moved to Mt. Airy with her husband. The couple worked hard in their community. Mr. A served as the first black committee person in the Philadelphia stock exchange while she worked in special education. Tragically though, Mr. A was killed in a car accident. A very resilient person, Ms. A moved back to her hometown and decided to continue her hard work in the Philadelphia community. She took on different roles, finding a passion in teaching environment camps, working as a community organizer and volunteering at her alma matter, Germantown Friend’s School. Taking on so many different projects across different disciplines, she is the embodiment of a model citizen. She engages in this work because she loves her community and wants to see everyone happy, it’s really that simple. She loves the sense of togetherness in Germantown and works to maintain it. With the advent of COVID-19, she feels the community hurting. She understands the frustrations of her neighbors. She feels the anger many have felt about how this pandemic has been handled by our leaders. Her role is to make people believe that the community can still have


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their voices heard. She encourages everyone in her community, regardless of their beliefs, to be sure to vote. Through voting, we can ensure that leaders are making decisions in accordance with the popular opinion. Through voting, we can establish community leaders we need. Through voting, we can work toward a safer, more functional community. So to everyone frustrated during these time, know that while the pandemic is bigger than the individual, the induvial still has some control over the pandemic through voting.


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For this project, I had an opportunity to speak to two members of the Pettaway Pursuit Foundation (PPF). The Pettaway Pursuit Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides educational and community outreach services to low-income individuals before, during and after their birthing experiences through the work of doulas. The first woman that I spoke to was a doula with the Pettaway Pursuit Foundation. She had two years of experience as a doula, and had just begun to work at PPF as COVID hit. She told me how most of her services had to transition to a virtual platform, and that she was doing a lot of texting to check in on her mothers and families. She described feeling like she had to work harder to create emotional connections, that people were not willing to talk over the phone or would not call her back, and that she often had mothers ignore her calls during births so she could not be reimbursed for them, which created a financial burden for her. She explained that despite the challenges that came with transitioning to a virtual format for delivering her services, she still felt well connected to a network of other doulas who were all willing to support each other in their work and offer advice. Her passion for her work was very clear to me during our interview, as she explained that she is also an expectant mother during this time and still felt a responsibility to continue providing doula services during the pandemic. She gave an example of going in person to be the only support person during a client’s birth. She had built a strong relationship with that client and her partner, and that mother really wanted someone present during her birth, which is currently not allowed at hospitals. She said she felt a responsibility to be there for her. During that experience, she said she also felt well supported and respected by the medical staff involved in this woman’s birth. She said that although working online was not ideal, she would rather be doing her work virtually than not at all. The second woman that I spoke to was a woman who had received doula services through PPF. She was going through her first pregnancy as a single mother, who had to quit her job during the pandemic, and whose family and friends were all still in Nigeria. She had very little support during her pregnancy, but her doula was there for her when no one else could be. Being that this was her first pregnancy, she explained that she was very anxious about making sure that she and her baby stayed healthy. She said that her doula would answer any questions or concerns she had about her pregnancy. She supported her, both emotionally, mentally and physically throughout her entire pregnancy and birthing process. She spoke about how she was shaking so hard during her birth that she had to physically hold onto her doula for support. She explained that virtual visits were not something she enjoyed, but that she still felt she could count on her doula to guide her through her entire pregnancy process. I did my best to depict what I had learned from these two interviews in my drawing. In the background, I wanted the coronavirus to be a looming and ever-present figure in this piece. I also put the Philadelphia skyline at the bottom to set the scene for where these experiences were taking place. The doula’s experience provided my drawing with themes of support despite the barriers of providing services during the pandemic. I drew her in hues of pink to represent the passion and care that she provided to her clients, despite all of the obstacles that were getting in the way of her services. The member’s experience provided similar themes of technology as both a support and barrier. I wanted the laptop and phone to look like they were simultaneously looming behind and lifting up the mother and the doula to represent the dual nature that technology played in both of their experiences. I wanted to show the necessary support this mother received from her doula by depicting the doula both physically and emotionally supporting the mother during her pregnancy. I drew the mother in shades of blue because of all of the hardships she had experienced during her pregnancy: unemployment and struggling financially, being a single mother, having her support system living in another country, and being pregnant during the pandemic. I wanted to include the medical staff as a source of support in this piece, but since both of these women’s stories did not center the medical care provided, I chose to put it off to the side.


Page 146 of 211 Some of the words a Medical Assistant, and member of the Philadelphia community, used to describe the last few months:

Speaking to a Medical Assistant (MA) at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children certainly brought a sense of desperations, as she recounted her experience the last few months during the COVID-19 pandemic. She recounted situations in which the families expressed a sense of stress, as they lost their jobs, were left with housing insecurity, and encountered language barriers when trying to help their children learn from home, while only knowing the Spanish language. Not only did the MA witness these experiences at her workplace, but also experienced similar experiences as a mother who is also taking care of her elderly mother. She has lived the last few months with a sense of fear and anxiety over this virus, while also appreciative of still having her job and loved ones. ~Rebekah Madrid Drexel University College of Medicine Class of 2023


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Talia Magoon A Journey Through Grief Grief is not a unique emotion. Everyone experiences grief at some point in their life and it is not something that can easily be explained because everyone deals and copes with grief differently. It affects your life in so many ways and not many people understand that. Today I am going to tell you about TC's Journey and perspective on Grief. TC is a woman who lost one of her two daughters to gun violence. Her daughter was twenty-one years old when she died and left behind a two-year-old daughter. Her story struck me deeply because of all the things she dealt with after her daughter’s death. At the hospital when she was told about the death of her daughter, the doctor showed little to know compassion. The doctor was talking in past tense and when the time came to tell TC that her daughter had passed away they quickly told her and left the room after. In that moment so many things are going through her mind; “What were my daughters last words?”, “Did you do everything you could?” She was not even aloud to see her daughter. Imagine sitting there being told your daughter has just died and no compassion or support is given to you. When speaking to TC she mentioned that anyone going into a field that involved working with grief of any form should really look at the patient and show some compassion. Put away the textbooks and all the things you have learned and really listen and understand what your patient has just gone through. Many clinicians deal with these cases often and they forget that aspect of empathy and compassion. You have to listen to the patient to see what they really need. She is currently working with trauma care doctors and nurses to help improve these experiences for future people that may have to face these similar situations. One of the biggest things that helps TC with her grief is the support she gets from others. She saw how important that support was, and the loss of her daughter led her to start a program called Two Moms Bonded by Grief. It is a program she started about three years ago. This organization she created has made a safe place for many mothers to come together and comfort each other. She also started making little bags for the parents that have lost a child to homicide. The bag contains a candle, picture frame, ink pen and journal. She offers this to parents so they can use it in their home to make a space for their child’s memory. Her work has expanded into something really extraordinary and she plans to continue this work and branch out even more. Along with the program she started, she found Uplift because she needed a place to help her granddaughter grieve better. It was a place where here her granddaughter could go on her own to deal with her grief and TC could go to the caregiver group and express her feelings as well. She is always so strong for others and she needs to have that time to be able to say how she is feeling. On their way home, they could connect after group and discuss how the evening went for them. Uplift has been a place for her where she has felt much support and she would love to


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go to group more than twice a month. Her granddaughter was so young when her mother died, and she did not have a place where she could grieve, and Uplift helped with that. With Covid-19, a lot of interaction with other people has been taken away. Grieving is a process where you need support from others and now it is gone and that can feel isolating. TC said “being confined gives you too much time and your mind wanders.� I really resonated with her when she said this because that isolation can start to make you think about so many things that you try to push away and keep in the back of your mind. And especially when you are grieving so many thoughts can come to mind and make you feel helpless. TC and the mothers she works with need so much support from each other and she said something as simple as a hug is crucial. The quarantine has really made is hard for her as well as others to grow during their grieving process together. Since everyone experiences grief at different times in their life, a question we had for TC was, what is some advice you would give to someone dealing with grief that you wish you learned earlier on in your grief journey? Her answer was to talk and immediately seek help. You don’t want to let that anger build-up because it will lead you to self-destruct. TC tells others to be open minded and allow people to support and love them through these times. She knows personally because it took her so long to realize this. It got to the point where she was in the hospital for three days and she said she was either going to stroke out or seek help. Grief is so profound, and you cannot hold in all the feelings that come with grief because it will affect you and your health; mental and physical. There is so much violence and loss in this world and TC has dealt with both. We have got to be more aware of these things so that we can help people like TC in the future. Her story was so powerful, and I know that what I learned from it with affect how I interact with patients in my future career. I thank her and so many others who are willing to share their story because without them, we as a society would not be able to make a difference.


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  Story Telling Project  Saba Mahmood    

    During my interview with Semona Williams (Miss Se), the Out‐of‐School director for Spring  Garden Academy, we discussed the effects of police brutality and the BLM movement on school  age children. The injustices suffered by the black community of North Philly are vast and  complicated, but this community demonstrates strength and resilience through all of it.    


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I recounted driving through North Philly neighborhoods behind Temple on my daily commutes.  The abandoned houses and littered streets stood in contrast to the people. I would often see  sharply dressed women with beautiful locks of hair that looked out of place in the  neighborhood. Miss Se expressed how beauty in the form of self‐expression is an outlet for this  socio‐economically oppressed community. This part of our conversation inspired me to draw  the beautiful hairstyles unique to black communities, hairstyles that have been wrongly  appropriated by others in the name of fashion. As Miss Se reflected, black women were  ridiculed for their hair styles, the same styles that are now considered beautiful on white skin.     This piece of digital art reflects the beauty of black hair and the strength of black women.  


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UC Green Presents: Tree Stories London Plane Holly St. Community Garden

THE INSTA-WORTHY TREE A love of greening was planted within Ethan Leatherbarrow early in his life, as he was surrounded by many greening mentors from a young age, including his mom. As a result, Ethan has many favorite trees throughout the city. This London Plane is located in the Holly St. community garden, where Ethan helps as a volunteer gardener, adding to his extensive list of roles at UC Green. Ethan shares his love of trees in Philadelphia via an Instagram account (@treejawns), where he posts about Philadelphia’s tree culture. @treejawns has evolved into an unexpected source of community, a hub where “people are always asking for advice about their trees and wanting to share the trees they’ve planted.” In addition to local residents, Ethan explains, “other tree accounts from around the world follow this account and I wouldn’t have expected that at the beginning”, as he originally started this account as a way to document the cool trees he spotted in his everyday life, “for the clout, obviously.” This image of the London Plane is actually based on a photo previously shared on @treejawns. Ethan recognizes the privilege of the historically strong tree infrastructure in Philadelphia, including extensive records kept by the city on the everyday utility of trees. “Pennsylvania, literally meaning [William] Penn’s woods, was always intended to be a forest. Because of this, Philadelphia has really always been a

The trees are already here. - Ethan

city well-populated with street trees.” Ethan advocates for a more interactive relationship with the trees that populate our streets, “We have to uplift the voices that can share the benefits that trees can have in our communities”. Trees can be resources for food and carbon sequestration and we can do more to utilize them to their full potential, as Ethan says, “eat off of the trees, don’t go to Whole Foods, the trees are already here.”


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Mary Elizabeth McLaverty Bridging the Gaps: Storytelling Project Exposure, Pre-term Labor & the State of the World The world swallowed by the sink hole of COVID19, Stillness unable to set ourselves free. Anxiety banging at the back door. How can I protect my baby? The daily death toll, I can’t seem to ignore. Locked away to keep everyone safe, No longer allowed the pleasure of a loved ones embrace. Protocols and guidelines being put into place, Overwhelmed with uncertainties, I can’t seem to shake. Fear starts to dwindle, As we change the way we mingle, My doula only a phone call away. What does this mean? How can I manage? Peace of mind, guidance and support, Having my doula, an absolute advantage.


Page 153 of 211 Sejal Menghani BTG: Storytelling Project

“Know Your Rights” After having the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Eric Edi, I learned a lot about his personal journey to America from Côte d'Ivoire of Africa and his connection to AFRICOM. Dr. Edi received a Fulbright Scholarship and attended Temple University before becoming a cofounder of AFRICOM, an organization based in Philly that works to build a strong and inclusive African and Caribbean immigrant and refugee community – a vibrant population that faces countless racial, cultural, legal, and practical challenges every day and night. More often than not, the path to obtaining a green card can have many twists and turns. My own parents immigrated from India after getting married and made many sacrifices to ensure that my brother and I could experience all of the advantages and opportunities that come with being natural born citizens of the United States. I consider myself privileged in the fact that my parents’ journey to citizenship was relatively simple. However, in many cases, the path to citizenship is not simple or straightforward. In the below painting, titled “Know Your Rights,” the “day and night” scenery is to represent the many days and nights of uncertainty the African and Caribbean immigrant population face, before and after obtaining a green card or citizenship. They often come to America with hope of open arms and opportunity after already having faced years of hardship, yet this glimmering perception is often quickly shattered by the reality of complex immigration policies, inequal policing, and glaring societal disparities. In the midst of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, this uncertainty continues to overwhelm the population on a daily basis. AFRICOM provides a “helping hand” in the form of immigration legal clinics, “Know Your Rights” sessions, Health Fairs, College Access Workshops, cultural events, and civic engagement. The pandemic required AFRICOM to readjust their efforts towards primarily providing cash assistance for food and housing assistance while continuing civic engagement to encourage everyone to fill out the census and register to vote. While it may not be possible to completely erase the uncertainty and feeling of powerlessness, I am glad efforts are being made to inform this population about their rights and to empower them with a feeling a hope and strength through collaboration.


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Sejal Menghani’s storytelling project includes a PDF file as well as a video. This is the link  to the video:    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CxUEN5FPEawZMxbCmHoEFQOK5xrAtd1Z/view?usp=s haring


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Ahmed Mirza Uplift Center for Grieving Children BTG 2020 Storytelling Project This summer, I have been fortunate enough to work at the Uplift Center for Grieving Children with one of my classmates, Talia Magoon, under the wing of our supervisor Kevin Carter. For this storytelling project both of us had the opportunity to brainstorm some questions together and interview Ms. TC, who has been taking care of her granddaughter ever since she lost her daughter to gun violence years ago. She and her granddaughter currently attend grief group at Uplift. TALIA: Before we ask questions, we just wanted to give you the opportunity to tell us a little bit about yourself, any background that you are willing to share. TC: I’m a mother of two, my daughter whom I lost to gun violence at the age of 21. Grandmother of six. I’m a retired Philadelphia corrections officer, and I’m currently working part time at the Philadelphia Parking Authority. I started Moms Bonded by Grief approximately 3 years ago, as a result of losing my daughter to inner city violence. I have been receiving so many phone calls over the years of people that I knew losing their children, so I decided to start holding meetings just to be able to comfort them. I had no idea that it would go as far as it has, that I would be here 3 years later, but this is where I am and I plan on staying here as long as I possibly can. TALIA: What brought you to Uplift or how did you hear about Uplift’s work? TC: I heard about it because I met Kevin in a training class about 2 years ago. We were training to give support to neighborhoods when they experience violence. He told me about Uplift and I thought that would be good for my granddaughter. My granddaughter was two when my daughter was murdered, and although I took her with me to grief support at the time I was attending Mothers In Charge, there just was not a place for me to take her- children. You know they have places around the city for adults to attend grief support, and they even have places for children through the city. However, the one that I chose to take her to on 8th and Spring Garden, she was the only child in that session who had lost a parent to gun violence. The other children were there for molestation, so she just did not fit in there. So once I learned about Uplift through Kevin, I thought that would be great for her, so we’ve been here since. TALIA: What do you like about Uplift, and if there’s anything you would change or make better what would it be? TC: I enjoy coming and having her be able to go off in a setting with her peers, and then a setting for the parents for us to be able to vent in a sense. A lot of times I need that because I try to be so strong for everyone else that I don’t get a chance to let my inner feelings out. And then when it’s over, on the ride home her and I get to talk about, okay how did it go for you today, is there anything that you wanna share? So I enjoy that we both get a chance to let our feelings out. If there’s anything that I would change about it, and I guess I’m being selfish at this point, it would be that we’re able to come more than just twice a month. TALIA: If you’ve partaken in the virtual groups since COVID has started, have you enjoyed them, have they been good for you?


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TC: I have, and I can only be honest: I prefer in-person. I’m really not getting what I need, because when it’s up close and personal it just feels more personal and more caring to me. With virtual I’m still trying to adjust; although it’s been 3 months I just don’t get that feeling out of it. AHMED: With everything going on in the world right now, how would you say the pandemic has affected your ability to grieve or process your grief? TC: Simply because you have to do it alone now. You don’t have anyone here with you because everyone is in their little isolated space. And it’s harder when you’re by yourself. Being confined gives you too much time and your mind wanders, so you get a chance to think about everything. Things that you don’t really wanna internalize are there because you have nothing but time in your inner house. When we have our Tuesday groups, my moms and myself, we talk about that all the time: how we need each other so much, even if it’s just for a hug. This 3 months being isolated has really hindered our roof in our grieving process. AHMED: What advice do you have for future professionals working in the field of grief or mental health support? TC: I can just speak from my experience, my encounter when I was going to a therapist: just for them to be more open to listening to a grieving parent. Everything is not textbook. If you have not walked in my shoes then you don’t quite understand what it is that I’m going through. So just to be more open-minded and hear us out and just for a moment remove themselves from the textbook, put yourself in my situation and see how you would internalize all of it. AHMED: What advice do you have for other people dealing with grief that you wish you had received early on in your journey? TC: Just to talk, just to immediately seek help. Because once that anger internalizes and gets within you, you self-destruct. I was filled with so much anger and bitterness, although I was going to a support group I would not allow what they was trying to give me to sink in. I just was filled with so much anger. So I just tell new moms – I just had two new moms join my group last week – I just tell them to be openminded and just listen to us and allow us to love them. And it took me years, it took me until I was fire rescued from my job to the hospital – I laid in the hospital for 3 days, and I was told I was either gonna stroke out or I was gonna seek help. And that’s when I decided, okay let me take a deep breath and let some of this that they was trying to give me, help me, or I was going to self-destruct. TALIA: You said that with the therapists you felt they need to get away from the textbook and look at who they’re working with. Do you feel like that with the volunteers and the staff at Uplift, that they’re really there listening to you and hearing you? TC: They do, they listen to us! They give us the floor. There’s no textbook there, they’re not trying to tell us how we should feel. They give us scenarios and base it on, how do you feel today, or what would you do in this situation? And we’re allowed to just speak for ourselves. KEVIN: These two young people are training to be physicians, and I know as an adult and as a grieving mother you’ve dealt with medical professionals. Regardless of what specializations they go into, what do you think medical doctors need to know about grieving people? TC: That’s a good one, because that’s something that we deal with now. Just to be more compassionate. Medical doctors, trauma doctors, trauma nurses are so immune to gunshot victims and homicides, and that’s something that they do daily, so their feelings are shut off. And I don’t think that


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it’s personal, I just think that maybe they’re overwhelmed and they see it so much that they can’t allow their self to get physically or mentally connected. But when you come out and talk to me, the parent, there has to be some compassion. Because that’s my kid back there, and I know that’s your job, but that’s my kid and the last thing that I want to hear from you is that they’re no longer here. And some of them, excuse me (tearing up), some of them when they come out to talk to you, it’s just raw – they say what they say, they turn their back, and they walk away from you. And I’m just left there with a thousand thoughts, a thousand questions - what was her last word, what if anything did she say? So just a little compassion.


Page 158 of 211 Brett Mitchell 7/19/20 For my storytelling project, I interviewed M... who is on the Outreach Engagement Team in the Philadelphia Futures organization. This entity “provides low-income and first-generation to college students with tools, resources, and opportunities necessary for college and career success.” Hearing M...’s story was very inspiring because he is a Philadelphia Futures alumni whom was helped on his path to get to Gettysburg College in PA, and now he has a position with the organization to help others in the same way. I was very fascinated by the cyclical nature of his story and decided to center this poem about that theme in life and in Philly. He spoke on how he wished more people from Philly actually stay in the city to help those in need, and M.. hopes that his work can help nurture that spirit in students. Overall, more families and students need to know about Philadelphia Futures because they do such great things in the community. Cycles The cycles in life Some good, some bad Like water to ice Some cool, some sad I know Philadelphia cycles to be too brash From wheels on a wagon To falling off to relapse From cycles of poverty To violence around To hoping the lottery Will get the clock unwound From educational troubles To unfulfilled dreams Your parents’ double Is what you may seem Cycles of students In and out schools Having to build a career Without any tools To avoid the cycle of cells Not mitosis But the bookings in jail The cycle’s ferocious Beware of a nature that’s cyclic Instead of fulfilling a duty that’s civic Some make the path out to be cryptic To help them is a mission To find the diamonds in the rough And make to them glisten They’re not screaming out for much Just hoping someone will listen


Page 159 of 211 Brett Mitchell 7/19/20 Please tell me of a good cycle! Well, I heard of one from M... It benefits those normally stifled Philadelphia Futures and their young disciples This house is made a home Fostering a realization of dreams Mentors, they reap what they sow Getting these kids as far as they can go M..., he grew up in this home About this place, he wished more would know There is 30 years to show Could always use a bigger load This home persists in the midst of life’s tricks COVID and social unrest tried to divide this The virtual circumstances may seem righteous But the morale being stronger would be my guess Cycling through emails and calls The school cycle comes back in the fall Fortified despite this pandemic weather Helping each other, they do it together A sweet memory, a call to inform about acceptance M...remembers his joy Moving on applying the lessons He learned as a Futures boy M... was sent to war At Gettysburg he found himself more Futures got him on track Heard a calling to have their back M... now helps run this home Student becomes the teacher The values are now loaned To one of its diverse seekers A tragedy is the exodus from Philly Removing a rose from its pot is silly When you can nurture others around Where others are lost, they could be found Someone who M... helped on their path Someone he helped climb their ladder A memory engrained as his life will last Is when they got into his alma mater To go from a dream when young To now an outreach engagement title He now helps other’s dreams come Which then completes the cycle Philly should breed life


Page 160 of 211 Brett Mitchell 7/19/20 And let the limit be the sky When the present gives those the time Futures will multiply


Page 161 of 211 Bridging The Gaps 2020: Storytelling Project On Friday July 17 I had the opportunity to meet with a resident of Depaul House, located th

in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. Depaul House is a 1-year transitional housing facility for adult men who were previously unhoused. The gentleman I met with, GC, shared with me part of his incredibly moving and traumatic life story. I am honored to have gotten to meet with him and write down some of his words. GC was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the Kensington neighborhood of North Philly in the early 70s as an infant with his mother. GC detailed his upbringing as one centered around survival in an environment that was hostile and unforgiving. GC did not know his father and his mother struggled with drug addiction and used selling drugs and governmental assistance programs to provide for their family. One of GC’s earliest memories was of him wetting the bed as a child, and the constant physical and verbal abuse that followed from his mother. He explained she thought he was doing it on purpose and would punish him for it. At age 12 GC was no longer in school and began using and selling drugs. He explained his mother was unable to care and provide for him so selling drugs was the only way he knew how to survive. GC explained that as a child his worldview was such that he did not know people went to school and worked other jobs, he figured if someone was not selling drugs it was because they were too naïve to know how. GC expressed regret that he never knew his father, because perhaps he would have explained to him to the risks and long-term dangers of using and selling drugs. He explained when he was growing up the core value of his neighborhood and community was that violence was the way to survive and get out of situations, and to never call the cops. When GC was in his early 20s he was riding around in his friends’ car when his friend pulled up to a house and shot and killed someone. GC did not know he had any plans of doing that and was shocked when it happened. He did not know the individual that died. This resulted in GC being convicted of 3 degree murder and sentenced to ten to twenty years in prison starting rd

at age 25. GC described his experience in prison as “the end of his world.” He described his experiences of being put in solitary confinement, fighting and violence, and only being allowed out of his cell for 1-2 hours a day. GC said stabbings, sexual assaults, and abuse was all around him and that minding his own business got him by. GC had hope that he would be released on parole at the end of his 10 year sentence, however when the ten years was up he was given a “two-year hit” which delayed him. After this GC said he was angry and no longer felt motivated to “behave” and got into a few fights. This led to him getting another two-year hit at the 12 year


Page 162 of 211 Bridging The Gaps 2020: Storytelling Project mark. After that he felt defeated and accepted doing the remaining eight years. GC described how being imprisoned takes everything from you. Most of his family died while he was in prison. GC says prison made him deeply depressed and hopeless to the point where he actually dreaded leaving since he had nothing waiting for him outside. GC said he feels lucky he only had twenty years as he knew so many other inmates who were serving life in prison which he explained in Pennsylvania means “life and a day.” Life and a day means once you die in prison they wait a full 24 hours before notifying your family. When asked about how he coped through it all he said different people gravitate towards different things. Some people turn to religion, others to exercise, some to drugs. GC said he spent most of his time reading – how-to books, religious materials, and the newspaper every single day. GC was released from prison in 2017 to what he described as “absolutely nothing.” He said the prison system doesn’t care and releases individuals to no resources whatsoever. Once out GC said he was homeless for a while and ended up on the streets using drugs. He said drug use was the only way he could physically and mentally cope both with his severe depression and his lack of stable housing. GC bounced in and out of various treatment programs but ultimately completed one and is no longer using drugs. After that GC joined Depaul House which he describes as “a godsend.” GC says at Depaul House he feels safe and taken care of and appreciates that the staff are always willing to help and put in extra work that shelters are unable to. GC hopes to one day be able to serve as a role-model for youth in neighborhoods similar to the one he grew up in. He feels it is important to convey the message that the only outcomes of behaviors similar to his as a young person are “jail, institution, or the graveyard.” GC says still struggles with depression and PTSD from his twenty years in prison. GC said sometimes he is abruptly awoken in the middle of the night to the sound of a cell door slamming shut. Despite all GC has been through and continues to work through he says he remains hopeful for his future. He is looking for employment now and has not used drugs in a few months. When reflecting on his life story GC said “some people get to watch the experience, and some people are the experience.”


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Arelis Thalia Nunez Temple University BTG Internship 2020 Storytelling Assignment July 20th, 2020 Interviewing V...! V... is the program manager of Farm to Families a program whose main goal is to get high quality fresh food to the Philadelphia community, at a price point that is accessible. V. comes from a background of being a chef and next a restaurant owner for 12 years. She has always had an interest for social justice issues which lead for her passion of food justice and accessibility. St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children organizes the program Farm to Families to make food more accessible for the community. Making sure that the resources get to the people that truly need it, ensuring the community knows about this program and benefits from it. The big box of produce has a cost of eighteen dollars; the way it works is the health care provider gives the patients a script for the food, the same way they would get a script for their medication, the patients prepay the food and get it the next week on the day programmed for giveaway. The program prides in providing food that is locally obtained, organic, fresh, and food that the people would not find in retail. Health care providers had the concern of the difficulty of individuals to find healthier and fresher food, from which came the proposal to create this program. This program typically offers around 150-270 boxes of produce each week. Since COVID-19, the approach has been to give to the community the boxes of fresh food at no cost. Additionally, provide local organizations fresh food to giveaway to does in need. This summer working in the Food Insecurity Project which correlates to the work done with this program, our main goal has been to get the resources for does affected by COVID-19 but also provide them long-term food security. I believe our community cannot get enough of this type of work because it is truly needed.


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Isha Pandya  Storytelling Project  DV has lived in South Philadelphia and volunteered at MANNA for over 20 years. At 64 years old,  she is a breast cancer survivor and works at Elsevier as an event planner, secretary, and assistant among  many other positions. Although it may seem like she has her plate full, her volunteering does not stop at  MANNA. She also donates her time to the 17th Police District Advisory Commission (PDAC), the many  marathons that take place in Philadelphia each year, several other organizations that serve cancer  patients within the city, and she is also a community facilitator in South Philly. The COVID‐19 pandemic,  however, has drastically changed LaVale’s volunteering.   Due to social distancing protocols, all marathons have been cancelled and DV no longer has the  opportunity to help at these events. MANNA, however, is an essential business and continues to serve  its clients even during the pandemic. DV has continued volunteering here at least twice a week even  with her asthma and minor heart condition. The measures that MANNA has taken to ensure their  employees and volunteers safety help her to feel more secure about going in and serving the clients.  Through this experience, not only does she have the opportunity to get out of the house, but she is also  able to help the people who desperately need it. To DV, this pandemic is a great opportunity for people  to change their perspectives on life. So many individuals being treated for cancer or chronic kidney  disease live every day like we do in quarantine. It’s not safe for them to leave their houses often or  interact with large groups of people, for fear that they will develop secondary infections. Many people  who have never had to face issues like this took their day‐to‐day lives for granted before this pandemic.  LaVale’s experience as a cancer survivor gives her a unique perspective on the lives of MANNA’s clients.  She hopes that other volunteers and employees use this time to gain a better insight into what their  client’s lives are like, in the hopes that this will help them better serve in the future.  Not only has the pandemic changed her experience with MANNA, but DV has also been  continuing her volunteering with the 17th PDAC, even if only in a virtual capacity. Although the police  district volunteering has increased during this time, DV has felt conflicted about attending and helping  out in person due to her health concerns. She values the work she does with them, however, and feels  that their efforts to help the community are not recognized as much as they should be, especially during  this time of social change. During her time as a volunteer, she has helped and participated in many  volunteer programs. Some of which include an adopt‐a‐family program during the holidays, donating  back‐to‐school supplies to kids within the community, delivering sandwiches and 


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hoagies to hospitals in the city, and putting together kits for mothers in the community to help them  care for their young children. Although there are many positive programs in place, LaVale’s experiences  have taught her that “anywhere you go, you always have a few bad people”. She considers herself to be  on both sides of the current Black Lives Matter movement and feels that people need to understand all  the good that the police district does for the community. All their positive impacts, however, do not  make up for the negative actions of the few that have harmed the community and instigated violence at  the detriment of black families.  Overall, DV has viewed this pandemic with a positive outlook and has taken this time to focus on  herself and her health. Her neighborhood has formed a walking group, and members come together  each morning to safely exercise and socialize with one another. DV feels that this experience has  brought her community closer together and has created relationships that wouldn’t have had the  opportunity to develop otherwise. This walking group gives her and many others in her community the  chance to bond and take better care of themselves. Quarantining at home has given her neighbors the  freedom to spend time together outdoors, creating more camaraderie within her community. DV hopes  that these interactions and bonds will last even after the pandemic. She feels that creating these  connections and helping others is what life is really about and would love to see that continue even after  COVID‐19. 


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Story Telling Project by Peace Nosa‐Omorogiuwa, Intern at Nationalities Service Center(NSC)  My story telling project highlights the important work that Nationalities Service center does.  They are an organization that works to empower and provide needed services for immigrants  and refugees. I Interviewed a staff at NSC and included important quotes from the interview. I  also talked briefly about change and how the changes of the past few month (COVID‐19) has  affected NSC. In addition, I briefly share a few words about being an immigrant from my  personal perspective  Link to piece:   https://prezi.com/view/QYExdfW0lzME8qdmE5Rv 


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This is meant to represent J’s action on creating things for his community. J takes pride in his local businesses, such as his local  bodega, and the resilience of his neighbors. He wanted for more connections to be made to benefit his disadvantaged neighbors, so  he made those connections happen. He works with Treatment Trends and Promise Neighborhoods on creating those connections  within the community and trying to reduce the harm he had done to his community as a drug dealer. He worked with local business  leaders to get a business incubator for real estate. J wants all people of Allentown to feel welcome and represented. J does not feel  that the walled in area of the “Neighborhood Improvement Zone” had him or the poor in mind. J stated that him and the people of  Allentown can either “create or destroy this city”. J admits that he used to destroy the city, but now works daily to make it a better  place for all.    


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Rashiqah Syed Storytelling Project Description

I interviewed Dr. Rappaport, a pediatric endocrinologist on the board for Healthy NewsWorks (HNW). Dr. Rappaport stated truly understanding educational inequities as one of the things she loves the most about working with HNW. I made this image to signify how where a child lives determines their educational opportunities. On the left of the image there is a wellconstructed, nice school and on the right is a dilapidated-looking school. Schools with these drastic differences in amenities often exist within a few miles of each other. HNW serves students who go to well-funded schools and students who go to underfunded schools in the Philadelphia and Norristown area, so employees like Dr. Rappaport are confronted with stark differences in children’s’education , which this image attempts to represents **the images used for this project are not of Philadelphia schools https://c8.alamy.com/comp/P2685B/back-view-of-schoolboy-with-backpack-isolated-on-whiteP2685B.jpg https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/old-west-point-high-school-entrance-29037450.jpg https://live.staticflickr.com/4434/36869861770_750200da3c_b.jpg


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Covid

“How do we care for people?” Dr. T, a clinically trained pharmacist who grew up only 3 blocks from  Zion Baptists church, says that being a pharmacist  is not just about answering drug-related questions  or providing patients with their prescriptions, but  about being an anchor in the community. His retail  pharmacy building became somewhere he had  access to his community.   “Will the community members of North Philadelphia  listen to the advice of medical professionals during  this pandemic?” Dr. T explains that when an  affluent white doctor comes to tell the black  community of North Philadelphia about this virus  that they suspect was created in a lab, there is an  inherent distrust. The doctor who does not mirror  their skin complexion or concerns coming into their  neighborhood to work in their hospital before going  back to their quiet suburb could be conspiring  against them. They aren’t sure if the doctors have  their best interest in heart. Therefore, the  community turns to the church for answers. To  combat that, we make ourselves known to the  community.

The Community

“How has the Miriam Medical Clinic been providing resources during this pandemic?” The clinic has  been closed to ensure the safety of both the  patients and the clinicians. However, Dr. T and  the other healthcare professionals have been  providing telemedicine services to their patients.  The majority of their patients are elderly, and  struggle with medication compliance. With a  conversation, they can ensure the patient is  participating in medication delivery or has adequate  supplies to get them through the pandemic.  “Are there any promising Covid treatments?” There  are a number of drugs that have been investigated  that have not been likely candidates for use.  Remdesivir has been expedited in the FDA for  decreasing the amount of time patients spend in  hospitals. A medication can be sitting on an  investigator's shelf or a laboratory shelf, investigate  it for a certain disease state, and sometimes it  works. There is a vaccine that’s under investigation  and will probably undergo scrutiny by the FDA and  be fast tracked, but no data has been submitted  yet. 


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To learn more about the community that is Nationalities Service Center (NSC), I  interviewed one of my site preceptors. She graciously provided me with new insights about the  youth group experience and members, which was the community of focus during the interview.  The following is a paraphrased, narrative overview of the interview conducted.   When asked what my preceptor would want others to learn about youth group, she  expressed that she would like others to know that the youth group experience is special and full  of diversity as it includes students from a variety of backgrounds. It is through youth group, that  these students are able to come together and have a safe place where they can find comfort  and feel understood. Upon reflecting about what she loves about her community, she mentions  that she loves its diversity, that it provides the opportunity to “see and hear different  perspectives”, loves that everyone is respectful of one another, and how the youth group  members are “light and fun” to be around.  As our conversation continued, we further discussed more about my preceptor’s  favorite memory with youth group. My preceptor recounted how this past spring, during one of  the youth group sessions they conducted a round table session where the students and youth  group facilitators could discuss about deeper topics, such as gun violence, access to health care,  and education. She was taken aback by how engaged the students were during the session and  how they brought their insights and knowledge to the table to share. She mentioned that even  the quieter students took part in a friendly debate. On a similar note, she also recounted an  experience of making ceviche with the students and has fond memories of being able to  experience new things with the students during the sessions. To get to know more about the  community, I asked my preceptor about its resources and strengths. My preceptor identified  how she views the partnership with Jefferson’s occupational therapy students and the  perspectives they bring as an impactful resource. In addition, she stated that another resource  for them are the students from different schools who also come to help NSC and are able meet  other students. Strengths of the community include that the students in youth group are willing  to try new things and remain engaged and excited throughout sessions.   We further went on to discuss the events that have recently occurred and its impact on  youth group. My preceptor emphasized how the inability for students to see their peers can be  more of a challenge for some students to face more than others, especially for those who live in  more isolated areas. She expressed how they may feel less support during these times since  they are unable to interact with their peers and go to school. Students have mentioned how  they miss school and she expressed how the shift in routine can affect their sense of purpose  and support. Students are also unable to play sports. When asked about how the pandemic has  affected youth group, she mentioned how the members have experienced fear and anxiety  regarding their parents due to the job they have or their medical history. In response to these  feelings of uncertainty, my preceptor emphasized how youth group is available as a support for  them. When discussing about the meaning of cardiovascular heath to the community, my  preceptor discussed with me how they promote it by having discussions about the importance  of being active and how it benefits us mentally and physically. To help keep the students active  during youth group, they also make sure to do warm‐ups with them, which can involve  stretches and exercises. To promote heart health and stress management, youth group helps  the students learn skills that can help them manage their stress and provides opportunities  where the students can stay active as mentioned previously. Also, students are provided with 


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flyers for external activities which also helps promote activity engagement. When reflecting  how previous events have affected her and the community, we discussed about her  experiences following the murder of George Floyd. When this tragedy took place, youth group  was already over. However, in light of students’ schools not providing the outlet and  opportunity for students to talk about their concerns, the staff discussed what they can do to  discuss current events during this time, especially since they work with students of diverse  backgrounds. They hosted a session with the students and occupational therapy students  during the usual time for youth group as a way so that everyone could share their thoughts and  experiences. They did a second session following this with an Afro‐Latina music therapist to  approach the conversation in a different way. Overall, I learned a lot from this interview as it  opened my eyes to the true essence of the NSC youth group community and experience.     The following is a collage of the life stories of the youth group facilitators and an  illustration of the communities they are from. Included in the collage is an illustration, on the  bottom, of my life story and community as well. I am from an Indian community as illustrated  by my Indian church and I grew up dancing with my friends for competitions and church vents.  The umbrellas commemorate a favorite memory I have from that community about the times  when we would have church festivals and an abundance of food. I also drew my neighborhood  and trees surrounding it to represent the nature around it. To show my favorite memory, I also  drew me and my friends on our weekly night walks around the neighborhood.    


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Dear Philadelphia,    Growing up all over the city, I got to see so much  Every street, every inch, there wasn’t a block I didn’t touch  You took a young black man, and allowed him to make it  But truth is, not everyone is lucky, even with their wit    From what started as a community internship  My passion took off, like a spaceship  I worked hard and I rose the ranks  From working with computers to teaching, I have to give thanks  Before we realized I made it to assistant director,  One promotion later, and I’m the camp’s protector    In this city, nothing is given, we always have to strive  But my city, it’s time we talked, to keep the conversation alive  I learned so much from growing up in the hood,  And everyone needs to know, that doesn’t mean I’m up to no good  Patience and understanding can be our salvation  We must think before we judge, that goes for the whole nation    Oh Philadelphia, what makes you great is your diversity  People from all over the world, like a large university   Leaving the hood was like leaving the arms of your mother   All the comfort was gone, a different world, it had to be another  Manayunk had to be better, and that’s why I didn’t brace  But now my problems hid behind almost any face  One look at me and their mind was made up  They only saw the hood and not the grown‐up    It hurts and I know an eye for eye makes the world go blind  But if we didn’t see skin color, wouldn’t that help mankind  If we took a step back and listened, without even a look  We could have that fairytale ending from your favorite book.     Every day I am working with your future  These kids can heal your wound, they’re the suture  This city cannot heal overnight  But if we do this right, they can put up a fight  To overcome our struggles and push through  To say goodbye to our problems, bid them adieu    But what is next for you, my beloved city  This time around, we all need to work, do this by committee  


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From north to south to east to west  If we are hand in hand, we are at our best  I know we can seem different, but we are a community  Let’s heal our city, give it its immunity  Perhaps we are too late for us  But let's think of those on each school bus    I love you Philadelphia, even the thought makes me smirk  But I have to go, we all have to get to work.  I have to think ahead so we won’t ever wish for hindsight  If you ever need me, you can find me at North Light.     Sincerely,  Jon   


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Storytelling Project by Sarah Svetec For this project I had the privilege of interviewing Jackie Simmons, a long-time member of the Southwest Philadelphia Community. While Jackie and I briefly discussed the numerous reasons why she loves her community, including her job and her school, we mainly focused on some of the more worrisome components of her community. I drew the picture above because early in the interview, Jackie and I discussed the fact that her community has been changing drastically over the past ten years. Jackie unfortunately feels that this change has largely been for the worse. On top of this change, the ongoing pandemic and civil rights movements have poured more change on her community. While Jackie could name one positive effect of these recent changes, that some families have been brought closer together, she largely explained to me that she feels the changes have compounded various negative influences on her community. This recurring theme of change during our conversation led me to draw a glass that is already full of change being filled even further with more change. My drawing is overlaid on a map centered on Southwest Philadelphia.


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It’s 7 o’clock-Those big, voluminous red doors burst open. A familiar thick, stale stench fills the air and those crud-filled, colored on, beat up rugs lay untouched. My legs beating fast to get me to the white bulletin board to see my slot assignment for the day. What will ya have today, lady, health or money? My palms pressed tightly to my stomach. I knew today would not be good for my baby. … A figure in his 40’s: Baby blue jeans, beaten Timberland boots, with a fat cigarette hanging off his lower lip. Screams of joy come from his mouth followed by a thick trail of smoke directed towards my face. I hold my breath. I deal his Blackjack. I inhale the smoke. … I will say that, unpopularly, Coronavirus is my light and gift. Things have changed around here. Harry hiding in the bathroom with that cigarette. Put it out or I kick you out. There is a two strike rule in this casino now! The power is in my hands now and I choose my health today.


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John Shin Site PCCY

07.20.2020

BTG Storytelling Meet Beth: A resident of South Philly in the “East Passyunk” neighborhood who has so much pride in her community. Located between Washington Ave and Oregon Ave, she has seen so much development and positive growth. From the beginning of moving into her residence, she had become particularly curious about the culture in the community. South Philadelphia was predominantly populated by Irish, German, and Italians. During this time, your parish, determined by the Catholic Church which you went to, identified your neighborhood. Then, the community shifted by the wave of new cultures and populations. That is when the community was more identifiable by the young, aspiring actors and playwriters who resided there. Beth noted this shift was initially started by a well-known director that moved to the neighborhood. His wife worked as a realtor in this area. Further growth of the neighborhood was influenced by immigrants moving into town. Predominantly from Mexico, Southeast Asia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Burma. It was “little bumpy” initially between a mix of different cultures as the immigrants' population grew in the neighborhoods. Cultural clash, in particular, was with African Americans who were one of the first groups that moved into the neighborhood. Today, the community is well identified as a community that embraces and supports diversity. She shares that one of her favorite memories in the community is seeing children from various colors and backgrounds playing happily in the street. In addition, there is also a very large community of undocumented and refugees that makes up the neighborhood, largely Latino, Indonesian, and Burmese who many have left their countries due to violence and political unrest. This region is undergoing significant developments since the region’s real estate is considered cheap to redevelop when compared to other parts of Philadelphia. Interestingly, although Beth believes there are signs of gentrification, this had been mostly positive because it has helped fix and improve the community’s infrastructures, improved safety/security, and importantly the value of her-owned residence has gone up! Beth also fondly recollected about the time spent with other parents in the neighborhood while their children were either in school soccer practice. The community is tight-knit, so the people in the community are not shy to greet each other, rather look out for each other. She also finds her community to have many useful resources such as Civic Association, active parks, and recreation center, athletic center, and non-profit organizations providing need-based services, arts & programming, Mosque, church, catholic, monasteries, Couple of libraries, and more.


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Kelli Sloan Bridging the Gaps Summer Internship Storytelling Project July 21st, 2020 Just B Me Isn’t it amazing to see, What happens when the world is forced to live differently? It doesn’t matter where you live or what your story is, The virus won’t discriminate based on privilege. At least that is what they say, that all people are in harm’s way, But is it true? That COVID does not target me or you? Think of it like this: which populations are at greatest risk? Who is benefitting from this crisis? Who is most vulnerable to Coronavirus? Ineligible for unemployment because they’re essential, We shout, “thank you, heroes!” But is it consequential? Our values in the US are selfish and materialistic, We don’t wear a mask ‘cause we’re too damn hedonistic. More polarized than ever, our government is severed, It definitely doesn’t feel like we are prepared for this endeavor. Despite it all, what good can be seen? Is there a silver lining to COVID-19? There are in fact some benefits, perhaps more love and resonance? For me, the reality of quarantine, Has been around since age fifteen. I protect my peers from exposure, It would break my heart if my disease took over. If we are careful, there is low transmittance, But if forgetful, there is high incidence. And so, I carry the duty of being perfect, ‘Cause one mistake isn’t worth it. COVID is everyone’s stringent burden, To be cautious; to decrease the chance that it will worsen.


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Ironically, through the chaos, I have never felt more at ease, I feel like all of a sudden, the world takes me seriously. I have always had a fear of spreading hepatitis B, I have always felt required to live independently. I have felt solely responsible for this disease, And as a result, I have developed low self-esteem. But now that everyone is scared and adapting, I can finally breath and stop detracting. Though society may never fully get it, At least in my mind I don’t feel so pathetic. I feel stigma from others, but it mostly comes from me. It hurts to lack self-love, self-worth, and positivity. Yet, somehow through all this, I have gained courage to raise a toast, To admit to myself what I have always feared most. To say, “Yes, I have chronic Hepatitis B”, But you know what? Don’t judge me. For my life is worth just as much as yours And I am an expert at waiting for a cure. With that, my mind is finally free, And I have never been more confident to just b me.


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Dr. T  Temple has always grappled with its position as an academic institution in North Philadelphia.  Its presence highlights the glaring inequities that impact this neighborhood. At orientation one  of our deans said, “North Philadelphia is often a better neighbor to us than we are to them.”  Zion Baptist Church sits right next to the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, the towering and often  imposing structure. I walked by the church every day on my way to and from the BSL station,  and I noticed the hub of community and activity. It looked like a place people felt at home, and  it made me wonder what aspects made people feel that way. Dr. T spoke to our class early in  the semester, and it was obvious he is one of the reasons why people feel welcomed at Zion.   Dr. T was raised in Nicetown just blocks from Zion Baptist Church. His love for Philadelphia and  the neighborhood he grew up in evident in the way he speaks about it. He talked about the  diversity of North Philadelphia, a neighborhood traditionally viewed as homogenous. He spoke  of the strong sense of community felt in North Philadelphia. This was also something I have  seen in my time working with patients in North Philadelphia, and it is my favorite thing about  the area. He was like an encyclopedia about the neighborhood and the patients that live in it.   As each student on the call introduced themselves he was so interested in what everyone was  doing and asked as many questions of us as we asked of him. He has spent his time throughout  the pandemic teaching online and working with faith based organizations. He has been writing  a lot to help people stay safe. He shared the challenges of missing his patients and connecting  with them face to face.   His pathway in pharmacy was unique and not the norm. He did Psychiatric research with Glaxo‐ Smith‐Cline for 27 years and became involved with community projects. During this time he  chose to work in North Philadelphia. Through this experience he learned about how to  communicate with people in his neighborhood about medications and their concerns about  their medications. He recalled his experiences working in a drug store at 17 and realized how  much happens in a drug store. There are so many needs that are met by the neighborhood  drug store.   He encouraged us to stay connected in the community and take frequent walks in the  neighborhood we are lucky to learn in (with a mask on!). This will make us more empathetic  and knowledgeable health care providers that can better understand the needs of the  community.  


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J was one of nine children. Born in rural North Carolina but raised in Philadelphia, their house on the north side of the city was “crazy fun” growing up. Her siblings were all close, as were the neighbors. Everyone was always around back then, especially in the summertime. Things were more carefree. If you didn’t have money to buy a treat at the corner store, they’d give you the items on credit. As fun as childhood in the city was, Julia’s father was strict with his children about one thing: school. Having only finished up to sixth grade himself, he made it a rule of the house that all of the kids would finish high school and at least consider going to college. J did finish high school on time as expected but was not compelled by college right away. She worked sales clerk jobs for a couple of years after graduating and stayed involved in her parish. One day at a church gathering in 1977, J heard a preacher talking about mission work in Liberia and the African Hinterlands. She was enthralled. Pushing to the front of the crowd, she asked the preacher how she could get involved. Just a month later she was going on her first mission trip across the Atlantic. In Liberia, she helped the missionary’s wife with chores and teaching the children. J adapted quickly to the style of living in the village. They had fresh vegetables, juicy corn, big strange potatoes, and fish right out of the ocean. She had fallen in love. After three weeks, Julia’s mission trip ended. She arrived home and wanted to find more meaningful work. She completed her LPN and began practicing. Throughout this time Philadelphia, and much of Black America, was experiencing an epidemic. Crack cocaine had invaded not just neighborhoods but entire cities. The city became depressed. The houses never got like this growing up, J remarked. The city put long two-by-fours up on the outside of some of them just to brace the roofs so they wouldn’t collapse. It affected everyone you knew. Dilapidated houses and closed storefronts where living city blocks once stood. Life in Philadelphia as an LPN wasn’t enough for J for too long though. Africa called. In 1985, she left for her first long-term mission trip to Liberia and the surrounding Hinterlands.


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Their mission was to prevent the transmission of malaria in rural populations. Malaria was an epidemic of its own at the time. Its spread through impoverished and underdeveloped areas is a story of education and prevention that spoke to J. Simply reducing stagnant water reservoirs can reduce malaria incidents in an area drastically by cutting off mosquito reproductive habitats. She went through villages teaching health education. They traveled from the coast of Liberia to deep into the African Hinterlands where villagers picked from wild citrus trees every morning for breakfast. J installed mosquito netting where babies and the elderly slept. Still they could only do so much. J spoke emotionally of a time when she rocked a febrile and convulsing infant in her arms until she passed. They were too far into the country for any hospital to help. People in the village had delayed any care outside of traditional medicine and the witch doctor. J saw then how life’s inequalities center around the one thing her father held so dear-education. She didn’t disparage the traditional beliefs. J knew they were important. But she also knew that these people did not want to be getting sick and dying from this disease. She knew that if someone would only give them the tools to understand how to be safe from malaria, their conditions would improve. J paged through a US newspaper in a library in Liberia one morning before starting her mission work for the day. “What is it you always wanted to do?” a voice said from across the table. J looked up and saw the librarian, an older Black woman whom she had rarely spoken to before. J asked what she meant, and the librarian replied, “Don’t do what I’m doing: Wishing I Would Have.” In that moment J recalled something from her childhood. When she was just sixteen-years-old, she struggled with some science coursework in high school. Her counselor asked her what she wanted to do after graduating. J could barely get the words “nursing school” out of her mouth before her counselor cut her off with “You can’t do that.” It slammed her against a wall. J never spoke of it to anyone at that time. All of her courses were then directed towards what was called commercial academics (i.e. typewriting) .


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When J returned from Africa, she began pursuing her RN. After graduating, she practiced for a couple of years, but Liberia and the Hinterlands were once again pulling at her heart. She left for her third mission trip in 2001. She again traveled way into the bush. In the rural villages, people treated her and the missionaries kindly. They were proud to have guests and made sure that they got the first and warmest baths. With her degree in hand, she felt that she could do more this time. J led educational initiatives and used her knowledge to help prepare the people for fighting the disease. She felt that she found her purpose. In 2003, the Second Liberian Civil War had reached its peak. The Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) gained power in Northern Liberia earlier that same decade. Meanwhile, a second rebel group, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) , emerged in the South. By the summer of 2003, Charles Taylor (the elected president of Liberia at the time) and his government controlled only a third of the country. All around J and the missionaries fighting moved in and out of the villages. They would hear of soldiers occupying a village or brutalizing a group of travelers. One evening, men carrying guns poured from the brush that enveloped the village. J looked down the barrel of an AK47 that a soldier held up to her face. This began part of a US effort to evacuate all US and allied citizens endangered in the area. Led by a caravan of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) soldiers and personnel, J and her fellow missionaries began a march to flee the country. ECOWAS was a military alliance between Nigeria and Ghana at that time whose stated goal at the time was to act as peacekeepers in the region. As tensions grew between the Liberian forces, J moved through the countryside faster than they ever had before. Eventually they arrived at an ECOWAS camp where they stayed briefly before being flown by helicopter to Monrovia, a major port city where they would depart for America. During this time, the US Navy carried out Operation Shining Express. Based in Monrovia, it consisted of an amphibious task force that evacuated US embassy personnel and US citizens from Liberia due to violence around the Second Liberian Civil War.


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With Julia’s most recent work cut short, she looked for ways that she could help people back in Philadelphia. She worked as a city community health nurse treating HIV patients. Again J felt that education was the key to helping these people. She coached them on how to take their medicine. She would help give them tips on how to be discrete with their medication if they still had not told friends and family about their condition. She helped manage the anxiety patients had during assessments. She felt patients just needed a little bit of help learning how to manage their disease and their hygiene, and then they would have the tools to live a better life. Unfortunately after thirteen years working as an HIV community health nurse specialist, J needed to retire to take care of her ill husband. After his passing, she did not know what was next. She was approached by Reverend Keith Bethel and Dr. Annette Hampton of Christian Stronghold Church and Together for West Philadelphia to start a community outreach program. Once she got going, J said “this is it.” This was the exact work she had been looking for in her community. She now serves to connect people to the resources available to them. All tying back to her value of education, J believes that the best way she can help is by showing them where the help is. She teaches community members about housing assistance, utility relief, food pantries, and employment programs. Together for West Philadelphia “feels less muddy” than some other community outreach organizations J says. There isn’t a huge organizational body. It’s mostly just people in community centers, churches, mosques, and neighbors just finding out what people need and helping them get it. Julia’s story is far from finished. Her work at Together for West Philadelphia will probably be a short chapter of her life before she makes a fourth trip to Africa. It is hard to know what path forward is most appropriate right now for us as a society. How can we fix all of our problems? For J, it is simple. She closed our conversation the same way it began, with education. “We need to get funding back into the schools. The playgrounds are

dilapidated. The teachers cannot keep up. The children aren’t there to be educated. There’s less funds on one side, and it’s been systematically set up that way.”


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Sanjana Venkat  Storytelling Narrative  The Youth of Philadelphia  The Village of Arts and Humanities is a nonprofit organization that sits in the North  Philadelphia community. The building it occupies was originally known as the Ile Ife Black  Humanitarian Center, which opened in 1938 as space of community and arts. The Village of Arts  and Humanities was born from these ideas, and officially came to fruition in 1989 with the goal  of art‐based neighborhood revitalization. The Village is proud to engage its community through  creative expression, while working to preserve its black culture and promote equity. Now 35  years old, the Village supports and maintains 15 parks and gardens, and has a campus of twelve  buildings.  This summer I had the pleasure of working closely with TJ Dean, the Youth Program  Manager at The Village. While it has only been a year since he has joined The Village, he has  been working with youth for almost two decades, and is a long‐time member of the  Philadelphia community. For TJ, his community is the youth of the city, and he currently has  many opportunities to work with kids from North Philadelphia and beyond. The energy and  potential that they bring to his work and life are his favorite parts, as well as his ability to impart  information while learning from them. TJ also expressed his love for unique nature of The  Village and its youth programming, where the students are paid to attend classes and the arts  are promoted as an industry.   In the wake of all that has happened prior to the start of the summer, particularly  COVID‐19, TJ empathizes with the youth that he works with. The confinements of quarantine  and lockdown are especially difficult for teenagers who are unable to participate in the usual  social calendars they maintain, including events such as proms and graduations. He also  expressed that many youth he works with have experienced personal loss to the disease.  Another aspect of COVID‐19 that has made his community vulnerable is access to technology,  something that is crucial to their continued learning and engagement. With unreliable laptops  and internet wi‐fi, many of his students rely on their phones to access the world. Their lack of  resources is undoubtedly shaped by economic and political forces that create these conditions,  with disparities only being further exacerbated by the current pandemic. As TJ powerfully  stated during our conversation, “If schools are free, the internet should be free”.   In the years that TJ has been a member of Philadelphia’s community, he’s noticed  various changes in the neighborhoods, the most prominent being gentrification. The way that  people have been displaced is noticeable, particularly in neighborhoods such as Northern  Liberties and West Philadelphia. In his community of youth, he has also noticed how their  education is often marred by “trends”, which use more vulnerable children for 


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experimentation, rather than strides to change fundamental inequities that plague the  education system. However, he comments on the positive trends in education away from  emphasis on math, reading and science (particularly in testing), pushing more inclusion of the  arts and humanities, where The Village lives.  


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MaryEllen Bolden’s Story Victoria Ramey• July 2020


Pageworked 191 of 211 for the MaryEllen has Philadelphia Senior Center Arts branch for 33years! She has adopted many new roles such as making new programs for Veterans, ďŹ nding ways to combat hunger due to the pandemic, as well as strategically thinking of ways to continue to help our elderly populations that has fallen victim to trauma,addictions and loneliness .


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“COMMITTED TO THE MISSION OF SERVING SENIORS”


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Philadelphia PA


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The center is an outlet for our members


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“Somethings the seniors want”


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Talking with Mary-Ellen she highlighted some things the seniors miss. The seniors used to take trips to the beach, camp and other areas outside PA. Having a chance to travel outside of PA really gives the seniors not only hope, but allows them to explore outside their every day life..


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“Somethings the Seniors need”


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The senior center is a great way for the seniors to congregate. They are able to do daily activities, have a nutritious meal and make trusting productive relationships. The senior center needs to add easy to access medical services to there daily regimen. Mary Ellen explained that a nurse practitioner was hired, however there is no dedicated unit to just the seniors health. Mary Ellen also shed light on the fact that many seniors have fell ill during their time at the center, and although all staff are CPR certiďŹ ed having trained medical professionals on staff would add so much more beneďŹ t and reassurance. Other disciplines that could assist are PT and OT


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This is MaryEllen This is a small part of her story


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Ms. L is a long time resident of Philadelphia, moving here from Detroit, Michigan as a child. As she grew older she married her wonderful husband, moved to North Philadelphia near Germantown in 1988, and had a son around that same time. As they raised their family, her son attended college grew older and married around his late 20’s. But Ms. Loree’s life has been more difficult than most, as she has suffered through a great deal of loss. After moving her family to Germantown, her husband died suddenly from a stroke without warning around 2 decades ago. Following that, her son and his wife suffered through a miscarriage of their first child, and her son soon after suffered a heart attack and passed away at 31 years of age. Through all of this, Ms. L has lived with severe arthritis and fibromyalgia heart failure. In spite of all of these obstacles, Ms. L has persevered through the power of faith, her close relationship to her daughter-in-law, and some newfound stress relieving activities. When her flare ups are manageable, Ms. L bakes cakes and pies for her neighbors and community managers. Although she is unable to walk around frequently outside, Ms. L does partake in the occasional walk around the block to see her neighbors who she has known for quite some time. She has food deliveries via Farms to Family, and has family members to help in day to day activities, like shopping and cleaning. Ms. L is a truly courageous woman. In our interview with Ms. L, we discussed a variety of topics. However, Ms. L wanted us to understand her community from her eyes, and how it can be improved. She acknowledged that residents of her community are set up for failure in a number of ways. First, Ms. L acknowledged that her neighborhood resides in a food desert: the local convenient stores sell high fat and carbohydrate non-perishable items, but lack quality access to fruits and


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vegetables outside of bell peppers and oranges. In order to get around, you can pay 30 dollars for one of the local drivers to take you to and from the market, which is not cost affordable. If you have access to a smart phone, Lift services are still upwards of 20 dollars given the neighborhood’s location, which is still not cost affordable.

In addition, Ms. L attributes the violence in her area to 2 factors: younger populations in the area lack education, and the low socioeconomic status of the members of their community. With lack of health care directives and education on smoking cessation or alcohol consumption, Ms. L testifies that younger community members frequent convenient stores and purchase smoking and alcohol products. As we learned about with Ryan Coffman, this usage is not a trend; big tobacco has exploited the black community by utilizing targeted ad campaigns and profiting on centuries of usage and addiction. Smoking may begin as a community oriented activity, but quickly devolves to feeling the need to use to regain a sense of normalcy. Ms. L strongly advocated for the banning of tobacco products, or increasing the price point, to prevent future sales. Finally, Ms. L wanted to stress the important of programs like Farms to Families are to the community in North Philadelphia, and how further action is needed to provide healthier alternatives to all families in her neighborhood. As a sweet old lady, she can only bake so many cakes. Our work in developing a list of resources is paramount to the community, as many members are unaware of the countless services to help those who struggle to find meals or healthy alternatives. Ms. L is thankful for what Temple has done, and is interested in partaking in more interviews in the future.


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Nadirah Waites Storytelling Project I created a visual representation of the experiences and conversations I had with COVID-19 positive people over the past 2 months. The painting represents the duality of the Black Philadelphia community. The light green half represents their beauty. The haiku is inspired by the positive statements made by community members. The red half represents the hurt and rage incited by systemic racism and oppression. The haiku is influenced by the statements people made about the impact of racism and white guilt. Both halves include direct quotes. The haikus are written in the opposite halve’s colors to showcase the intersectionality of the community’s worlds. I wanted to convey the beauty Black Philadelphians create despite the hate launched against them.


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Map to Understanding by Jessica White for BTG CHIP 2020  This piece was inspired by my interview with Dr. Jessica Day‐Watkins, PhD, BCBA, an Assistant Research  Professor at the Drexel Autism Institute. During our interview, we touched on many topics including  Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy, what path Dr. Day‐Watkins took to get to the Autism  Institute, what the “Autism Spectrum” actually is versus what it is perceived to be, and what working  with the population of autistic children at the Autism Institute has been like. While we talked about  these topics, I also found myself opening up about my own family’s experiences in this community.   My younger brother, David, was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was 5 years old.  My relationship with him has had its ups and downs, but the main theme throughout has been  searching for understanding. When we were both very young, he developed a specific interest in trains  which I found very hard to accept. To me, it was embarrassing that my brother talked and obsessed  about trains all the time. I thought that this restrictive interest was holding him back, preventing him  from living a “normal life”. As my brother and I grew and changed, I came to see his interest in trains as  less of a hindrance and more of a strength. In adulthood, I now admire his depth of knowledge and  passion in this topic and am proud of his expertise.   In our interview, Dr. Day‐Watkins recalled a favorite memory of hers that I’ve been reflecting on since.  Early in her career, Dr. Day‐Watkins needed to drive to a picnic held by the school she worked for but  did not have any directions. She called someone who was already at the picnic, asking them to tell her  the address so she could look it up, but the person she called instead said, “Hold on, let me call Jonny  (not their real name) over!” Jonny was a child with autism at the school who had an extremely adept  knowledge of maps. He was able to tell Dr. Day‐Watkins on the phone exactly which streets to go on,  which turns to take, all the way to the destination of the picnic. Since hearing this story, I’ve been  thinking about how Jonny’s deep knowledge of maps and my brother’s interest in trains are very similar.  I’ve wondered whether or not Jonny had family or friends who, like me, were put off or embarrassed by  his strengths. How many children with autism have similarly been misunderstood or even ostracized for  their deep interests? What was it that helped me to accept my brother’s obsession with trains as I grew  older?   For this piece, since I do not know what Jonny looked like, I decided to draw my little brother as a child  in the center as the focus. Like Jonny’s expertise in maps, my brother’s expertise in trains was often how  he connected with people. He loved to use his knowledge of trains to help others, when possible, and  was eager to share whatever interesting facts he knew. I think, during the process of making this piece, I  came to understand that a lot of my childhood resentment for my brother’s interest in trains was from a  lack of effort on my part to see his interest as a way to connect and share. We all struggle to find ways  to connect to each other socially, to one degree or another, it just happens that for many people with  autism a strong or restrictive interest is the tool they’ve chosen.  


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This quilt square is made for Elizabeth, a trans pioneer, actress, and activist. When I asked her how  she feels about the current state of the world she said this quote. As a quilt maker’s daughter I  wanted to contribute to the corona quilt project in her name just as she made many squares for the  AIDS quilt. ‐Josie Wiklund


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Then. Now. Beyond. Then. Busy streets. Hugs with friends. Weekend meetups and parties at bars, at restaurants, at clubs. Handshakes. Now. Social distancing. Six feet apart. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Avoid large social gatherings. Zoom and facetime. What are alternatives to a handshake?

Then. Greet your friend with a hug and sit side by side at the casino. Shake the winner’s hand, watch their face light up with a smile. Now. Every other slot machine only please. Both workers and players, keep a mask on at all times. Wipe and disinfect when the player leaves.

Then. This playing area allows smoking. That one is smoke free. Choose where you want to play. If you want to smoke, use the ashtray at your side. Now. No more smoking please. Keep your mask on instead. If you try to sneak in a cigarette, we will warn you to stop. Try again and we hold the right to make you leave. Please understand, your health comes first.

Then. Smoke in the air, permeating even areas seemingly designated “smoke-free.” Ash coating the slot machines, creating a thin blanket of grimy gray. Cigarettes littering the floors, stomped and crushed by twisting, uncaring feet. Now. A faint smell of cleaning disinfectant throughout. Workers buzz about, armed with spray bottles and rags. The carpet is clean, the air is clear. Cleanliness is important for one’s health after all. In more ways than one, actually. Then. The worker readies themself for their shift, anxiously checking their assignment. Disappointment and dread fills their body when they see they are assigned to the smoking area. They brave the smell, the patrons blowing plumes of smoke into their face as they work. When they return home, their child asks


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why their clothes reek of smoke and ash. Rinse and repeat. They may have signed up for this, but does that mean they must completely give up their own health and wellbeing? Now. The worker readies themself for their shift, looping a mask onto their face. Their assignment gives a station, but now they are all the same, smoke free smoke free smoke free. The dread and gone, filled with relief that things have changed. When they return home, they will discard their mask and wash their hands, and their clothes will smell like normal. Rinse and repeat. But now, work no longer carries the same haze of smoke and ash, and that makes all the difference. Beyond. The worker may hope that social distancing will come to an end, but they will also hope that casinos continue to stay clear of smoke.

This may be a time of uncertainty and change, but maybe not all change is bad.

My community site is the American Heart Association and our main project has been working with casino workers to advocate for banning smoking in casinos, since the secondhand smoke can be harmful health wise. We recently found out that many casinos that have been reopening in Pennsylvania are establishing new policies/regulations to try and promote health and social distancing, including a temporary ban on indoor smoking (to encourage keeping a mask on). The casino worker I interviewed elaborated on how their working environment has changed a lot, but it really stuck out to me just how excited and happy they were to talk about how much better it's been to be able to work in an environment that doesn’t allow smoking. Even though it’s obviously really different with the new regulations, they stressed that they were “excited to receive their assignments" since they didn’t have to worry about being put in a smoking area. I think it’s pretty clear that the pandemic has made it difficult for people to find a semblance of normal and for establishments to figure out how to safely reopen, but I also wanted to highlight that at least in casinos, there’s been a positive change that has made workers really happy. Therefore, the change and uncertainty can be scary, but not all change has to be bad. -Amy Xia


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BTG Narrative (Jingyu (Jennie) Zhang) 


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Description: I intern at Covenant House, a homeless shelter for youth, and the individual I interviewed was a  21‐year‐old African American woman who “graduated” from Covenant House, who is represented by  the woman in the yellow flower dress in the middle of the picture. Like many of the youth from  Covenant House, she experienced some form of crisis that made her homeless. When she first came to  Covenant House, she described herself as “a mess…with panic attacks and everything.” However, the  staff were always there for her, supported her emotionally, and helped her secure a job and find a place  to stay. For her, talking to staff and receiving love and support from them was her favorite memory at  Covenant House, and according to her, “if it wasn’t for Cov, [she wouldn’t] be here now.” Now she is  working at her job at a daycare, which she enjoys very much, despite it being stressful from time to  time. Her present troubles include the pandemic and the lackadaisical attitude people have towards  wearing masks (“people aren’t wearing masks outside”), and her grievance towards police violence,  because she believes that the problems they encounter “could be resolved without guns.”  The black portion of the art represents her dark history: the broken house representing the  crisis/ crises that led her to homelessness, and the stressed person icon representing the emotional  instability/ panic attacks she had when she came in. The gray portion of the piece represents the current  troubles she faces—police violence and the pandemic. The hands supporting her represent the staff’s  love, encouragement, and to some extent, “parenting” of her, which helped her move past her dark  history and forward into the future.  The rainbow portion represents the endless opportunities that she  can obtain or has obtained now through the help of the staff at Covenant House and her own efforts,  which includes: happiness (happy face), her daycare job (the two children), her CDA certification (hard  work icon), and love (heart).  

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Bridging The Gaps Storytelling Projects 2020  

Bridging The Gaps Storytelling Projects 2020  

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