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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 28, 2009 Contact: communications@rabbityears.com Her Own Rabbit Tetrology: Anna Belle Loeb’s Rabbit Years Artist's Reception from 2-5 p.m. on May 10, Pagus Gallery, Norristown Arts Building PHILADELPHIA—As John Updike grew up in Berks County, Pennsylvania where he would soon shape his great “Rabbit” series, Anna Belle Loeb was born over 1,000 miles away in Arkansas. Loeb’s life would eventually lead her to Updike’s old stomping ground and ultimately to the Pagus Gallery, where she exhibits her new painting series called Rabbit Years. Born in Little Rock in the 1940’s, Loeb came into a world of civil unrest—schools were still segregated, a change that would only come years later after President Eisenhower called in the 101st Airborne to integrate Little Rock Central High School. Later, as a young adult, Loeb earned a degree in history from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. In 1971, Updike began his sequel to Rabbit, Run called Rabbit Redux, his response to the social and political turmoil of the 1960’s. Having moved to New Orleans, Loeb now worked at Tulane University’s rare books library. Meanwhile, also in the South, Lee Harvey Oswald, a well known New Orleans pamphleteer, departed for Dallas. Surrounded by books as well, Oswald aimed his gun at John F. Kennedy in The Texas School Book Depository. Like others in her generation, Loeb has graphic memories of the Kennedy and King assassinations, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. Years later (and not yet a painter), Loeb moved from the South to Philadelphia as Updike wrapped up his “Rabbit” series with Pulitzer Prize winner, Rabbit at Rest in 1990. Now, after living in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill with her family for almost 40 years, Loeb has a number of experiences and careers under her belt. She recalls, “I’ve worked in education, public health and law, in non-profits, government and the private sector.” Loeb has also earned degrees in Law and Education at Temple University. In 1998 Loeb began to paint and found the experience deeply personal; life experiences flowed out of her—her youth, her children, her family, America. “None of this prepared me for the unspeakable events of the past few years—the falling towers, the torture, the wars on terror and the real war in Iraq, the drowning of a great American city, the elections, the ‘recession,’ the paucity of public discourse—the shouting ideologues.” Loeb painted fervently throughout the past decade, culminating with what would become Rabbit Years. “When I walk into my studio, I am really there to see what shows up.” Loeb explains, “When things go well and I bypass the conscious mind, the painting becomes the alternative reality in which I exist. I think of this process as magic: surprises and possibilities emerge.” It’s interesting that “magic” is the word Loeb uses to describe her process— kind of like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. When outlining her new exhibit, which premieres on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10, she struggled for a name. One painting stood out—of rabbit ears poking out of a hat. John Updike’s “Rabbit” series came to mind for many reasons. Anyone who has read the “Rabbit” series knows that it’s a mistake to take the story literally—this proves true in Loeb’s work as well. Also, like Updike the writer, Loeb presents a profound understanding of every day America, from Philadelphia to Berks County to the South and beyond—her paintings chronicle times of vast ferment. Tim Hawkesworth, Loeb’s teacher and mentor said, “Anna Belle is a Southerner and her art flows from a Southern consciousness. It is quick, laconic, comedic and tragic. It does not stand still. It is full of contradictions


and the complexity of good conversation.” Hawkesworth describes her paintings as simply ‘beautiful.’ “They have the bite of graffiti and the ferocity of an uncompromised stare. They are street tough and sharp. While they seduce and engage our senses they can at times tear at our consciousness. They can break our hearts.” When John Updike died this past year, Loeb dedicated Rabbit Years to him. Now in her sixties, Loeb plans to continue painting and exhibiting her work for many years to come—not just for herself, but as a contribution to her beloved community. Updike once said: “You cannot help but learn more as you take the world into your hands. Take it up reverently, for it is an old piece of clay, with millions of thumbprints on it.” To learn more about Anna Belle Loeb and her upcoming exhibit, please visit www.rabbityears.com.


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May 7, 2009

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As John Updike grew up in Berks County, Pennsylvania, where he would soon create his great series of “Rabbit” novels, Anna Belle Loeb was born over 1,000 miles away in Arkansas. Loeb’s life would eventually lead her to Updike’s old stomping ground and ultimately to the Pagus Gallery in Norristown, where she is currently exhibiting her new painting series called “Rabbit Years” that is dedicated to John Updike. “The paintings do not themselves necessarily relate to Updike,” Loeb explained, “but when I finished the paintings, he had just died, and I was very moved by that. I have been reading his books my entire adult life, and he inspired me. He cared about the things I care about. I met him twice at book signings.”

Chestnut Hill artist Anna Belle Loeb, a retired teacher and lawyer, has had her paintings exhibited at Woodmere Art Museum and elsewhere, but her first solo exhibit, “Rabbit Years,” is currently at the Pagus Gallery in Norristown through May 23.

Born in Little Rock in the 1940s, Loeb came into a world of civil unrest; schools in the South were still segregated, which would change in Little Rock years later after President Eisenhower called in the 101st Airborne to integrate Little Rock Central High School. Later, as a young adult, Loeb earned a degree in history from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. In 1971, Updike began his sequel to Rabbit, Run, the novel that made him a household name, called Rabbit Redux, his response to the social and political turmoil of the 1960s. Having moved to New Orleans, Loeb worked at Tulane University’s rare books library. Like so many others of her generation, Loeb has graphic memories of the Kennedy and King assassinations, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War.

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Years later (and not yet a painter), Loeb moved from the South to Philadelphia as Updike wrapped up his “Rabbit” series with Pulitzer Prize winner, Rabbit at Rest, in 1990. Now, after living in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill with her family for almost 40 years, Loeb has had a number of experiences and careers. She recalled, “I’ve worked in education, public health and law, in non-profits, government and the private sector.” Loeb has also earned degrees in law and education at Temple University. She taught urban planning for the Great Lakes Colleges Association in Philadelphia, and for 15 years she practiced law, both public interest law and for the City Solicitor’s Office. In 1998 Loeb began to paint and found the experience deeply personal; life experiences flowed out of her youth, her children, her family and her country. Loeb painted fervently throughout the past decade, culminating with what would become “Rabbit Years.” “When I walk into my studio, I am really there to see what shows up,” Loeb explains. “I think of this process as magic: surprises and possibilities emerge.” It’s interesting that ‘magic’ is the word Loeb uses to describe her process, kind of like a magician pulling a ‘rabbit’ out of a hat. When outlining her new exhibit, which premieres on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10, she struggled for a name. One painting stood out — of rabbit ears poking out of a hat. John Updike’s “Rabbit” series came to mind for many reasons. Anyone who has read the “Rabbit” series knows that it’s a mistake to take the stories literally; this proves true in Loeb’s work as well. Also, like Updike the writer, Loeb presents a profound understanding of everyday America, from Philadelphia to Berks County to the South and beyond. Tim Hawkesworth, Loeb’s teacher and mentor at the Norristown Art Center, said, “Anna Belle is a Southerner, and her art flows from a Southern consciousness. It is quick, laconic, comedic and tragic. It does not stand still. It is full of contradictions and the complexity of good conversation.” Hawkesworth describes her paintings as simply ‘beautiful.’ “They have the bite of graffiti and the ferocity of an uncompromised stare.” (Loeb also had “great teachers at Woodmere Art Museum classes.”) Now in her 60s, Loeb plans to continue painting and exhibiting her work for many years to come, not just for herself, but as a contribution to her beloved community. Updike once said, “You cannot help but learn more as you take the world into your hands. Take it up reverently, for it is an old piece of clay, with millions of thumbprints on it.” Loeb’s works have been included in previous exhibits at Woodmere and elsewhere, but “Rabbit Years” is her first solo exhibit. Loeb, who is retired from the law and teaching and now paints full-time, has two children — Locke Woodfin, late 30s, who lives in Narberth, and Anne, 40, who lives in Minneapolis. Pagus Gallery is at 619 W. Washington St. in Norristown. Loeb’s exhibit will run through May 23. An artist’s reception will take place there Sunday, May 10, 2 to 5 p.m. For more information, email annabelle@rabbityears.com or visit www.rabbityears.com.

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NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 10, 2007 Contact: Jamie Arehart (arehj@dvfs.org)

DVFS Students Hike Inca Trail, Deliver Supplies to Poques School in Peru NEWS RELEASE April 6, 2009 Contact: Jamie Arehart (arehj@dvfs.org) PAOLI, PA--Delaware Valley Friends School (DVFS) students enrolled in the ABLE program traveled to Peru from March 12-21, hiking the Inca Trail and delivering supplies to the Poques School in Cusco. The ABLE (Adventure Based Learning Experiences) program, founded by DVFS in 1986, is a hands-on, outdoor experiential education program providing students with a kinesthetic and alternative way to learn important life skills such as teamwork, problem solving and decision making. Available to all DVFS students on a semester basis, the ABLE program gives students the opportunity to succeed in non-traditional educational activities. Ken Sinapius, ABLE director, took DVFS students hiking on the Inca Trail soon after their arrival. "The Inca Trail, has an elevation of over 5,000 feet, ending at an altitude of 13,769 feet. Teamwork was critical to their successful hike and provided the self-confidence to achieve even more the next day." After 3 days of hiking and sightseeing, the students visited the Poques School in Cusco, Peru, delivering warm clothing and school supplies. DVFS students also helped to paint two of the classrooms. "The Poques students enjoyed interacting with us, even though language was a bit of an issue. While some of our students can speak Spanish, at the Poques School they speak Quechua," said Sinapius. "The local families prepared a festive meal for us--guinea pig and baked potatoes--to thank us for visiting. DVFS students closed their trip with a hike to Machu Picchu. ### About DVFS Located at 19 E. Central Avenue in Paoli, Delaware Valley Friends School (DVFS) is a coeducational Quaker college preparatory school for students with learning differences in grades


7-12. DVFS has a mission to help their students develop skills to accommodate their unique learning approaches, while managing a challenging academic curriculum. PHOTO CAPTIONS: Photo 1: DVFS students visit children at the Poques School Photo 2: Joey Krasick Polaski, Grade 12, from Philadelphia (19130) Photo 3: DVFS students visit Machu Picchu For more photos, please click here. All photos can be used for publication.


NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 17, 2009 Contact: Jamie Arehart (jarehart@phmc.org or 267-350-7699)

Montgomery County Leaders Prepare to Fight Childhood Obesity Community Summit Brings Together Area’s Top Officials PHILADELPHIA—Health Promotion Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania (HPC), Greater North Penn Collaborative for Health and Human Services and Montgomery County Health Alliance will address and confront childhood obesity in Montgomery County at their 4th Annual Community Summit on Tuesday, March 31 at William Penn Inn in Gwynedd, Pa., from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. According to data released last month from Public Health Management Corporation’s 2008 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey nearly one in four children in Montgomery County are overweight or obese. The summit, “Protecting Our Children’s Future: Uniting Our Community to Reduce Childhood Obesity,” brings together the area’s top school officials in health care, business, government and nonprofit representatives. Greater North Penn Collaborative for Health and Human Services hosts the summit along with HPC’s WISE SNAC (Wellness Initiative for the School Environment Smart Nutrition and Activity Collaborative) and Montgomery County Health Alliance. “With two great partners, the Health Promotion Council and Montgomery County Health Alliance, we’re excited to bring an array of resources and expert knowledge to the people in our communities that have the power to turn around this obesity epidemic,” said Ella Roush, coordinator for the Greater North Penn Collaborative for Health and Human Services. The summit’s keynote speaker, Dr. Cheryl Charles, president of the Children and Nature Network, works to reconnect children with nature and unstructured playtime. Also assisting to develop an innovative action plan, panelists from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Pennsylvania Department of Health, American Academy of Pediatrics, Nemours Health and Prevention Services, and Action for Healthy Kids, will attend. Gold sponsors of this summit include Merck, North Penn Community Health Foundation, North Penn United Way and Public Health Management Corporation. Silver Sponsors include Giant, Grand View Hospital, Independence Blue Cross, InnerLink. Bronze Sponsors are Abington Hospital, CADCOM, Cardiovascular Institute, Harleysville Savings Bank, Lansdale Hospital, Montgomery County Health Alliance, North Penn YMCA and Penn State Cooperative Extension of Montgomery County.


For more information and to register for this event, please visit www.npcollab.org or contact Ella Roysh at eroush@comcast.net or 215-234-4022. ### About HPC Health Promotion Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania (HPC), an affiliate of the Public Health Management Corporation holds the mission to promote health, prevent and manage chronic disease through community-based outreach, education, and advocacy. Together with its innovative work with underrepresented minority groups and unique programs advocate healthier lifestyles, HPC advances the field of health promotion in Southeastern Pennsylvania and across the state. About PHMC Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) is a nonprofit public health institute that builds healthier communities through partnerships with government, foundations, business and other community-based organizations. It fulfills its mission to improve the health of the community by providing outreach, health promotion, education, research, planning, technical assistance, and direct services. For more information on PHMC, visit www.phmc.org.


MEDIA ADVISORY Montgomery County Leaders Prepare to Fight Childhood Obesity Community Summit Brings Together Area’s Top Officials WHO: Health Promotion Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania (HPC), Greater North Penn Collaborative for Health and Human Services and Montgomery County Health Alliance WHAT: Montgomery County's Annual Community Summit--Child Obesity WHERE: William Penn Inn in Gwynedd, Pa., WHEN: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. WHY: According to data released last month from Public Health Management Corporation’s 2008 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey nearly one in four children in Montgomery County are overweight or obese. The summit, “Protecting Our Children’s Future: Uniting Our Community to Reduce Childhood Obesity,” brings together the area’s top school officials in health care, business, government and nonprofit representatives. Greater North Penn Collaborative for Health and Human Services hosts the summit along with HPC’s WISE SNAC (Wellness Initiative for the School Environment Smart Nutrition and Activity Collaborative) and Montgomery County Health Alliance. The summit’s keynote speaker, Dr. Cheryl Charles, president of the Children and Nature Network, works to reconnect children with nature and unstructured playtime. Also assisting to develop an innovative action plan, panelists from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Pennsylvania Department of Health, American Academy of Pediatrics, Nemours Health and Prevention Services, and Action for Healthy Kids, will attend. For more information and to register for this event, please visit www.npcollab.org or contact Ella Roysh at eroush@comcast.net or 215-234-4022. For more information about Public Health Management Corporation or HPC, please contact Jamie Arehart at jarehart@phmc.org or 267350-7699. ### About HPC Health Promotion Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania (HPC), an affiliate of the Public Health Management Corporation holds the mission to promote health, prevent and manage chronic disease through community-based outreach, education, and advocacy. Together with its innovative work with underrepresented minority groups and unique programs advocate healthier


lifestyles, HPC advances the field of health promotion in Southeastern Pennsylvania and across the state. About PHMC Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) is a nonprofit public health institute that builds healthier communities through partnerships with government, foundations, business and other community-based organizations. It fulfills its mission to improve the health of the community by providing outreach, health promotion, education, research, planning, technical assistance, and direct services. For more information on PHMC, visit www.phmc.org.


NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 19, 2009 Contact: Jamie Arehart (267-350-7699 or jarehart@phmc.org) or Francine Axler (francine@phmc.org)

Largest Regional Health Survey in the U.S. Releases Philadelphia Data CHDB’s 2008 Household Health Survey Data Now Public PHILADELPHIA—Public Health Management Corporation’s Community Health Data Base (CHDB) released its 2008 Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) Household Health Survey data today, which examines the health and health care experiences of area residents. CHDB’s Household Health Survey is the largest regional health survey in the country. More than 350 organizations, including hospitals, government agencies, universities and managed care organizations, use the survey data to help them plan, market, and improve healthcare and social services in the region. With the release of the 2008 survey data, CHDB celebrates 25 years of providing research to the Philadelphia region. “We’ve provided this unique and extraordinary resource to the region since 1983,” says Francine Axler, CHDB project director. “With our up-to-date community-level health and social service data, our goal is to inform and empower residents, health providers, and policy makers to take actions to improve community health.” Facts about CHDB’s Household Health Survey • Extensive health survey is conducted every two years • Survey is conducted by telephone, with a 300 cell phone sub-sample • Survey reaches 13,000 SEPA residents and is confidential • Provides primary data on a broad range of health topics such as health screenings, use of health services, health insurance, and personal health behaviors, among other topics. • Data are available at the census tract, ZIP code, county and regional level • Surveys residents in Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties, and newly added counties Schuylkill, Lancaster, and Berks in 2008 • The Pew Charitable Trusts, The William Penn Foundation, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and over 350 local agencies help to support CHDB. More Information on 2008 Findings Throughout the year, CHDB will highlight additional data findings from the 2008 SEPA Household Health Survey, as well as other important public health issues. Special reports


covering trends and disparities in area health and health care will be featured monthly on the CHDB website, www.phmc.org/chdb. For more information on CHDB, please contact Francine Axler at francine@phmc.org. For a more detailed look at the 2008 data, please request a reporter’s guide from Jamie Arehart at jarehart@phmc.org or 267-350-7699. ### About PHMC Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) is a nonprofit public health institute that builds healthier communities through partnerships with government, foundations, businesses and community-based organizations. It fulfills its mission to improve the health of the community by providing outreach, health promotion, education, research, planning, technical assistance, and direct services. PHMC has served the Greater Philadelphia region since 1972. For more information on PHMC, visit www.phmc.org. For attached fact sheet: Compared to past data, CHDB researchers discovered some new trends in 2008: SEPA Residents’ Access to Health Care in 2008 • In SEPA, 9.8% of adults are uninsured and has stayed steady since 2006. However, this is a drastic increase in the past decade, from 6.9% in 2000. Nationally, more than 15% of adults do not have health insurance. • 4.2 % of children in SEPA are uninsured, an increase from 2.7% in 2000. Across the nation, 11% of children are uninsured. • Currently, men are more likely than women to be uninsured (11.2% vs. 8.7%). • Latino, African American and Asian adults (29.8%, 14.5% and 12.0% respectively) are more likely to be uninsured than white adults (5.9%). Obesity is on the Rise in the Region • 25.5% of SEPA adults are obese*, an increase from 24.5% in 2006 and 21% in 2000 • Childhood obesity in the region is higher than the nation (17%) with one in five area children being overweight* (19.2%). Childhood obesity has remained steady in the region, but has increased from 18.7% in 2002 (the first year regional childhood obesity was measured). *Obesity among adults and overweight among children is defined by the BMI scale.

Detecting Cancer in Philadelphia’s Women Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. • 27.3% of area women, age 18 and older, did not receive a breast exam, which has remained steady from 2006 data.


• •

33.4% of area women, age 18 and older, did not receive a pap smear in the past year, which has remained steady from 2006 data. 33.7% of area women, age 40 and older, did not receive a mammogram, decrease from 35% in 2006.

Chronic Health Conditions in SEPA Similar to the nation, the health status of our region’s residents has not improved. • One in three area adults have high blood pressure (30.2%), a slight increase from 29.6% in 2006 and about 26% in 2000. • 10.4% of area adults have diabetes, a slight increase from 9.7% in 2006 and 6.9% in 2000.


NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 8, 2008 Contact: Jamie Arehart (267-350-7699 or jarehart@phmc.org)

Once Homeless, Philadelphia Student Becomes Valedictorian Area Program Saves Teen from the Streets PHILADELPHIA - Seventeen-year-old Nicholas Shanks is your average, teenage boy. He spends his time playing video games with friends, watching cartoons on Saturday mornings and listening to music on his computer. But when this soft-spoken teen took the stage on June 17, 2008 to deliver his speech as valedictorian of Martin Luther King High School to 287 members of his graduating class–more than one person in the audience had tears in their eyes. When he was in 9th grade, Nicholas and his mother, Sherri Newton, - became homeless. “I lost my job,” recalls Newton, “and unemployment wasn’t paying for my rent.” When his father was laid off, according to Nicholas “things started to fall apart.” In September 2004, mother and son were forced to move into Stenton Family Manor, an emergency shelter. The move was difficult for both of them. “Nicholas lost everything,” recalls his mother, “his room, his friends–everything.” And Newton, a recovering drug addict, struggled to maintain stability for herself and her son in a new environment with little privacy. “He was ashamed and I was ashamed,” she recalls. Despite those difficult circumstances, Nicholas continued to attend high school– consistently making honor roll every semester and taking advanced college-level courses including AP Physics, AP Calculus and AP Literature. “The shelter issue didn’t hinder me,” says Nicholas, “I stayed focused.” Even when he and his mother moved to transitional housing, and Nicholas had to take two buses and a train to get to high school, he remained positive. In 2006, when Elaine Colbert, teen education specialist with the Homeless Teen Education Project at Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC), met Nicholas, he had a fixed goal in mind–to attend art school after graduation. Soon after Colbert began meeting with Nicholas, he showed her his art. “I was amazed,” she recalls, “He had never even had proper art supplies!” Colbert was able to provide Nicholas with access to art materials and help him begin his art portfolio in preparation for applying to art school.


Colbert’s assistance, which extends to more than 80 teens in five shelters across the city, would have been impossible without the Homeless Teen Education Project. The Project began when Deborah McMillan, assistant vice president of Specialized Health Services for PHMC, and Dorette Ligons-Ham, the homeless regional coordinator and educational liaison for the School District of Philadelphia’s Homeless Children’s Initiative, saw the need for a program specifically targeting the children of the homeless. “The teens were t getting very little assistance with their education,” says McMillan. “Shelters are adult-focused and the kids were falling between the cracks.” Ligons-Ham agrees. “This is an invisible population,” she says. “Most teenagers don’t even want to admit that they are homeless at all.” McMillan and Ligons-Ham estimate that almost 10,000 children in the School District of Philadelphia are homeless–living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, or ‘doubled-up’ (living with other families). Mel Monk, director of student enrichment for Traveler’s Aid Society in Philadelphia, the city’s largest shelter for families with children, works with teens in situations similar to Nicholas’s. “Because of the predicament that these kids are in, most miss 3-6 months of school,” observes Monk. “Most of the time, they can’t get their GPA back to what it was before they became homeless. Nicholas’s achievement is rare and a testimony to the work he has done.” Teachers at Martin Luther King High School have fond memories of Nicholas and his work ethic. “Nicholas is fabulous,” recalls David Mandell, history department chair at the school. “He is quiet, quick, punctual and reliable. If all my students could be Nicholas Shanks, my job as a teacher would be a lot easier.” On graduation day, Mandell was among those deeply moved by Nicholas’s speech. In the speech, Nicholas drew from his own experiences. “Bad living conditions, society and harsh backgrounds may all sound like a set-up for failure, but good can come from it,” he said, drawing loud applause from his audience, which included his mother and Colbert. Nicholas was among six graduating seniors that Colbert had worked with during her time in the shelters. All six plan to attend colleges in the Philadelphia area. “Fifty percent of the students who graduated from high school would not have made it without our program,” says Ligons-Ham, recalling numerous instances where Colbert worked with school counselors to ensure graduation requirements were met. Nicholas plans to matriculate in the University of the Arts this January. In the meantime, he is working on his portfolio and working with Mr. Monk as a counselor at the Traveler’s Aid Society summer program for kids at the shelter. “They’re regular kids, they just need an extra push,” McMillan says of the teens in the program. “An investment in homeless children is an investment in the future of the city of Philadelphia.” ###


About Homeless Teen Education Project Through a contract with the School District of Philadelphia, PHMC receives funding for the Homeless Teen Education Project, which provides intensive educational case management and direct services to approximately 100 homeless teens, ages 13 to 18, who are living with their parents in emergency shelters or transitional housing. The program provides comprehensive hands-on interventions with teens to improve their school attendance and academic performance and reduce lateness, suspensions and behavior problems. About PHMC The Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) is a nonprofit public health institute that builds healthier communities through partnerships with government, foundations, business and other community-based organizations. It fulfills its mission to improve the health of the community by providing outreach, health promotion, education, research, planning, technical assistance, and direct services. PHMC has served the Greater Philadelphia region since 1972. For more information on PHMC, visit www.phmc.org.


NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 10, 2008 Contact: Jamie Arehart (267-350-7699 or jarehart@phmc.org)

Program Provides Philadelphia with a Focus on Fatherhood Focus on Fathers Program Grows in Philadelphia In 2004, D’Juan Diggs moved to Philadelphia with his girlfriend and three children. More than anything, Diggs wanted to create a stable environment for his children. Diggs recalls, “We were living in a small apartment trying to save for something bigger.” Unfortunately for Diggs and his family, time and money soon ran out. Their family had to be placed into the shelter system through the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS). Gerrell Jones’s story is similar. After watching his home burn to the ground, he knew his only option was to move his family into a shelter. “Not having anywhere else to turn to, we had to move to a shelter temporarily,” said Jones. Even more painful to Jones, however, was the inadequacy he felt as a father. “Not having a place to call my own was affecting my pride.” Although Diggs, 31, and Jones, 33, moved into Philadelphia shelters for different reasons, they both found one unique program to unite them as fathers. Focus on Fathers, a program of Resources for Children’s Health (RCH), is the only program of its kind in Philadelphia – focusing strictly on developing and maintaining father-child relationships. Sulaiman Wood has been working for RCH, an affiliate of Philadelphia Health Management Corporation (PHMC), for more than six years and is currently the Focus on Fathers project manager. “Our program is one of the few places where men can come together as fathers and engage in parenting issues,” says Wood. Jeanne Ciocca, executive director of RCH agrees, “Too often, services for men do not focus on parenting or fatherhood, but instead focus on employment, child support or legal issues. Focus on Fathers starts with the premise that fathers want to take an active parenting role in the lives of their children, and should be supported in their efforts to do so,” says Ciocca. Jones had always considered himself an active father but was surprised that his shelter lacked parenting assistance. When he began to inquire about parenting classes outside of the shelter, he was referred to RCH who then invited him to a Focus on Fathers meeting. “I ended up loving it so much that I asked if we could bring the program into shelter,” recalls Jones. Soon representatives from the Focus on Fathers program began visiting the shelter on a regular basis, providing parenting education classes, peer support and


discussion groups, individual case management, and father-child activities. The program comforted Jones, “I didn't have to worry whether or not my child would be okay, even though she didn't have her own room anymore,” he says. While in temporary housing with his family, Diggs was approached by Focus on Fathers parent educator, Robert McIntyre. Although wary at first, Diggs decided to sign up for the program – he didn’t have much to lose, he says. “In my own personal thinking, this was the last thing that I needed considering my housing situation.” But the stress of being the primary caretaker of his family was taking a toll on Diggs. “The program offered me a way to voice some issues about being a better father and caretaker. It also helped me deal with the shelter environment.” As he continued in the program, Diggs began to appreciate its benefits. “I realized the distinctiveness of the program, something just for men, a forum to talk about serious issues pertaining to our own individual families.” It was with those very same goals that Focus on Fathers began in 1997. The only federally-funded fatherhood program in Philadelphia, Focus on Fathers is also a member of the DHS Parenting Collaborative. The Collaborative, established in 2001, is a network of more than 70 parent-education programs and operates under the direction of the Philadelphia DHS. Research from the National Conference of State Legislatures (2000) has found that fathers are often “unsure of what is expected of them as men, partners and fathers" and assume their families are “better off without them.” RCH recognized this problem. “[We] provide parenting education and support in a variety of settings throughout Philadelphia,” explains Ciocca. “Through our work, it became evident to us that an important population was underrepresented - fathers. The overall goal of Focus on Fathers is to increase the participation of fathers in activities that support an active and positive parenting role.” After completing the Focus on Fathers program, Diggs, was asked to join as an employee. Diggs’s unique position as a former shelter-resident helps him to reach out to other participants. “You have to understand that men, especially those in the shelters, are skeptical about getting real help,” says Diggs. “They also don’t think they will be offered the same type of resources that are offered to women.” Diggs believes that his experiences also help to ease anxieties of the men in the program. “By going through the group myself, I often try to bridge the gap; I once stood in their shoes. I assure them that it’s okay to feel uneasy.” Jones agrees, adding, “This program is so unique that after the first session, guys find the group to be therapeutic and informative to their own personal situation.” Larry Woody is a Focus on Fathers case manager and he also understands the anxieties men feel when it comes to the role of fatherhood. In fact, for the first three years of his son’s life, Woody served as the primary caretaker. He learned the basics of childhood development firsthand as he fed, diapered, and played with his son. “I just had a knack for parenting,” he said. “I was an educated man but I was also a stay-at-home dad.”


Now, Woody brings that same parenting knowledge to the Focus on Fathers program, showing fathers how to spend more quality time with their children. In addition to this experience, Woody is also responsible for providing services to fathers who are facing family court. A custody-battle veteran himself, Woody claims “Fathers deserve the same chance as mothers. Kids need both parents. If fathers aren’t there, kids are missing half the picture!” According to Woody, the best part of Focus on Fathers is the impact it has on children’s lives. “It’s about the child always,” he says. “Kids do better when the father is involved. Everybody benefits, society benefits.” ### About RCH and Focus on Fathers Resources for Children’s Health (RCH) is a non-profit agency dedicated to promoting positive parenting, healthy pregnancies and healthy children. Focus on Fathers is a voluntary program that provides direct services through parenting education, case management, and peer support services for fathers, stepfathers, and adult males who are involved in raising children. Focus on Fathers also provides policy and advocacy development through the Philadelphia Fatherhood Practitioners Network. Currently, Focus on Fathers is funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, and the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania.


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