In this edition: inspiring stories, June events, mental health tips, and more!
by Laurie Amado, Behavioral Specialist
This quarter we have been doing a therapeutic group for children living in HopePHL housing, called "Kids Care." One of the most memorable moments in this group was when one little boy’s mother came to me and said, “This is the first time that my son (who is on the autism spectrum) has made a friend who is not autistic.”
The group has allowed two boys to connect, who otherwise may not even be in the same spaces, since one goes to a school specifically for children on the autism spectrum. This has also done a lot for his self-esteem. For the other boy, this interaction may have broken down some stigmas around others who may be “different." This is really what this group is about- building connection and care between children, who will hopefully also take that to other spaces they are in.
My Job Title, Company: Manager of Customer Experience (CX), PECO
Last read book or favorite book: Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea Hotel by Sherrill Tippins
You can find me streaming: Kaskade
Guiding principle, philosophy, or motto: Don’t compare yourself to
others and compete only with yourself.
What You Were Most Surprised to Learn about HopePHL: I was most surprised to learn of HopePHL's deep involvement in every aspect of the community. From housing, food and education, all of the things that many of us take for granted. By focusing on these needs, HopePHL helps to elevate individuals so that they can begin to develop and reach their own hopes and dreams.
Why you joined HopePHL’s Board: I joined the HopePHL board because I was impressed with the holistic approach the organization takes to improving the lives of others.
Year joined the Board(s): 2020
HopePHL Awarded $250,000 Housing for Everyone Grant from TD Charitable Foundation in Support of Homelessness Prevention
HopePHL™ was recently awarded a $250,000 Housing for Everyone grant from the TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank®. HopePHL™ is one of 37 non-profit organizations selected from more than 450 applicants to receive a Housing for Everyone grant as part of the TD Charitable Foundation's signature grant initiative that has helped support organizations that are focused on providing affordable housing and affordable housing services since 2005.
As individuals and families across the country struggle with inflation and an exponential rise in rental costs, affordable housing providers face increased hardship given the growing demand for affordable rental units and emergency rental assistance.
The grant will support HopePHL’s homelessness prevention work, which assists people at risk of homelessness in Philadelphia to remain in their homes and avoid emergency shelter. Through case management and direct financial assistance grants, the agency’s program provides West Philadelphia families with support to overcome a housing crisis. Since its launch in July 2020, HopePHL's program has successfully delivered these services to 355 families and has provided over $880,000 in emergency rental assistance grants.
The New Africa Center, in collaboration with HopePHL and Penn Praxis, has been diligently working to develop a neighborhood plan that revolves around the creation of a cultural district named "The New Freedom District." After a series of community engagement sessions, on Thursday, May 4, 2023, the organizations activated the vacant lots on Lex Street as the first site to reimagine due to its status as the "gateway to the business corridor."
Dante Leonard, HopePHL's Commercial Corridor Manager reflected on how special this project was for him, HopePHL and the community. "I have a passion for helping people and bringing people together to proactively solve problems and collectively build solutions. This is exactly what the community has done in bringing this once vacant and forgotten space back to life. The story of Lex Street has left a mark on Philadelphia history. It is a great feeling to be involved in this project that has the potential to positively engage young residents in this community. I have lived and worked in West Philadelphia my entire life. This neighborhood is very much a part of my fabric as a man, father, and community leader."
The Philadelphia African American Leadership Development Forum (PAALDF), powered by United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey’s Impact Fund was created in 2017 in partnership with the Urban League of Philadelphia as an innovative program, sensitively designed exclusively for African American nonprofit leaders. It includes classic leadership training content and exposure to regional and national thought leaders in the nonprofit field.
This year, two HopePHL managers were selected to attend the program: Omari Baye, BELL Program Manager and Jennifer K. Smith, Communications Manager. This highly interactive program is completely facilitated by African American presenters, panelists, and subject matter experts. At the heart and soul of PAALDF is a commitment to provide a safe platform for honest and hard-hitting discourse about “Leading While Black.” Braided into each session is a strong focus on the unique needs, perspectives, issues, opportunities, and challenges of African American leaders. Throughout the program, are dedicated times for program participants to reflect, connect, goal set and network, to reinforce the development of a community of peers.
When times are tough, people rely on HopePHL™ for a safe space to raise their children, food to nourish them, and support that helps them reengage in school or work. At HopePHL they build skills so they can achieve their goals, like moving to an apartment, finding a better job, or improving their parenting skills. When they have knowledge and experience to share, they also have a chance to shine as a mentor for others. Like Terry, who discovered new connections working with other parents.
Terry (her name has been changed for privacy) lives in HopePHL’s supportive housing. She is raising her 15-year-old grandson. For Terry, creating a positive environment for him has always been her top priority. She has gone above and beyond to ensure his well-being. Terry was the first person to sign up for the Parenting Collaborative group being offered free of charge in her building. While she gained new insights on raising a teen in this fast-paced digital age, she also has taken on the role of a mentor, offering guidance to younger parents and helping them identify job readiness skills that they need to develop. Her positive attitude and willingness to help others have made her an essential member of the group, providing inspiration to those seeking guidance.
Her contributions to the Parenting Collaborative group have made a lasting impact, and we are excited to watch her build a sense of community with her neighbors for a common purpose — to ensure kids living at HopePHL are supported both in and out of school and have hope for the future. Because people with hope, thrive.
Photo Caption L-r: Gwen Bailey, HopePHL; Melissa Johnson, CHOP's Homeless Health Initiative; Dalila Zigani, Volunteer, CHOP's Homeless Health Initiative; Colin Pustilnik, Volunteer with YES Wellness; Maryann McEvoy, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The Wellness Exercise, which began 8 years ago with volunteers Colin Pustilnik and Chris Major, takes place every Sunday at Youth Emergency Service. The volunteers pair physical exercise with motivational and stress reduction activities for the youth. By strengthening the body and the mind, The Wellness Exercise helps young people living at YES to prepare for the coming week.
This week we had a special guest - Maryann McEvoy, Executive Director & Child Advocate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania/ PA Office of Advocacy and Reform, part of Governor Shapiro's office. HopePHL is grateful to Colin, Chris, Maryann, and all the volunteers for spending time with our youth! For more information on how to support HopePHL’s programs, visit https://www.hopephl.org/donate.html
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