How to fight the stigma of homelessness

How to fight the stigma of homelessness

Dysfunctional families, distrust of the system, the lack of affordable housing — there are so many situations that could influence why a person can become homeless that others might not consider as they walk past those experiencing it. “I think we tend to look for easy answers because homelessness is horrible and scary and you want that easy fix,” said Sarah Erdo, volunteer and community engagement manager at Bethesda Project. “The easy answer, I think, is the lack of affordable housing and the cycle of poverty.” Bethesda Project and other local homeless services organizations hosted a panel at the Legend Galleries called “Bringing Homelessness Home” last week as part of Young Involved Philadelphia’s State of Young Philly event series. The panel discussed the many challenges and aspects of homelessness that laypeople may be unaware of while, appropriately, surrounded by artwork reading encouragements such as “Perseverance with Dignity” and “Signs of Hope,” part of the gallery’s National Homelessness and Hunger Week exhibit. Often those who are experiencing the cycle of homelessness have stigmas...
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This new giving circle funds struggling Philly schools

This new giving circle funds struggling Philly schools

It was about a year and a half ago when Andy Toy read an article about a school in Germantown that was struggling with funds. The principal, Toy recalled, had only $34 and couldn’t afford to purchase many amenities for his students. However, within a few days of the article being published, the school received thousands of dollars in donations and the principal was able to move forward in buying the things that his school needed. That’s when the idea of the Philadelphia Public School Giving Circle (PPSGC) took hold. “To me the lightbulb kind of went off and was like, if we could get everybody out there and do the same thing, people would give because people are interested in giving,” said Toy, development and communications manager of Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition (SEAMAAC). “There is a big need out there.” With PPSGC, there is a strong focus on regular neighborhood public schools, especially those in low-income areas and have limited fundraising capacity within their communities,...
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Q&A with Barbara Chandler Allen, Founder & Executive Director of Fresh Artists

Q&A with Barbara Chandler Allen, Founder & Executive Director of Fresh Artists

Barbara Chandler Allen is known for being called a “place maker.” She has a knack for changing places, she said during our interview, by bringing in art, music, or sometimes even plants. Allen is not an interior designer or architect, but sees the possibilities in spaces and enjoys making these changes so people feel differently in them and work differently. She is one of two founders of Fresh Artists, a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote access for all children to the transformative self-expression of art making and philanthropy. How did Fresh Artists come to be?  My son, Roger and I, started Fresh Artists in 2008 because we saw something broken. As designers, we had been invited to decorate the new School District headquarters building at 440 North Broad in 2005. I’m sure you’ve been there. A previous superintendent named Paul Vallas bought the old Inquirer printing plant because his employees were all over the city in many different buildings. He refurbished it into...
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The Attic Youth Center Publishes “Safe Schools Toolkit” Created by LGBT Youth

The Attic Youth Center Publishes “Safe Schools Toolkit” Created by LGBT Youth

This summer, 38 youth from The Attic Youth Center’s PYN Service Learning Program worked together to make an online toolkit that represents student voices on the issues of homophobia, safety, and celebrating diversity. These dynamic groups of students “represent gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual 9th to 12th graders, and a rainbow of race and ethnicity.” The LGBTQ Education for Awareness Recognition and Nondiscrimination toolkit is an easy-to-use resource for teachers, students and community groups that include videos, posters for classroom use, facts, research, and printable documents. The 2012 Safe Schools Toolkit is available here. “It is our hope that this toolkit will provide all members of the school community, from students, to teachers, to administrators with a user-friendly means to facilitate cross-cultural learning and community-building dialogue that lends itself to the development of schools as safe spaces for LGBTQ individuals,” Kelly Kroehle, Coordinator of The Bryson Institute, The Attic’s Education and training program said. The toolkit was made with the understanding that different...
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Youth Mentoring Partnership’s Friend Fitness Program, Supporting Youth Through Exercise

Youth Mentoring Partnership’s Friend Fitness Program, Supporting Youth Through Exercise

Khalif Younger, a graduate of Mastery Charter School, is a mentor in training at Friend Fitness thanks in part to his girlfriend who had introduced him to Coach Chris Major, director of Friend Fitness. “I used to just come to the meetings with my girlfriend to show some support and run with them as well,” Younger said.  “Coach Major was interested and intrigued in my character, so he asked me if I wanted to join him in this mentorship program and I took him up on his offer.” During his first workout with Friend Fitness, Younger wasn’t sure if he could complete the required exercise routine. With the positive reinforcement from Major, Younger kept going and persevering and was able to get through the manual resistance exercises. “But you know, at this program, all they want you to do is give 100%,” Younger said. “If you can’t do it all, just try your best, don’t give up. That’s all they want from you is...
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Edibikes: Custom Made Bikes for the Philly Commuter

Edibikes: Custom Made Bikes for the Philly Commuter

Riding a bike in the city is becoming an increasingly popular mode of transportation — but for if you haven’t ridden a bike since childhood, even walking into a bike shop can be more than intimidating. Edibikes wants to help change that sentiment and get more people biking. An urban commuter-bike company, Edibikes was established by Jason Hoover and Sandeep Gopal this past March in Philadelphia. Their goal is to get more people commuting in the city with bikes instead of driving cars. Hoover and Gopal were graduate students of the Engineering Design and Innovation Program at Northwestern University in Chicago when first stumbling upon the idea. “We are engineers and designers by training and were interested in building products with a focus on sustainability,” Gopal said. “At the same time, as students we were always strapped for cash and were looking for convenient ways to get around Chicago without a car.” A bike company geared toward mainstream bike commuters seemed a logical idea to the two. They found out there is no...
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