In North Philly, a former Boy Scout is now a scoutmaster

In North Philly, a former Boy Scout is now a scoutmaster

Antonio McCall has been involved in scouting since he was just 14 years old. He followed his step-brother one day to a scout meeting at Wayland Temple Baptist Church in at 25th and Cecil B. Moore and never left. “That was exciting to me, that was different to me,” said McCall, who’s 31 and the scoutmaster for Troop 98. “I’m a different kind of guy, I was a different kind of kid. So when I came here and heard that was an option, those were things that we would learn and explore, I was excited. Being that this troop is based in North Philly, there’s not a lot of that so I was excited that this was an opportunity that I could come every week and meet new people.” Troop 98 is one of seven units in North Philadelphia and has been around since 1999. It was started by former scout master Roslyn Munson with her son, Aaron, who was one of...
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The people who care for Philly’s gunshot victims

The people who care for Philly’s gunshot victims

On average, Kenneth Dupree of Dupree Funeral Home at 28th and Diamond streets sees one to two victims of gun violence a year. Bruce Talbert says Talbert Funeral Parlor at 22nd near Lehigh has received 10 so far. The services for the victims that both men preside over have all been young people, usually in their early 20s. Talbert says he’s not surprised when gunshot victims come through the door, but it doesn’t get any easier. “It’s not an everyday occurrence, but it’s not something that alarms us when it happens,” the Chester native said. “When I was growing up, you handled things with your hands. [Young people now] handle things with guns, so it’s not something that catches you off guard to get a call from a family that someone has passed from a shooting incident.” With anyone who has passed — but specifically with those of gun violence — the family conferences that follow with funeral directors can be highly emotional....
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After prison, Faith Bartley wants to help other women get a second chance

After prison, Faith Bartley wants to help other women get a second chance

Faith Bartley wants a home to call her own. Not just a rented room, but somewhere that can take her away from the community that she’s known all her life. “I was born and raised in this community, so I know everybody. From the time that I was a child and up until now,” Bartley, now 53, said. “Right now, I reside in a room, because every time I go look for an apartment, they go into my criminal history. Even though my record has been expunged, there are still some drug felonies on my criminal history that can’t be removed, because I was convicted of it.” Bartley is a fixture in her neighborhood, doing what she can to help others. A the start of our conversation, she was even interrupted by someone asking if she had coffee. “No sir, ain’t no coffee, bro,” She said. “Brotha, close my door. I’m in an interview.” She doesn’t sugarcoat her past. Over the years, she’s spent...
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Our sidewalks suck. What can the City do about it?

Our sidewalks suck. What can the City do about it?

The 1900 block of Ringgold Street appears as many other blocks in North Philadelphia. A few people stand on the corner or lean against rowhomes and talk. Many of the houses are abandoned. And the street itself is empty, cracked and jagged. In some places, the sidewalk almost seems to disappear before your eyes. Yet here, and in neighborhoods across the city, locals have grown complacent at the poor condition of their streets. Sometimes, the cracks only become noticeable when you stumble and fall, or see a stroller wheel jam up, or watch as wheelchair-bound neighbors try to navigate their way home. A few sections of Ringgold Street are cordoned off with yellow tape, indicating that the City is at least trying to fix the sidewalks. But what can be done for a community with so many more pressing problems, in a part of town that often goes overlooked? In Philadelphia, sidewalks are the responsibility of the property owner, not the City....
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Looking forward to better days

Looking forward to better days

The last image that I saw of my dad, was when he was laying in his casket. He looked so peaceful and it was at that moment that I realized I would never hear from him again. Prior to that I had only seen him twice before, when he was being pushed into an ambulance with a bloody patch covering his forehead and when I had given him my last hug on Father’s Day 1999. It’s a story that I’ve told a few times and each time I tell it, it feels as if the terrible events happened just yesterday. It’s a common scene and an unfortunate story that is told too often while trying to live and thrive in the city of Philadelphia. The amount of gun violence that Philadelphians experience is nothing new, but the question that keeps coming up at each crime scene and each vigil is what will be done to address the ongoing problem? The situation is dire...
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Former Philly Gang Member on Honor, Reform and the Next Generation

Former Philly Gang Member on Honor, Reform and the Next Generation

Kevin Wilkins remembers the summer day long ago when he stared down a member of The Valley, a notorious gang that inhabited the streets of North Philadelphia in the '60s and '70s. He was around 16 at the time. The gang tested him and his peers from his North Philly neighborhood by beating them. It was a way to see if they were truly tough enough for the life ahead. Wilkins remembered his beating not being too bad. With shadows of his previous life written into his body -- a tattoo of a panther on his right arm, a lion on his left -- the former gang member does not wish to reveal his true name. I first met Wilkins a few years ago at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, an extension of the nonprofit Project HOME. Wilkins was a frequent visitor, stopping by to collect fliers about upcoming programs. North Philadelphia, where Wilkins and I both live, has gone through...
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Temple Grads Share The Fruits of Their Business With Philly Kids

Temple Grads Share The Fruits of Their Business With Philly Kids

I never imagined that I could have so much in common with a pineapple or banana before sitting down with twins Rachel and Sarah Stanton, business partners and recent graduates of Temple University. Sitting in the Fox School of Business, Sarah Stanton laid out a few of their brightly colored shirts in front of me, each one corresponding to a fruit and a personality type, which they sell through their business, Fruitstrology. With talkative grape, independent pineapple, active orange, charismatic peach, easygoing banana, ambitious coconut, smart apple, and funny pear available already, the pair are planning more options for the near future. The sisters started the business in 2013 as students, with the premise that, for each shirt sold, they would donate a piece of fruit to a child in Philadelphia. They got the idea when they saw children in north Philadelphia walking to school with potato chips and sodas in hand. They had been working with a group called Net Impact, which...
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A New Place To Call Home

A New Place To Call Home

It was twelve years ago when D.W. Wilkins first moved from New York City to Philadelphia. Upon his arrival, he had been living without medical insurance or other safeguards until learning about the services being offered at St. Elizabeth, a healthcare and recovery initiative of the Philadelphia nonprofit Project HOME. “I was taking a few computer classes in the community where I live and work,” Wilson said. “It was there that I met a young lady who told me about St. Elizabeth and that I could go there and get the care that I needed.” According to Project HOME, roughly 70 percent of households have incomes of less than $35,000 per year in the St. Elizabeth community and nearly half of adults and children live at or below the federal poverty level. The idea of having a wellness center placed in the heart of Philadelphia had first come to Sister Mary Scullion, Executive Director of Project HOME, when civic leader Stephen Klein had approached...
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Summer Teaching

Summer Teaching

Can't remember if I posted this or not, but I worked on the above video for the majority of the summer while assisting with Temple University's High School summer journalism program, otherwise known as Prime Movers and Shakers. It's led by Professor Maida Odom, former reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and one of my former professors. The goal of the summer program is to teach the students, who are from different Philadelphia area high schools, about journalism and the different aspects of the field in a few short weeks. At the end they produced a newspaper that is printed by the Philadelphia Daily News. This was my second time working with the program and this time my main responsibility was putting together a video of the students experience with the program. It's not the best, but I was proud in the fact that I was able to put this together after not working with FinalCut Pro for a a few...
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Robert Margolskee Appointed Monell Chemical President

Robert Margolskee Appointed Monell Chemical President

The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia. On Oct. 1, Robert Margolskee succeeded Gary Beauchamp as the center’s next president and director. Margolskee will be the center’s third director since its founding in 1968. “This will be a big change for me and a big change for the center because Gary Beauchamp, the current director, has been our director for 24 years,” Margolskee said. “The big challenge basically for the director is to lead the research that goes on at our center. I’m a little excited, a little bit worried. I think the common word is trepidation.” Margolskee received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and his MD-PhD in Molecular Genetics from Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with the late Nobel laureate Dr. Daniel Nathans. He carried out postdoctoral studies in molecular biology at Stanford University with the Nobel laureate Dr. Paul Berg. While on the faculty of the Mount Sinai School of...
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