Details of the annual “Praise Is The Cure Week of Hope Health and Healing 2012” took place recently at the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.
Among the guest speakers at the event were Maria Pajil Battle, president of the AmeriHealth Foundation; Kerri Conner Matchett, author of “My Mommy Has Breast Cancer, but it is OK,” radio personality Doug Henderson, a member of the “Real Men Wear Pink” all-male breast cancer support group, and the Rev. Charles W. Quann, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church and whose wife and other relatives suffered with breast cancer.
“As the president of the new foundation I will be involved in taking our health ministry nationally,” Battle said. “We are going to be taking this health ministry to rural South Carolina this October. Our tour will then go around the country sharing new information about breast cancer, asthma and other (diseases). It’s important to have something like this that raises awareness and is a labor of love.”
The kickoff breakfast opened with welcome remarks from Bishop Ernest C. Morris, Sr., senior pastor of Mount Airy Church of God in Christ. After breakfast was served, Praise is the Cure founder Anita T. Conner, of Elkins Parks, gave an overview of the initative.
“Last year approximately 20,000 received literature and information about breast cancer awareness on Praise Sunday,” she said.
Matchett then shared her story of learning she had breast cancer when her daughter was only two years old. Searching and being unable to find a children’s book to help her daughter understand breast cancer led Matchett to pen her own publication. She said that the message of this was to never give up.
“I spent time with my wife and others who were in hospice with breast cancer,” Quann said. He decided to be one of the few African Americans on the board of Abington Hospital because of his experience as a caregiver. “I am no longer timid about wearing pink because it’s all about raising awareness of early detection.”
The Praise Is The Cure Week events is hosted by the George E. Thorne Development Center. Among the events is a citywide community Breast Cancer Awareness Day at some 75 churches for what has become known as Praise Sunday. There will also be a children’s festival, health fair screenings, wellness workshops, and a pampering party for breast cancer patients and survivors.
The highlight will be the Hope, Health & Healing Gospel Extravaganza to be held at the Mount Airy Church of God in Christ, 6401 Ogontz Ave. in West Oak Lane on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m. Featured artists will be Hezekiah Walker, the Brockington Ensemble, and LFC. It will be hosted by Patty Jackson.
Sponsors of the Praise Is The Cure series are Anita T. Conner & Associates, Keystone Mercy, the AmeriHealth Mercy Foundation, the Fox Chase Cancer Center, and Mount Airy Church of God in Christ. For more information about Praise for the Cure call (215) 635-1025 or visit www.praiseisthecure.org.
When NAACP members from Cheltenham, Jenkintown and nearby Northwest Philadelphia gather for their July meeting, the focus will be on voter education in the neighborhoods.
The group welcomes new members to join them as they embark on voter registration drives and education about the new Voter ID laws. The next session will be held at the LaMottCommunity Center, Willow Avenue and Sycamore Street, July 16 at 7:30 p.m.
This was the message of the Cheltenham Area NAACP branch when they held their
recent gala. With the theme “Your Power, Your Decision, Vote” the gala took place at the Flourtown Country Club, 150 McCloskey Road in Flourtown on June 23. Radio One executive and Concerned Black Men member E. Steven Collins, of Laverock, served as the master of ceremonies.
One of the highlights of the program was when musician and composer Brian Michael Evans of West Oak Lane sang a new jingle penned by family therapist and local radio personality Lucille Ijoy of Mount Airy. It focused on getting one’s photo identification and culminated with the words, “I got mine, I got mine, I got mine.” The NAACP audience joined in singing the lyrical tune about voter education for this November’s elections.
“Dr. Ijoy came to me with this song about voter identification,” Evans said. “I put some music to it and here is it is. There are people out here who don’t want us to vote. We have our first African American commander in chief and that’s why there is this movement to erode our right to vote.”
Additionally, four community members were honored for their contributions to civil rights and community service. The Humanitarian Award recipient was longtime State Rep. Lawrence Curry of Jenkintown. While David Poindexter received the Educational Achievement Award, attorney Michael Coard was the Social Justice Award recipient. Additionally, educator Bonnie Johns received the Community Service Award for her volunteer efforts with youth.
There were also four $500 scholarships given to local high school students as a result of an essay competition earlier this year. The winners were Jenkintown High School senior Aury Krebs, Springfield High School senior Calvin Speight, Plymouth Whitemarsh High school student Janelle Marie Grace, and Cheltenham High School graduate Francine Marquis.
“Some say that the NAACP was founded in 1909 so it’s old and irrelevant,” said Harvey L. Crudup, branch president of the local chapter, in his welcome. “We still need to fight discrimination. This is the most respected, most effective civil rights organization in America.”
“One of the things I’ve learned is that you have got to be taught to hate,” Curry said. “There is still more work to be done. It doesn’t stop now. Come together to overcome.”
The local chapter is involved in a Voter ID Registration and Education Campaign. They are supportive of the “Protect Our Vote” initiative and are partnering with the NAACP of Pennsylvania in defending voting rights.
To volunteer for this campaign contact John Jordan at the NAACP of Pennsylvania at (215) 715-5681.
Two Northwest Philadelphia area groups are centered on change. First, World Changers meets monthly on the New Covenant Church campus to pray for and discuss changes that bring about justice, including praying for President Barack Obama.
Secondly, Volunteers for Change is meeting every three weeks during the summer and will resume their bimonthly schedule starting in September. They have been advocating for social justice change, including voter education and registration, since the 2008 presidential race. Their next meeting will be held at Laborers Union 332, 1310 Wallace St. (off Ridge Avenue) on July 14 at 10 a.m.
“We have to give thanks that the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare,” said Brenda J. Thomas of Germantown, an active member of World Changers. “I know many people who were not covered by medical insurance before and now they are. They have limited incomes because they are unemployed, work at low-income jobs, and need medical care.
“This is a blessing because so many in our community have high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases,” she added. “They need to get medical treatment. I am so glad that even those with these pre-existing conditions will be covered by insurance. It’s such a great thing to have this.”
Verileah Teets, the organizer of the group, said that while many are saying the 2012 mantra should be “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!” her group is focusing on advocating for the larger issue of “justice, justice, justice.”
She said her group has been praying for months for a change of heart on the part of Justice John Roberts.
“When I heard that he was the deciding vote to keep health insurance reform, I knew that what our group is doing is powerful because our prayers were answered,” said Teets.
Martha Bernardino agreed. The longtime Mount Airy resident said this gives her the confidence to pray that Gov. Tom Corbett will have a change of heart. She said that she was concerned about the thousands who would be cut off from welfare on Aug. 1. Though recipients were given a one-month reprieve from the original July 1 date, she said that all must pray for change.
“We need many more to change their hearts,” said Bernardino. “We need to pray for our school system. We need to pray for those losing their homes. This is the season of justice and when you pray for justice it changes everything that comes under that.”
Family therapist and radio personality Dr. Lucille Ijoy of Mount Airy added that Volunteers for Change is taking proactive steps this summer to ensure that there is positive and progressive social changes. When they meet next week they will update their members, who are approaching about 100, how to ensure that every citizen is registered to vote, that all have valid voter identification, and all make it to the polls.
“We are doing what we can to effect change,” said Ijoy. “All are welcome to come to our next meeting. The more, the merrier.”
When Kashif Olatunde Smith of West Oak Lane recently walked down the Princeton University aisle to receive his degree, he credited his family legacy to his success.
Though he recognizes he was the one who excelled at his undergraduate courses that earned him a science degree, he is aware he did not do it alone.
For Smith, who was primarily reared by an older single father, it truly took a village.
When Smith spoke to The Tribune on the heels of his June 5 commencement and being the third fastest 60 meter track star in Princeton’s history, he was quick to point out he has more than a computer science degree from an Ivy League institution.
This summer, as he studies for his Medical College Admission Program (MCAP) examinations, he will be giving back. This is all part of the social justice commitment he learned at home, in his early schooling, and in Northwest Philadelphia.
“My coach Steven Boni at the William Penn Charter High School served as my mentor and sponsor,” Smith said. “I was fortunate to have had people along the way who would listen to me. He advised me to stay focus but never get so ambitious that you [trample] over others. His advice served me well. I’d say Mr. Boni played an influential role in giving me the right advice.
“My father [Marvin Smith], my mother and other members of my family were also there for me even it was just telling me to remember why I was in school,” he added. “I would tell anyone aspiring for higher education that nothing comes easy. It takes a lot of hard work and you have to (maintain) your focus. Once you remember your goal then you have to keep going in the right direction taking one week, one month and one year at a time.”
Smith’s volunteer activities included tutoring at the Stenton Family Manor, participating in demonstrations for welfare rights and against police brutality, and volunteering for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.
This summer he said that he will continue to be involved in grassroots voter registration as the new presidential race approaches as well as return to volunteering at local homeless facilities.
“Kashif served as president of the African American Student League at Penn Charter,” said Marvin Smith. “So, with his solid foundation in his cultural identity and all that he’s accomplished we have high hopes for him.”
Both father and son are quick to point out that charting the course for the younger Smith’s college and professional school was something that began when he was very young.
Key points along that journey included attending the Afrocentric Lotus Academy for his foundation, earning a track scholarship to both William Penn Charter and Princeton, and the elder Smith making sure that his son maintained a strong GPA.
Kashif Smith stood out among those who applied for the Princeton scholarship because he had more to offer than just a strong academic record and athletic prowess. He speaks, reads and writes in Spanish, studied classical piano, and has an extensive record of community service.
“It was at Lotus Academy that Kashif received the overall school community support that got him rooted in the love for his people and his African American culture,” Marvin Smith said. “I would especially praise Mothura Marcia Butler, an extraordinary teacher at Lotus, the other teachers, staff and Lotus administration for being so amazing. It was this foundation that enables us to have high hopes for him.”
Alice Wells was able to put on a purple gown and do the twist on the dance floor at the Germantown Church of the Brethren’s fellowship hall recently.
She was among the entourage who braved the more than 90-degree humid weather to attend the first “Seniors Prom” held at 6601 Germantown Ave. Sunday evening.
For Wells, a middle-aged woman from Germantown, this was her very first prom. A native of the Caribbean island of Trinidad, Wells readily admitted the concept of a graduation prom was foreign to her.
Yet when she would see all Northwest Philadelphia high school juniors and seniors on her block all decked out and being whisked away in limousines she wished she had experience that. So, for her, the “Seniors Prom” was a treat.
“I thought this was an excuse to get dressed up,” Wells said. “It is fun to get together and have some fun. I think it’s a great experience especially for those of us who never experienced going on a prom.”
Jim Mitchell, of Germantown, was busy taking professional style photographs of the couples as well as extended family groups who came out the gala. He said that it reminded him of his own prom when he graduated from West Philadelphia High School in 1980.
“I think this is just a great idea,” he said. “There’s nothing like going on a prom and it is something that we should still do when we get older.”
Poet Victoria Peurifoy of Northwest Philadelphia said that since she became a widow a few years ago she found that she didn’t go out as much as she used. At the Saturday evening prom she was able to win the bop contest along with a local man who identified himself as simply “Smutty.” For Peurifoy it was a trek down memory lane.
“I think it’s nice to create events where you have a good time even though many of us are having hard times,” Peurifoy said. “It’s nice to get dressed up once in awhile. You come to an environment where others are dressed, have a nice dinner, and then you get to dance a little—what more is there.”
One of the evening’s highlights was when Peurifoy recited a poem about President Barack Obama’s “swaggart” walk.
It was written after attending the Southern Ball, one of four official 2009 inauguration parties. She then invited the men to walk and “profile,” which drew spontaneous applause from the audience.
Another highlight of the event was the crowning of the king and queen of the ball. Nick and RuNett Gray of Mount Airy were endowed with that honor. For RuNett Gray, it was a surprise especially since she was one of the event’s organizers.
“This all started when a discussion came up about proms and so many said back in the day many of us could not afford to go to our proms,” RuNett Gray said. “We said even if you didn’t have a date to bring your parent, children, nieces and nephews or anyone you wanted to bring. We welcomed the singles without a date. So we said we were going to have this for those of us who are young at heart.”