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Emily Hill Rollins

Emily Hill Rollins, a community activist and human development educator, died on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. She was 90.

She was born on Jan. 2, 1928, in Philadelphia and was raised in Bucks County. As an adult she lived in the Tioga-Nicetown community for more than 50 years.

Throughout her life great emphasis was placed on home as the first institution of human development. School and church participation served to guide her personal and professional growth.

Her family said her training in health and human services, business, marketing, project development and leadership reflected her persistent commitment to such principles.

Rollins was a graduate of the Social Methods School at Urban Academy in Chicago, Ill., the Institute of Cultural Affairs Global Research Assembly, Temple University, Cheyney State College and Antioch University. Several other institutions were included in her studies.

She was employed as a federal postal worker for 10 years.

Rollins recently served as executive director of Bridgeway, Inc., a non-profit, community-based empowerment center at 1722 and 1800 W. Ontario St. In 2010, the Scribe Video Center completed a documentary about Bridgeway, Inc., which highlighted her vision of human development possibilities in Tioga.

Rollins has been instrumental in developing such programs as the Philadelphia Saturday Academy, a cultural training program for youth and adults with limited education.

Under her leadership, Bridgeway, Inc. partnered with other community leaders to create CommUniversity 14, a North Philadelphia area learning collective program developed to focus on topics such as spirit care, self-help and industry. The program also addresses needs for shelter, clothing, food and transportation. Hundreds of families have been served each month through the allocation of such resources since 1975.

Rollins also collaborated with the CommUniversity 14 and SCOPE (Showing Community Other Perimeters of Education) to launch the Area Life Learning Career Institute in 2010, primarily for underemployed people ages 25 and 55. The tri-campus training site was developed to encourage self-sufficiency, business know-how and family support sustainability in the region.

Forging strategic alliances and fostering community teamwork via her extensive outreach was Rollins’ focus.

Many groups have benefited from her expertise, such as ICA’s first Human Development Training School in Tioga and Temple University’s Pan African Studies Community Education Program, where she became the first community liaison in 1984. Rollins also worked with Simon Gratz High School’s Motivation Program and the Citizen of Tioga-Nicetown Youth Development Task Force chairman.

Rollins received numerous honors including the Community Indigenous Leadership Award from the University of Pennsylvania, the Urban League’s Community Service Award , the McDonald’s Olympic Medallion Award, Roots Community Service Award from Temple University, Mother of the Year from Lifers Inc., the Distinguished Service Community Award, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Rho Theta Omega Chapter’s Community Service Exemplary Leadership Award and Social Justice Presentation for 30 years of visiting men at Graterford Prison in Pennsylvania.

She was preceded in death by her husband, William T. Rollins.

She is survived by: her children, Nicki, Mignon, Alicia, Mark and Rebecca Rollins and Pierre Summerville.

Services were held Jan. 19 at New Vision United Methodist Church, 3259 N. Broad St. Viewing was at 9 a.m. Services followed at 11 a.m. Burial was in Ivy Hill Cemetery.

G. Frank Page Jr. Funeral Home handled the arrangements.

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Bishop Alfred Johnson

As I am just learning of her transition, I both bemoan her separation and yet more celebrate her life. She was indeed a most impactful spiritual and community mentor for me, and will always remain ancestral model for me as I live out my prophetic and pastoral callings.

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