Geneva Black, who was the founder and executive of the Haddington Multi-Services for Older Adults, transitioned on November 3, 2020. Black was 88.
Black received her formal education in the Philadelphia and Sumter, S.C. public school systems. After high school, she held jobs in retail, beauty, cooking, and working as her own personal seamstress prior to securing a position as a housing coordinator for the Haddington Leadership Organization.
Throughout her employment, she sought to further her education by studying social work administration and receiving associate degree from Temple University. She also excelled in obtaining her certification as mental health and aging practitioner.
In 1973 while working for Haddington, she began to realize that many senior citizens were not receiving specific services that they were entitled to despite their socio-economic status. It was at that point that she decided to move forward in her mission and Haddington Multi-Services for Older Adults was cultivated.
Black started working diligently by writing and proposing various grants to elected city officials for opening her first senior citizens center in West Philadelphia. With perseverance and persistence, she became the founder and executive director of Haddington Multi-Services for Older Adults, which she operated for 41 years until she retired in 2012.
Her first senior facility was located on the corner of 55th Street and Haverford Avenue. Black eventually decided to expand her vision and succeeded in raising more than $1.5 million with the assistance of the board of directors and elected city officials.
The new state-of-the art senior citizens facility would be located at a former firehouse on 54th Street and Haverford Avenue. She worked day and night to ensure that the seniors at Haddington would receive as many services as possible and supported throughout their senior years.
Black was a longtime community leader who was greatly appreciated for her tenacity, transparency and genuine concern. She provided them with opportunities to travel in and out of the country, take local trips to Broadway shows and revues, showcase and sell their craftsmanship at the center's bizarre, perform and participate in an annual talent show at Daroff Elementary School called the "Rock Away Revue," and featured senior fashions during annual luncheons and fashion shows.
The center offered activities and supportive services ranging from socialization, classes on various subjects including technology, legal and personal counseling, low-impact exercising, arts and crafts, playing cards and pool, and a host of other opportunities. Black provided insight on senior citizen issues and insight during a WDAS radio show, called "Senior Hour," where she served as radio host.
She received plenty of recognition for her efforts with seniors. In 1995, she was awarded a Congressional Commendation by former Congressman Chaka Fattah. Black was inducted into the Afro-American Hall of Fame at Drexel University and referred by the Philadelphia Corporation for the Aging to represent Philadelphia at the White House where she met former President Bill Clinton in 1996.
She was awarded two citations in 2000 by State Representative Louise Williams Bishop for Outstanding Community Service. In the same year, she was also the recipient of AARP's Golden Life Award. In 2001, she was elected president of the Top Ladies of Distinction and was named in an edition of Who's Who Among American Women.
She was well received throughout the West Philadelphia community. As you got through the neighborhood past 54th Street and Haverford Avenue, and look up at the name on the street sign and the name on the Haverford Avenue side of the firehouse that reads "Geneva Black Way" and "Geneva A Black Building" respectively. Black made history with the support of City Councilman Curtis Jones and former City Councilwoman Janie Blackwell.
Black was an active member of Vine Memorial Baptist Church in the early 1980s and devoted much of her time and energy attending church services and serving as a trustee.
Priceless and unforgettable memories fill the souls and will be cherished by her surviving loved ones: Geneva's children-sons Ronald (Gwendolyn), Robert Sr. "Squirrel" (Michelle), Michael "Moon," Steven, and her special, miniature four-legged fierce protector, "Tee-2"; One &Only Daughter and best friend Clarissa Wells (Dennis); grandchildren-Jeanine (Soul), Denise, Robert Jr. (Anais), Ronique (Earnest), Shemika, and Jocelyn; great-grandchildren-Jade, Janelle, Anisa, Raegan, Ryan, Josiah, Robert, Anthony, Alaysia, Daniel, Dion, Dior, Riley, Caiden, and Marley; family in South Carolina, New York, Connecticut and beyond consisting of: two sisters, Bessie Sanders-Gordon and Thomasina Singleton; one brother-Marion Sanders; aunt and best friend, Myrtle T. Wright (Myrt); God-Daughter Thais Moore and family; God-Daughter Rene' Bryant-Martin and family; and a host of nieces, nephews, in-laws, and cousins. She also leaves to cherish honorary grandchildren, friends, church family. community members and city officials.
Black was preceded in heavenly transition by her brother Johnny Jones; sisters Shirley Jenkins and Patricia Scott; and brothers Gene, Isaac and Melvin Sanders.
A public viewing for Geneva Black will be held at Wood Funeral Home Inc., 5537 West Girard Avenue, on Thursday, Nov. 19 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will be a livestream viewing on www.cwoodfh.com.