End-of-the-Year Clean Out Tips Courtesy of Goodwill


by  Juli Lundberg – PR Manager

The holidays will be here in no time at all. What better time to begin your end-of-the-year clean out? Everyone likes to start the New Year lighter and brighter and with these tips from Goodwill, you can do just that!

 * Starting is usually the hardest part. Take it “room by room” and don’t expect to finish in a day.

 * Purge your kitchen of the small appliances, pots and pans, and dishes that are never used. You will be amazed at how much fresh new space you create!

 * Conquer bedroom closets next. A simple rule of thumb is that if you haven’t worn it in a year, you probably don’t need it. Don’t forget to sort through shoes, belts, scarfs and other accessories, too.

* Books, books, books. Everyone seems to accumulate a lot of these. Pass on the gift of reading to someone else by donating books when you are finished with them.

 * Tackle the basement and garage next looking for things you never use like old bikes, skates and sporting good equipment that your family has outgrown.

 * When donating computers, be sure to remove personal data from hard drives and external storage devices. Once your mission is accomplished, you will probably want to get unwanted stuff out of your house pronto!

And there is a Goodwill in the neighborhood eager to graciously accept your gently-used items. Located at 5050 Parkside, The Goodwill Store & Donation Center is open Monday – Saturday from 9 am to 8 pm and Sunday noon – 6 pm. All donated items are sold to value conscious shoppers (and green minded!) with revenues funding job training programs and career services that help local residents with disabilities and disadvantages get to work.

Most people don’t know all the GOOD that Goodwill does—and it all starts with YOUR donations. . For example, just down the street at the Dornsife Center, Goodwill operates The Helms Academy. Here, thanks to partnerships with Drexel University and The Community College of Philadelphia, adults 18+ years of age who have left traditional schooling can take FREE classes to obtain their high school diploma while simultaneously earning college credits.  Goodwill believes having a high school diploma is the single most important marketing tool one needs to succeed in the workforce. Did I mention that The Helms Academy is 100% tuition free?!

While there are other places to donate, Goodwill encourages you to do your homework when deciding where to give. For example, unattended donation bins in shopping center parking lots offer tremendous convenience, but are not always represented correctly. Many are actually operated by for profit entities that “rent” a charity’s name and give it a mere 4-6% of the proceeds. Others feature fictitious charity names. To ensure your donations support a charitable cause, verify a charity is legitimate with the State Attorney General’s Office and visit the charity’s website to view their most recent annual report and how they spend funds. Lastly, visit guidestar.com to see how the charity rates in terms of accountability and efficient use of funds.

At Goodwill, we welcome donations of gently-used clothing, accessories, household items, toys, computers, furniture, electronics, medical equipment, related items and of course those less than perfect holiday gifts. For a full listing of items not accepted, please visit http://goodwillnj.org/materialdonations/ Goodwill donation centers are staffed by courteous donor services attendants and equipped with computerized kiosks. The donor services attendant is responsible for helping the donor unload their car. The donor is then directed to a computerized kiosk to input their contact information and what they donated. It then prints out a receipt for tax purposes. Once inputted into Goodwill’s kiosk system, donors can go to http://www.goodwillnj.org; click the I-DONATE icon; and then view and print their donation history as well as individualized receipts for tax purposes. Goodwill is currently the only charity in the Greater Philadelphia Metropolitan Area that offers this service. It is ideal for locating misplaced receipts.

Lastly, as a nonprofit, community-based organization, all donations to Goodwill are tax deductible per IRS law. Donors are encouraged to keep an itemized list of items donated. The IRS allows a deduction for each item, but the donor determines each item’s value. Generally, an item’s value should be based on fair market value—what the item would sell for in a thrift store. For more information on determining the value of donations, please visit www.irs.gov.


Centennial Parkside CDC Holds Their First Community Meeting


by Joyce Smith

A Clean, Green and Safe community was the immediate goal the nascent Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation (CPCDC) conveyed to East Parkside residents at their well-attended coming out meeting at Community Baptist Church at 41st Parkside Avenue on November 10, 2016.

Scott talked about the board’s outreach & communication effort that included formalizing partnerships with organizations such as Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporation, neighborhood community groups, block captains and stakeholders like Viola Street Residents Association. It was pointed out the CDC’s commitment to work with academic institutions as well as building a relationship with Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell will help the CDC implement long range plans. And one of the plans in process is the CPCDC working with the Philadelphia Planning Commission to update and improve the zoning in East Parkside. Scott explained that the “remapping” will better define the community’s distressed business corridor and increase single family homeownership. Councilwoman Blackwell support is crucial to legislate the remapping.

Residents were encouraged to become more engaged in the neighborhood building like members from the VSRA who partnered with the CDC to carry out the successful September 24, 2016 Viola Alley Connector event.

The Viola Connector was a major boost for East Parkside with almost 500 neighborhood people and visitors from across the city in attendance. The event that took place in the alleyway shared between 42nd Parkside and Viola street was a prototype of a larger proposal to transform an underutilized alley into a place making space for civic engagement and entertainment activities. It was a celebration of East Parkside rich history and a demonstration of how organizations collaborating through programming can enliven and change perceptions of a space, increase civic pride and ownership.

Funded by Knight Foundation’s Innovation Fund the “alley festival” included an array of activities that was carried out by partners like Bartram’s Garden whose staff brought a farm stand to the alley; the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center provided a cooking demonstration and the Fairmount Park Conservancy displayed maps and distributed information about the Centennial Commons plan to bring amenities to the park edge in West Fairmount Part. The Conservancy also provided tables and chairs and the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society help green the alley with planters.

Local artists, a drill team, singers and an African dance ensemble help create an atmosphere where all participants celebrated and learned about the history of the neighborhood. Penn Praxis compiled data from the event that will help gauge interest in a future community food trust; the Neighborhood Alliance conducted an “asset mapping” survey to help identify the neighborhoods strengths and resources. The CPCDC looks forward to future programming in the community and collaborations that helped make the V.C. Connector a success.

Currently the Centennial Parkside is negotiating a contract to lease the historic Letitia House in Fairmount Park for office location: reputed to be a house that William Penn built for his daughter. The CDC launched a funding campaign to help raise money for the venture that can be accessed via the CDC’s new website at http://centennialparkside.org

Residents expressed concerns about the neighborhood’s future, job opportunities and housing costs. It will take time before the CPCDC can address such lofty goals… But, as one resident put it we have to take it “one block at a time”.


Eat Café : Opens For Business In West Philadelphia

by Nikia Brown

Each year, Philadelphia homeless outreach organizations engage over 5,500 individuals living on the streets or in abandoned buildings. About 12, 000 people, including families, seek shelter on a yearly basis. Additionally, nearly 1 in 4 people struggle with food insecurity in our city. The numbers are daunting and the demand for solutions boldly confronts policy-makers and community stakeholders alike. This fall, a Philadelphia non-profit will take an innovative approach to address these challenges.

E.A.T (Everyone at the Table) Café is a non- profit, pay-what-you-can café that creates a welcoming platform for community members to unite around. The Café endeavors to respond to the food insecurity crisis by providing nutritious, high quality meals for community members in targeted West Philadelphia neighborhoods: Belmont, East/West Parkside, Mantua, Mill Creek, Powelton Village, and West Powelton/Saunders Park.

eat-cafe-1The Café is a converted row home that seats approximately 30 people. It has stage seating space to accommodate anticipated community events, presentations, and programming. In the back of the Café, there is a patio that is open for dining and events during warm weather months.

Customers will be able to select from a varied menu consisting of three-course meals made from fresh ingredients. The organization’s mission is two-fold:

1) provide a hearty, affordable meal to customers and
2) foster an environment that is conducive for community engagement.

In addition to food service, the Café plans to offer a variety of activities, events, educational programming, and workforce readiness training.

This kind of business model, while inspiring, may leave people curious and hungry for answers. How will the restaurant operate? How will the said communities respond to this new business endeavor? The Café will function as any other restaurant would. Customers will receive a check with a suggested price after dining. They will have the option to pay the amount on the check, more than the amount on the check, or nothing at all. All of the funds collected from paying patrons will cover the cost for people who cannot afford to pay for their meal.

The projected success of the Café may be attributed to the key funders and community members who are at the table. E.A.T. Café is a collaboration between Drexel University’s Center for Hunger-Free Communities, the Vetri Community Partnership, Drexel’s Center for Hospitality and Sports Management, and the West Philadelphia community. Before launching this endeavor, the leadership of the enterprise surveyed community members from targeted neighborhoods to elicit feedback regarding the Café’s business methods and planned initiatives. The outflow of responses from focus groups and interviews, not only affirmed the need for the Café, but also how crucial community involvement would be to the success of the project.

To this end, the leadership created EAT Café’s Community Advisory Committee—an ongoing forum that garners input
from neighbors, community leaders and supporters. Data collected from these meetings will inform café operations, build connections and help staff prepare for future programming.

E.A.T. Café is clearly a new Philly enterprise that you want to keep your eyes on. It is a community-oriented restaurant that desires to make the tradition of Sunday family dinner accessible to all every day of the week. If you reside in one of the Café’s targeted neighborhoods and would like to participate on the Community Advisory Committee, you can contact the EAT Café staff at info@eatcafe.org. To learn more about EAT Café you can visit their website at www.eatcafe.org or drop by the restaurant for their grand opening in September.

Urban Arboreta Coming To Parkside


by Nikia Brown


“We desire to create a profitable, sustainable nursery that meets market demands and provides job opportunities” champions Deenah Loeb, Director of City Parks Association. In spring 2017, West Parkside is expected to have its first urban arboreta. Scott Quitell, founder of LandHealth Institute, describes an arboreta as a woody area with plants, trees, or a small pond. A befitting name for West Parkside- an area surrounded by greenery and open natural spaces. To date, many community members view open spaces in urban areas as danger zones or a waste of land space. Loeb strongly contends with this notion, calling vacant lands “areas of opportunity—not blight.” She envisions the natural space opposite Parkside Avenue as a green hub capable of generating rich natural and physical resources for community members and the neighborhood as a whole.

The project is titled, “Urban Arboreta—a native plant nursery and urban oasis.” Currently it is supported by individuals and organizations with a vested interested in empowering communities through land revitalization. The Fairmount Park Conservancy, a large stakeholder in this project, believes that “parks can be catalysts for positive change in the city.” Their mission statement follows, “We believe better parks make our individual lives healthier, our neighborhoods safer, and our region more competitive.” Perhaps it is with this same impetus that the Knight Foundation awarded the City Park Association with the initial funding to implement the project 13 months ago.

The project plan includes building a natural area that consists of a nursery, public space, farmer’s market, and tree farm. Sarah Endriss of LandHealth Institute is excited about the new endeavor and speaks of the wealth of value this could add to student and community engagement.

A look at a gazebo in Fairmount Park West.
A look at a gazebo in Fairmount Park West.

She sees the arboreta as a space that is able to engage students where they are academically and developmentally. “Elementary school students are at an age where they are in a curious wander about their surroundings; junior high school students are at the stage where they are expanding their knowledge of self and their environment; and high school students are at the level where they are able to reproduce their knowledge through project-based learning,” she explains. Loeb and Endriss view the arboreta as a multi-faceted vehicle that conjoins educational programming with land revitalization initiatives.

oth Loeb and Endriss understand that the success of this project largely relies on support from members of Parkside community. The first of several planned community meetings was held on Thursday, August 11 near the horse stables where the site is projected to be built. Though the meeting was lightly attended, the community members and stakeholders present were “passionate and knowledgeable about environmental issues as well as the community they reside within,” said Loeb.

She hopes that the community would see the value in this project and desire to “develop something that is unique to their community and benefit its members.” The retail aspect of the nursery will naturally provide job opportunities for community members and generate a flux of income into the neighborhood that previously did not exist. The next meeting regarding the project will be held at Discovery Charter School on Tuesday, September 13 at 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm. All community members are invited to attend, as your voice will significantly inform the way in which the arboreta is developed and leveraged for community benefit.

Please Touch Museum To Celebrate 40 Years of Learning Through Play

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Please Touch Museum – the iconic Philadelphia landmark located in Fairmount Park’s historic Memorial Hall – will ring in its 40th birthday on October 2 with a celebration of its long legacy and bright and vibrant future. In honor of its 40 years of providing children opportunities to learn through play, the Museum will offer all guests 40 percent discounted admission to the birthday celebration. 1976 is the year the Please Touch Museum opened in Philadelphia, and the Museum’s Kids Shop will feature toys from each decade of the past 40 years. The 40th birthday party will include a presentation by Mayor Jim Kenney, live music and performances, and dancing with Philadelphia-based dancer and choreographer Roger Lee. The Museum will open on October 2 at 11 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.

“Throughout the past 40 years, the Please Touch Museum has followed our founders’ vision to serve as a champion of early childhood learning and the leading voice for the power of purposeful play for children,” said Patricia (Trish) Wellenbach, President and Chief Executive Officer, Please Touch Museum. “This birthday celebrates our legacy, but most importantly, provides us an opportunity to celebrate the vibrant future of this museum, which will thrive and continue to provide magical moments for children and their families for 40 more years and beyond.”

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Founded in 1976 by Montessori educator Portia Speer, Please Touch Museum has flourished into a nationally- recognized premier children’s museum with unparalleled expertise in early childhood education and play, welcoming millions of visitors through its doors in 40 years. The Museum began as a 2,200-square-foot pilot project in Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences, and expanded in 1978 to a larger space at 1910 Cherry Street. In 1983, the Museum Board of Directors approved the purchase and renovation of a three-story, 30,000-square-foot building at 210 North 21st Street. After establishing its roots here, the Museum grew attendance by 70 percent and memberships by 52 percent, and earned accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. Before long, the Museum expanded its exhibit space by 40 percent by purchasing the building adjacent to it on North 21st Street.

While approaching its 30 year anniversary, the Please Touch Museum Board of Directors began an extensive, three-year restoration of historic Memorial Hall, which was beautifully concepted and constructed in Fairmount Park for the 1876 Centennial International Exhibition, the first World’s Fair in the United States. In 2008, the doors opened to the Museum’s new home, which features a restored carousel from 1903-1908 and the iconic 40-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty’s arm and torch, handcrafted with common items such as children’s toys by famed artist Leo Sewell, that greets every visitor upon entering Memorial Hall.

“We are excited to commemorate such an important milestone for an institution that is so deeply rooted into the hearts and minds of our community’s families,” concluded Wellenbach. “Everyday, we have the distinct privilege of watching grandparents and parents relive their favorite Please Touch Museum memories here again with the newest members of their families, and we encourage all generations who have been touched by this wonderful place to join us in celebrating 40 magical years of learning through play.”

About Please Touch Museum
Please Touch Museum is dedicated to enriching the lives of children by creating learning opportunities through play. Recognized locally and nationally as one of the best children’s museums, Please Touch Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $17 for adults and children age one and over. Children under one are free. For more information, please call 215-581-3181, or visit our website at www.pleasetouchmuseum.org.

Alice Emerson aemerson@pleasetouchmuseum.org 267-449-4039
Amanda Michelson amichelson@vaultcommunications.com 610-455-2757 (O) 609-417-7077 (C)

Viola Alley Connector Project — UPDATE

by Michael Burch

In our last Parkside Journal, we reported that the Viola Street Resident’s Association (VSRA) was among several finalists in Philadelphia, for the Knight Foundation Cities Grant. Their plan was to transform a little used alley in their neighborhood and turn it into a community focal point. Well, as we reported they did not receive the grant and future plans for this space were put on hold. That is until recently. The idea was such a good one that a variation of the plan has been picked up by other interested parties.

Now spearheaded by our own Centennial Park CDC & Viola Street Residents Association (VRSA) a unique partnership has formed between Penn Praxis, Bartram Gardens, The Fairmount Park Conservancy, The Free Library, Reading Terminal, and Philadelphia Horticultural Society. With funding from the Knight Foundation they have come together to bring us: “The Viola Alley Connector Project. The Connector project seeks to a create a place where residents and others can gather, share stories, share food, watch movies and reconnect as a community. The First session in the Viola Alley Connector series is planned for September 24, 2016 from 11am. – 4pm. For more information go to the Centennial Park CDC Website at http://centennialparkside.org/

Philly Free Streets is Coming!

The first Philly Free Streets program is scheduled for Saturday, September 24, from 8am–1pm! Mark your calendars, share within your network!

Did you know that Mayor Kenney recently announced a new people-powered initiative of the City of Philadelphia? Philly Free Streets temporarily closes a designated street route to cars, so that people can enjoy the street to walk, bike, exercise, and play. Led by the Managing Director’s Office of Transportation & Infrastructure Systems (oTIS), Philly Free Streets highlights the intersection of active transportation (walking and biking) and public health.


The route will run from Front & South to the South Street Bridge, to the Schuylkill River Trail and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, and onto West Fairmount Park—for a 10-mile car-free route. You are welcome to enjoy all 10 miles, or to jump in along the way—there’s no formal start or finish!

Along the route, the Philly Free Streets team is working hard to program family-friendly activities that are centered on healthy lifestyles, fitness, art, culture, the environment, and social services. There also will be a family-friendly celebration in West Fairmount Park, highlighting Philadelphia talent. No matter your interests, Philly Free Streets offers something for everyone! Find out more at www.PhillyFreeStreets.com

News that is from, about, and benefits our Parkside Community in West Philadelphia.