Category Archives: Education


By Manuel McDonnell-Smith

Representative Movita Johnson-Harrell is the proud new State
Representative for the 190th Legislative District representing Parkside. And she’s already on the move for the district, coordinating and meeting with other elected officials, transitioning into a new district office, all while running her own non-profit and raising her live-in grandchildren. When asked to how to explain the relentless drive to help fulfill all of this, “I’ve always been an activist,” she explained.

She met with The Parkside Journal over the summer, as the city grappled with a series of violent shootings, some that involved multiple victims at a time. Rep. Harrell says that this is her top agenda item. “This is obscene. And this is disgusting. And this is insulting to the citizens of Philadelphia because we have a problem that’s been on the rise. And we’re not talking about car theft or robbing grocery stores. We’re talking about people dying on our streets. And it seems that no matter what we’ve done to date, we
haven’t been able to find a solution.”

Her words speak truth to power, as she has a unique perspective on the impacts of violence, not only as a leader but also as a victim. “Everyone knows that this is why I ran for office. Because my son was murdered and I had to become part of the solution.”

In 2013, through the CHARLES Foundation, named for
her slain son, she helped to helm a program called “Focused Deterrence, a strategic gun violence reduction model that attacked the issue at its very epicenter by targeting services and support at those identified as likely to kill or be killed. Harrell says there was a 30% reduction in city violence that summer but funding for the program was not renewed. She’s already working with other officials including the Mayor and District Attorney to look at having the program renewed. “This is my sadness and dismay at our ability to not be a leader in protecting our children.”

Especially after this summer’s string of shooting incidents, many residents of Parkside and across the city feel that the government and police should be doing more to help curb violence. But it’s not their fight alone says Harrell. “We should be outraged at the areas of
government that can control this. And I think some of us are. But until we all become outraged, until we all say not one more, until we all say it’s enough, then nothing is going to change.”

Beyond Focused Deterrence, Harrell is also prioritizing gentrification, increased access to quality education and recreation, and support for after school tutoring programs for the district. But safety is her #1 overall priority. “We have to stop the bodies from dropping. Does the issue include education? Yes. Does it include
jobs? Yes. Does it include affordable housing? Yes. But right now we have to stop the violence. All of those other issues can be addressed also, but first we have to stop the violence. Because if we don’t, there’s going to be no one left to educate. There’s going to be no one left to give a job to. There’s going to be no one left to represent us. We’ve got to stop the bodies from dropping.”




by Manuel McDonnell-Smith

Jamie Gauthier wants Parkside to know that she’s still working for your vote — not only because there’s a general election still to win in November, but because she knows that there are still hearts and minds to win over in West Philadelphia. “I fully see the victory as one that was powered by people. I got here by talking to people, by listening to them, and I’m going to do a good job by continuing to engage with them, continuing to listen to them and by delivering for them.”

In two wide-ranging interviews with the Parkside Journal, the presumptive Councilwoman discussed her goals and visions and how she hopes to effect change in Parkside, as well as throughout West Philadelphia. It’s clear that she’s spent a lot of time listening to resident concerns and had begun seriously considering how she will be able to better engage constituents when she takes office in January. “I know that people want to be served.”, she says of our community. “I don’t get the sense that Parkside is an area that feels incredibly connected to their government. I got the sense that more folks in that area wanted more attention.”

But is she really for us? We asked Gauthier about the perception held by many neighbors that her campaign was rooted primarily in  the concerns and interests of University City residents, where she resides. “That was an incorrect conclusion that people jumped to that’s not true at all. I knocked on doors since the opening of the petition period.  I especially focused on talking to voters in the areas thought to be Blackwell’s base.”  The door knocks delivered in a big way for Gauthier When the votes from May’s election were fully counted, she won six of the eight wards of the Third Councilmatic District delivering a decisive primary election victory.

For nearly a generation, neighbors in West Philly knew to “call Jannie’s office” for every municipal service from schools to trash. While residents have voted for change, will there still be an office that’s accessible and ready to respond to constituent concerns on Day 1? Gauthier responded with an adamant yes. “I know that people will be looking to my office to help them with the day-to-day issues of navigating the city. That’s the job, I embrace it, and I’m going to do it well.”

Originally, there was a hope that her campaign headquarters with a central location in the district on 52nd Street could be converted into a district office. But the owners have plans to turn it into a restaurant by the end of the year. Now her team is in the process of searching for a new location. While the address of the future office is unclear, Gauthier says it will be operational from day one of her term. She also promises increased access to services for the district through the office, with initial plans having the office open at least five days a week “with some level of weekend hours also.” Hiring considerations for the office are also in progress. “Definitely, I’ve been a leader who has been intentional about hiring people of color and about hiring black women. I want to have staff that folks can connect with.”

Coming out of a career in city planning while juggling responsibilities as a divorced co-parent of two sons in public school, Gauthier knows the importance of strong communication. Not every city council member chooses to hire a communications specialist, but Gauthier already is. She’s especially looking for that candidate to be skilled in both inperson and social media experience. In another area, she’s also looking to hire someone on her future staff with urban planning experience who can represent the concerns of citizens, especially around development and gentrification. “We’re going to focus on connecting with the constituents in the best way they feel comfortable, whether it be a conference call or by providing childcare at community meetings.”

While she would not reveal any of her specific plans for bills or policies, she would be introducing during her first term, Gauthier did share which priorities she thought were important to Parkside’s neighborhood, starting with abandoned buildings and lots. “I know that vacant properties are an issue.

People want to transition those vacant properties in a way that would be equitable and beneficial to the community.” She also spoke of the preservation of homes and helping to keep long-term owners in their homes that only need “just a little TLC.” .

The Journal has also been involved with meetings that Gauthier has been having in the neighborhood with business leaders including the Centennial Parkside CDC. “I know that folks are wanting to build up more of the commercial corridors,” she says, “so that they can have more access to products and services that they can easily access right in the community.”

During our interview, Gauthier revealed that long discussed plans for the Mantua Greenway will be moving forward and “to the extent that we can make foot traffic more attractive and accessible” to our businesses and neighborhoods, that it could be a “good thing” that helps to address many community concerns regarding access to recreation and transportation.

But discussions of those plans are sure to stoke fears of more displacement and gentrification. When it comes to community relationships with the large cultural institutions in the area, where will she stand? “The 3rd District has world-class institutions, whether it’s the Zoo, or the Universities or the Hospitals.” she explained. “The challenge of any person that holds this role would be to leverage the existence of all of this access, knowledge, and resources in a way that benefits people within neighborhoods. Whether that be connected to jobs, business development, procurement opportunities or bringing that knowledge into public schools.”

Having worked as an urban planner, non-profit leader, and as a leader of her own community organization, Gauthier says she has a unique perspective into the challenges between the institutions and the community, and she will leverage both to bring more to the table. “They have a role to play in doing more. This is not to disparage them or their current efforts. We should be aiming for more and better. The fact that we still have a 33% poverty rate in the 3rd District, higher than in other parts of the city, means that we all need to do more and better.”

Overall, we’re encouraged by her ideas and plans. And we’ll be looking to see how she will be helping to move Parkside and West Philadelphia forward in her term to come. Count on continuing coverage in the Parkside Journal of Gauthier and all of our elected officials.

Clover Health Survey Finds Only 49% of Philadelphia Seniors Exercise at Least Three Days per Week

Delaware Valley adults over 60 are less active than their peers nationally, with nearly a third of older residents admitting to a sedentary lifestyle

PHILADELPHIA, Penn. (August 1, 2019) – Newly released survey results from Clover Health revealed that only 49% of Philadelphia adults over 60 exercise at least three days per week, for 20 minutes or longer per session. In New Jersey, 50% of adults over 60 exercise at least three days per week. Nationally, 51% of seniors exercise at least three days per week, putting Delaware Valley seniors slightly behind their peers across the U.S.

According to the CDC, regular physical activity is vital for healthy aging, as it can help delay, prevent or manage many chronic diseases. Further, getting just 15 minutes per day of brisk walking, cycling or swimming may help older adults live longer. Yet, nearly a third of local seniors reported a sedentary lifestyle – 29% said they do not exercise at all in a given week.

“As Philadelphia seniors age, we’re concerned to see that only half are getting the exercise needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. John Michel, an in-network Clover physician from Excel Medical Center. “Even in the hot summer months, we recommend integrating movement into your daily routine — exercise in a gym, community pool or fitness class are all great indoor options.”

In the Delaware Valley, the Clover survey also found that:

  • Married seniors are getting more exercise: 55% of Philadelphia seniors who are married or in a relationship exercise three or more days per week, compared to 39% of single respondents. In New Jersey, 52% of seniors who are married or in a relationship exercise three or more days per week, compared to 48% of single respondents.
  • Senior men are exercising more frequently than women: In Philadelphia, 58% of male residents age 60 or older exercise three or more days per week, compared to 41% of women. In New Jersey, 53% of male residents age 60 or older exercise three or more days per week, compared to 49% of women.
  • Lower income correlates with less exercise: 39% of Philadelphia seniors earning $35,000 or less per year exercise three or more days per week, compared to 43% of seniors earning $35,000-$74,999 and 61% of seniors earning $75,000 or more. In New Jersey, 48% earning less than $74,999 exercise three or more days per week, compared to 55% of those with a household income above $75,000.

As a Medicare Advantage plan committed to preventative healthcare, Clover partners with SilverSneakers®, the nation’s leading fitness program for older adults, which provides workout classes, memberships to partner fitness locations, and online tools and resources to support a healthy lifestyle. Clover members in the Delaware Valley have access to SilverSneakers as part of their plan benefits.

“We’re passionate about helping older adults stay active as they age, a mission that aligns with Clover’s goal to keep its members healthy,” said Steve Janicak, Healthcare Division President, of Tivity Health, the company that offers SilverSneakers. “With our variety of class offerings, from chair yoga to strength training to Zumba classes, along with our network of more than 16,000 fitness locations, it’s fun and easy for seniors to get the exercise they need to age healthfully.”

The study from Clover, a healthcare company using technology to improve medical outcomes, was conducted by Wakefield Research of 300 adults age 60 and older in Philadelphia and 300 adults age 60 and older in New Jersey. The national survey was of 1,000 adults 60+ throughout the U.S.


Lauren Volkmann
Public Relations Manager | Clover Health 

What A Great Day For Mantua And The McMichael Elementary School

by Jim Brown

The Mantua community looked vibrant as the community school, Morton McMichael, showcased the 2nd Annual “Knowing Your Neighborhood Heroes” Wall of Fame on Friday, April 12th in the auditorium for the students at McMichael Elementary School in West Philadelphia.

It’s a great feeling when you can do meaningful things in the community that you grew up in, Mantua, and one day be recognized for the body of work that you and other special individuals have done to serve Mantua, the city of Philadelphia, the state of Pennsylvania and throughout the United States.

McMichael’s Principal Brian Wallace hosted this special assembly ceremony for the students of McMichael who entertained honorees, guests, and their student body by presenting a poem to the honored guest of the day. Principal Wallace stated to the audience the importance of what Jim Brown had created for his school and what the students can have as an integral part of their school’s Black History curriculum every February. It stunned the audience of about 300 students and guests.

This was a day when the host and creator James J. Brown (aka Jim Brown) of the history-making Jenkins-Brown Mantua Heroes Program 2019 Awards Ceremony was honored along with eleven incredibly talented people from Mantua. There was a Renaming of the Auditorium for retired longtime community leader of 57 years, Rev. Dr. Andy Jenkins and his late wife Mrs. Patricia Jenkins. Rick Young was also recognized for the contribution that he continues to give to his alma mater.

McMichael School Principal Brian Wallace stated that “the Black History Program created by Mr. Brown will be incorporated in the school’s Black History curriculum every February for students of McMichael and the Mantua Community. Programs like this
reflect on Mantua’s history and the heroes of the community’s past and present.”

The honoring of the 2019 “Knowing Your Neighborhood Heroes” Wall of Fame honorees included; longtime Iconic Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, the late Mary “Mother of Mantua” Jenkins, Dr. Marcus Saunders (first African-American Chief Resident at Cooper
Hospital in 132-year history), Rev. Larry G. Patrick, Michael Thorpe, DeWayne Drummond, Gwen Morris, Khadijah Muhammad, William “Little Bill” Allen, Dexter Hamilton, Esquire, and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown.

Mrs. Rhonda Saunders, mother of honoree Dr. Marcus Saunders, the first Black chief Resident in the 132-year history of Cooper Health Care in Camden, New Jersey summed it up best about her beloved community by saying, “They say nothing good came out of
McMichael and Mantua (“The Bottom”), don’t believe everything you hear. Thanks to everyone who put this tribute together, (Mrs. Gwen Morris, Jim Brown & Principal Brian Wallace) for the men and women are truly the honorees of the community.”

That’s how people who attended the celebration described the historic event online through their Facebook posts.

Remember there are “diamonds in the rough” in every impoverished community in Philadelphia and around the country. It is of key importance to help these “diamonds” grow their talent. Leaders must always nurture, recognize, and praise these individuals’ accomplishments, their bodies of work, and contributions to their respective communities.

As Ms. Sheila Hopkins, a McMichael alumnus said on Facebook, “The Bottom Rocks”


Philadelphia, PA (April 19, 2019) — The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP) welcomed Gifu Sakura no Kai, a volunteer cherry blossom tree planting group from Japan, to Philadelphia on Friday, April 19. Gifu Sakura no Kai planted five blossoming cherry trees along Avenue of the Republic near a footpath that leads to Shofuso, the Japanese house and garden in West Fairmount Park.

Before beginning the tree planting, the group toured Shofuso, where executive director Kim Andrews shared the history of Philadelphia’s connections with Japan, which date back to the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. The tree planting, which took place nearby Philadelphia’s Memorial Hall, adds to Fairmount Park’s abundant cherry blossoms and acts as a bookend to the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, which ran from April 6-14, 2019.

Founded in Gifu, Japan in 2001, Sakura No Kai’s activities originates from the actions of Mr. Ryoji Sato (1929-1977), a conductor of Japan’s National Railways’ Nagare Express line. Mr. Sato planted cherry trees along the route, which connected Nagoya (which faces the Pacific Ocean) and Kanazawa (which faces the Sea of Japan) as a symbol of peace from shore to shore.

Inspired by Mr. Sato’s actions, Gifu Sakura no Kai have planted 6,634 trees across Japan and 6,511 trees in 41 cities across the world since 1993 as a way of promoting international cherry blossom culture, and have visited Adelaide, Australia, New Delhi, India, and Wahiawa, Hawaii.

The exchange of cherry trees between Japan and Philadelphia goes back to 1926, when the Japanese government gifted 1,600 flowering trees to the city of Philadelphia in honor of the 150th anniversary of American independence. From 1998 to 2007, JASGP planted over 1,000 trees around the city, embodying the goodwill between Japan and Philadelphia. Groves of cherry trees can be found at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, behind Memorial Hall, along Kelly Drive, and surrounding the Art Museum and Waterworks.


The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia is a private nonprofit organization that has brought Philadelphia and Japan closer together for more than 25 years through art, business, and culture. JASGP operates Shofuso, produces the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, and presents the US-Japan Business and Public Policy Series, as well as other arts, business, culture, and educational programming for all ages. For more information, visit

Shofuso is a traditional Japanese house and garden located in West Fairmount Park. Shofuso is open for weekday admissions to the public from March 24 to October 31, Wednesdays through Fridays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Adult admission is $12; senior citizens, students with ID and children ages 5-17 admission is $8; ACCESS card holders’ admission is $2; and JASGP members, active duty military with ID and children under 5 are admitted free. Shofuso is located at Horticultural and Lansdowne Drs., Philadelphia, PA 19131. For more information, including special hours and admission, visit

Donor Dash Weekend: Life-Saving Events Culminate in 10K at the Art Museum

Buildings and Bridges to Light Up in Green and Blue Ahead of 24th Annual Race

The City of Brotherly Love will prove this weekend that no place has more heart. A series of events by Gift of Life Donor Program and its supporters will draw more than 10,000 people from throughout the Philadelphia region, raise hundreds of thousands of dollars and save lives by supporting organ and tissue donation.

On Friday evening, landmarks across the city will light up in green and blue – the official colors of organ donation awareness – as part of National Donate Life Blue and Green Day. Buildings will include the Ben Franklin Bridge, the BYN Mellon Center, Two Liberty Place, the Cira Centre Towers, and more.

On Saturday, runners from across the region will meet at the Gift of Life Family House for a picnic before race day.

On Sunday, the Gift of Life Donor Program will host more than 10,000 participants in the 24th Annual Donor Dash at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Dash takes place every April, which is National Donate Life Month. More than 5,000 men, women, and children in the Philadelphia region are waiting for an organ transplant. They are among nearly 114,000 waiting nationwide. Twenty people on the waiting list die each day.

About the Donor Dash

Pre-race Picnic:                               Saturday, April 13

10:00am – 2:00pm

Gift of Life Family House

401 Callowhill St.

Philadelphia, PA 19123

Participants will collect their Dash race materials during a picnic. There will also be food, music, and more fun activities to get everyone pumped up for an exciting race the next day!

Sunday, April 14

                              6:00am: Registration opens

                              7:10am: 10K Run begins

                              7:20am: 5K Run begins

                              7:45am: Kids Fun Run begins (for kids six and under)

                              8:00am: Opening Ceremonies

8:30am: 3K Walk


Participants can register on-site the morning of the Dash. Click here for more information:

About the Gift of Life Donor Program

Gift of Life Donor Program is the non-profit, federally-designated organ procurement organization, serving 11.2 million people across the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware.  Its annual donation rate ranks among the highest in the world. Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 47,000 life-saving organs for transplant, and approximately one million tissue transplants have resulted from the generosity of donors and their families.  One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people, and a tissue donor can enhance the lives of more than 75 others. For more information or to register, visit

About the Gift of Life Donor Dash

The Dash began with a group of only 800 people, as a result of Claire Braverman’s wish to honor her husband, Mickey, who passed away while waiting for a liver transplant.  Claire wanted to turn her grief into something positive, so she organized the first-ever Donor Dash in his memory.  Today, the Dash continues to honor Mickey, donors and donor families – and the more than 5,000 men, women and children in Gift of Life’s region who are awaiting a life-saving organ transplant.

The 2018 Donor Dash drew more than 10,000 dedicated Dashers, nearly 400 teams, and raised more than $600,000 for Gift of Life outreach programs to educate the community about the significant need to register more organ and tissue donors.

Contact: Karen Muldoon Geus


PHDC, JEVS Human Services, Orleans Technical College, and other partners hosted a building trades career fair for high school students.

City Launches Pilot Program to Connect Trade Students with Local Contractors

PHDC, JEVS Human Services, Orleans Technical College, and other partners hosted a building trades career fair for high school students.

PHILADELPHIA – More than 100 students interested in careers in the building trades attended a Hiring Expo hosted today by the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC), JEVS Human Services, and Orleans Technical College.

The Hiring Expo matched selected students from several career education programs with PHDC contractors (full list below) in need of new employees. Today’s event is part of an ongoing effort between the City of Philadelphia, PHDC, and the Mayor’s Office of Education to attract young adults into the building trades and create more employment opportunities for Philadelphians.

“This pilot program is an excellent example of the power of partnership,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “The collaboration between PHDC, the School District, YouthBuild Philly and JEVS Human Services will not only give young people much-need work experience, but it will also help develop a stronger pipeline between our schools and reputable contractors across the city. I am proud to see such teamwork in support of the goals and objectives outlined in Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine, the city’s comprehensive workforce development strategy which was released last year.”

“For over 50 years PHDC has helped Philadelphians preserve and maintain their homes,” said David Thomas, Executive Director of PHDC. “We built relationships with small and mid-size contractors across the City. The goal of this event is to match qualified and trained students with PHDC affiliated contractors looking to increase their capacity.  This means helping more Philadelphians in need, and also increasing their business-which helps small businesses in Philadelphia.”

“JEVS Human Services is honored to host this expo on the campus of our Orleans Technical College (OTC),” said Bill Lynch, campus president. “We have been providing career and technical skills training since 1974, with an emphasis on delivering short-term, employer-responsive programs in the skilled and construction trades sector. We measure our success and impact by matching well-trained graduates with employers committed to offering sustainable employment and growth opportunities. We are equally excited to include ready-to-work graduates from JEVS Project WOW program in this first-of-its kind hiring fair because it allows us to see the real-time fulfillment of our mission, taking place under one roof.”

Participating Contractors:
Adkins Management, Inc.
Best Choice Plumbing, Inc.
Burke Plumbing & Heating
CGW Electric, Inc.
Clark Roofing Co.
Clements Brothers, Inc.
CPR Plumbing, Inc.
D.A. Virelli Roofing
DMC Environmental Group, Inc.
Dunrite Contractors, LLC
G&H General Contractors, LLC
Giampietro & Son Construction
GMW Construction
Guaranteed Plumbing, Inc.
Hamp Young General Contractor
I.B.N. Master Plumbing, LLC
IVN Sound & Communications LLC
L. Cruz Development
MD Roofing & Siding, LLC
Morris Roofing Co., Inc.
Mr. D’s Plumbing & Heating, Inc.
North American Roofers, Inc.
Pendino Construction, LLC
Quality Air HVAC Trust
Reid’s Electrical Contracting, Inc.
Richard’s Roofing
Tangent Construction Management Corporation
W&W Contractors, Inc.
Whiting Services, LLC

For more information on PHDC’s programs, please visit: For more information on JEVS, please visit:

Contact: Jamila Davis, PHDC, 215-686-9727,