Helping kids out of the closet, into the Attic

Interview and article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed last week, without edits, to run in yesterday’s editionthe_attic_drawing.jpg.

Dr. Carrie Jacobs works with kids who happen to be gay, and it seems to affect her fundraising.

“In 1993, no one was serving these kids,” said Jacobs, the executive director and co-founder of the Attic Youth Center. “We had trouble finding funders. Nobody wanted to be a ‘gay agency.”

The Attic, a home for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, is celebrating its 15th year of operation.

For it, the non profit is hosting its Crystal Gala celebration on Nov. 15. Next week, on March 29, they’re having a preview party.

Though the Attic has solid funding from the William Penn Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust, in additon to city money and private donors, the group hopes to expand but has been met with challenges, Jacobs said.

“The category that we get the least funding from is corporate,” she said. “Maybe I’m not reaching enough, but I think that means something.”

The organization started as just an eight week pilot program out of a spare room in a now-defunct Center City nonprofit.

More than 40 kids came for support during those first eight weeks, on the fourth floor. Practically the building’s attic, they thought.

“We couldn’t stop the project after that,” she said. The Attic Youth Center was born, though stigmas persisted.

The stereotype that AIDS was a gay epidemic lingered, charitable groups hesitated and corporate donors fled.

“Even the LGBT adult community in 1993, they were fighting the image that gay adults were recruiting young kids, so they wouldn’t help,” Jacobs said.

In time, as the group became further established and gay culture was more open, the Attic, too, found more support.

In 2000, the group got its own building, on 16th Street south of Locust. In that time, what started as a support group has morphed into a full service community center and social services agency, full of social activities and health and education programs, serving young people up to the age of 23.

“We’ve been so fortunate, it has been an amazing experience,” she said, “There are kids who I still know from the first day of the Attic. We are a home and family to them.”

They serve 100 kids a week and more than 10,000 in the past decade and a half. Likely more will come.

“Where kids suffer the most is the institutions that are charged with caring for them,” Jacobs said. “Like welfare and schools. without trianing, they’re really battered and abused. We’re here to help.”

See other reporting by Christopher Wink here.

Number of Views:2052

Barack Obama: the baller

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Seen CBS News taking on Barack Obama the former basketball player? (hat tip to Alex Irwin for spotting this for me)

Check out video of Obama’s basketball days below, or check out his NCAA tournament bracket here. CBS News has further analysis of his picks and their political connotations, here.

This is all about humanizing the guy, but still, it’s interesting to see it. It shows how Obama, 46, is young enough that film was readily available to film high school basketball.

Oh, and I am thoroughly disgusted that he picked against my own Temple University in his bracket, even if he was correct.

Number of Views:3959

James Buysee: the Philadelphia office

Interview and article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed last week, without edits, to run in today’s edition.

James T. Buysee is a one man regional office.

Last year when he was being courted to head up North American operations for BMS, a reinsurance intermediary based in London, the subject of his moving was never discussed. Not to company offices in Chicago, Minneapolis or Connecticut. Not even to Dallas, the center of the firm’s U.S. operations.

“I didn’t bring it up,” the Paoli resident said. “I like it here.”

So for now, Buysee, who started on Feb. 1, is charged with better uniting those disparate locations from an altogether separate one. He is splitting the leading role with Anne Marie Roberts, president and chief operating officer, who is based in Dallas, one of those offices Buysee isn’t in.

“Those folks in London decided they needed another person on the ground,” he said. “More arms and legs.”

He is meant to focus on fostering relationships, finding new people, resources and business productions. The company has seen rapid growth in recent years, but to do more, there needs to be a better united strategy among U.S. offices, he said. In the next 18 months or less, he hopes to do that.

“Recently our growth has outpaced our internal systems,” he said. “So now it’s about tying the teams together into a single cohesive company with a single culture.”

BMS was born as a correspondent broker based across the Atlanic Ocean but is increasingly looking to have a larger presence in the United States.

“I hope to be a big part of that transition,” he said. With nearly 30 years in the reinsurance brokerage business, he could be the right man for the job.

But he’ll be doing it here.

Soon Buysee might be asked to develop a small staff and perhaps develop a presence in Philadelphia, he said.

“I don’t have any intentions of leaving.”

See other reporting by Christopher Wink here.

Number of Views:2602

When a press release is like a friend who talks too much

herald-messy-desk.jpgOne of the troubles of being ‘the intern’ at a newspaper is having to handle press releases. The fear of God keeps me from tossing anything out without a look, so I spend too much time reading press releases that just make me wonder who wrote them and who thought that writing them would benefit anyone. Want some examples from today alone?

Elizabeth L. Bennett, Esquire, gave a presentation on the collaborative family law process at the March meeting of the Montgomery County Bar Association Family Law Committee.

 

An email attachment of one sentence,  just needless information. Elizabeth L. Bennett’s husband doesn’t care enough to hear about that, so why would I or any news outlet care about that? 

Number of Views:1592

Multimedia coverage of Hillary Clinton at Temple

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Last week, I posted about The Temple News covering Hillary Clinton holding a rally in McGonigle Hall at Temple, in front of a crowd of several thousand.

LeAnne Matlach, the assistant News Editor, reported there; Chris Stover, the Chief Copy Editor, filed an audio story, and Sean Blanda, our Online Editor, edited down video highlights of her 40-minute speech. In a pinch and without a photographer, I took photos, rounding out a complete multimedia package, though my photography is less than up to the normal standards of The Temple News.

Check out a slide show of those photos here on Flickr.

Number of Views:2342

My coverage of Barack Obama in Philadelphia

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There was a huge media crunch for Barack Obama’s Philadelphia address at the National Constitution Center today, though I did cover the event as best I could. (You can also see it here on The Temple News Web site)

I fought my way in, was escorted out twice, before finally get 30 seconds to take as many photos as I wanted in what was a rotating photographer system. A fire marshal enforced an occupancy limit as the second floor room was overfilled, there was a lot of frustration and perhaps as many as 80 journalists watching Obama’s speech on race from a overfill room, broadcasting a closed circuit video of the presidential candidate.

I was told some 250 media credentials were requested for 50 spots, as more than 100 tickets, mostly for city Democrats and high profile party leaders of the region, were only privately distributed.

Though the event’s locale wasn’t announced beyond media circles, still many supporters of Obama, perhaps more than 30, gathered to try to get in.

Number of Views:2331

My grandfather waits: excerpt

george-wink-as-infant.jpgMy grandmother died on the Monday before Thanksgiving, November 2006, two months beyond my father’s parents celebrated 54 years marriage.

The thought of the weight of loneliness, left after a half century of practiced, dependent love, made me shiver one night, then a continent away, studying in Tokyo. I made an effort to call my grandfather more once I returned in December.

The conversations after her death were always the same. He’d answer my questions with as few words as possible, as if he was waiting for a bus. I guess he was waiting for a bus.

This is a short excerpt. To read the rest of this piece and other writing, go here.

Number of Views:1637