Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies show holiday spirit

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Never posted this, thought it as good as time as any, at this point, to celebrate the marketability of professional athletes giving back. -cgw

Interview and article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed, without edits, to run in the Jan. 11, 2008 edition.

Two Eagles lent their significant star power to brighten the holidays for a group of Philadelphia kids, last month.

Through a partnership with the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, running back Brian Westbrook and free safety Brian Dawkins met individually with 70 Philadelphia children on Dec. 18, giving each a present at GPAUC’s Center City office.

“This was all the generosity of Brian Westbrook and Brian Dawkins,” said Bonnie Grant, spokesperson for the GPUAC, a business-community partnership that unites a handful of regional non-profits. “They wanted to make it a very special holiday for children with need.”

It was a particularly special day for Westbrook, who got word of his most recent selection to the Pro Bowl less than an hour before his appearance. GPUAC president Sharmain Matlock-Turner made an announcement during the event. The children cheered, even if some weren’t old enough to know much about Westbrook’s running game.

“The kids were thrilled,” Grant said. “It was as if there were in the presence of magic.”

Not to be outdone, the Phillies had their holiday spirit in full force.

A handful of front office personnel unloaded more than 7,000 pounds of food the very same day, all donated to feed the hungry of Philadelphia’s growing Latino community.

Among those of the Phillies top brass who were on hand to bring the canned foods, collected at a Sept. 7 game against the Florida Marlins, were Ruben Amaro, Jr., Phillies assistant general manager, and broadcaster Scott Franzke. The donations, which also included a check for $25,000, were given to the region’s largest food bank, Philabundance, which has partnered each holiday season with the Phillies since 2005 when then-Phillies first baseman Jim Thome took interest.

The day before, Phillies President Dave Montgomery, General Manager Pat Gillick and several former players served dinner at the Our Brother’s Place Homeless Facility in North Philadelphia. It was the 8th year such an event has taken place and part of a week of philanthropy.

“As an organization, we recognize how important it is to give back,” said Gene Dias, the Phillies director of community relations. “Particularly at this time of year and particularly to those in the most desperate need.”

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Philadelphia is getting taller

The tallest building in Philadelphia – the Comcast Tower – fully opened this month, just in time to meet plans for it to be surpassed.

Earlier this month, plans for the American Commerce Center, planned to be the second tallest building in the country behind only the Sears Tower in Chicago, were announced, exciting everyone, and the talk is spreading.

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Philadelphia's second Ronald McDonald House

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Interview and article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed, without edits, to run in a previous edition.

On. Oct. 15, 1974, the world’s first Ronald McDonald House opened on Spruce Street, before moving to Chestnut near 39th Street. More than 30 years later, Philadelphia’s second, a 15 room, 27,000 square foot home for families whose children must travel more than 25 miles for medical care in the city, has opened at N. Front St. and E. Erie Ave. near St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.

“There are hundreds of families that are being served through St. Christopher’s community that otherwise wouldn’t have a place to stay,” said Susan Campbell, executive director of the new house (depicted at left).

Though it’s next to St. Christopher’s, it services many pediatric care facilities in the city, including Shriners Hospital For Children and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. More than 200 donations helped the construction, which began in November 2006, including nearly fifty in-kind awards from area businesses. Lead sponsors Hahnemann University Hospital and Dallas-based Tenent Healthcare gave over $1 million each, helped by the likes of IBM, the Comcast Corporation and Wisconsin-based Ashley Furniture, which donated all of the home’s furniture.

A night’s stay costs just $15 a night, though no one is turned away. The house welcomed two families on its opening day Jan. 7, had seven within a week and intends on reaching capacity and staying there soon.

“We would not have been able to build without the community support,” said Campbell, 35.

See other reporting by Christopher Wink here.

Picture above, from left: Susan Campbell, Executive Director, Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House at Front and Erie; Marlene Weinberg, Capital Campaign Chairperson and McDonald’s Owner/Operator, McDonald’s

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Francoise Gilot donation to Ursinus College outside of Philadelphia

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The Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College, in Collegeville, has been named a major recipient of work from Francoise Gilot. The French-born artist will donate a number of portraits of artistic, political and literary leaders. Since the museum was founded in 1987, Gilot’s work has been a large part of its permanent collection. The gift includes her earliest self-portrait in oil, which she painted in 1939.

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You have been incorrectly honored

acceptingaward.jpgNo, I will not be inducted into the Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society next month.

Really, I wouldn’t even mention it if it wasn’t hilarious.

I received an email requesting I confirm that I would attend a ceremony for a select group of Temple University students to be brought into a group of honor. Had I applied for XAE? Had I heard of XAE? Well, no.

The vanity of the young.

Still, the end of the year, even in a university setting, comes with a flurry of awards, honors, acceptances and, for me, lots of rejection. So, I didn’t think twice about calling to confirm that I would come. The woman with whom I spoke seemed confused, couldn’t find my name, but assumed she didn’t have an updated list. She wrote my name down, my guest’s name, and wished me well. The next day I got an email again requesting I confirm my coming. Well, this only made me certain I was the man they wanted. Then I got another of the same request: confirm your coming! Wow, they really wanted me. So I emailed that woman, eager to humbly confirm my coming to this fine honor. She quickly responded to the contrary.

Please accept my deepest apologies for the invitations to the XAE induction ceremony that have been repeatedly sent to you. Your email address is only one letter off from the intended recipient. We have corrected the error and you will not be bothered with confusing emails like these again.”

Continue reading

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Bank of America gives $1 million to Constitution Center

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

Mayor Michael Nutter was on hand to watch Bank of America award a $1 million grant to the National Constitution Center earlier this month.

“As the leader of our city, it’s very appropriate,” said Tom Woodward, president of Bank America Pennsylvania. “So much of what we’re doing speaks to augmenting education in the region and our city.”

Nutter, just three months into his term, has named a more learned Philadelphia among his highest priorities, so supporting a sizable funding gift to the Constitution Center was sensible, Woodward said.

“They do so much with students and educating our kids in what it really means to have civic responsibility and be an American,” he said. “The educational component is an absolute priority in what we want to fund.”

Much of the funding will go to developing programs for the Constitution Center’s newly named Bank of America Family Theater, beginning with the reopening of “Living News,” which displays constitutional issues that affect the daily lives of everyone.

“When you go through the Constitution Center, whether you are an American or from somewhere else, you leave with an appreciation of freedom,” he said. “This really is about trying to make Philadelphia and the region a better place.”

See other reporting by Christopher Wink here.

Photo courtesy of Bank of America public relations. Depicted from left, Joe Torsella, CEO of the National Constitution Center; Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; Kenneth D. Lewis, chairman and CEO of Bank of America, and Tom Woodward, president of Bank of America Pennsylvania

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Rewriting presidential history

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With a great deal of help from Sean Blanda, the Internet Jesus himself at The Temple News, I recently unveiled a multimedia package on former Temple University President Peter Liacouras. He held the top spot for 18 years, from 1982 to 2000, and a great deal of expansion, both academic and geographic, happened under his tenure.

I first met with him, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees and Temple’s longtime community relations director, back in October. Then I met with them again on March 18. In all, I spent more than five hours with the group, and another 90 minutes with the community relations director. It was the most work I ever put in for a story.

Check out the multimedia package here, read the profile I wrote on him, watch him talk about choosing Temple’s logo 25 years ago below, and let me know of any of your thoughts on the man, his administration or anything else. I also wrote a piece about his relationship with the community, that included a great deal on the two other men with whom I met for the story.

Number of Views:1801