Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies show holiday spirit


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.”

Philadelphia's second Ronald McDonald House


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

Francoise Gilot donation to Ursinus College outside of Philadelphia


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.

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

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.

Philadelphia region with new heroes, bank cash

Firstrust Bank - plaque for donation

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

Heroes aren’t born.They’re made, at places like the Montgomery County Tactical Response Training Center.

The 23,000-square foot weapons and anti-terrorism building in Conshohocken was built at a cost of $10.8 million with the help of more than 50 corporate and private donors, like Firstrust Bank.

“As a bank, safety and security are important for us,” said Tim Abell, president and chief operating officer of the Conshohocken-based bank.

With nearly a third of their 24 locations, including their headquarters, tucked in Montco, it makes sense that they would be willing to put up their $100,000 contribution.

Late last month, Firstrust and the other donors that helped see the center’s construction through to its opening last November received recognition from the Police Chiefs’ Association of Montgomery County.

The center, which is on the grounds of the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Campus, will train thousands of law enforcement officers, emergency medical service technicians and firefighters.

“There are so many great causes,” Abell said. “But these are things that we think fit our mission.”

It isn’t the only philanthropy in which the 74-year-old bank involves itself. Each year, it gives about $1 million to various causes, including a decade-long relationship with City Year, which unites young people throughout the country in one year of full-time service.

Still, this cause isn’t overshadowed. The money that Firstrust donated went to fund the construction of the center’s firing range, preparing law enforcement officers to use deadly force, if ever necessary.

“You wouldn’t want to be in the line of real fire and have it be the first time you’re going through that,” said Abell. “Fortunately I wasn’t the target. I was at the other end.”

See other reporting by Christopher Wink here.

Sending soldiers corporate love in 'Hugs from Home'


Text as submitted to the Philadelphia Business Journal last week for tomorrow’s edition.

Just because a business is getting started, doesn’t mean it can’t show some heart.

Last year, Morristown, N.J.-based Office Furniture Partnership, with a new Philadelphia location, sent nearly 1,000 care packages to U.S. military personnel serving abroad as part of its ‘Hugs from Home’ campaign.

This year, OFP’s small Old City office, less than a year old, wanted to get involved.

“When I saw these guys doing it last year, it is just heartwarming thing to do,” said Chuck Andre, principal of the Philadelphia office.

So, they’ve added more than 150 tubes to this year’s company-wide total of 2,500.

They send clear tubes to their varied clients, asking them to fill them with household items, letters, and treats.

“Things they might not get, chewing gum, foot powder, band aids,” Andre said. “We got a cigar vendor to just stuff a tube with cigars, and we get photos of these services men, they are ecstatic, smoking these cigars.”  (Depicted above)

OFP picks up the postage costs, which could be higher than $8,000.

The company also has a small office in New York City, which has helped similarly.

“I guess it’s tri-state effort,” he said.

The importance of this help is not lost on Andre.“As a business in Philadelphia, trying to get established, its really positive thing to do,” he said.

“Maybe next year we’ll do a 1,000.”

Photograph, courtesy of OFP, of members of the 101st Airborne Division, based out of For Campbell, Ky., depicted in Bayji, Iraq.

See other reporting by Christopher Wink here.

Saving 2nd Base one shirt at a time


Article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed last week, without edits, to run in next Friday’s edition.

The unique relationship between Save Second Base, which sells tee-shirts and other apparel with its logo, and the Kelly Rooney Foundation, which raises funds for local cancer foundations, is a story of philanthropy born in the wake of death, with a twist unlike most.

On July 11, 2006, Rooney lost a four year battle with breast cancer.

“She was always funny,” said Erin Dugery, Rooney’s sister.

Before she died, Rooney, the jokester she was, thought how the phrase ‘save second base’ and its teenage interpretation now had special meaning to her, days from becoming the victim of breast cancer, which stole her life, her family, her very womanhood.

So, in the throes of Stage IV breast cancer, but still quick to smile, that was what Rooney named a team in her honor at a cancer fundraising walk: ‘save second base.’

Continue reading Saving 2nd Base one shirt at a time

Mark Helpin, Kornberg School of Dentistry and Temple University saving young teeth

As filed last week for today’s edition of the Philadelphia Business Journal.

You just have to protect those teeth.

Temple University’s Kornberg School of Dentistry, in conjunction with Henry Schein Inc., a Melville, N.Y.-based distributor of medical, dental and veterinary supplies based, did just that last week.

“Poor dental care is the most prevalent disease in childhood,” Mark Helpin, acting chairman of Temple’s department pediatric dentistry, said. “We’re not just trying to teach people to treat their mouths, we’re relating the health of the mouth to the overall health and well being of a child.”

As part of the annual Give Kids a Smile day, more than 80 children, many from the Kenderton Elementary School at 15th and Ontario St., received free dental care from nearly thirty dental students, faculty and staff. Schein did its part by giving $40,000 in dental supplies to Temple and the University of Pennsylvania’s dental school, part of the $2.1 million sent nationwide in order to treat an estimated 1 million children in the country.

At Temple, children were given oral hygiene instruction, a cleaning, fluoride application and more if necessary. Schien sent disposable mirrors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bibs, cups and other materials necessary for the event, Helpin said.

“This shows that corporate America can be involved in worthwhile and people orientated pursuits and projects that have meaning in the most personal way and the most human level,” he said. “Temple University itself has an unusual and extraordinary commitment to Philadelphia. The dental school is staying true to that.”

Temple is hosting a smaller, similar, citywide event on March 20.

“We’re part of the community and have a responsibility to serve the community. We’re concerned about children, not just one day, but after. ” Helpin said. “We want people to know they can have a dental home for their children at Temple.”

See other examples of my reporting here.

Cadence Cycling Foundation: giving North Philadelphia kids the bicycle dream

As submitted last week, unedited, to the Philadelphia Business Journal for today’s edition.

For Jack Simes, it’s all about the smiles.

The executive director of the Cadence Cycling Foundation, housed at the Cadence Cycling & Multisport Center in Manayunk, is helping to introduce youth from Philadelphia’s underserved neighborhoods to the cycling world.

“There was a huge amount of enthusiasm,” said Simes, of the program’s first 30 young participants. “Cycling is a huge world sport, so it can take these kids around the world if they want it to.”

With a $10,000 retail donation from Fuji, a bicycle retailer with headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia, the foundation started its indoor training session with 22 modified single speed bicycles. Inside the Cadence Cycling Center, the bikes are on stationary trainers and linked through a computer system that allows riders to race each other, without moving. In April, the young riders, mostly between the ages of 11 and 16, will hit the streets with their instructors leading the way.

The kids have plenty of support, from Jay Snider, co-founder of the Cadence Cycling Centers in Philadelphia and New York, who is an avid rider to Simes, who was on all three U.S. Olympic cycling teams in the 1960s and won a world championship in 1968.

“We’re introducting competitive cycling to kids who might not get a chance to ride,” Simes said.

See other examples of my reporting here.