Community Service Organizations

Brandon Hobbs, Felicia Topsale Photo taken by Brandon Hobbs

Brandon Hobbs, Felicia Topsale
Photo taken by Brandon Hobbs

For the next three months, Brandon and I will publish articles to our websites about community service. We think community service is an integral part of any community or neighborhood, which provides people with a better quality of life. Since most community services are usually provided by volunteers of non-profit organizations, we feel it is important to give them the attention they deserve. Despite the availability of free and low-cost programs available in the Philadelphia area, they are not always easy to find. Whether our readers want to volunteer for an organization or utilize a program or service, it will be our job to inform them.

The Bethesda Project in Philadelphia was started over 30 years ago, and helps over 2000 women and men who deal with homelessness every year at over a dozen different locations around the city. The organization also helps people who are fighting mental illness, as well as alcohol and drug addiction. The Bethesda Project is noteworthy because the long-standing organization is large and continues to grow, despite the age of the founder of the organization who is now a senior citizen.

The Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance, also known as MANNA, delivers 3 meals a day, 7 days a week to sick patients dealing with cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other types of diseases. They also offer counseling. It is newsworthy because it is the only organization of its kind in the Philadelphia area.

The Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, also known as PAWS, rescues unwanted pets and takes them to no-kill shelters, as well as provides them with medical care. The organization also helps pets find a foster home or adoptive parent. The organization just opened their third and newest location in Northeast Philly.

Programs Employing People serves people with intellectual disabilities in Philadelphia to strengthen their abilities in employment, transportation, education, and social opportunities. PEP was founded by mothers and neighbors to offer a summer program to help their intellectually disabled children. This organization helps about 300 adults and children every year.

House of Umoja was created to end gang violence. The organization caused 80 gangs to pledge peace by using the IMANI PACT in 1974. It was a standard used as an agreement that anyone who violated it would be considered an outcast. The gangs are still at peace today and have made a huge impact on ending gang violence.

Here are the story ideas Brandon and I have discussed:

  • The Mazzoni Center offers open door counseling for the LGBTQ community. The fees for the service are on a sliding scale based on income. They also offer free STD and rapid HIV testing. We would like to report on the effectiveness and success of the services they offer as well as find out how the legalization of gay marriage has affected counseling services and the LGBTQ community in Philadelphia. We would like to have photos of buildings as well as employees, and interview employees as well as people utilizing the center’s services. We also want to learn how the Mazzoni Center got started.

Behavioral Services Director, Judy Morrissey, 267-888-5020

  • Tent 13, the Philadelphia Chapter of Variety, serves children with various disabilities through education, social, and recreational activities. We would like to find out more about the programs available and how the programs have enriched the lives of children and their families. We also want to write about all the services available to children as well as interview the volunteers who help the children overcome obstacles. We want to photograph and shoot video of the kids while spending time with volunteers and ask kids and their parents how they became involved with Tent 13. We would like to interview directors, volunteers, children, and their parents and learn why they all believe in Tent 13.

Program Director, Jean Merkl, 610-584-4366 ext. 201

  • Non-Profit Technology Resources works with various organizations all over the city, including schools, religious groups, teachers and welfare programs, to make sure people have access to information technology. The organization also provides training to understand and use technology. They also have a computer thrift shop. Brandon and I would like to know how this organization has impacted and helped the community. Does it change people’s lives? How is the organization funded? Do they get grants? We would like to get photo and video of people using the computers, in computer classes, and interviews with teachers, and volunteers. We would like to ask volunteers why they volunteer and what kind of computer training they have.

Executive Director, Steven Feldman, 215-564-6686

  • The West Philadelphia Senior Community Center (WPCC) is an organization that allows Philadelphia citizens ages 50 and up to attend events and activities. What we will be researching is how it keeps the members feeling young, and how it may keep their minds sharp. We would also interview the volunteers and director of the organization to see how volunteering and working there may help them in their own lives.

Director Pat Stanley, 215-386-0379

  • Turning Points for Children is an organization that supports families with raising their children. They do this by working with caregivers to develop and strengthen protective qualities and offering the resources they need to ensure their children’s optimal development. They also help families through programs that help prevent child abuse and neglect. We would find out how this improves family bonding and if the volunteers can apply any of the practices on their own families. Brandon and I would also like to know if they ever had any difficult times trying to help families with their children.

Program Director Louise Lebowitz , 215-875-4963