Shirley Washington, Florrie Flood and Jocelyn Powell, volunteers for AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, were outside Bredenbeck's Bakery and Ice Cream Parlor in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia to rally support against changes to Medicare. Backed by a large sign featuring the diverse faces of its constituency (50 plus demographic), one volunteer explained their presence as a way to acquaint the community with AARP while another spoke earnestly about how prescription drug costs, higher premiums and higher deductibles negatively affect Social Security pensioners. "Health care is just outrageous." They invited your correspondent inside to sign a petition to my Congressmen and enjoy a free ice cream cone! I obliged. Watch video interview here.
Weighing in a hefty 12 pounds at birth Darren Fenice's right shoulder was damaged by forceps during delivery. Erb's palsy resulted from the injury that stunted his arm and significantly impairs his range of motion. In school, he lashed out at the kids who were tormenting him him and was once expelled. When he grew up he began to practice martial arts as a means of self-defense, focusing on American Kenpo. A back injury sustained in competition has now sidelined him. Based on his experience being picked on growing up, he remains a strong advocate against any form of bullying. He is currently pursuing a career in science education and he pursues another of his passions - cooking dishes from his Austro-Italian heritage. Watch video interview here.
Our immediate neighbors' leaf blower landscape man is our bane. I know when he and his crew has visited: our front side and back walk areas are much covered in grit and leaves. We live in very modest size twin houses on an urban street graced with large sycamore maple trees. We have very little land area and about 15 feet between non-adjoined houses. The landscaper makes heavy use of a gas powered leaf blower
At times we are unfortunate enough to be at home when he comes. The blower creates a roar from which he is protected by large ear muffs- but not us. On his last visit, I left the house and he was blasting away plant and soil specks more than an hour later when I returned. In addition to being gratingly loud, the blower stirs up a large amount of particulate dust which may contain mold, bird feces and what not, a definite health hazard, which is why some communities have banned them. See New York Times article. I wrote about the issue for WHYY Newsworks back in 2010; click here.
Zak Zaklad leads Mount Airy Tai Chi one early spring day outside at Ned Wolf Park. The group is learning the 37 form Cheng Man-Ching Simplified Yang Style Tai Chi. A self-desribed martial arts guy who began to find Karate's fast explosive moves hard on his aging joints, he's being doing Tai Chi for twenty years. "To my mind, Tai Chi is the most wonderful healing practice-body mind and spirit. Watch video here.
Each day, Lisa Backe, "Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator" of the Goose Squad, LLC travels 100 miles and opens the door to her car at 28 different sites to allow her dog to chase away unwanted Canada geese. Your correspondent ran into Lisa and her small, friendly, rescue dog, Rita, on their second trip that day to the Morris Arboretum in Northwest Philadelphia, zipping around in a small car to the geese hotspots. It's a matter of harnessing the dog's natural instincts to chase the birds, Backe says. Goose Squad owner Joe Rocco estimates that seventy percent of the geese in our area reside here year round. Grazing on plentiful open grassy, areas each bird can leave a pound and a half or more of droppings a day. "We get the flock out of here" is the company's motto. Alas for your correspondent on this particular afternoon, the flock had already gotten out of there so there are no action shots in the video. Watch video interview here.
Tim Minor and Theresa Peoples who originally were in IT fields started a bath and body business 14 years ago because they wanted soap where good ingredients like shea butter, coconut and olive oils were the primary constituents. Theresa concocts the soaps and Tim builds the molds to hold them. They experiment with new products: pureed cucumbers work just fine for their "cool cucumber" but not all fruits are amenable to the hot, lye using process. The couple also runs a mobile spa, giving massages and applying their fragrant essences. They were outside of Weavers Way Coop, one location where they market their locally produced products, as part of "meet the makers day."
Marjorie Shoemaker brings her "Paws of the Spirit," to nursing homes and other venues. Her passel of animals include an easygoing white Labrador retriever service dog named Archie who, she says cost $50,000 to train, two rabbits and about a dozen guinea pigs. Shoemaker demonstrated how Archie can retrieve things and assist someone who might be disabled by, for example, gently taking off a person's socks without taking off any toes! Watch video here.
The nursing home residents coo ooh and ahh as they hold and pet the rabbits and the guinea pigs. The guineas, adept vocalizers, "wheek," purr, and chut in return in this video.
Dental hygienist Kara Hershey assiduously removes tartar from your correspondent's teeth while more than holding up her end of the conversation and guardedly discloses her ideas for inventions that she thinks could revolutionize dental care!
Dee Servance was canvassing door-to-door on a bitter cold winter night to raise support for a paid sick leave bill in Philadelphia. As it is now, low paid workers who get sick have to miss out on needed pay or come in to work sick, neither of which is good for anyone. The bill is before Philadelphia City Council and now that members are up for re-election, Servance’s organization, Working Families, which has worked on getting the minimum wage raised and on Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Wolf’s successful campaign, is urging citizens to call city council members who have not yet come on board, to support the bill. The bill would require employers with 10 or more employees to allow employees to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Watch video here.
According to her Dad, Bill, when Lisa Loonstyn was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 20, she accelerated the process of having a baby in expectation that she would need to have her ovaries removed. No one expected that the cancer, detected at stage one, would kill her at age 24. Her baby, now five, participated in the first “Lisa’s Army” 5K pumpkin race on Forbidden Drive along the Wissahickon Creek on Saturday. Loonstyn said his daughter was always helping others who were going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments. In her honor and memory, the friends and family who loved her continue this mission. Lisa loved pumpkins and Halloween was her favorite holiday. Watch video here.