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.
A mother and son and another member of a Christian community in Center City Philadelphia were outside a neighborhood food store raising money for a one week trip to Haiti where infrastructure repair remains a high need. The young man and 11 other youths will help conduct bible study for children in an orphanage and the 4 adults on the mission will do electrical and construction repair at a school.
Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, PA supported by a coalition of community partners including AmeriCorps National Community Service members along with sweat equity put in by the Thompson family made a home of their own in Pottstown, PA a reality for the Thompsons. This is a short video collage of the dedication celebration.
At our neighborhood train station my son and I heard lots of frantic chirping then saw a baby bird on the concrete ground. It appeared to have fallen from the wooden eaves high above. I started a live Periscope stream and solicited suggestions from tuners-in :"put it back in nest", "give it worms", "call 911". Someone encouraged me to take it I to the wildlife rehabilitation I had mentioned. And so I did after my son boarded the train. At the center, the receiving rehabilitator examined the bird, identified it as a plump baby sparrow, said that it was a little splayed but its wing were not broken, and that it would have lots of brothers and sisters for company because people had brought in about 20 some such babies in recent days. It will be cared for until it can fly and be released back into nature. Two days later I called back with the case number I had been given and learned from the woman who accepted the patient, that baby bird 2540 was doing just fine. Watch shorter video here. Watch longer video here.
Your correspondent interviewed candidates and poll workers at the Grace Epiphany Church polling site in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia, home to 3 voting divisions. Video playlist here.
Juvenile Court Master now Judicial candidate Betsy Wahl has the support of some kids who she has helped straighten out their lives after landing in juvenile delinquency court.
Eric Dickerson earned $100 for working the polls in three separate locations for successfuly Democratic primary Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney. Dickerson, who spent 22 years in jail lives in a recovery house and through research, which he learned to do in prison, believes Kenney is supportive of recovery houses to address the city's drug problem. Kenney faces an insignificant challenge from Republican Melissa Bailey in the fall general elections.
In the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia on primary election day, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, campaign pollworkers, who appear to outnumber those who have come to vote, make pitches for their candidates and hand out palm cards. Candidates are running for Philadelphia Mayor, Philadelphia City Council and Judges on Pennsylvania trial courts and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Watch video here.
Candidate for Philadelphia Mayor in Democratic primary criticizes outside money in election. May 19, 2015. Watch video here.
Suspended lawyer will likely soon hold Court. 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.
Your correspondent volunteered for a week cleaning dishes and bathhouses at the Audubon Society Camp on Hog Island off of Bremen, Maine. He collected an old glass bottle encrusted with barnacles and these stories. See photo slideshow here.
A large aquarium in the lab building of Hog Island affords a micro view of aquatic life in coastal Maine’s tidal pools. Off the pier, swaying mats of seaweed. Watch video here.
“Puffin” Pete Salmansohn, Project Puffin outreach coordinator and director of Hog Island Educators week, describes how puffins were saved from near extermination from the Maine Coast on a boat trip out to Eastern Egg Rock Island where island sitters carefully monitor and study them. Along the way, seals sunning themselves on a small island, produce whoops and hollers among the day-trippers as they dive into the water toward the boat to investigate or perhaps be fed? Watch video here.
On Hog Island, early morning guided birding, a photographer and his camera level with the osprey nest, an osprey parent guarding two fledglings and later the same day foraying out and back. Watch video montage here.
“Seabird” Sue Schubel, Project Puffin Outreach Instructor and Hog Island Camp Coordinator, puts the finishing touches on a large batch of cream “puffins.” They will be served to oohs and ahs and camera flashes at the conclusion of the farewell lobster dinner for Educators week. The confectionary puffins, like their living counterparts, Schubel says, could be either male or female, as they look the same. Their breeding plumage, bright orange bills, mark them as mature adults. Watch video here.
Susan Spitzer Williams, a career guidance specialist participating in Educators Week on Hog Island, seen here rushing to get her camera to the photogapher and back in place for a group shot. In the video, she pauses before swimming to share one of the many ways in which she is superior to her dear older brother, Nick Spitzer, host of the widely syndicated, public radio program, “American Routes.” For one, she met and played pool with Muddy Waters and he didn’t. Watch video here.
A short, live action, instructional video for kitchen volunteers at the Hog Island camp on how to use the Hobart 4 sided, hood mounted, pass through, commercial dishwasher. Watch video here.
She’s been skinning road kill, preparing pelts, skull specimens and mounts for museums for some time but this was Carolyn Zaino’s first beaver. Discovered by a couple Hog Island staffers, the road kill became the object of Zaino’s artistry and industry in between stints in the Hog Island kitchen. Zaino is nonplussed by the gore and gruesomeness of her vocation as befits the pathologist’s daughter for whom, as a child, the hearts, lungs and brains in her father’s lab were naturally things of wonder. Her work lets her give these animals “another life” and educate people about them. Watch short video here. Watch full-length video here.
(Above, volunteer Marilou Buffum)
Dozens of volunteers showed up on Saturday to help remove invasive plants and debris from newly acquired Philadelphia parkland in Mount Airy.
Efforts of the Wissahickon East Project spearheaded by Antje Mattheus who lives nearby at the 2 acre historical Cresheim Farm, along with the Friends of the Wissahickon, the Chestnut Hill Historical Society, and ultimately Philadelphia’s Department of Parks and Recreation headed by Michael DeBerardinis, helped spare the overgrown six-acre woody tract abutting the Cresheim Creek from private residential development.
Work began in earnest on rehabilitating the site and creating a quarter mile loop trail under the direction of David Bower, Fairmount Park Volunteer Coordinator.
(Below, Volunteer Rick Greenstein)
Twenty five percent of Philadelphians live below the poverty level. This somber statistic was delivered last night to hundreds of diners, along with delicious soups and breads donated by dozens of restaurants and caterers, at the Northwest Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network’s 15th annual “Empty Bowl Dinner” held at the Lutheran Theological Seminary.
Through a large network of religious congregations and volunteers, the Network (“NPIHN”) provides emergency and transitional housing and support services to families facing homelessness, like the Baez family, now “alumni”, who recounted their continuing personal struggle to support themselves and stay together as a family.
Chris Levey, a saturnine looking yet pleasant 3-day a week volunteer at the barren- looking Travelers Aide kiosk at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia says that Travelers Aide doesn’t offer all that much. The most common question is where the bathroom is followed by where the BOLT bus location is. People also ask about tourist destinations and Levey directs them to the Independence Hall area and offers a map.
Not infrequently Levey gets approached by people who don’t have money and need a place to stay. Men he sends to the Roosevelt Darby Center, women to the House of Passage, emergency housing shelters. They relate all kinds of stories, he says. A guy the week before said he had come for a job interview, didn’t get the job and had no money to get home. Levey supplies these down-on-their-luckers with a token to get to the shelter.