From the Chronicle • Germantown News Stories

January 21, 2010 • Germantown Chronicle.Jan 21.pdf

In This Issue

New Study Focuses on Wissahickon Trouble Spots

Zoning Revision is Focus at EMAN/WMAN Meeting

Captain Joseph Bartorilla is 14th’s New Top Cop

New Books for Emlen

Town Watch Plans to Increase Presence

Zoning Hearings

Questions in Black History

Make Victorian Valentines at Maxwell Mansion

Afghanistan Documentary

Energy Conservation

NWSingers Perform World Music

Info Session on Housing Program

Deadline for Merchants’ Fund Grants

Washington’s Office Haiti Aid Site

‘Catholic Intimacy’ Lecture at CHC

February Events at Germantown Jewish Centre

Deaf Ministry Games Night

Plan Now for CHCE Trips

‘Theater District’ at Allens Lane

Poetry at Big Blue Marble

Birthworks Education at Maternal Wellness

Wellness Walks

Einstein Seeks Volunteers for Mediterranean Diet Study

Allens Lane Seeks Art Donations for ‘FUNdraiser’

Obituary: Ernestine O’Connor

More than 50 volunteers donated their time and energy at the still-closed Germantown YMCA   on Monday, January 18, for the Martin Luther King Day of Service. Volunteers such as Frank Chism and M’Balia Singley (above)  “…painted, cleaned and had fun,” said former YMCA Director Pete Smith, now working as a consultant to get things up and running. He added that he hoped to get the Y’s fitness area in operation by the end of March.

New Study Focuses on Wissahickon Trouble Spots


Staff Writer

On January 14 the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) held a public meeting in Founders Hall of the New Covenant Campus, 7500 Germantown Avenue, for the ongoing Wissahickon Creek feasibility study. That study may - or may not - determine federally-funded creek improvement priorities for the next several years.

Representatives from Biohabitats Incorporated, a consulting firm from Baltimore, presented the results of a six-month study on ten trouble spots in the Wissahickon where heavy silt buildup and other impediments such as old dams have significantly degraded the health of the waterway.

The study focused on three fish species - brown trout, common shiner and black nose dace  - to determine possible fixes for the trouble spots. Several area residents wanted to know why water quality was not a priority, especially when one of the identified target areas, the Monoshone Creek, which cuts past Historic Rittenhouse Town in Fairmount Park, has consistently been polluted with raw sewage.

“Anything that goes down the Wissahickon we drink, and that includes raw sewage,” said Tom Sharpless of Germantown. “Something should be done about that.”

After the meeting, PWD’s Public Affairs General Manager, Joanne Dahme, acknowledged that it was PWD’s responsibility to figure out who the Monoshone polluters really are. But she emphasized the Water Department wasn’t doing the actual polluting. The problem likely comes from a group of relatively new homes constructed in Mt. Airy, Germantown or Chestnut Hill that have sewer lines improperly connected to the storm drain system, she indicated.

“This is the real hard part for us, to figure out exactly which house it is,” Dahme said. “We’ve been searching for years, tracking that down. It’s like a needle in a haystack.”

PWD has promised to correct the problems for free and without penalty if the offending homes would step forward, or at least allow PWD in to test their pipes.

But Darcy Turner of Biohabitats said the real reason the study did not directly address water quality or flood mitigation issues is because the likely stream of federal funding, through the Corps of Engineers, would have a ecological focus. Still, that might help with other water issues too.

“If you improve that [biological habitats] it will improve drinking water quality,” said Hank Gruber in a separate interview. He is a civil engineer with the Army Corps Philadelphia District Planning Division.

And as for the flood problems that are common along Lincoln Drive, Gruber said the Corps would make sure any fixes it implemented would not increase the likelihood of flooding.

The $250,000 biological habitat study is in its final phase, but the larger $1.5 million feasibility study for the Wissahickon has been going on since 2002, according to Gruber, and it’s likely to be several more years before any decisions are finally made on what work to do, if any.

The ten trouble spots are: Thomas Mill Dam, Cathedral Run, Magarge Dam, Cresheim Dam and Creek, Livezy Dam, Gorgas Lane (Run), Carpenter’s Woods, Monoshone Creek, Little Ridge Avenue Dam and Big Ridge Avenue Dam. PWD identified them in 2000 before asking the Corps to take a look.

What remains of this phase of the study is to rank each of the ten sites and the possible alternatives associated with them in terms of ecological impact and cost, and then to make recommendations up the chain of command in the Corps of Engineers, vet the suggestions through PWD and eventually present the options to the U.S. Congress. Gruber thought 2012 would be the soonest any of that would be done.

At each phase, the Wissahickon projects could be knocked out in favor of some other project in Philadelphia or elsewhere. And the question of when the Congress might make a decision is wide open.

Although the project construction funding will be part of the federal Water Resources Development Act, which is supposed to occur every two years, there was at least a seven-year lag renewing this act in the early part of the last decade, Gruber said.

On top of that, since 35 percent of the money would come from the PWD, local budget realities will have an impact as well.

But even with the future of these projects so full of doubt, the executive director of the Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW), Maura McCarthy, was excited about recent activity surrounding the Creek.

“It feels unprecedented,” she said of the number of projects going on at once.

Between FOW’s own Sustainable Trails initiative and the new Storm Water Mitigation and Sediment Reduction Project, made possible by a recent $780,000 grant from Merck & Co., plus several ongoing PWD and Fairmount Park initiatives for the Wissahickon, McCarthy saw the Corps of Engineers’ project as being a very good potential addition to efforts aimed at improving the ecology and water quality of in the creek.

“None of these projects in isolation can solve these issues,” she said. “You kind of need to do each piece of it.”

Zoning Revision is Focus at EMAN/WMAN Meeting


Staff Writer

At their annual joint meeting January 12, East and West Mt. Airy Neighbors got a custom update on the work of the Zoning Code Commission (ZCC) from three of its members who spoke about their attempts to fix zoning in the city once and for all.

By general agreement Philadelphia zoning needs help. The 600-plus page code is woefully out of date. And from concerned neighborhood residents to large property developers, most seem to agree that the current system tends to work against their interests in some manner.

In fact, one of the first things the ZCC did when it took up work on the project in 2007 was to produce a 180-page assessment of the current code, “which basically said it sucks,” ZCC Executive Director Eva Gladstein said last Tuesday night.

The body hopes to make recommendations by June for overhauling not only the city code document, but revamping the way people use the code too, Gladstein explained. This means developing entirely new procedures, from soup to nuts.

But, as much as East and West Mt. Airy residents seemed agreed in their praise of the ZCC’s work, many were concerned that the new, more efficient system could forget about community needs.

Sheldon Kilby noted that the Zoning Board of Adjustments (ZBA) has become a useful tool for communities even if it is over-used. By appealing to the ZBA, neighborhood groups can hold a measure of enforcement over quality of life issues when they relate to developments that might change the neighborhood, or businesses that might become a nuisance. 

“Communities have used everything, including zoning, to try to stop these kinds of businesses from coming about,” he said.

ZCC member Stella Tsai saw Kilby’s point.

“That’s going to be one of the big challenges,” she said. But she doubted that zoning was really the proper place to address some of those concerns. “We want to focus on those quality of life issues as quality of life issues – you want to be able to address those issues directly.”

Among the ZCC’s goals are to simplify the code by reducing the number of zoning districts. In many cases this could mean expanding the range of uses permitted within districts and eliminating outdated codes. Other goals include reducing the confusion when one set of zoning rules overlaps with another, simplifying the approval process for building projects, protecting the character of neighborhoods, promoting good design and sustainability, making the document itself easier to understand, and reducing trips to the ZBA for zoning variances.

Community Concerns

Despite being in the “home stretch” of creating the new code recommendations, according to Gladstein, the ZCC is still working out just how to fit community concerns into the process of construction project approval. That iffiness tends to make community groups a bit nervous.

East Mt. Airy Neighbors (EMAN) President Dan Muroff explained that his group is most effective when it can mobilize local concerns surrounding a proposed zoning issue before it goes to the ZBA for approval.

And because the ZBA takes neighborhood concerns seriously when considering variances, communities can stop poorly conceived projects form going through. He worried that expanding the rights of property owners in the zoning code by reducing the need for zoning variances at the ZBA could strip the “teeth” from community groups.

ZCC members saw these kinds of concerns being better addressed earlier in the process than typically occurs now. In basic terms, a high percentage of Philadelphia development is done through the ZBA. A developer will often receive an administrative or automatic refusal for his or her project because it does not fit with zoning, so it has become standard to take the project to the ZBA for a zoning variance. This is typically where and why developers and community members meet. The general goal for the ZCC is to design a way for these two groups to meet earlier and in less adversarial ways.

Zoning, Meet Planning

A major factor in doing this will lie in the way the new zoning categories will match with a comprehensive city plan for development that the Philadelphia City Planning Commission is working on. So, with the new plan and the new zoning, the hope is that neighborhood desires are built into the process – if not in the code, at least in the city development plan - even before any proposed projects get off the ground.

“The engagement is upfront in the planning,” Tsai summarized.

But even when pressed, ZCC members did not have details about how this new community-and-developer dialog would look. Partially because of this, the ZCC has teamed up with the Penn Project for Civic Engagement, a University of Pennsylvania agency that specializes in fostering public discussion, to help move this topic of community/developer engagement onto sturdier footing.

“Our charge is to try to find out where the common ground might be,” said Dr. Harris Sokoloff, founder of the Penn Project for Civic Engagement.

Common ground is like the Hokey Pokey, Sokoloff emphasized. It is not consensus. It is much easier to get your “left foot in” than your “whole self.” And everything that is still left “out” is important too.

“So we’re going to try and recognize what’s common and acknowledge what’s not,” he said.

Three More Forums

His organization will convene three forums over the next two weeks aimed first at developers and other professionals like lawyers and architects who appear in front of the ZBA on a regular basis on January 19. Next, on January 23, the focus will be community organizations. And on January 27 the two groups will meet together.

Unlike some past work of the Penn Project (last year’s city budget workshops being one example), which encouraged wide public participation, this series will be invitation only. In large part this is because the ZCC must conclude its public engagement process by early February.

Sokoloff is aware that such circumstances could easily invite criticism if some groups go uninvited. For that reason his organization has been working hard to contact all the city’s community groups that would likely have an interest in the forum. It started with the Planning Commission’s list of city agencies, which the Penn Project checked against lists provided by each city councilperson. Then the Penn Project vetted those results with Portfolio Associates, which has also been helping with the public engagement process of the ZCC, and other groups like the Pennsylvania Association of Community Development Corporations.

“We’re constantly trying to make sure that we’re getting the word out to as many people as possible, so as few people as possible can say ‘why wasn’t I told?’” Sokoloff said.

But Sokoloff knows they are bound to miss someone. And then they will apologize and try not to miss them again next time, he said.

Most at last Tuesday’s meeting seemed willing to admit that the zoning improvement process is . But that may be part of its nature. Derek Green, the zoning committee chair for EMAN, likened the process to “culture change.”

After the ZCC presents its recommended code and administrative changes in June, City Council must hold its own public hearings and vote on the matter within a total of six months. Assuming the new code and procedures become law, the City Planning Commission will then begin a roughly two to four year process of updating the city maps with all the new codes. At the same time City Planning will be working on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood revision of the city’s long term plan for development.

Gladstein hoped that plan would be the result of a wide cross-group dialog as well - that is, more common ground – another measure to make sure a more efficient Philadelphia zoning process would not inadvertently suppress neighborhood voices.

Captain Joseph Bartorilla is 14th’s New Top Cop



When asked his first impression of his new command, the 14th Police District, Police Captain Joseph Bartorilla replied in an interview last week, “It’s large, challenging, and very diverse.”

Capt. Bartorilla was notified only January 8 of his transfer to the 14th District, and since then he’s been busy in the process of familiarizing himself with the officers under his command and the sprawling 14th District, the largest in the city. He succeeds Captain Winton Singletary, who headed the 14th for seven years.

Capt. Bartorilla is no stranger to large police districts, however. When he was a sergeant he was assigned to the 8th Police District in the far Northeast, another huge district.  Other than their size, however, Capt. Bartorilla said, the 8th and 14th are very different, with much of the 8th being taking up with non-residential industrial parks.

In contrast, he said, “The 14th is heavily residential and built-up …  there are at least four major subdivisions: Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Germantown and West Oak Lane.” Capt. Bartorilla, 40, and a native of South Philadelphia, has been an officer since 1992, first with the Housing Police, then with the Police Department. He wanted to join the force but in 1992 a hiring freeze prevented that, he said, so he took “the first opportunity that I could, with the Housing Police.”

He joined the Police Department two years later. Steps along the way to his present assignment included serving in the 17th District in South Philadelphia as a patrolman, with the Firearms Identification Unit as a corporal, sergeant in the 8th District, and lieutenant in the 9th District in the Fairmount area.

He was promoted to captain in March, 2009 and was placed in charge of the 23rd District, headquartered at 17th and Montgomery streets.  The small 23rd (only one and a half square miles, about a tenth of the size of the 14th) was recently merged with the larger 22nd District, freeing up Bartorilla for assignment to the 14th.

High on his priorities in his new command, said Capt. Bartorilla, is, “Being visible, attending as many community meetings as possible, hearing people out and being receptive to their concerns ... my intention is to make every meeting I can and introduce myself.”  

Four of those meetings were scheduled for this week at locations around the district. Their aim was to familiarize the communities in the 14th with the new Police Service Area (PSA) system that the Police Department is in the process of implementing city-wide in every district.

When asked to describe the idea behind the PSA system, Capt. Bartorilla said, “The main focus is to return ownership of an area to individual police officers.” He then gave a bit of departmental history.

In the 1970s and 80s, he said, “Every officer had a sector [he or she was assigned to.] And a District might have had 28 cars, six wagons, a K-9 Patrol, and plainclothes officers … there’s no way the Department could maintain that today with its budget.” The good part of that set-up, he said, was that with officers assigned to specific sectors, “You took crime there personally.”

With the PSA system, he added, “Officers won’t be moving around from one end to another of the district. They’ll take ownership of their areas.“

The 14th District is divided into four PSAs. The areas they cover are:

PSA 1, Cheltenham to Chew avenues between Vernon Road/Gorgas Lane to 15th Street/Wyncote Avenue/Wister Street.

PSA 2,  Wister Street to Gorgas Lane between Chew and Germantown avenues.

PSA 3, Germantown Avenue to Wissahickon Creek from Queen Lane to Allens Lane. PSA 4, Northwestern Avenue to Vernon Road/Gorgas Lane/Allens Lane between Cheltenham Avenue and Wissahickon Creek.

Officers assigned to each PSA will report to a lieutenant responsible for that area. The lieutenants assigned to the respective PSAs are: PSA 1: Lt. Roy Jackson; PSA 2, Lt. Brian Murphy; PSA 3, Lt.  Mark Overwise; and PSA ,4, Lt. Michael Kopecki.

While specific officer deployments were still in the process of being worked out, Captain Bartorilla said, around four marked cars and at least one two-person bike team would likely be assigned to each PSA.

In the meantime, Captain Bartorilla said, he will be making himself as visible as possible and reaching out to the Northwest’s neighborhoods to foster closer ties between residents and the Police Department.

“Every community has its particular concerns,” he said. “The key is listening, responding and following up … the more community involvement you have, the easier is our job. It’s much easier to work with a community that cares.”

For more information about the 14th Police District, visit

New Books for Emlen


Staff Writer

About 50 volunteers made Martin Luther King Day count by helping Eleanor C Emlen Elementary School open a new library for its students.

“I’m excited for our children,” said Emlen Principal Richard Raisman. “This is going to be great.”

For the previous five years that school has been without a library, but thanks to a recent effort by the Chestnut Hill College School of Education and Mt. Airy USA (MAUSA), volunteers had a few thousand children’s books to catalog in the newly cleared space in the school.

Jessica Kahn of Chestnut Hill College started the effort in November getting her students and others connected with the college to donate books and a little time.

“It’s been the easiest sell,” she said. “All I have to say is ‘this is an elementary school that doesn’t have a library’ and people go, ‘that’s wrong.’”

MAUSA joined the effort by holding an ongoing book drive and recruiting a large number of volunteers from MacNeal Health Network through the Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service.

Raisman hopes to open the new library in the fall. MAUSA will keep the book drive going at least until then, and Kahn and her students will help develop the book filing system, she said.

To make book donations contact Cynthia Bradley at MAUSA, 215-844-6021. For information about Chestnut Hill College’s ongoing book drive, see page 10.

Town Watch Plans to Increase Presence



As its name suggests, the Mt. Airy-Nippon-Bryan-Cresheim Town Watch neighborhood group started out as a town watch over 20 years ago - and now would be a good time to get back to its roots, said members who attended a group meeting on Thursday, January 7 at the High Point Café in the Allen Lane Train Station.

The group’s activities cover the unit and 100 blocks of Nippon Street and Mt. Airy Avenue, Bryan Street from Allen’s Lane to Mt. Pleasant Avenue, and  Cresheim Road from Allen’s Lane to Mt. Pleasant Avenue.

It’s a quiet neighborhood with little crime, observed the meeting chair Steve Stroiman, and in his view, “We got complacent.”

What shook that complacency were a number of violent crimes within and next door to the group’s boundaries, including evening robberies on November 29 on Allens Lane,  a hold-up at gunpoint on the 7200 block of Bryan Street on December 2, and another hold-up at gunpoint on December 16 at Germantown Avenue and Nippon Street.

As a result, said Stroiman, the question was “How can we provide a presence in our neighborhood?”

Suggestions at the meeting focused on ways to provide increased surveillance of questionable activities and a more visible presence in the neighborhood.  They included ways on how to increase participation on patrolling; simply driving around the area once or twice a week; standing outside one’s house for a few minutes a night; and increasing the lighting around residences.

In a later interview Stroiman said that he had received a number of iridescent townwatch vests from Town Watch Integrated Services, increasing the number available to 20. Magnetic townwatch signs that can be affixed to cars are also available. These would help, said Stroiman, “to say we are watching and a presence here.”

At the group’s next scheduled meeting on February 4 at the High Point Cafe, Douglas Evans, community support specialist from Town Watch Integrated Services, has been invited to come address the group and share ideas and information.

For more information, e-mail Stroiman at

Zoning Hearings

The following hearings will be held at the Zoning Board of Adjustments, 1515 Arch Street, on the 18th floor. All information is according to the Community Alerting Service of the Housing Association of Delaware Valley.

Tuesday, January 26, 9:30 a.m. 7700 Crittenden St. Three zoning permits. Permit for the erection of a 90’ monopole tower with six panel antennas, six equipment cabinets at grade, and an 8’ fence, all for use as a wireless services facility on the same lot with an existing shopping center.

Wednesday, January 27, 2 p.m. 506 W. Springer St. Four use, three zoning permits. Permit for the relocation of a lot line to create four lots from one and for the erection of a three-story semi-detached structure with cellar, maximum height 35’, for use as a single family dwelling with an interior garage on each lot. 

Questions in Black History

As part of Historic Germantown’s Lunch and Learn series, Cliveden of the National Trust, 6401 Germantown Avenue, will play host to a one-hour presentation on Thursday, Feb. 4, 12:30  – 1:30 p.m., entitled “Questions in Black History.”

The lecture will be given by Philip Seitz, Cliveden’s Curator of History and Fermentation, and will explore recently uncovered documents in the Chew Family papers that reveal topics in African American history. Seitz will engage visitors to determine whether materials written by Caucasians accurately reflect the African American experience in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Join the debate and discussion in Cliveden’s historic Carriage House and get the opportunity to handle some rare documents. Don’t forget to bring a bagged lunch. This event is free and open to the public.

Call 215-848-1777 for further details.

Make Victorian Valentines at Maxwell Mansion

The Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion, 200 West Tulpehocken Street, is Philadelphia’s only authentically restored Victorian house museum and gardens.  Several years ago the Mansion instituted a series of Victorian workshops to educate the public about pastimes enjoyed by ladies and gentlemen during the Victorian era.  These workshops have become extremely popular. 

On Sunday, January 24, from 1:30-3:30 p.m., the Mansion is hosting a Victorian Valentine Workshop.  Before valentines were produced commercially, lovers constructed their own.  Learn the history of valentines and make an heirloom valentine for your sweetheart or another special person in your life.  Participants will create the valentine pictured as well as a design of their own.  To personalize the valentine, guests are encouraged to bring images and family photos.  Valentine cookies and tea will be served.  Won’t you make this Valentine’s Day special by creating a one of a kind collector’s piece? Instructor Diane Richardson is the executive director of the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion and Victorian specialist.

The cost is $25, members’ cost, $20, which includes materials. Reservations are required. Call Diane at 215-438-1861 for details and reservations. Visa and Master Card are accepted.

The Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion is part of Historic Germantown, a consortium of 15 historic sites in Germantown.  For information  visit

Afghanistan Documentary

If you question the U.S. continuing a military presence in Afghanistan, you are invited to view an outstanding DVD, “Rethinking Afghanistan,” presented by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

The well-made documentary, produced by the Brave New Foundation and directed by Robert Greenwald, takes a sober and somber look at what eight years of  U.S.-led war has meant. It delves into this question as well as what a “surge” in troops will mean in lives, destruction and its impact on the world and the lives at home in the U.S. Not only do we need to raise these questions of why we are there, we also need to raise the much-needed discussion and action on how to resist these crimes against humanity committed by our government.

The film showing and discussion takes place Saturday, January 30, 2-4 p.m., in the recreation room in Stapeley at Germantown, Greene Street and Washington Lane. For information call 215-438-5323. 

Energy Conservation

On Thursday, February 4, from 1 to 3 p.m., Wadsworth Mature Adults Group and Neighborhood Interfaith Movement’s Resources for Older Adult Living (ROAL) will host a workshop entitled “Energy Conservation” at the Dorothy Emanuel Recreation Center, 8500 Pickering Avenue. The workshop features trainers who will share information about rebates and tax credits, demonstrate how to install self-help energy saving materials and provide materials free of charge to low income people.  Participants will also receive literature on energy saving techniques for their homes and referrals to programs that can help them to make their homes more energy efficient.

ROAL@NIM is pleased to work with Wadsworth Mature Adults group to bring valuable information to the 55+ population in the Wadsworth community. ROAL’s main focus is to assure that older adults have the information they need to continue living in their homes and communities as their needs change. ROAL offers consultation, referral and problem solving around issues related to aging.

For more information call ROAL@NIM at 215-843-5602.

NWSingers Perform World Music

Our Irish are doing it in Hebrew. Our Germans are doing it in Japanese. Our Danes are doing it in Portuguese. Our Italians are doing it in Kenyan. Our English are doing in it French. Sacre bleu!

These locals are literally stretching their boundaries. They are all members of Philomusica Chorale, a community chorus based in Northwest Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs, marking its 31st season of producing high quality choral music.

With this year’s winter concert, “Around the World in 80 Minutes” on January 30 and 31, eleven Mt. Airy singers are tackling a program that takes them around the world with music from 20 countries sung in 14 different languages.

“I only wish I could visit the countries we’re singing about,” explained long-time area resident Pat Squire. “And now I can even say a word or two in Bosnian, Swahili, Finnish, Gaelic, Japanese and Russian! Who knew?”

For this concert, Philomusica Chorale’s musical director, Mt. Airy resident Gayle Wieand, got to be more than a conductor of the group’s 65 singers.

“It was fun to be something like a cultural attaché,” Wieand explained. “I enjoyed helping the chorale understand where the songs came from, why they were sung and how to pronounce phrases like ‘Bheireamaid greis air an tarrain, na maireadth na duirgh dhuinn.’”

The travelogue Wieand has planned begins in Europe and moves through Africa, Asia and Indonesia before returning to the Americas. A professional singer, composer, conductor and multi-dimensional music lover, she wanted the musical selections in this concert to make the world feel smaller.

“It’s not really about how different we are from each other; it’s about how we are the same. Human themes are universal. These are songs about love, spirituality, caring for each other, respect for the earth…and maybe a little flirtation. And it’s really good music, by good composers and arrangers.”

Jonathan Rubright, who has one of the trickiest solo parts, said at a recent practice in Mt. Airy, “Most of the songs are energetic and the pace changes often; I think the concert will keep audience members on their toes!”

And that includes kids. Philomusica always welcomes children and prepares packets to help the students learn about the classics and enjoy themselves, along with their parents. They should especially like the Taiko drummers during the group’s musical visit to Japan.

“Around The World In 80 Minutes” will be performed Saturday, January 30, 8 p.m., and Sunday, January 31, 3 p.m., at Christ’s Lutheran Church, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, Oreland. Advance tickets are $20 adults, $17 seniors, $12 students. Tickets are $25 at the door. For tickets and information call 215-247-1283 or e-mail

Info Session on Housing Program

How are Trial Loan Modifications working for homeowners? Come hear the latest information on the Making Home Affordable program from legal and housing experts with the Foreclosure Crisis Committee on Wednesday, January 26 6 p.m., at 112 North Broad Street, second floor.

The government’s Making Home Affordable program has held out the hope of affordable loan modifications. Thousands of homeowners have gotten trial modifications, but very few have been made permanent. 

Why is this so?  Will the program actually lead to permanent solutions or just delay an ultimate foreclosure? Come hear the latest on the Making Home Affordable Program. What can we do if the trial loan mods turn into foreclosures instead of  affordable mortgages?

Hear from leading housing attorneys and housing advocates from  Community Legal Services, Philadelphia Legal Assistance and the  Philadelphia Unemployment Project.

RSVP to  Tim Styer at 215-557-0822 x 103, e-mail

The event is sponsored by the Save Our Homes Coalition and the Philadelphia Unemployment Project.

Deadline for Merchants’ Fund Grants

The next grant deadline for The Merchants Fund is Monday, Feb.15, 2010 (postmarked.) 

TMF has four core grant-making areas for businesses that have been legally established for at least three years in Philadelphia:

Business Stabilization grants up to $10,000 to help small businesses remain stable, viable and grow in the face of economic challenges and opportunities.   Business Loan matches up to $20,000 to match accredited government programs or bank loans.  

Emergency grants between $1,000 and $20,000 to offset unavoidable harm caused by nature or man.  The staff must determine if your case fits the criteria for an emergency grant.  The downturn in the economic climate is not considered a valid reason for an emergency application.

The Merchants Fund also selectively awards grants to foster the betterment of a group of merchants on a corridor or in a business district. The application for this grant is not available on the web.  Call and we can talk about your ideas and plan an application.

Please note that you must email or call to have a preliminary discussion about your project and application.  The staff can help you focus your request on projects which are more likely to be funded.  Applications which have not been screened are the most likely to be turned down.

Please visit our web site for printable applications and detailed guidelines, or contact us directly by e-mail at   or  by calling 215-399-1339.  There are also brief descriptions of past grants on the web site to inspire and guide your efforts.  

Washington’s Office Haiti Aid Site

State Sen. LeAnna Washington and State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown announced that they plan to mobilize state and local leaders to help respond to the massive earthquake that devastated the Caribbean country of Haiti and caused an estimated 50,000 deaths on Tuesday. “In these incredibly tragic times that the people of Haiti are coping with, we need to do anything we can to help them rebuild their country and rebuild their lives,” Washington said. Washington said that she will be using her district office as a drop-off site for medical supplies, water, and infant supplies to be sent to the victims in Haiti. Her district office is located at 1555 Wadsworth Avenue. For information call the office at 215-242-0472. Washington said if you are looking for a way to donate immediately, the American Red Cross has instituted a text message donation system that allows you to text “HAITI” to the number 90999 to donate $10, which will be added to your next cell phone bill.

‘Catholic Intimacy’ Lecture at CHC

Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph.D., assistant professor of anthropology and sociology at Chestnut Hill College, will hold a faculty colloquium and lecture on Wednesday, January 27, at 2 p.m. in the Social Room, Fournier Hall, 9601 Germantown Avenue. Father Malloy will speak about “Sex, Science, and Spirituality: A Recipe for Catholic Intimacy.”

Father Malloy’s lecture will show how sex, science, and spirituality, with the proper understanding is the recipe for catholic intimacy, and how it can allow us to love one another and make a better world for all. His lecture will explore the cultural ramifications for Catholicism in a world constructed by the cultural assumptions of science and the rapidly transforming meanings of sexuality. The lecture aims to show how the vision and answers of Karl Rahner, Bernard Lonergan, and the Catholic Catechism provide better answers to the problems of our age than the answers provided by Hugh Hefner, Paris Hilton or the characters on television’s “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang.”

The lecture will argue that Catholicism should engage these cultural currents in dialogue, rather than retreat into condemnations of what is good and holy in sex and science. His talk will show how science can sometimes fall short in answering the ultimate questions, including: “Why are we here?” “What can we know?” and “What ought we to do?”

Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph.D. is the author of the Catholic Press award-winning “A Faith That Frees: Catholic Matters for the 21st Century” (Orbis Books) He is currently working on a new book exploring the themes of culture and spirituality and their implications on society. Malloy frequently contributes to the Busted Halo Web site and has written columns for The Huffington Post.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph.D. at 215-753-3612 or e-mail .

February Events at Germantown Jewish Centre

February events at the Germantown Jewish Centre, 400 West Ellet Street, include:  

People of the Book, Tuesday, February 2, 7:15 p.m. GJC’s book group meets monthly at our new home, Big Blue Marble Bookstore, 551 Carpenter Lane. The group reads fiction and nonfiction books of Jewish interest written mostly, but not solely, by Jewish writers and chosen by the group. Volunteer group members lead the discussion.  This monthly event is free.  This month’s selection is He, She, It by Marge Piercy. 

A Carlebach Shabbat and Potluck Dinner will be held Friday, February 5 at 6 p.m. Join us at GJC for a spirit-filled service followed by a pareve/dairy potluck.  

Service of the Heart, Saturday, February 6, 10-11 a.m. is a monthly gathering (first Shabbat of each month) that is a wordless service of niggunim (traditional tunes without words) and silence.  Participants are welcome to attend just this service or then join one of our other Shabbat services. 

Tot Havdallah will be Friday, February 6 at 6 p.m. Celebrate Havdallah with a program is geared towards toddlers and pre-schoolers and their families, followed by a dinner. The cost is $5 per person. Advanced RSVP is necessary. 

Parshat HaShavua B’Ivrit, on Saturday, February 13 at 11 a.m. is a monthly one-hour program. Discuss, in Hebrew, the weekly parsha, led by a different volunteer each time. 

Germantown Jewish Centre Drama Group, Sunday, February 21 at 7 p.m. Join us for our second season of performing plays of Jewish interest in a readers’ theater format.  Our February selection is the “Green Violin” by Elise Thoron.  We generally meet the 3rd Sunday of the month 

“What You Need to Know About Family History and Genetic Testing” will be held Tuesday, February 23 at 7 p.m. (location provided upon inquiry). Join GJC’s Women’s Club to learn more about the impact of family history on our risk for cancer and “Jewish genetic diseases.”  

“Nutrition for Optimum Health and Weight,” Wednesday, February 24 at 7 p.m. Join us for a workshop with Andrea Diamond, registered dietician, to learn what steps you can take to achieve your health and weight loss goals.  This one-time workshop may expand to an ongoing learning and support group. 

“GJC Celebrates! Purim,” will be on Saturday, February 27 and Sunday, February 28. Purim festivities begin on Saturday, February 27 at 6:30 p.m. for our Family Purim Service and Spiel.  Our adult Purim services begin at 7:30 p.m.  The fun continues on Sunday, February 28 with our Purim Carnival at 11 a.m. 

For more information on the above programs and to RSVP, e-mail to or call 215-844-1507, ext 19.

Deaf Ministry Games Night

Germantown Deaf Ministry Fellowship will hold its January Fun and Games Night on Saturday, January 30, 6-9 p.m., at the Chestnut Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church, 8700 Germantown Avenue. We need volunteers (signing and non-signing) to run the game, registration, and craft tables and to help serve refreshments. Volunteers should arrive by 5 p.m.

For information call Rosalind McKelvery at 215-275-6853 or e-mail to

Plan Now for CHCE Trips

Over the next several months, the Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment, 8431 Germantown Avenue, is sponsoring a number of day or longer trips, and the community is invited. For more detailed information and to make your reservation, contact the Center’s office at 215-248-0180 or

Trips include:

Rosenbach Museum, Center City, on Wednesday, February 10, where we will tour the house and permanent collections as well as the current special exhibit “Friend or Faux” which explores counterfeits, reproductions, copies and their impact on museums and collectors. The cost is $45 per person (non-members $50) and includes transportation, museum admission and lunch. Reservation deadline is Jan. 31.

Tropicana Casino Resort, Atlantic City, on Wednesday, March 24. The per-person cost is $50 (non-members $55) and includes transportation, the live stage show “Crocodile Rock” and lunch at Corky’s. You decide whether and how much to gamble. Reservation deadline is Feb. 12.

New York City, Saturday – Monday, April 24 – 26. Take in a museum or two, see Manhattan via the New York Harbor Tour, be entertained in the “Big Apple,” visit Ellis Island. The price also includes transportation between Chestnut Hill and New York, two nights lodging, four meals. $319 per person ($329 non-members), double occupancy. Reserve by February 1 with a $100 deposit; payment in full is due February 28.

Hawaii (Norwegian Cruise Lines), 10 days/9 nights, departing Thursday, November 11. CHCE Director Mary Zell asks you to join her for a trip back home to Waikiki where we will stay at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, with visits to Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center, Dole Pineapple Cannery, and Punahou School before leaving Honolulu (island of Oahu) for seven days cruising among the islands of Kauai, Maui and Hawaii (the “Big Island”). Rates are per person, double occupancy, and include airfare, lodging, admission to Oahu events, cruising, taxes/fees/transfers, as well as comprehensive travel insurance. An initial deposit of $550 secures reservation and “Pride of America” cabin assignment. All travelers who reserve by March 31 will receive $100 on-board credit. Final payments are due by July 31.

The Center for Enrichment is proud to serve the communities of Northwest Philadelphia and neighborhoods in nearby eastern Montgomery County. The Center maintains a full calendar of classes and activities, discussion groups, game days, exercise and travel; and is also available to share information about resources of particular interest to those “50 and better.” The Center is open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call Sue Davis and Mary Zell at 215-248-0180 or visit  

‘Theater District’ at Allens Lane

Theater District, written by Richard Kramer and directed by Travis Whitaker, will run January 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31 and February 5-6

at Allens Lane Theater, Allens Lane and McCallum Street. Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m.

Theater District is a warm, wry, heartbreaking drama by the award-winning writer of thirtysomething, My So-Called Life, and Once & Again. When 16-year-old Wesley moves in with his aloof father Kenny and Kenny’s doting boyfriend George, he soon gets swept away by the warm sophistication of George’s bustling 46th Street restaurant crowd. But for Wesley, growing up means bursting this bubble of safety and affection, and soon he and his many parents stand in the light of their own shortcomings.

The cast includes Michael McGeehan as George Bridge, Carl Heyde as Kenny Bowman, Rich Meyers as Wesley Bowman, Bonnie Kapenstein as Lola Bowman-Korman, Anthony Pierantozzi as Ben Korman, Brandon Jones as Theo Rosen and Abdul Pena as Mario Armenante.

Tickets are $18 with reservations, $20 at the door. For more information call 215-248-0546 or visit

Poetry at Big Blue Marble

Come visit the Big Blue Marble Bookstore on Friday, January 22 at 7:15 p.m. when Poetry Aloud and Alive comes out of hibernation with a spirited reading by the very spirit of the Big Blue Marble, Maleka Fruean.

Maleka is a consistent presence in the book store, keeping things running smoothly in her efficient, unassuming way. During Poetry Aloud and Alive, one of the many events she coordinates, Maleka can be found tending to the computer and the café area, and taking in the poetry.

Occasionally she treats us to a poem of her own during the open reading. Often she declines, to the chagrin of the audience.

The audience is in for an exceptional burst of poetry. If you have heard Maleka’s work, you know it is always spirited, insightful and thought-provoking. Maleka has been honing her skills, polishing her talents in writing workshops with Minter Krotzer.

Don’t text, IM, or twitter. This is an event that must be experienced live and in person. Poetry Aloud and Alive is a people-to-people face-to-face interface. This is not Facebook. At the Big Blue Marble, the books are real and so are the faces.

The poetry is guaranteed organic, recited by free-range poets (although farm-raised poets are also welcome). Non-poets are also welcome.

There will be an open reading Bring your own writing or bring any poetry you’d like to share, or just bring your ears and mind and join in the brain-exchange. We’ll share verses and thoughts with a poetic exchange of ideas, in the friendly, literary atmosphere of the Big Blue Marble Bookstore. It is an environment where poetic ideas are expressed and new poetic ideas are born.

So come enjoy the open-ears-open-minds-open-reading-go-round hosted by Mike Cohen.

Big Blue Marble Bookstore is located at 551 Carpenter Lane, a few doors from the Weaver’s Way Co-op grocery.

For more information, call 215-844-1870.

Birthworks Education at Maternal Wellness

The Maternal Wellness Center, 606 Carpenter Lane, will host Birth Educator Training on February 26, 27, and 28.

Become a BirthWorks Childbirth Educator. Birth Works embodies the philosophy of developing a woman’s self confidence, trust, and faith in her ability to give birth.

It is the goal of our Childbirth Educator and Doula Certification Programs, and our childbirth classes, to promote safe and loving birth experiences through education, introspection and confident action.

Birth Works affirms that birth is an intensely felt and uniquely empowering transformation for women, babies, and families. The three-day workshop fulfills pre-requisites for certification.

For more information e-mail Kathleen Furin at, call 215-713-2666, or  visit

Wellness Walks

The Morris Arboretum will continue their popular Wellness Walks this winter.  Arboretum Wellness Walks encourage visitors to step outside and get some exercise by walking the Arboretum’s paved paths, in a beautiful, safe environment. Wellness Walks will be offered every Saturday morning at 10:30 through March 27.  What better way to gain energy for the day! Walkers meet at the Visitors Center wearing comfortable clothing and shoes, ready to walk two mile-long loops on the paved paths.  Guides point out some of the Arboretum’s specimen trees and other distinctive features along the way, but there is no stopping to smell the roses, so to speak. The walk lasts for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, and walkers are welcome to continue on their own afterward.  And now through February 12, mention the Winter White Sale at the kiosk when you purchase an adult/senior admission at full price, and you will get the second admission free.

The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is located at 100 East Northwestern Avenue in Chestnut Hill. For information, visit

Einstein Seeks Volunteers for Mediterranean Diet Study

Albert Einstein Medical Center is starting a six-month study to test the effects of the Mediterranean diet among older African American women diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.  Twenty women will be included in the study that will evaluate the impact of the Mediterranean diet on weight, waist size, blood pressure,cholesterol and sugar levels in the blood, and quality of life factors such as depression and social support. Participants will attend an orientation meeting to learn about the Mediterranean diet and then receive personalized diet coaching for six months via email or “e-coaching.”

Metabolic syndrome includes several of the following conditions which increase the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes: high blood pressure, being overweight, higher than normal blood sugar or low levels of “good” cholesterol. Studies have shown that changing one’s diet can improve these risk factors.

The Einstein team conducting the study and interpreting the results consists of a registered dietitian, a health psychologist and a physician with expertise in metabolism and cardiac health. The team wants to look at the Mediterranean diet because it includes many foods people enjoy and is not a low fat diet. It emphasizes including monosaturated fats in one’s diet which are “good” fats like olive oil, plenty of fruits and vegetables, moderate amounts of whole grainbreads and cereals, beans, nuts, dairy and poultry, and very little red meat.

Participants will receive information about the Mediterranean diet and learn how to adapt the diet to their lives, including how to shop, cook, and adjust their favorite recipes.

Women who may have conditions associated with metabolic syndrome and who have access to email may contact Dr. Tina Harralson at 215-456-1011 for more information about participation in the study, scheduled to begin in late January.

Allens Lane Seeks Art Donations for ‘FUNdraiser’

Allens Lane Art Center is seeking artists (students, amateurs and professionals) to donate a work of art to be exhibited and sold during our upcoming exhibition “Letters to Allens Lane – A FUNdraiser,” from Friday, March 5 to April 23. Artists from throughout the region are invited to donate a single work of art (unframed) on a standard letter-size piece of paper (8 1/2” x 11”) to Allens Lane Art Center to be in this exhibition.

All artists are asked to sign their work on the back so that during the exhibition, nobody will know whose work they are purchasing until after a sale has been made.  All donated works will be exhibited in the gallery and will be for sale for just $50 each.

The exhibition will have an opening artist’s reception on Friday, March 5, 6 – 9 p.m. and all participating artists are encouraged to attend.  The reception is free and open to the public.  All works sold will go to directly benefit the programs and events at Allens Lane Art Center.

To donate your artwork, please either mail your work (large envelope with a cardboard insert to protect it is advised) to:

Allens Lane Art Center, ATTN: Letters Fundraiser,
601 West Allens Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19119.

Or you can drop off the work at Allens Lane Art Center Monday –Friday from 10 a.m. -  5 p.m. You can also drop the work off through our front-door mail slot during after hours. Work must be received no later than February 12.

Please include with your artwork the following information: your name, your address, your phone number, and your e-mail address.

Allens Lane Art Center reserves the right not to display any work deemed offensive or dangerous to our gallery patrons.

Allens Lane Art Center is located at 601 West Allens Lane between McCallum and Greene Streets. Free off-street parking is available.   For information about Allens Lane’s programs, events and opportunities, visit or call 215-248-0546.

Obituary: Ernestine O’Connor

Ernestine Eufaula (Francis) O’Connor was born December 20, 1920 in Washington County, Georgia.

Ernestine was the fourth child born to the late Lenzy and Rose Ann Francis. Ernestine had a brother, Albert; a sister, Mary, sister Delores; and sister, Rose, who all preceded her in death. She has one remaining sibling, Fletter Dade.

Ernestine was educated in the Philadelphia school system, and later in life obtained her high school diploma by attending night school.

Ernestine accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savior early in her life at the Israelite Baptist Church with her family, and later in life became a member of White Rock Baptist Church. She remained a faithful and dedicated member to her church family even when her health started failing and she could not attend on a regular basis. Ernestine was a dedicated member of the Sheepfold of Joshua and James Ministry, past President of the Willing Workers Circle, the Women’s Missionary Union, and the Eastern Region Women’s Ministry TBSC. In 2001 she received The Dedicated and Distinguished Service Award from The Willing Workers.

Ernestine enjoyed a long illustrious career with the City of Philadelphia as a law clerk and retired after many years of dedicated service. She stayed in touch with the numerous friends and co-workers she’d made during her years of service. She had a special friendship with Vivian Gordon. To her life’s end they kept in touch regularly, and attended many outings and family functions together.

In the early 1960s Ernestine married the love of her life, Hydrick (Harry) O’Connor, who preceded her in death in March of 1984. They spent their many years together traveling and enjoyed attending church as well as being with family as often as they could. Although no children were born during their marriage, Ernestine showed devoted love for her stepson, Hydrick O’Connor, Jr.

Ernestine had the same spirit and love for her community as she had for her church family and belonged to many civic/community organizations to which she was involved until her health started to fail. She was involved with the 14th Police District Clergy Unit and helped to plan as well as cook for the Annual Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner for the officers. She was on the Board of Directors of EMAN (East Mount Airy Neighbors) for 24 years. Ernestine took on the task of writing the crime report each week for the former Germantown Courier and Mt. Airy Times Newspapers. She was serious about politics and did her civic duty by being a great committeeperson; you could count on seeing her at the polls on every election day.  She received an award from Northwest Victim Services; the Edgar A Baker Award from the Board of Directors of East Mt. Airy for Outstanding Community Service; and an Award of Merit for 24 years of service with the East Mt. Airy Neighbors Association.

Ernestine had a pleasant personality and she stood firmly on her beliefs. She never changed, and diversity was her name, as she could rub shoulders with the best of the best. She loved all types of music, as well as being an avid reader of books, newspapers and magazines. She had a great love for the theater, organizing trips and great food. Ernestine loved to cook and she enjoyed doing that for friends as well as her beloved family. There was always some good food, great conversation and fun at her family dinners. Her many nieces and nephews will never forget all the love that she had for each and every one of them. Ernestine loved animals and had numerous cats and birds during her lifetime.

On January 14 during a tragic fire in her home, God sounded his trumpets and called Ernestine home. She leaves to mourn her loss a sister, Fletter Dade; her stepson, Hydrick O’Connor, Jr,; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and other family members along with her White Rock family.

Funeral services will take place Saturday, January 23, 10 a.m., at White Rock Baptist Church, 53rd and Chestnut streets. There will be no viewing. 


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