From the Chronicle • Germantown News Stories

November 12, 2009 • Germantown Chronicle. Nov. 12.pdf

In This Issue

Settlement Sued  for Back Taxes by City, State

Grant to GHS Will Expand Student Resources, Programs

Born in Protest, Dignity Housing Strives On Homeless’ Behalf

‘Shopping with Dignity’ Supports Housing Program

Review:‘A Body of Water’ Raises Fascinating Questions

Captivating Stories at Tellebration 2009

Peace Event

Forum Spotlights 1928 ‘Negro Achievement Week’

Chestnut Hillers Raise Celiac Awareness

Art Garage Launches Arts & Crafts Market

Free Flu Shots

Festival of Choirs at Summit Presby

Music at FUMCOG

Ed Seminar at New Gethsemane

2nd Baptist Christmas Bazaar

Face to Face Open House

At Mt. Zion

Blood Pressure, HIV Screenings

Volunteers Sought for WMAN Tree Planting

Silk Ribbon Embroidery at Maxwell

Community Park Meetings

Emergency Preparedness Meetings

Home Modifications for Seniors

Pinecones Sought for Greens Sale

GGBA/MABA Business Seminar

Queer Literary Festival

About the Phillies

Off-Season Roster Changes Begin

Following months of work to locate a new store location for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s (LCB) Wine and Spirits Shop, now at 135 West Chelten Avenue, and at times loud opposition to the suggested new site at DeBeary Square, the LCB decided not to pursuit that location. Results of a recent survey about the move ran cool to mixed from affected community groups, according to State Rep. John Myers’ Chief of Staff Stephen Kinsey, and the proposed location would have put the new and expanded store directly adjacent to the Whosoever Gospel Mission, which runs substance abuse programs. The LCB has said it will seek an alternative location. 

Settlement Sued  for Back Taxes by City, State


Staff Writer

A civil suit filed October 27 by the City of Philadelphia holds the top management of the non-profit Germantown Settlement personally responsible for the organization’s alleged failure to pay city wage taxes on behalf of its employees for the 2007 and 2008 tax years.

The lawsuit names four co-defendants, including the organization’s president, Emanuel Freeman, and alleges that they owe the city $209,000 in taxes and penalties for deducting wage taxes from employee paychecks but failing to pay that money to the city.

“As a matter of law,” the complaint reads. “Defendant Officers are personally responsible and individually liable for the entire amount of the unpaid Wage Tax due the city, and the accrued interest and penalties.”

Also named in the suit were Settlement workers Bruce Tabbs, Cheryl Covington and Alisa Cummings-Kennedy all of whom, the city complaint alleges, “violated the Philadelphia Code thirty-eight times for failing to file and or pay the taxes when they were due.”

Freeman, Tabbs, Covington and Cummings-Kennedy did not respond to requests for comment.

Then, on October 30, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue filed a lien against Settlement for just over $53,000 in withheld employee personal income taxes that were allegedly not paid to the state. $234,000 in unresolved state tax liens were filed earlier against Settlement for other employee withholdings that allegedly went missing over 2008 and 2009. 

Court claims and judgments against Settlement going back through 2008 now total more than $10 million. Settlement’s three-year backlog of unfilled financial audits has also cost the organization close to a million dollars in planned city funding this year. A recent electrical fire on October 22 that destroyed the organization’s computer room is not likely to make catching up on its books any quicker.

That might not be good news for the 20 to 30 employees who were not paid for their work in Settlement programs since January of this year, some of whom are now contemplating their own suit against the agency.

“I don’t care if we’re last on the list, I want to get something saying that we will get the salary that is owed,” said one former worker who spoke on condition of anonymity.

There was one bit of positive news last week with regard to a Settlement-owned property. On Friday, November 6, a large crew from the Department of Licenses and Inspections showed up at the former Germantown YWCA building at 5420 Germantown Avenue to board it up.

 The nearby Center in the Park senior activity center was abuzz with excitement at seeing the workers clearing overgrown vegetation and boarding up the open doors and windows at the huge building. It was one step in addressing what has become a major nuisance to CIP and the next-door mature adult facility, Maple Village Apartments.  

“I’m just glad to see it,” said CIP Executive Director Lynn Fields Harris. “I know that we are constantly calling 911.”

The rear section of the building juts in between CIP and Maple Village, making it difficult for seniors to pass between the two facilities without facing the deteriorating YWCA building. Seniors and CIP administrators have long worried about the types of activities the long-vacant building was attracting.

“We’re not safe,” said Maple Village resident Nettie Harris. “You never know who’s gonna grab you.”

After the YWCA closed several years ago due to financial troubles, the City Redevelopment Authority (RDA) tried to sell the building. Settlement gained control over it in May 2006, with the stipulation that it be renovated and given over to community use, according to court documents filed in July by the RDA. Since then, its condition has severely deteriorated and it was never opened to community use - at least not officially. Captain Winton Singletary, commander of the 14th Police District, has known of at least one aspect of the building’s use for some time.

“Homeless guys were getting in there and living in there,” he said.

According to Harris and CIP Associate Director Renee Ginchereau it was also widely suspected that people were using it as a drug house or for sex.

But because the owner was unresponsive, (L&I inspected the building and issued notices of violations September 2 and followed up after 60 days when Settlement didn’t respond, according to L&I spokesperson Maura Kennedy), there wasn’t much to do except call the authorities when something potentially dangerous happened. Ginchereau and Fields Harris spoke of people throwing things out of the upper windows into the alley below and Fields Harris said, “I know that some have called [to report problems] because they saw small fires in there at night.” 

In the RDA’s July lawsuit it moved to reassume control of the building and vanquish more than $850,000 in IRS liens attached to the building for unpaid federal employee withholdings. A few days later, following private discussions with Freeman, the RDA decided to hold off on that plan for an unspecified amount of time to give Settlement another chance to get its books back in order and come up with a new development plan that would involve the new real estate firm BlueStone Real Estate Capital, which is interested in developing the building. 

Grant to GHS Will Expand Student Resources, Programs


Editorial Staff Intern

Germantown High School (GHS), 40 East High Street, has received a $6.4 million grant to provide ninth grade students with the support and skills they need to graduate and compete in a global economy. 

The money is part of a $49 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that was awarded last year to seven Philadelphia High schools: Germantown, Bartram, West Philadelphia, FitzSimons, Lincoln, Overbrook and University City, said Courtney Collins-Shapiro, director of Multiple Pathways to Graduation for the School District of Philadelphia.

“The goal is to dramatically transform these schools,” said Collins-Shapiro. One of the criteria for the grant was that the schools be “persistently dangerous” and consistently fail to meet academic targets. “We want to stop that trend ... to an expectation that it’s safe and students there go to college.”

Last year the school district created a 14-month planning and implementation program. The $49 million grant must be spent by August 31, 2011, said Collins-Shapiro.

Every school must have a comprehensive plan that includes a mentoring program, education strategies, academic goals, social services, case management and an environment and climate program. Under the grant, schools are prohibited from hiring more school police or school psychologists. The aim is to make sure the proposal is focused and aligned with the district’s five-year Imagine 2014 Plan, said Collins-Shapiro.

In July, 2009, using grant funds, the Summer Bridge program was implemented at GHS to help ninth graders transition to high school by providing them with orientation, academic support, trips to colleges and universities, and an opportunity to connect and bond as a class, said GHS Principal Margaret Mullen-Bavwidinsi.

The purpose of the grant is to expose kids to the world of work said Mullen-Bavwidinsi. 

In November, the school will implement a Student Success Center where all students can go to receive career counseling, mentoring and access to social services, said Mullen-Bavwidinsi.

Funding from the grant has allowed GHS to provide students with the support services they need so they can focus on graduating, she said.

Besides the academic component, the grant allows the students the opportunity to take paid internships at various community businesses, including  PSTV Channel 52, the School District of Philadelphia’s cable station.  Students learn skills they can apply at various jobs in the real world, said Mullen-Bavwidinsi. 

GHS has a dual-enrollment program with La Salle University that allows students to take college courses while they are in high school.  Students also have the opportunity to shadow employees at law firms or architect firms, said Mullen-Bavwidinsi.

And it is having a positive impact on the students, she said. Attendance for the 1,023-member student body is up 10 percent from 2008. The grant has allowed GHS to purchase programs and offer workshops that empower students and parents, she added. 

Two such programs are “Bear Essentials” for parents and “Bear Necessities” for students. (The GHS mascot is the bear.) Both are offered on Saturdays.

In Mullen-Bavwidinsi’s view, high school staff as well as the students’ family members need to be speaking the same language to establish a single school culture. The school model is “One Vision, One Voice,” she said.

“I am proud of them,” said Mullen-Bavwidinsi. “They want to succeed. And we will be here to help them every step of the way.”

As for herself, said Mullen-Baywidinsi, “Consistency is a key component in providing a stable environment.  Almost every year, there has been a new principal at Germantown. I plan on being here a while.”

Born in Protest, Dignity Housing Strives On Homeless’ Behalf

Radiyah Bankhead plans to buy her first home in the Cedarbrook area courtesy of the Dignity Housing Future Homes Program. Here she enjoys the airy front stoop with three of her children, from left, My-God (7), Allah (8) and Radiant (2). Not pictured was Essence, aged 3. 


Staff Writer

On a warm summer evening on a well-maintained residential block in Cedarbrook, Radiyah Bankhead and her four children moved into their first house. The paint was fresh, the floors were clean and the walls were bare, and as for any family new to a neighborhood, the house needed a lamp or chair here, a dresser there.

But this move was part of a three-year struggle for Bankhead to pull herself and her four children from the shattering experience of homelessness and build a new life from a dream that once seemed impossible.

This was not the happy ending to Bankhead’s dream, however. Only after she pays thirty percent of her rent on this home into an escrow account for two years will she have enough savings for a down payment to buy it from Dignity Housing of Germantown. And then she’ll still have the mortgage, and if present patterns hold, two jobs to maintain.

Dignity Housing doesn’t exactly do happy endings. Or  perhaps more to the point, the  “housing program built by protests” doesn’t do snapshots at all. It’s more about process and forming the kind of life that can deliver on the dream, knowing that miracles don’t happen in moments, but along the way.

“The thing that distinguishes Dignity, I think, from other affordable housing programs is our commitment, really, to moving people up and out of poverty,” said Executive Director Alicia Christian. “We see no benefit in teaching them how to be poor better.”

Over the course of 21 years Dignity has grown from a mass takeover by homeless families of unoccupied federal Housing and Urban Development-owned homes in the city that eventually won the organization a 200-unit concession from HUD’s unused property.

From that founding fire Dignity has grown into a small, tough organization that, as a matter of habit as much as principle, refuses to concede ground when it comes to what it takes to help people out of homelessness. And, for many, what it takes is more than what public funding allows.

“Our commitment to a model to really try to move people out of poverty is one that we have not compromised,” Christian said.

Not just housing

Dignity is not just been about subsidized housing. Even through times of extreme scarcity the agency has maintained a heavy focus on helping its renters get healthy, stay sober, develop job skills, advance in education, develop better parenting practices, put money in the bank, find a job, improve life skills and in general learn how to keep themselves from falling back into homelessness.

All together, these programs tend to fall outside what HUD is currently calling an “emphasis on housing activities,” according to Roberta Cancellier, deputy director of the city’s Office of Supportive Housing. Also known as the “Housing First” model, HUD’s favored approach to homelessness holds that directing money primarily to stable housing can solve many of the issues covered by the additional services that programs like Dignity provide. Health, for example, tends to improve dramatically when one has a roof over one’s head.

But for a transitional housing agency that wants to see families maintain themselves when they leave in five years, it doesn’t make sense to ignore people’s need to learn new ways of dealing with the trials of life, most at Dignity believe.

“That’s probably appropriate for some people,” Christian said of the Housing First model. “But others are underserved by saying ‘we’re going to bring you up to Skid Row functionality level.’ ” 

Funding pinch

Since about 2004 HUD has been scaling back on the money it provides for programs that bundle social services with housing. This has put the Office of Supportive Housing in a tough spot, forcing it to issue stricter city-wide caps on the amount of services it will fund with HUD money. According to Cancellier this is the only way Philadelphia can remain competitive with other cities under the new HUD guidelines. It’s a hard pill to take.

“On the local level it’s been very challenging,” she said. But, she added, it’s not that HUD thinks supportive services are not important, it’s a matter of who should be funding them.

Increasingly, then, agencies like Dignity have turned to foundations and private funders to help keep their social service programs going. But with no corresponding increase in the amount of non governmental funding and a recession in full effect for the last year, it has become the classic problem of how many times you can divide the pie, according to Rick Sauer, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Development Corporations (PACDC).

There is another long-building problem. According to Dignity, it started with years of HUD delay in providing those promised housing units to Dignity from long ago, and it went on to additional delays with corresponding rental subsidies, plus, a locked-in rental subsidy rate that has never been sufficient. Because of this Christian estimated that eleven years ago Dignity was losing $15,000 per month and running deep in the red.

Christian and Deputy Director Beverly Roberts decided they would do whatever it took to keep things going, so they cashed in their retirement funds and donated them to Dignity. And then they struck their future retirement obligations from the agency’s budget forever. 

But now both women are 62 and looking at even more restrictive HUD guidelines than before. Also, Dignity carries an aging housing stock that costs more to maintain than HUD provides in subsidies, and, as is true for most housing agencies, its long-term building maintenance needs are not covered by any source of public funding and few private ones. Understandably, then, the co-directors are slightly less idealistic than they were in their fifties.

“We don’t regret keeping the doors open, but we do regret that decision,” Christian said of cashing in the retirement funds. “I’m looking back on 21 years with pride, but I’m incredibly frustrated the Dignity funding cycle continues to threaten its viability. Every three to five years we’re wondering if we can keep the doors open.”

Enter stimulus money

Over the last few months PACDC conducted a survey of its member agencies and found that securing funds for long-term building maintenance is a universal problem, Sauer said. So Dignity and PACDC applied for some of these stimulus funds through the Office of Supportive Housing last month. If the grant comes through Dignity will get $650,000. Combine that with a recent $190,000 legislative earmark for Dignity provided by U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah (D, PA), and the agency may, for the first time, have a substantial sum it can devote to much-needed building preservation.

That could mean opening several homes that Dignity had to mothball because the funds were not there to maintain them, and it should help many more buildings stay viable into the future.

But even this isn’t “happy days are here again,” Christian warned. “The Oprah Dream” would be an additional $1.5 million. With that kind of money the agency could upgrade all of its rental units and fully fund its social service component. To that end, Dignity and PACDC plan to use the current grant to pressure the city and state for some form of dedicated building preservation program for transitional housing agencies, which is likely to be another uphill battle.

But then again, Dignity doesn’t do miracles. That job is up to people like Radiyah Bankhead.

Sitting on the couch in her new living room that summer evening with three of her children pressed close, Bankhead spoke to Christian and Roberts and several Dignity officials there to welcome her to her new home. She smiled most of the time.

In addition to everything else in her schedule, she attends the Community College of Philadelphia to eventually become a nurse midwife after earning her Associate’s Degree. Bankhead is certainly driven. But she stressed that having the support from Dignity - not just in the form of a place to live, but in the personal contact and advocacy - was a big difference in her life. 

“Being here [at Dignity] has helped me stay focused because I was hurting from the negativity [of her previous situation],” she said. “And I was able to focus on what I needed to get done.”

And with family, job, school and savings all on track, there is one big step remaining. “Putting in that down payment and being a homeowner – that’s what I look forward to.”

To donate to Dignity call up the agency at 215-713-0960. Or do Shopping for Dignity November 27 when the following Northwest businesses will donate a portion of their Black Friday sales to Dignity Housing: Rothe Florists, Trolley Car Diner, 10,000 Villages, The Hill Tea Bar, Artisans on the Avenue and Earth Bread and Brewery.

‘Shopping with Dignity’ Supports Housing Program

An event that offers Philadelphians a way to save money while buying holiday gifts, support the local economy, and donate to a deserving non-profit organization has finally arrived.  Dignity Housing has partnered with several small business owners to host the first annual Shopping for Dignity on November 27 and December 16.

When shoppers purchase items at the participating businesses, it will have a double impact.  They will put money back into their community, and make a contribution to directly benefit homeless families and individuals. Fifteen percent of sales will be donated to Dignity Housing, 5221 Germantown Avenue, a nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing and social services in Northwest Philadelphia.

Shopping for Dignity will feature several successful Germantown Avenue businesses on Nov.27, including Ten Thousand Villages, Rothe Flowers, The Trolley Car Diner, The Hill Tea Bar, Lemons and Limes, and Majeki’s Stained Glass Works. DecemberFest, which gives shoppers gift certificates for spending holiday dollars at local businesses, will also take place on Nov. 27, enabling consumers to triple the impact of their shopping.  In addition, Earth Bread + Brewery and Artisans on the Avenue will participate on Dec. 16.

“This event is particularly appealing because it enables consumers to buy gifts while having a powerful effect on their community,” says Andrea Abrams-Herbert, owner of Artista on Germantown Avenue.

All consumers who are interested in making a difference in their community while saving money can participate by having a drink, dining out, or buying a few gifts to help the homeless and support small businesses.

For more information about Shopping for Dignity or Dignity Housing visit For more information about DecemberFest visit

Review: ‘A Body of Water’ Raises Fascinating Questions

In the Drama Group’s current production “A Body of Water” by Lee Blessing, Marty Sherman and Carole Mancini (seated) play a couple who have no memories of who they are. Jennifer Beatty (standing) has all of the answers.

Photo by T. Patrick Ryan.


Guest Writer

“A Body Of Water,” a play by Lee Blessing, directed by Shelli Pentimall and assisted by T. Patrick Ryan, is being presented by the Drama Group, First United Methodist Church of Germantown, 6001 Germantown Avenue.

A middle-aged man and woman each wake up in a house they do not recognize. They do recognize the hill it sits upon. They do not recognize the body of water that nearly surrounds it. They do not recognize each other. They do not recognize their own names.

The plot device of having a character lose his memory has been around longer than even I would care to remember. But two characters? Simultaneously?

After interrogating each other and coming up with no answers, they are soon joined by a younger woman dressed in athletic attire, carrying a brief case, and delivering bagels in flavor varieties she claims both the older man and woman like. The bagel offer is pretty much the only pleasant thing to come from her mouth, as she complains of having to do the same things with them each day, to answer the same questions of them, to “suffer” them. She is snide, vaguely accusing. Her presence and speech are intimidating.

At this performance, the mystery was immediately established and the audience was pulled into this story fast.

But what about the older woman and her memories? What does the man ever recall? Are they a couple? Are they prisoners in this house? Were they lowered into the house by helicopter? Is this the work of the CIA? All seems possible, but never probable. The younger woman sadistically doles out information a drop at a time.

Carole Mancini plays the woman with no past. Marty Sherman is the man. Jennifer Beatty portrays their arch and angry contact with the outside world. Their acting is to the letter. A simple family room design is their only set. And as the actors go through the five scenes of this 90-minute play, they take no intermission. The transition between scenes is simply to have the stage go dark, then to be briefly lit by dark blue bulbs.

With fine acting and direction, the only issue might be with the playwright. I would be pleased to see Beatty, Mancini, and Sherman perform again. I believe I would enjoy another play directed by Shelli Pentimall. But Lee Blessing, on the teaching staff at Rutgers University, is someone I really need to meet. The author of the play “A Walk In The Woods,” a tale about a relationship between a Russian treaty negotiator and his American counterpart (nominated for a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize in the 1980s), in “A Body Of Water” he torments the audience with the possibility of solving the amnesiacs’ puzzle. He shuffles the mood of this play, shifting it from something reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock plot to a Twilight Zone episode, to something mighty like the existentialist classic “No Exit.”

How does “A Body of Water” end?

If I answered that question, the Drama Group, Lee Blessing, and the folks from the Unaffiliated Theatre Critics of American would have me eliminated. But for play-goers who enjoy using their powers of reason and deduction, this piece offers up questions that are worth the price of admission.

Remaining performances are November 13, 14, 20, 21 at 8 P.M. Admission is $14, in advance; $15 at the door. For tickets and information call 215-844-0724 or visit

Captivating Stories at Tellebration 2009

Linda Goss (pictured) has been performing and teaching storytelling for over thirty years.  She is a pioneer and one of the leading experts in contemporary African-American storytelling, known for her call and response performances.  On Saturday, November 21, she joins six local storytellers for Tellebration 2009.

The concert is at 2 p.m. in St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church Parish Hall, Willow Grove Avenue at St. Martins Lane in Chestnut Hill.  It is a joint effort of Patchwork: A Storytelling Guild and Keepers of The Culture.  Linda Goss is a founding member of both organizations.

“Tellebration is part of the nationwide celebration of the stories that give each culture its richness and diversity,” said Dennis Strain, president of Patchwork: A Storytelling Guild.  “Linda Goss has been an inspiration for those seeking to preserve and nurture the African-American culture.  We are honored to have her as our featured storyteller.”

Linda Goss is the Artist-In-Residence of the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia.  She has performed in over 30 states, in addition to Canada and Trinidad.  In 1984, Mayor Goode named her the Official Storyteller of Philadelphia, a title she holds to this day.

“I am a storyteller, a gatekeeper of the culture, a dreamweaver of the spoken word,” says Goss.  “All of my work is built around the transformative power of storytelling, empowering all people to acknowledge and express their stories.”

Ron Carter, heading Keepers of the Culture, acknowledges the importance of her leadership.  His group of African American tellers draws on stories from the distant past and the tales born each day on the streets of our city.  “The theme of Tellebration 2009 in Philadelphia is ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ and Linda has shown us the way to reach that pot of gold,” he said.

For tickets and information about Tellebration 2009 in Philadelphia, contact Vernyce Dannells at 215-275-9324.  Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.

Peace Event

On Nov. 15, 23 peace groups will hold a March Against Death Peace Event, 2-4 p.m., near Senator Arlen Specter’s home on West Schoolhouse Lane (at Vaux Street) in Germantown. They want Specter to cut off funding for the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and to bring the troops home now.

On this date in 1969, half a million protesters demonstrated in Washington, D.C., against the U.S. occupation of Vietnam.

The War on Terror Peace Event has been endorsed by, among others, Brandywine Peace Community, Catholic Peace Fellowship,  Code Pink Philadelphia, Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia, Green Party of Montgomery County, Green Party of Philadelphia, Military Families Speak Out, Northeast Philly for Peace and Justice, Northwest Greens, Peace Action of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Regional Anti-War Network,  Philadelphia War Resisters League, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Suburban Philadelphia Greens, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

For information, e-mail or call 215-843-4256.

Forum Spotlights 1928 ‘Negro Achievement Week’

Historic Germantown Freedom’s Backyard invites the public to a special forum on Thursday evening, November 19: “Working Together: When the Harlem Renaissance Came to Germantown,” highlighting a historic local event which few of us today have heard of, the Negro Achievement Week celebration held in Germantown in April 1928.

The forum will be held at 7 p.m. at Center in the Park, in Vernon Park, 5818 Germantown Avenue. 

Heralded at the time as “The Biggest Event of Its Kind Ever Held in Germantown,” Philadelphia’s Negro Achievement Week was produced by the local YWCA, area schools and local black colleges, after the model introduced and promoted by Howard University professor Carter Woodson in the 1920s.

In 1928, Center in the Park was the site of the Germantown Public Library, itself one of the venues for Negro Achievement Week events. 

The November 19 forum will include an illustrated overview of the 1928 century celebration, presented by Dr. David W. Young, president of Historic Germantown (HG), after which members of the audience are invited to participate in an open discussion, sharing their impressions and thoughts on the event itself and its legacy.  Germantown High School students from the Germantown Speaks project, a complementary oral history program partnership involving Neighborhood Interfaith Movement (NIM), Partners for Sacred Places and others, will be on hand to record audience discussions.  

“Working Together” is one in a series of forums to be offered by Historic Germantown, in conjunction with its year-long “Germantown Works” project, an initiative supported by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Heritage Philadelphia Program. For information on the forums call  the HG program office at 215-844-1683 or e-mail

Historic Germantown is a consortium of fourteen cultural and historic sites located in Northwest Philadelphia. The members range from historic houses to an art museum and arboretum. The mission of Historic Germantown is to foster an appreciation of the diverse character and meaning of our cultural heritage in order to preserve and revitalize our community.  To this end, we cooperate in providing knowledge and resources to help preserve Germantown’s historic sites, interpret them to the public, and incorporate them into the life of the local community. 

For information about Historic Germantown, visit

Chestnut Hillers Raise Celiac Awareness



Did you know that an estimated three million-plus Americans suffer can’t tolerate gluten, an elastic, protein component of wheat, rye, and barley? The condition is called celiac disease. If an individual with celiac disease ingests a food that contains gluten, it triggers an autoimmune response in their small intestine.  Unfortunately, despite the prevalence of celiac disease, the syndrome often goes undiagnosed.

Chestnut Hill resident Alice Bast is the founder and executive director of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA). Bast said, “In 2004, celiac disease was reclassified from a rare disease of childhood to a common disease affecting one percent of the population.  Yet physicians are not aware of the fact that the disease is indeed common.”

She clarified, “The most difficult impediment in raising awareness about celiac disease is that there is no drug or medicine to treat celiac disease. There is no money or support from the pharmaceutical industry.  Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies hire detail sales reps to educate the physician community about new advances in a disease.” 

Recently, NFCA held their annual  fundraiser, the evocatively-titled “Appetite for Awareness.” Bast recounted the birth of the event. “I was a working with a class of students at Drexel University and their challenge was to come up with a signature event for the NFCA.  I did not want to hold a run, walk or the like, but to create an event that would integrate the medical and lifestyle aspect of the disease together.”

Bast explained, “We raised money and awareness all in one event. Physicians were educated about celiac disease … “92 percent of physicians said the event changed their practice.”

Bast added,  “Chefs had to go through our Gluten-Free Education and Awareness Training course to learn all about keeping celiacs safe.” For Appetite for Awareness, chefs from over 25 of the Delaware Valley’s most-highly regarded restaurants created gluten-free dishes. According to Bast, “The general public was able to attend the most innovative, not to mention delicious, gluten-free event in the nation.”

Bast said that fellow Chestnut Hill residents David and Dorothy Binswanger, played a pivotal role in the event. “When we started, Appetite for Awareness was a private event.  The Binswangers most graciously opened up their home to about 400 friends and family.” As part of this year’s event, NFCA honored John Binswanger (father of David Binswanger) and his family for their leadership and support of the organization. Bast lauded them, saying, “John Binswanger and his family have a legacy of support for healthcare initiatives and have been instrumental in NFCA’s efforts to drive diagnosis and improve quality of life for people with celiac disease.”

Appetite for Awareness has demonstrated a dramatic growth trajectory since its inception. Starting last year, the event moved to the Wachovia Center. The use of the facility was generously donated by Comcast-Spectacor Chairman, Ed Snider, who is a member of the NFCA Board of Directors. This year, the commodious space drew over 1,400 attendees.

Bast cited the advances made by NCFA. “We have made great strides in raising awareness. Just walk into restaurants in the Philly area and you will see gluten-free offerings on the menu.”

She pointed out, “Six years ago, if I asked a waiter to make my meal gluten-free, he or she just stared at me.  Now, there is at least a look of recognition.”

Now, if you have celiac disease, gluten-free options are readily available. Bast enthused, “People who attended the event just came up and hugged me. They had never experienced anything like it.”

For further information on NCFA, visit

Nathan Lerner is the Director of Davenport Communications. He welcomes feedback at

Art Garage Launches Arts & Crafts Market

The Mt. Airy Art Garage is launching a weekend Arts and Crafts Market at 542 West Carpenter Lane.

Mt. Airy Art Garage started out as a vision for co-founders Arleen Olshan and Linda Slodki: to build a partnership with Weavers Way; to launch an ongoing weekend Fine Arts and Handcrafts Market where neighbors can bring their families and friends to eat, drink, buy special gifts, and support artists; to create an art cooperative where art, studio space, and galleries would become a reality in 2010; to highlight artists and bring neighbors into a new venue that is part of the developing Northwest Village of Germantown, Mt. Airy, and Chestnut Hill.

Last week this vision began moving toward becoming a reality. Twenty artists met at Weavers Way, representing custom leatherworkers, jewelers, mixed media and fiber artists, sculptors, photographers, painters — talent all from the Northwest. They rolled up their sleeves and are working hard to make this a reality.

The Mt. Airy Art Garage already represents new faces, familiar faces, professional artists, emerging artists, older artists, younger artists.

Linda Slodki added, “You may just find a rainbow of work, culture, and experience. We believe we are in the beginnings of a truly diverse and cooperative effort.”

The Market will launch its opening in December. It will be open from 10 a.m - 6 p.m. on December 5-6, December 12-13, and December 19-20.

Artists are invited to attend our meetings, and join us. Be a part of our vision. Become a volunteer and help make this a reality.

For more information, e-mail or call 215-247-5309.

Free Flu Shots

Free flu shots will be given on Friday, November 20, 1-3 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown, 35 West Chelten Avenue, sponsored by Northwest EPIC Stakeholders and Quality Community Health Care. Reservations are not necessary, simply walk in. For information call Nan Rhone, EPIC coordinator, at 215-549-2686.

The Miraculous Medal Shrine, located at 500 East Chelten Avenue, will be welcoming over 10,000 people during its Solemn Novena starting Monday November 16 to the following Tuesday November 24th.  They have between 9 and 6 services everyday - to see a schedule of times go to or call 215-848-1010. Each day a different group will be the focus of the intentions prayed for.  All are welcome.

Festival of Choirs at Summit Presby

A “Festival of Choirs” will be held Sunday, Nov. 15, 3 p.m., at Summit Presbyterian Church, Greene and Westview streets.

As part of its 125 Anniversary Celebration Summit Church invites the community to a concert featuring three area choirs:  the Mishkan Shalom Community Choir directed by Janice Hamer;  the Chancel Choir of Reformation Lutheran Church, directed by Charlene Jenkins; and the Summit Choir and Handbell Ringers directed by Gayl Koster.   

The concert – 70 voices strong – features choral music from the Baroque period to the present, including works by Mendelssohn, Sibelius and Bleckner. The Handbell Ringers will perform a work written by Mt. Airy resident Thomas Whitman to commemorate Summit’s anniversary. 

No tickets are needed  A free-will offering will be taken for a fund to restore the church building used by dozens of community groups.  A post-concert reception with homemade tea sandwiches, cookies and punch follows. 

Call 215-438-2825 for more information.

Music at FUMCOG

The Rutgers Collegium Musicum, the early music vocal ensemble of Rutgers University, presents “Music from the Sistine Chapel” on Sunday, November 15 at 4 p.m. at First United Methodist Church of Germantown, 6001 Germantown Avenue. A free-will offering of $10 per person is suggested.

Ed Seminar at New Gethsemane

A free education seminar hosted by the Education Ministry of New Gethsemane Baptist Church, 917 East Chelten Avenue, will be held Saturday, November 21 at 1 p.m. Educators will provide information about pre-school, kindergarten, charter schools, high schools, magnet programs, colleges and more. For information call 215-848-0292.

2nd Baptist Christmas Bazaar

Second Baptist Church of Germantown, 6459 Germantown Avenue, invites you to come to our Annual Christmas Bazaar on Saturday, November 21, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. This will take place both indoors and outdoors (weather permitting). Don’t come alone, bring friends and family! 

The Bazaar will feature an array of items from toys, books, clothing, gifts and much more. There will be a Silent Auction and White Elephant Sale. This year will include food, crafts and games for the children.  Don’t know what to give for a gift? How about a picture with Santa?  Come shop, eat, and fellowship as we welcome in the holiday season.  All proceeds will help fund the children activities and programs sponsored by the Board of Christian Education.

Are you a history buff?  Come and check out the History of Second Baptist Germantown: An Integrated Church for an Integrated Community by Genester Nix Miller or be blessed by Tempted to Leave the Cross, a collection of past inspiring and motivating sermons of Reverend Ernest R. Flores, pastor of Second Baptist Church of Germantown. Both will be available for purchase.

All vendors are welcomed. If you are interested, call the Church at 215-849-0257. Tables are available for a donation of $15.      

Face to Face Open House

The Face to Face Community Center is revolutionizing the lives of many Germantown residents. The organization was born from the dream of creating mutuality between the affluent and those facing difficult economic times in the community.

Face to Face began with a dining service affiliated with St. Vincent’s Church. Its success led to the addition of health care services, summer and after-school tutoring and mentoring programs for children, the Neighborhood Arts Initiative program, and a legal clinic.

Currently, a group of students from the Wharton School of Business is collaborating with Face to Face. They are applying their classroom knowledge to the real world by planning a Remembrance Ceremony to honor the missing and deceased homeless in the Germantown community.

The group is simultaneously running both fundraising and marketing operations in order to promote Face to Face’s services.

The Remembrance Ceremony, which will take place at St. Vincent’s Church on East Price Street on Nov. 14 from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m., will offer Face to Face employees and clients the chance to celebrate the immense hurdles they have overcome together. It will recognize and commemorate the lost and forgotten members of society while bringing together the community as a whole and allowing its residents to better get to know Face to Face.

For information about the ceremony call Dionicio Herrera at 646-339-9751 or email the affiliated Wharton committee at

At Mt. Zion

The Mattie L. Moore Missionary/Missions Ministry of Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Germantown is holding its Annual Missions Conference on Saturday, November 14, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., and the Missionary Worship Service on Sunday November 15, 10:30 a.m. at the church, 41 West Rittenhouse Street. The theme this year is “The Great Commission - Meeting Today’s Challenges.” Presenters at the Saturday Conference are Rev. Dwight Benoit, pastor, Magnolia Missionary Baptist Church, Beaumont, Texas; and Rev. Dr. Bruce N. Alick, pastor, Mt. Zion Baptist of Germantown. The free-will offering conference will include breakfast and lunch and the discussion topic will be The Great Commission and your Church Ministry. Call Mary Bond at 215-842-0640 or Pamela Shaw at 215-242-5695 for more information.

Blood Pressure, HIV Screenings

The HIV/AIDS Awareness Ministry of Grace Baptist Church of Germantown, 25 West Johnson Street, will host HIV testing and blood pressure screenings on Saturday, November 14 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the Ida Goode Education Building. Results are confidential, anonymous and rapid (20 minutes.) Your privacy will be protected. No needles or blood will be used in this test. Professional technicians will be provided by the Philadelphia Health Department. For more information call the church at 215-438-3215.

Volunteers Sought for WMAN Tree Planting

Chris Gaddis (left) and William Bersten work at the April 25 bare root street tree planting by the WMAN Streetscapes Committee. Photo by Sara Allen.

Volunteers are needed to help the West Mt. Airy Neighbors Streetscapes Committee plant 32 trees in West Mt. Airy on Saturday, November 21.  Volunteers will meet at the Allens Lane Art Center, 601 West Allens Lane at 9 a.m.  Work is expected to be completed by early afternoon.

Trees are provided free of charge to homeowners through the TreeVitalize program sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  In Philadelphia, the TreeVitalize Program is administered by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

A trained Tree Tender or other experienced professional will lead the volunteers in the November 21 planting.  Volunteers should dress for the weather: long sleeves, long pants, jackets and sturdy shoes.  Please bring a pair of gardening gloves, a garden trowel and digging shovel, if possible.  Tools will be provided to those who don’t have them.  Refreshments will be served.

The WMAN Streetscapes Committee organized bare root street tree plantings in November 2008 and April 2009, resulting in help from 91 volunteers who contributed over 400 hours of time and effort and added 99 trees to our streets.  In addition to the November 21 effort, another planting is scheduled for the spring of 2010.  

Please contact Dave Tukey, Project Coordinator (; 215-844-2807) or Doris Kessler, WMAN Streetscapes Committee chair (; 215- 242-0651) for information and to volunteer. 

Silk Ribbon Embroidery at Maxwell

The Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion, 200 West Tulpehocken Street, is Philadelphia’s only authentically-restored Victorian house museum and garden.  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.  Participants step back in time just as if visiting Anna or Ebenezer Maxwell in 1860. Tea and homemade cookies are served in true Victorian fashion.

On Sunday, Nov. 15, 1:30 – 4:30 p.m., the Mansion is hosting a silk ribbon embroidery workshop taken from an 1860 issue of Godey’s Ladies Book magazine.  This stunning project (pictured), stitched on black velvet, is complete with a monogram of the maker.

The finished project can be framed or made into a pillow or pin cushion. Instructor Ivonne Fitzsimmons has been a life-long quilter and hand stitchery expert.

Cookies and tea will be served. The cost is $40, member cost  $35, which includes materials. Reservations are  required. Call Diane at 215-438-1861 for details and reservations. Visa and Master Card are accepted.

Community Park Meetings

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis is hosting a series of community engagement meetings to exchange ideas with citizens regarding the merger of Fairmount Park and the Department of Recreation. An extra meeting will be held Monday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. at Walnut Lane Golf Course, 800 Walnut Lane, Roxborough. In attendance will be DiBerardinis, Recreation Commissioner Susan Slawson, and Fairmount Park Executive Director Mark A. Focht.

Emergency Preparedness Meetings

The Managing Director’s Office of Emergency Management (MDO-OEM) is offering a free Emergency Preparedness Workshop open to the public in Northwest Philadelphia on Monday, Nov.16 at 7 p.m., 14th Police District Advisory Council, 14th Police District, 43 West Haines Street.

“During the workshops you will learn how to shelter-in-place, become familiar with your neighborhood evacuation routes, know what emergency supplies and copies of important documents you should have ready, and find out how to stay informed during an emergency,” said Deputy Managing Director for Emergency Management MaryAnn E. Tierney.

These workshops are in-line with a series of Emergency Preparedness Workshops being held throughout the city in 2009. For information visit the Office of Emergency Management website at or call 3-1-1.

Home Modifications for Seniors

JEVS Supports for Independence is offering free home assessments and modifications to help qualified area seniors, who are low-income, remain safe and secure in their own homes.

This free grant program, funded by the Green Tree Community Health Foundation (formerly the Chestnut Hill Health Care Foundation) is designated for low-income seniors who are residents of Mt. Airy and Germantown as well as surrounding areas in the following zip codes: 19118, 19119, 19128, 19138, 19144 and 19150.  Simple changes such as installing shower grab bars and the removal of tripping hazards can help eliminate the risk of injury and provide a more secure environment.

To see if you qualify call JEVS Supports for Independence at  267-298-1306.

For more information on JEVS Human Services, visit 

Pinecones Sought for Greens Sale

The FOW Greens Sale has become a holiday tradition in Northwest Philadelphia with hot apple cider and chestnuts roasting on an open fire outside the Valley Green Inn. This year’s sale will be held Saturday, Dec. 5. All proceeds benefit FOW’s work.

FOW is asking children to collect pinecones and holly with berries for the wreaths it is making for the sale. They should collect small, clean, dry, whole pine cones and holly with berries from their home, trails, and sidewalks, then fill brown paper bags with the pine cones and holly and drop them off at the FOW office before Dec. 1.

“We don’t want to encourage anyone to disturb or destroy habitat,” says FOW Executive Director Maura McCarthy. The first five children to drop off a bag full of pine cones and/or holly will be given a complimentary 1-year FOW membership for themselves and their family.

The pinecones will be used at the Free Wreath Making Workshops at Valley Green Inn on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Wednesday, Dec. 2, 4-8 p.m., and Thursday, Dec. 3, 4-8 p.m. The greens created will be sold at the Holiday Greens Sale. No experience is necessary to volunteer for the workshops, but adults with a facility for arts and crafts are needed.

Refreshments served at all workshops. Registration for the workshops is required. Call 215-247-0417. The Holiday Greens Sale will be held in front of Valley Green Inn on Dec. 5, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Holiday Greens - swags, centerpieces, pine roping, and wreaths - will be sold.

Because the number of wreaths is limited, FOW is offering pre-orders on their website, Payment is due open ordering.

GGBA/MABA Business Seminar

The Greater Germantown Business Association and the Mt. Airy Business Association are joining forces to present a special business seminar on Tuesday, November 17, from 8-10 a.m. at Linda Samuels’ The Flower Shop, 48 Maplewood Mall.

The “Know Your Business” Seminar allows you to speak directly to experts in accounting, banking, credit management, insurance and law. It will also serve as a great business networking event among established business owners and budding entrepreneurs.

There will be a continental breakfast, so please R.S.V.P. to Judy Johnson at 215-220-8795, e-mail judy@welcoming, so that we can tell Linda how many people to prepare for.

Queer Literary Festival

The queer literary community of Philadelphia is at the forefront again in Mt. Airy’s second annual Queer Literary Festival at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore on Saturday, November 14, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Diverse selections of prose, poetry and non-fiction will be presented by writers Ashraf Osman, Jane Cassady, Laura Neuman, Nathan Long, Misia Denea, Saida Agostini, Kelli Dunham, Cassendre Xavier, and Janet Mason. The festival is free and open to everyone.

For information on the Queer Literary Festival contact Maleka Fruean, events coordinator, at 215-844-1870, e-mail

About the Phillies

Off-Season Roster Changes Begin


Guest Writer

That the Phillies were going to the playoffs this season was a given. That manager Charlie Manuel got his team through the first two rounds was something of a surprise, considering the slumping offense, struggling starting rotation and a bullpen hit with injuries and ineffective relievers as the regular season came to a close.

Consequently, getting to the World Series was indeed a pleasant surprise, but it was not shocking that Philadelphia did not repeat as champions. Disappointing, but not surprising. Manuel took a lot of guff for putting two of his best starters in the bullpen during the postseason, but really, what were his other options?

The Series pointed out just how thin this team was stretched and changes are already in the making for 2010. The team has decided not to offer a contract to pitcher Brett Myers, who was the only starter whose contract was up. Pedro Martinez was on a pro-rated one-year deal, so both he and Myers have already filed for free agency.

I was a bit disappointed that the club decided not to pick up the option for third baseman Pedro Feliz. Since the rest of the starting seven will return, I’ve always felt that the Phillies could carry one light bat in exchange for great defense.

Championship teams throughout the decades have always traded a light bat for strong defense, but that light bat normally came from the middle infield positions or from behind the plate. Carlos Ruiz has developed into a top-notch catcher, so perhaps that is where the Phillies choose to harbor a light hitter. Let’s look at a similar situation.

In July 2006, Pat Gillick, who was serving his first season as general manager, decided that the team was not going to contend so he started breaking it up. The two major moves at the time were trading third baseman David Bell and popular outfielder Bobby Abreu. Light-hitting Abraham Nunez finished the season at third base and Philadelphia had not seen such defense at the hot corner since Scott Rolen and Mike Schmidt.

At the time, I stated a case for the Phillies to keep Nunez at third because with the departure of Abreu, the three biggest bats in the Phillies’ lineup were at first base (Ryan Howard), second base (Chase Utley) and shortstop (Jimmie Rollins).

Of course, Gillick never consulted me and signed Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs to platoon the position in 2007. Nunez actually made the most appearances at third base (136 games) in 2007, but most of them were as a late-inning defensive replacement.

Felix was expected to bring some stability to the infield and to provide another power bat in the lineup. Defensively, he is one of the best, but the Phillies think they can upgrade the offense. And there is no reason that the team couldn’t bring Feliz back, perhaps with a smaller salary than his $5.5 million option. Let’s see how this situation plays out.

Other than that the team needs to upgrade the bench - a strong point in 2008 - and the bullpen. Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ will anchor the rotation in 2010. Jamie Moyer is under contract but his role has yet to be defined. Ryan Madson and J.C Romero will be back in the bullpen, but everyone else is up in the air.

Scott Eyre wants to return but his status will depend on his elbow surgery. I’m hoping that Brad Lidge won’t return. He is still under contract but it might be best for the Phillies to eat it and turn the page with Lidge, just as they did with Adam Eaton this year.

With Eaton, Geoff Jenkins and, Jim Thome off the books, the Phillies will have a little extra money to work with, meaning this could be an interesting winter.

That’s my opinion. What do you think?

Bill McFarland has covered the Phillies since 1991. He can be reached at 215-354-3037 or

Back to the Germantown Newspapers Home Page


Timi Tanzania will perform Friday, November 20th at LaRose Catering/Social Club, 5531 Germantown Avenue, 8 p.m. to midnight. He will be accompanied by Germantown residents Bert Harris of Philly Gumbo and Bert’s Jazz Planet on bass, and Neil Simpkins of Zydeco A Go Go and the Orchestra Wives Club on drums. (Above, left to right): Bert Harris, guitarist/vocalist Timi Tanzania, and Neil Simpkins.