From the Independent • Mt. Airy News Stories

April 1, 2010 • MAI.040110.pdf

In This Issue

The Stories

  1. ‘New to Mt. Airy’ Cartoonist Aims for National Renown

  2. Afterschool Student Crowds Disrupt Avenue

  3. Info Session on Proposed Taxes

  4. Seminar on Local Food

  5. Two Arrested in Home Invasion, Burglary

  6. Recycle Your ‘Weird Wastes’

  7. Tours of Historic Tulpehocken District

  8. Vernon Park Plant Sale

  9. Home Ownership Information

  10. St. Catherine Labouré to Honor Ann Torregrossa

  11. Autism Awareness Events at Coleman

  12. Sale Benefits African School

  13. Obituary: Joy Allyn Lawrence

  14. April Events at Germantown Jewish Centre

  15. Crossroads Church Service

  16. Easter Festival at 1st Presby

  17. Harp Recital

  18. Volunteer for Mt. Airy Day

  19. Bereavement Support

  20. DIACleanup

“Wyckedly” fun summer camps will be taking place at Wyck Historic House and Gardens, 6026 Germantown Ave.

Join camp director Lori Litchman for one or two weeks of playing, creating, exploring, learning, and constructing for children ages eight to twelve. Camp runs from  9 a.m. -3 p.m. every day and takes place outdoors in the gardens at Wyck. All materials are provided, and children need to bring a lunch and drink. While there will be structured activities, there will be plenty of time for independent exploration and imaginative play.

Last year’s campers at Wyck created this natural structure from found objects in Wyck’s gardens.

‘New to Mt. Airy’ Cartoonist Aims for National Renown

Amy Ignatow with a copy of her new book The Popularity Papers.


Staff Writer

Mt. Airy’s own intrepid cartoonist and newcomer, Amy Ignatow, thinks Vice President Joe Biden’s recent on-mic gaffe might express her feelings about publishing her new illustrated book for children, The Popularity Papers Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt & Julie Graham-Chang. Only we can’t print what he said here. And being a newly minted children’s author, Ignatow wouldn’t want us to.

Suffice it to say, having her first book in stores now, and a list of positive reviews on hand to back it up, truly is quite a “big deal” for Ignatow.

In the last year a lot has changed for the creator of the New to Mt. Airy weekly comic  cartoon (see page 7). She bought a house in the neighborhood after nearly ten years as a happy Center City resident, she got married, and she landed a two-book deal with Amulet/Abrams – the publisher of the best-selling Diary of a Wimpy Kid illustrated series by Jeff Kinney.

Kinney’s books have sold more than 11 million copies and there is a movie out now. So when Amulet got hold of Ignatow’s pages, which chronicle fifth grade friends Lydia Goldblatt’s and Julia Graham-Chang’s efforts to discover the secret of popularity by studying the popular girls in their class and keeping a log about it, the publisher wanted to make those pages into the next “diary”- but for girls. Ignatow was happy to oblige.

As she puts it, art school graduates have three choices (she is a Moore alumna): they somehow magically just make it. They work a series of random jobs until something catches on. Or they work full time and try to do their art on the side. 

Ignatow picked the middle option. She has been everything from an air brush body artist, which she describes as “like a year of being covered in glitter,” to an Atlantic City reporter, where she interviewed 13th Congressional District candidate and TV’s Apprentice celebrity, Raj Bhakta, and kept calling him “Simon.” So if The Popularity Papers does catch on it would be a major relief to Ignatow.

“I’m not very good at doing anything else,” she explains.

Full-color illustrations fill The Popularity Papers and the hand-written prose expresses the styles and voices of Lydia and Julie to a very believable preteen T. It is a combination science log/personal journal/collection of secret notes from class, and it puts the reader at center stage for the embarrassing, and hilarious, trials of fifth grade life through the eyes of two suitably quirky characters.

“I don’t know why they get such good grades because they’re clearly just always passing notes back and forth,” Ignatow jokes of Lydia and Julie. 

From the publisher’s perspective the illustrated journal style is good for tapping the interest of “reluctant readers,” plus it builds on a market made strong by Wimpy Kid. But best of all for Ignatow, the book is, in part, a product of her own journaling habits – such as the illustrated travel logs she has kept in a similar style for years now. 

Starting with a trip to Greece in college and most recently tracking her May 2009 honeymoon to Italy with husband Mark Graham, she pastes in artifacts from the trip like tickets, dinner receipts and brochures, she caricatures the strange people they meet along the way, and she relates all the adventures that come about in a journal to share with travel companions. 

“Most people who I’ve traveled with have been really patient with it because it usually comes out being really funny,” she says.

Reviewers seem to think the same thing of the book. 

“Readers will quickly devour this hilarious, heartfelt debut,” said Publisher’s Weekly.

“This entertaining look at the social hierarchy of preteens and the challenges of growing up will entice even the most reluctant readers,” said the School Library Journal.

“Lydia and Julie are comedy gold together, and I laughed out loud over and over again,” said

And, “their experiences may be typically tween (boys, cell phones, camping trips, and school musicals), but their reactions to them are laugh-out-loud funny and definitely on par with, though much more feminine than, Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series,” said Booklist.

Now that the book is in stores, Ignatow’s friends and family have taken to snapping photos of themselves buying it from all over the country. She hopes the trend will catch on, and she doesn’t plan to be shy about promoting the book to make sure that it does (again, see cartoon on page 7). This goes double for our area. “I think like every copy in the basic area is going to be signed by the time I’m done with it,” she says.

To that end, she will be making numerous local appearances over the next few months to push the book, starting with a book release party on April 3 at Walk a Crooked Mile Books, 7423 Devon Street, from 1-4 p.m. and continuing for as long as local book stores will have her.

After a year in Mt. Airy, Ignatow is considering some changes to the New to Mt. Airy cartoon. She’s not really “new” anymore, she says. And maybe a few changes to her level of engagement with the neighborhood as well.

Aside from taking a few Mt. Airy Learning Tree classes, she called New to Mt. Airy her lone attempt to reach out and make friends while she worked on the book. So as she finishes up her sequel, Ignatow is considering ways to get out in the neighborhood a bit more this year. 

Another round of Learning Tree classes is definitely on tap, she said. Plus she wants to spend more time outside ridding her yard of poison ivy (she had a serious patch of it just above her ankle). And she also wants to take a little time to reflect on how lucky she feels for the way the last year or so has shaped up.

“My life is sweet,” she says. “I get to do what I most want to do, and wear pajamas to work.”

To learn more about The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt & Julie Graham-Chang visit or see the book’s Facebook page.

You can catch Ignatow at any of these upcoming events:

April 3: Book release party from 1 to 4 p.m. at Walk a Crooked Mile Books, 7423 Devon Street.

April 9: Mt. Airy Kids Literary festival at 7 p.m. at Big Blue Marble Books, 551 Carpenter Lane.

April 11: Publisher’s book release party from 1 to 3 p.m. at Books of Wonder, 18 West 18th Street in New York. Call 212-989-3270 for details.

April 17 and 18: Free Library Festival from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at 1901 Vine Street, in the Walk a Crooked Mile tent.

Two Arrested in Home Invasion, Burglary


Staff Writer



On the morning of March 29 two men allegedly invaded an apartment on the 300 block of West Mt. Pleasant Street, according to police on the scene. A section of Mt. Pleasant was closed for a short time that morning as police from the 14th District apprehended one of the robbery suspects following a short car chase. The arrest turned up a pistol in the vehicle, according Captain Joseph Bartorilla, commander of the 14th.

“It looks like two men went in there with masks on and tried to rob the occupants of the apartment,” Bartorilla said.

According to Bartorilla, two men in masks allegedly forced their way into the apartment with a gun and attempted to rob the three occupants there. One of the occupants escaped and called 911. Police arrived shortly afterward and apprehended one suspect at the scene, Bartorilla said, while the other got away in a vehicle. Moments later police apprehended that suspect farther up Mt. Pleasant.

The incident is officially classified as a robbery, but investigators and Bartorilla himself spent much of the day trying to sort out details on the scene.

According to a police spokesperson on Tuesday, March 30, the events began about 10:30 a.m. on March 29. A male resident of one of the apartments left his apartment to take out trash, she said.  That male was then accosted by two other males who tied the complainant’s hands, stuffed a rag into his mouth, put a towel over his head, then forced him into his apartment and threw him on the bed. They then went into the second apartment at the scene, which was occupied by two females, whom they also tied up. They then ransacked that apartment, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile the male managed to free himself, called police, and went outside to wait for them. The two males left the second apartment, passed the male resident, and said that they were narcotics police. The male victim was able to identify the suspects to police arriving at the scene, the spokesperson said. .

Taken into custody were Attarrie Epps, 34, of the 5400 block of valley Street, and Robin Wakefield, 48, of the 6500 block of Ditman street. Both face a long list of charges including aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, burglary and firearms offenses, among others.

Close to $14,000 in cash and jewelry was recovered, the police spokesperson said.

Altercations and unruly behavior among young people after Germantown High School lets out in the afternoon have caused serious problems along Germantown Avenue, say both police and shopkeepers. Here a group of  young people move north on Germantown Avenue under police escort on March 11. For more, see story below.

Afterschool Student Crowds Disrupt Avenue


Staff Writer

Left: On March 12 police tried to break up multiple fights among young people. Here officers rush across Chelten Avenue to stop a melee.

Right: Police try to direct a large crowd of young people through the rear entrance of DeBeary Square March 11. Here officers talk with bystanders about the operation.

Below, left: On March 26 an officer attempting to break up a crowd of young people was knocked to ground, and a young person in a Germantown High School shirt stole his baton. Here the officer (left) gives chase with his gun drawn as the young person runs down Chelten Avenue with the baton in his hand.

As the city considers the problem of youth “flash mobs,” the 14th Police District and the Germantown business district along Chelten Avenue are facing something similar – a situation, many say, that It is conflict that at times has turned violent.

“It’s getting ridiculous,” said Mayra Roman who works at Olympia Sports on Chelten Avenue. “The other day we had people stuck inside our store because the fight was outside our store.”

Roman spoke of a fight among youth on March 12 that occurred in the middle of a  crowd containing 50 to 100 young people, which moved down the sidewalk at running speed when police tried to break it up. According to police and many who shop and work along Chelten Avenue, large crowds of young people often turn violent in that area immediately following their release from school at Germantown High.

“The conditions just continue to deteriorate as they get out of school,” said Lieutenant Michael Kopecki who commands the effort at Germantown and Chelten nearly every afternoon. “That is basically the makings of a flash mob. That is, a large group of kids together, and all it needs is another element to make it a flash mob.”

After school lets out at 3:04 p.m., between two and three hundred students generally make the walk from High Street down Germantown Avenue to the corner at Chelten Avenue where they can catch busses on several different routes. Police from the 14th District meet them there along with school police, an occasional SEPTA security vehicle, and sometimes teachers or administrators from the high school and members of the Safe Corridors Initiative.

But despite all this effort, according to representatives and shoppers from nearly every retail business on Chelten Avenue between Germantown Avenue and Greene Street, there is still a lot of trouble. Several storekeepers complained of damage because of student fighting, others said students have run through the stores in groups stealing things, and many have started locking their doors during school dismissal hours.

“Any time the sun shines that’s what they do,” said Katherine Cobbett, assistant manager of Rainbow on Chelten Avenue.

“When it’s a big fight they come in here,” said her co-worker Shannon Barnett. “And on the street there is so many that you can’t even see.”

“They go in the stores: run, snatch and grab. There’s really nothing you can do,” Cobbett said.

Part of school culture?

A widespread theory, according to police, store representatives, and former and current Germantown High School students, is that this trouble roots in a pattern of fighting and retaliations to fights that is part of the school culture at Germantown High.

“They’re trying to get away from us and do their battles,” said Captain Joseph Bartorilla, commanding officer of the 14th Police District.

Some Germantown students agreed.

“If they don’t fight in school, they’ll fight out of school,” said a Germantown senior whose name the paper has withheld due to safety concerns.

That student and a GHS freshman, whose name the paper has also withheld, talked about a culture of retaliation in the school so powerful that fights and payback attacks have even drawn family members and friends into the school to participate.

According to these students, the fights on the street after school come about because the consequences are less severe when students get caught in public than they are if they get caught fighting on school grounds.

Another GHS senior, whose name is also being withheld, said that Germantown and Chelten is the site for so much student violence because it’s a known quantity.

“We try not to fight in school unless it’s pretty serious,” the student said. “If they want to fight it’s like, ‘Alright, well at the Ave’, and they fight there.”

Many of the fights in the school occur from peer pressure, the student said, obligations to defend friends and the need to “rep your hood,” or face the prospect of being considered a “punk.”

Police frustration

Captain Bartorilla was on the scene at Germantown and Chelten March 11, when police found themselves chasing massive groups of students from one corner to the next trying to break up fights. The frustration was clear. Bartorilla and Lieutenant Kopecki were worried that the students might succeed in escaping them and wind up getting severely injured.

Kopecki said it takes nearly every one of the officers on patrol to respond to the situation most of the time, which diminishes emergency service during school dismissal hours for the whole district. But short of finding some way to hold parents accountable for their children’s actions he was not optimistic that the situation would get better anytime soon.

Arresting the students is impractical because it takes at least one officer off the beat for several hours when that officer is needed to help with the crowds, Kopecki said. And though the 14th District works closely with the high school, he hoped for more severe in-school consequences for fighting to create a better general deterrent to fighting before things outside the school get worse.

Potential for danger

“Sooner or later one of us are going to get hurt, one of these kids are going to get seriously hurt, or there is going to be some serious damage whether to businesses or someone in a passing vehicle,” Kopecki warned.

The afternoon of Friday, March 26 was an example. Large groups of students crowded the corners of Chelten and Germantown avenues near the bus stops shortly after 3 p.m.

Two police officers entered a crowd of students near the store Villa, apparently to get the crowd moving along. One of the officers pushed a young man against the storefront. A moment later, another young man appeared to hit or push the officer from the side, knocking him and at least one other person to the ground and sending the officer’s telescoping baton clattering to the pavement in front of him.

When this happened the entire crowd on both sides of Chelten cheered, and a young man in a Germantown High School t-shirt ran past the fallen officer, picked up his baton and ran off with it down Chelten.

About 100 people burst into a run down Chelten behind the young man with the baton, including the fallen officer and every other police officer on the scene. At least one officer had his gun drawn.

The baton was later recovered and the officer was treated for minor injuries.

Earlier in the month, on March 10 and 11, the scene wasn’t much better. Fighting among students was frequent, movement on the streets was chaotic and tensions between students and police were high.

On March 10 some police officers got into a shouting match with two Germantown students. When it was over the students and a parent alleged the students were hit and insulted with racial slurs by the officers. And the following day, at one point, a police cruiser sped up the sidewalk after a group of students, from DeBeary Square to Lena Street.

Still, many of the storekeepers on Chelten, and several Germantown students believe the 14th District is doing all it can to handle the situation but is simply overwhelmed.

Al Bird, owner of Philadelphia Vision Center at the corner of Greene and Chelten, said a lot of his elderly customers are afraid to shop after 3 p.m. because of the school crowds. Bird, along with many others, thought the problem was getting worse.

“The poor Fourteenth can’t handle all that volume,” he said.

Would buses help?

One possible solution, according to Captain Bartorilla, is to set up SEPTA busses outside the school for students to use when classes end.

According to Germantown High School Principal Margret Mullen-Bavwidinsi, this practice will begin next year at the high school, and she has been talking with SEPTA to get the buses in place for the remainder of this school year. But this is not because of any problems near the corners of Germantown and Chelten Avenues, Mullen-Bavwidinsi said.

“No, it has nothing to do with that,” she said in a multi-party phone interview. “[The buses are] only because there are so many children to take those busses and because their parents say they have to wait so long on those corners.”

According to Gary Fairfax, a SEPTA press officer, no one from Germantown High has contacted SEPTA about bus service for that school, though he said SEPTA would be willing to do what it could to help alleviate student crowding for any school if it was asked.

In addition to Mullen-Bavwidinsi the phone interview included Dr Byron Williams, assistant regional superintendent of schools, Kristine Hershman, the school climate manager for Germantown, and David Hoxter of the Germantown Clergy Initiative. Saying they spoke with a unified voice, the group took issue with the term “flash mob.” Whatever has been happening in Germantown certainly was not that, they said. Williams characterized the occurrences on March 10 and 11 as “an aberration.”

“I don’t see it,” he said.

Likewise, Hoxter called those events, and reports from storeowners about a long history of violent crowds from GHS, as problems with perspective.

And Mullen said her staff doesn’t leave work until every student is on the bus and that she herself was on the corner everyday. She characterized any problems with young people in this area as isolated incidents that may or may not have involved GHS students.

“I’ve been out there everyday and my community is saying how well my children are behaving,” Mullen said. “I talk to the store owners in the area. They’re proud of the kids… I have had no complaints from one store owner all year long about the Germantown children.”

Mullen was at the corner March 24. Two young women fought in a crowd of young people about half a block away from her on that day, until several bystanders finally broke it up.

Reverend Leroi Simmons, a co-founder of the Germantown Clergy Initiative and a member of Safe Corridors, has also been spending time at the corner. He recalled when Safe Corridors began in the area after a Germantown student was shot outside of school several years ago. Simmons also did not think the problem around Germantown and Chelten could be called a flash mob, but he did see it as an issue that required more people looking out for the children after school.

“My prayer is that nothing really happens,” he said. “Because the potential is there.”

On March 19 Eight District City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller was at Germantown and Chelten to see things for herself. Police made only one arrest that day.

Miller thought the situation was mainly under control, but she said she would keep an eye on it.

“If they’re not fighting, that’s the main thing,” she said. “We just don’t want them getting in trouble.”

Recycle Your ‘Weird Wastes’

GReenINChestnutHill aka GRINCH, a grassroots environmental organization in Chestnut Hill, is organizing its second Weird Waste Day, on Saturday, April 10, 2010 from 1-4 p.m. in the Valley Green Bank parking lot on West Highland Avenue in Chestnut Hill.

Residents and business people are encouraged to bring their electronic waste such as TV’s, computers, cell phones and key boards that will be disposed of responsibly at a cost of 40 cents per pound. The electronics are then reused or recycled responsibly. Cash or checks will be accepted. Any additional revenues will be used for future recycling events.

GReen IN Chestnut Hill is a group of Chestnut Hill residents and business people whose purpose is providing a forum for citizens who want to participate in sustainable practices; raising awareness in Chestnut Hill about environmental issues; and presenting outreach and educational programs about environmental issues.

For more information about Weird Waste Day or GRINCH, contact Amy Edelman by email at or 610-505-6282, or Jen Reed at

Seminar on Local Food

“From Farm to City: Building Philadelphia’s Local Food Economy” will be held at Philadelphia University’s Tuttleman Center at Henry Avenue and School House Lane, on April 14 from 7-8:30 p.m.       

Are you concerned about your diet’s carbon footprint?  Are you interested in the advantages of locally-grown food for your health, your environment, and your community?  Join our guest experts for a panel discussion of the benefits and challenges of bringing local, sustainable and organic food to Philadelphia.

Panelists include Glenn Bergmann, general manager, Weavers Way Food Cooperative; Marshall Green, chef and owner, Cafe Estelle; and Ann Karlen, executive director, Fair Food. The moderator will be Tom Schrand, chair, B.S. in Environmental Sustainability, Philadelphia University.

This event is sponsored by Philadelphia University’s School of Liberal Arts and its B.S. degree program in Environmental Sustainability.

For more information e-mail to schrandt@philau or call 215-951-2610. 

Tours of Historic Tulpehocken District

One of the examples of Queen Anne-style architecture that will be visited during the first tour.

The Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion is rolling out a series of architectural tours of the Tulpehocken Station Historic District.  From the Mansion, the two-hour walking tours will include stops to look at six exterior facades of the type being showcased. The tours end at the Mansion with cookies and lemonade served. Three types of Victorian-era domestic architecture to be showcased include Queen Anne, French Second Empire, and Georgian Revival.  The Tulpehocken Station Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places as one of America’s first railroad suburbs.  Many of the homes in this neighborhood reflect the styles set forth by Andrew Jackson Downing, American’s first landscape architect.  Tours include:

Saturday, April 10, 10 am to Noon:  Queen Anne (1880s – 1890s)  Quintessential Victorian – A tossed salad incorporating Elizabethan, Jacobean, Classical, and Oriental elements modeled on Elizabethan country houses showcasing the builders’ talent over the architects.’  Queen Anne is romantic in style during a completely unromantic machine age of pre-cut trim and do-dads.  There will be an interior peek at 258 West Tulpehocken Street. 

Saturday, May 22, 10 am to Noon:  French Second Empire (1865-1880s). In the seventeenth century, architect Francois Mansard used high-pitched two-sloped roofs extensively in France to turn cramped attics into livable spaces.  Napoleon III added a west wing to the Louvre with a high-sloping roof and the style was used extensively in the rebuilding of Paris through the 1880s.  In America, a tall mansard roof with a rectangular tower offered a sense of height and European majesty.  French Second Empire houses are square in shape with single-story porches. 

Saturday, September 11, 10 am to Noon:  Georgian Revival (1870s and beyond). Named after the four King Georges, Georgian architecture was superseded in the mid-nineteenth century by other styles.  A revival of this classical style, also called colonial revival, occurred at the end of the nineteenth century in reaction to the more ornate Victorian-era styles.  Georgian Revival architecture is a simple box, two rooms deep, with strictly symmetrical windows. There will be an interior peek at 269 West Walnut Lane.

Tours are $25 each, member cost  $20. Reservations are required. Call 215-438-1861 for details and reservations.

Vernon Park Plant Sale

The Friends of Vernon Park will hold a plant sale on Sunday, April 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Center in the Park, 5818 Germantown Avenue.

Home Ownership Information

Every Thursday, Northwest Education and Development Corporation (NWEDC) will host a home ownership seminar at 5538C Wayne Avenue from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m... This seminar will provide information on home financing, savings, home inspections, settlement costs, the dangers of predatory lending, after settlement, grants and bonds for closing, credit, and much more. These seminars are funded by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

If you are interested in attending this informative event, please call NWEDC at 215-849-3104. Limited seating is available.

St. Catherine Labouré to Honor Ann Torregrossa

Ann S. Torregrossa, the director of the Governor’s Office of Health Care Reform, has been named the recipient of the inaugural G. Fred DiBona, Jr., Excellence in Healthcare Award, St. Catherine Labouré Medical Clinic announced on March 25. 

Torregrossa will be honored at Philadelphia’s first “Neighborhood Healthcare Gala,” on Saturday, April 24, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Center City.  The gala celebrates the tenth anniversary of St. Catherine’s providing low-cost medical care to uninsured Philadelphians.

Open to the public, the “Neighborhood Healthcare Gala” features a cocktail reception, silent auction, dinner and entertainment at a cost of $125 per person.  All proceeds will fund the clinic’s services, including chronic disease management, medications, vaccines, health education, social work and advocacy.  Further information on the gala can be obtained at or by contacting Development Director Cindy Messerle at

Torregrossa has served as Director of the Governor’s Office of Health Care Reform since January, 2009. As part of her duties, she oversees and coordinates the Rendell Administration’s continued commitment to being a national leader in healthcare reform.

Prior to being named director, the Swarthmore resident spent four years as Deputy Director of the Governor’s Office of Health Care Reform, focusing her efforts on developing Prescription for Pennsylvania, the administration’s plan to provide affordable, accessible, quality healthcare coverage and long-term living services to all Pennsylvanians.

The “Excellence in Healthcare” Award was conceived by St. Catherine Labouré co-founders Dr. Sheila Davis and Michele Samsi, PA-C, who continue to operate the clinic as Executive Medical Director and Executive Director, respectively.  It is named for the late Independence Blue Cross CEO, who died of cancer in 2005 and was a champion of healthcare for all individuals as he transformed Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross into a model company focused on general excellence and customer service. 

In honor of the renowned native Philadelphian, St. Catherine Labouré established the award to annually recognize an individual who meets the following criteria:  Demonstrating support of the uninsured population of the Delaware Valley and leadership in healthcare betterment as either a public servant or a private sector worker or volunteer.

A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located at 5838 Germantown Ave., St. Catherine Labouré Medical Clinic is open to uninsured adults in the Philadelphia-metro area.  The clinic is funded by individuals and corporate/private foundations. It receives no support from government funds. St. Catherine’s helps the bottom line of taxpayers and hospitals by relieving the overall healthcare burden and by reducing uninsured patient flow to emergency rooms, where hospital services are one-time only and costly.

Autism Awareness Events at Coleman

April is Autism Awareness month, and the Joseph E. Coleman Regional Library will host several related workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings throughout the month. Guest speakers will share valuable information and resources to provide alternatives to parents and their children. The educational and enriching workshops include:

Building a Future for Autistic Children on Tuesday, April 13, 6:30 p.m. Jim Powers, executive director of marketing for Melmark, will provide parents with information and resources on how to plan a future for their children. Melmark is a multi-service agency focused on developmental disabilities.

Autism Spectrum Disorder on Wednesday April, 6:30 p.m. Brooke Levenseller from the University of Pennsylvania will provide families important information about treatment and resources.

Adults with Autism on Tuesday April 20, 6:30 p.m. Pia Newman, assistant director from the State of Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Autism Services, will provide information and resources for adults with autism.

Autism Initiative Programs on Wednesday, April 21, 6:30 p.m. Marissa Tabak, director of the Autism Resource Center, will provide information and resources about recreational activities for families with autistic children. The Autism Resource Center is a service of Variety, the Children’s Charity of Greater Philadelphia.

To attend the workshops, visit Joseph E. Regional Library at 68 West Chelten Avenue.  For more information call Mary Kachline at 215-685-2151.

Dine at Trolley Car, Support Gearing Up

On April 5-11, Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. to  9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 3 – 9 p.m., Gearing Up is holding an important fundraising event at Mt. Airy’s Trolley Car Diner and Deli, 7619 Germantown Avenue.  

As part of its Helping Hands Week fundraising program, the Diner will donate 15 percent of the revenue from supporters towards Gearing Up’s work with women in transition from drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence and/or homelessness. 

Gearing Up is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide women in transition with the skills, equipment, and guidance needed to safely ride a bicycle for exercise, transportation, and personal growth. 

Show your support by bringing your friends and family for a delicious and fun dining experience at Trolley Car Diner and Deli.  Contact Kristin Gavin at 804-514-3892 or to request a coupon for this fundraiser, or visit

Celebrate ‘Green Living’ at Earth Week Fair

The Northwest Philadelphia community is invited to celebrate green living at the Earth Week Fair on Tuesday, April 20, 11 am - 12:30 pm. The fair will be on William Allen Plaza at the southeast corner of the campus of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 7301 Germantown Avenue. The event is free and open to the public.

The fair will host exhibits from neighborhood businesses, green product suppliers, PECO Energy and SEPTA, LTSP organizations, and more. Raffles of “green” products, food, coffee, and insightful information will be featured free of charge.

The Earth Week Fair is a joint venture between LTSP’s institutional Green Team and the seminary student committee known as the  Environmental Stewardship Commission. Notes seminarian Jason Glombicki, a member of the Green Team, “This event will be an opportunity for the community to come to a better understanding of green practices from organizations in Mt. Airy to personal practices to institutional practices of LTSP to product options.  It will also be an ideal setting for networking between neighbors and organizations.”

More information can be found, including lists of participating organizations and electronic handouts, along with a poster about the event, at or email

Sale Benefits African School

On Saturday, May 1, Germantown Monthly Meeting of Friends, 47 West Coulter Street, will hold a porch sale from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. to benefit the Germantown Meeting’s Assistance Committee and the Bududa Vocational Institute and Children of Peace Project in Uganda.  The sale will offer homebaked goods, simple lunches, home goods, linens, toys, books, furniture, fabric, and arts and crafts. 

BVI educates high school-aged students in bricklaying and concrete practice, nursery teacher training, tailoring and computer skills.  Students learn science, health and life skills, English and mathematics to prepare hem for their vocations.  The Children of Peace Project brings over 200 young children, all orphaned because of AIDS, to the school on Saturdays. Barbara Wybar is the administrator of both programs through the auspices of the African Great Lakes Institute, a Quaker program committed to supporting peace and justice in Africa.  Wybar, a member of Germantown Meeting, first traveled to Uganda in 2003 to help build the vocational school and begin the Children of Peace Project.  Wybar raised enough money for the school to find a permanent home in 2008 and for the Peace Project to expand.  In 2007, she moved to Bududa to better support and supervise the school and expand Children of Peace Project. Half the proceeds from the Porch Sale will go directly to Bududa; the other half will be used to support Germantown Meeting members who are experiencing difficult times.

For information, contact Meeting Secretary Wendy Wells, e-mail

Obituary: Joy Allyn Lawrence

Look around the Delaware Valley and you’ll see evidence Joy Allyn Lawrence was here.  It’s in the hundreds of trees that now grow in Southeast Germantown’s Fernhill Park, in the patch of green space that is Pulaski Park, along the banks of rivers and streams across the region and seen in dozens of other Philadelphia parks and green spaces actively used by millions of people. Whether it was through her work with the Morris Arboretum, the Delaware River Keeper Network or the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Lawrence’s mission was the same —bringing people together to protect and revitalize the environment through community and personal commitment. Lawrence , a resident of Mt. Airy, died Saturday, March 20 of complications from ALS. She was 56.

“Joy had a gift to see the big picture,” said Joan Reilly, senior director, Philadelphia Green, PHS. “She understood the web of connections needed to make a city, a region —  a planet — whole and sustainable.” 

During her tenure as program manager for environmental initiatives at PHS, Ms. Lawrence was essential to transforming Liberty Lands Park in Northern Liberties, Cliveden Park in East Mt. Airy and Mill Creek Farm in West Philadelphia into ecologically-sound storm water management landscapes. 

Joy’s intellect and curiosity led her, from an early age, to study and enjoy many activities including art and architecture, fly fishing and dirt bike racing, literature and theater, politics and the law, travel, and the environment. She was a sports enthusiast but studied English and Theater at Marietta College and Cleveland State University. She received her masters in Shakespeare from Cal Arts in Valencia California. Ms. Lawrence directed fringe theater productions in Seattle and New York where she lived, then moved to the Poconos where, while pursuing an interest in organic gardening, she discovered a deep passion for environmental stewardship. After moving to Philadelphia, she studied conservation ecology and held positions with Delaware River Keepers and the Morris Arboretum before landing at PHS. It was here where her skill to listen to others and find value in what they have to offer gave her the ability to bring people together and reach consensus. It is also here in Philadelphia where she found her true home and met her life partner, Bettina Lesser.

A spiritual and fiercely loyal woman, Joy was loving and protective of her friends and family – including the four-legged members she cared for throughout her life. Joy is survived by her beloved wife and loving soul mate Bettina B. Lesser, adored 11-year old daughter Anya Jaye Simone Lawrence Lesser and canine friend Moe of Mt. Airy; parents James M. Lawrence of Cape Coral, FL and Josephine T. Davis of Olmsted Township, OH; siblings Lynn Hall of Ft. Wayne, IN and Kelly Lawrence of Seattle, WA and nephews and nieces. 

A private memorial service will be held at a later date.

Donations in Joy’s memory may be made to help fund her daughter’s education to the Anya Lesser Education Fund #6209587740 held at Citizens Bank, 8615 Germantown Avenue, 19B, Philadelphia, PA 19118, or the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the ALS Foundations, 321 Norristown Rd., Suite 260 Ambler, PA 19002.

April Events at Germantown Jewish Centre

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

Hazak Book and Film Discussion Group, Wednesday, April 7, 10 a.m. Join GJC’s Adult 55+ Programming Group for their monthly discussion.  This month’s selection is A Tale of Love and Dankness by Amos Oz.  $5 program fee for non-Hazak members, free for Hazak members.

Beginners Hebrew for Adults, beginning Sunday, April 11 at 11:30 a.m. The six-session class meets Sundays from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. through May 16.  The fee is $100 for GJC members, $125 for non-members (includes textbook). 

People of the Book, Tuesday, April 13 at 7:15 p.m. Germantown Jewish Centre’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 The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World by Kati Marton. 

Israeli Dancing, Sundays, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The Germantown Jewish Centre Israeli dance group meets virtually ever Sunday morning from September to mid June. The repertoire consists mainly of intermediate dances, though we always begin with easier, older dances.  There is an emphasis on instruction and review in the earlier part of the session.  It is an informal, friendly group, and always welcomes new dancers.  $5 per session. 

For more information on these events e-mail to or call 215-844-1507, ext. 19.

Crossroads Church Service

Please join us for an Easter Celebration Service and Children’s Dedication Ceremony on Sunday, April 4, 10 a.m., at Crossroads Evangelistic Church, 139 East Chelten Avenue. For information call Crossroads Church at 215-844-3600.

Easter Festival at 1st Presby

The community is invited to join members and friends of the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown for an Easter Festival on Saturday, April 3.

This family-friendly event will be held from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the church, 35 West Chelten Avenue. Among the activities planned are egg dyeing, sidewalk decorating (weather permitting), crafts and an Easter egg hunt.  A special visitor, the Easter Bunny, will be on hand to greet everyone.

Sponsored by the Christian Education Committee of the church, the festival will include an Easter program in the church’s auditorium and light refreshments.  A free-will offering will be taken.

More information about the Easter Festival is available at 215-843-8811.

Harp Recital

On Sunday, April 11, 3 p.m., the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Harp Society and the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill will present internationally-renowned harpist María Luisa Rayan-Forero in a solo harp recital at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue. The Argentinian-born virtuoso has performed to critical acclaim in the USA, Europe, Latin America and Japan. Tickets are $20, $10 for students and seniors. For information call 215-247-8855.

Volunteer for Mt. Airy Day

The 40th Annual Mt Airy Day, sponsored by East and West Mt. Airy Neighbors, will be held on Saturday, May 1 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The rain date is Sunday, May 2, and admission is free.  As it has for many years, the community celebration will take place at the historic mansions Cliveden of the national Trust, and Upsala, located across the street from each other in the 6400 block of Germantown Avenue.

The fair features more than 150 vendors of crafts, attic treasures, and personal services; children’s games and pony rides; musical entertainment; a food court; a raffle with cash and prizes donated by the Mt Airy Businesses and friends; a plant sale sponsored by Weavers Way Co-op.  Visitors may tour the historic house and stroll the beautifully lush azalea-filled, dogwood-ringed grounds.

The Mt Airy Day Committee is looking for folks who can help out a variety of ways, from serving on the Committee, to helping out on the day of the event. 

East and West Mt Airy Neighbors are also seeking businesses and individuals who are interested in lending their financial support to Mt Airy Day and help support the organizations that have been serving the Mt. Airy community for more than 40 years.

To become a volunteer or a vendor at Mt Airy Day, call the EMAN office at  215-242-4170 or email  You can also visit

Bereavement Support

The Vincent M.A. Woodson Foundation will offer bereavement support groups for co-victims of murder on Saturday, April 3 and Saturday, April 24 at 2:30 p.m. at Germantown Friends School, 31 West Coulter Street, in the Stokes Lounge. Enter between the stone pillars on Coulter Street.  All are welcome. For more information, call Fay Dawson at 215-200-8453.


The Duval Improvement Association will be participating in the annual Spring Clean Up on Saturday, April 10 (rain date April 17), 9 a.m. – noon. The area we have designated to clean up is across the street from Anna Lingelbach School at 6340 Wayne Avenue and is bordered by Wayne Avenue, Johnson Street and Lincoln Drive.  Help us make this gateway to our neighborhood more beautiful.  All cleanup supplies will be provided, but if you have your own gloves, etc., we encourage you to bring them.  Call Brian Hester for more information at 215-834-4100. 

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