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National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Recognizes Frankford

Bob and Pat Smiley were both awarded the 2015-2016 National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Community Service Award at the DAR Flag House Chapter’s Tri-annual luncheon on May 21st.

The award was given to the couple for their continued efforts towards caring for the Frankford community. “The other papers didn’t cover Frankford,” said Patricia Coyne, Flag House Chapter regent, as she presented the award to Bob, “they didn’t understand Frankford or our strength but Bob Smiley did.”

Patricia Smiley, awarded for her dedication to her group Keep the Faith in Frankford, said she had no idea she was being awarded as well. Surrounded by family the two laughed and regaled the group with stories. “For the love of Frankford,” Patricia said, “We are all  sons and daughters of Frankford.”

The award comes from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The Flag House Chapter was founded by 13 descendants of Betsy Ross in 1903 in Frankford.

The luncheon also saw the swearing in of the chapter’s officers who will serve three year terms.

Regent – Patricia Coyne
Vice Regent – Colleen Kolakowski
Chaplain – Betty Bedford
Recording Secretary – Kathleen Zielinski
Corresponding Secretary – Colleen Kolakowski
Treasurer – Christie Link
Registrar – Colleen Kolakowski
Historian – Nancy Popielarski (not present)
Librarian – Kathleen Zielinski

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DAR members come from a variety of backgrounds and interests, but all share a common bond of having an ancestor who helped contribute to securing the independence of the United States of America. Any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution is eligible to join.

If you are interested in exploring membership, more information is available at their website at:

Photos courtesy of Emma Hohenstein and Colleen Conner Kolakowski

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On the Ground at the Scene of the Fire

February 13, 2016
Frankford Friends School, 1500 Orthodox Street

The fire Saturday morning began in Joe’s Auto Body on Griscom Street.  Joe West, a lifelong Frankford resident and business owner, left his garage to make himself a cup of coffee and when he returned everything had gone up in flames. “Just like that,” he snaps his fingers.


Photo by Joe Menkevich

Within two hours, the fire had spread throughout the block, overcoming a few row homes, apartments, and store fronts on Frankford Avenue, Orthodox Street, and Griscom Street.

Photo by Joe Menkevich

Photo by Joe Menkevich

At 1 pm the doors of Frankford Friends School opened, thanks to volunteers from the Quaker Meeting, Frankford Friends Meeting.  The gym, initially serving as a gathering location for neighbors in need of coffee or a bathroom, began filling with first responders and Red Cross volunteers.

Throughout the afternoon, families, some with children in pajama pants and puppies in their arms, some shocked into silence with tears of sadness and smoke in their eyes, filtered through the building. Residents and volunteers alike looked through the glass-tile walls in amazement at the sheets of ice forming over front porches, flame-scorched windows, and fire fighters.

The Red Cross emergency responders worked tirelessly to help the ten displaced families into safe and warm spaces for the evening.  Thanks to the kindness of Leandro’s Pizza on Frankford Avenue, four hot pizzas were delivered for the families and responders, some of whom had worked for 6 or 7 hours without rest.

Numerous television crews, frightened neighbors, and political officials large and small came in and out throughout the afternoon. State Representative Jason Dawkins and Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez stopped in to ensure everyone was warm and well fed, as well as 23rd Ward Leader Danny Savage. Even Mayor Jim Kinney stopped in to shake the hands of volunteers and offer his sincere condolences to those in need.

“I keep wanting to pinch myself, like it’s all a dream,” one resident said solemnly. “I think I’m in denial right now, like it’s all going to hit us tonight when we go to sleep.” Behind her, the sun was setting into a striking red and orange sky. The blooms of smoke seemed to have dwindled for a moment.


Photo by Emma Hohenstein

But as the temperatures dropped and the coffee slowly ran out, pillars of gray smoke began billowing from what looked to be Frankford Avenue. The corner of Griscom and Orthodox Streets was blocked off with police tape and fire engines still spewing ice cold water. Rumors passed around the gym in muffled, sorrowful voices that the fire had consumed numerous storefronts along Frankford Avenue as well as the apartments above.

Photo by Joe Menkevich

Photo by Joe Menkevich

Night fell and families began moving on, locating friends and family to spend the night with, or taking cabs to their Red Cross appointed housing. As the last family helped their dogs into the backseat of their car and the lights in Frankford Friends clicked off, the ever present red and blue strobes could be seen down every side street. Office of Emergency Management workers stood by to direct hungry, cold, and tired police officers to the Frankford Library which has graciously agreed to stay open for 24 hours.

Photo by Emma Hohenstein

Photo by Emma Hohenstein

At 8pm, when this reporter left the scene, the embers and small squalls of flames were still being battled. Even now, 12 hours after the initial blaze, sirens and flashing lights can be noted from blocks away. Thankfully, residents are safe and comfortable for the night. But the fight continues in the hands of the hard-working Philadelphia Fire Department and Police Department.

Photo by Emma Hohenstein

Photo by Emma Hohenstein

Frankford Friends Meeting and the volunteers at the scene this afternoon asked to make public the invitation for all who were affected, who wish to help, or who seek the support of community to attend Quaker Meeting for Worship at 10:30 am this Sunday morning at 1500 Orthodox Street. A collection for displaced families will be taken through the Meeting and those interested can send questions or comments to or (215)533-5368 with attention to Frankford Friends Meeting.

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30th Annual Frankford Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration

This year, January 18, 2016,  marked the 30th annual Frankford Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration. The gathering, usually held in Frankford was moved to Mariana Bracetti Academy when the original location fell through.

The morning started slowly with hot coffee and the occasional gust of cold air as people trickled in. Jennifer Powell-Folks, the morning’s emcee, welcomed everyone, offering gratitude to the support of the Frankford Coalition of Neighbors, the Frankford Garden Club, and Mariana Bracetti Academy.

The Frankford High School ROTC braved the cold and came out to the breakfast in full regalia to do the Presentation of Arms and National Anthem.

A hot breakfast of buttered grits, scrambled eggs, bacon, and fruit, with more than enough hot coffee and tea to go around was served by Sloane Folks and volunteers from the Frankford Community Development Corporation.

As everyone finished their food and warmed their hands on Styrofoam cups, two students from the Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School poured libations – a traditional African ceremony to bless and honor ancestors and those who paved the ways before us. “And today we recognize Martin Luther King, ashe. Fannie Lou Hamer, ashe. Ella Baker, ashe.” One young woman recited as the other poured water into a bouquet of flowers. “We pour libations to the Frankford Community, ashe.

We pour libations to change, ashe.” The God’s Creation Choir of children from the Campbell AME Church sang an uplifting rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing followed by Reverend Sandra Brown offering her reflections from the Frankford-Oxford Ministeriam. Both Imam Yousef Jamaladdin of Masjid Taha and Reverend Robyn Hynicka also offered their reflections from the community and their congregations. Reverend Hynicka expressed his deep gratitude for the welcomeness of the community. “Frankford’s good for that. We’re good at opening our doors to everyone.”

Steve Blackburn of Carson Valley Children’s Aid came to the mic and recognized the service of numerous community leaders like Bill Gambrel the “unofficial mayor of Frankford” as Blackburn put it. Both Blackburn and Powell-Folks took this time to extend posthumous honor to Madge Trickey, a Frankford native and long-time activist in the Frankford faith communities and Frankford Coalition of Neighbors.

From L-R it’s Jennifer Powell-Folks, Johnnie Mae Parker, Janet Bernstein, Connie Whitmore, and Helen Waller

From L-R it’s Jennifer Powell-Folks, Johnnie Mae Parker, Janet Bernstein, Connie Whitmore, and Helen Waller

Captain McCloskey, the police captain for the Frankford area, gave a message of support and love to the neighbors present. He acknowledged the hardships of Frankford and of communications between minority neighborhoods and police. “We’re not gonna solve the problem as just the police. We’re not gonna solve the problem as just the community. We have to come together and work together. And that’s what we do.”

Dr. Ayeshi Imani was also called to offer her reflections on the founding of Sankofa Freedom Academy. Students from the school presented a spoken word poem and a beautiful version of Stand By Me that had everyone clapping and singing along by the end. “I’m so proud to be in a community that is doing the work,” Dr. Imani said.

The afternoon rounded to a close with words of gratitude and remembrance from Johnnie Mae Parker, Janet Burnstein, Helen Waller, and Connie Whitmore of the Frankford Garden Club.

Finally, Reverend Robyn Hynicka came to the mic again to offer a closing prayer. “If you don’t have a good village, it’s hard to be a good person,” he said. “And I feel blessed to be a part of a good village.”

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Northwood Civic Association Meeting

Alan Butkovitz addresses the Northwood Civic Association

NOVEMBER 17, 2015 – St. James Lutheran Church

The Northwood Civic Association kicked off last week with a run over of old business from the previous month presented by Civic Association president Joe Krause.

Cynthia Young from the Simpson Recreation Center expressed thanks to the Civic Association for their donation of $125 for their Halloween Party. Proposed construction, she told members, will cause the rec center to be closed during the summer, but they are continuing efforts to keep the pool open. The rec center holds Advisory Council meetings on the second Thursday of every month (except summers), and those interested should email Krause recommended to peruse the lists of classes and activities being offered listed on the Simpson Recreation Center Facebook page.

Terry Heiser updated members on the progress to put speed bumps on Castor Avenue between Foulkrod Street to Pratt Street. Of the 52 houses Heiser and his team visited on Castor Avenue, all 42 who answered signed the petition and offered their support. There are also over 90 signatures from homes on intersecting blocks of Castor Avenue. The next steps, Heiser informed members, will be to get a letter of support from Senator Christine Tartaglione, the signed petition and proposal to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Heiser said he looks forward to keeping the Civic Association informed of the progress on this project.

Krause continued with old business, telling the group that there had been no new reports of burglaries in the past three weeks. He suggested that members who were concerned or interested should consider attending the monthly PSA meetings, the next of which will be December 17th, 7-8pm, at Aria Hospital.

The reports of a peeping tom at a home on Haworth Street were a false alarm.

A non-profit organization is taking advantage of Act 135 and filing for conservatorship of 1301 Wakeling St. The property will be refurbished and sold as a single family home. If this home goes well there is potential for the same NPO to do the same to 1208 Dyre St.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz attended the meeting and spoke to members about some of the projects and movements of the City Controller’s Office.

Butkovitz reaffirmed the situation following the discovery of $2 million of unused WiFi equipment in a warehouse in Philadelphia. The equipment, Butkovitz said, was purchased at the behest of the federal government for the city’s police, fire, and other municipal business needs. According the Butkovitz the equipment will be recycled through an unnamed technology recycling company.

The biggest project of the City Controller’s Office, says Butkovitz, is the auditing of Philadelphia Licenses and Inspections following the collapse of the construction site at 22nd and Market, in June 2013. The office has also been working on a project for the past 9 years, he says, to bring Philadelphia School District schools up to code.

Butkovitz offered a curious Civic Association member his initial feeling of Mayor-Elect Jim Kenney, saying that Kenney seemed to be trying to get “good, operational people.” Butkovitz hopes that through this new term there will be increased interest in Fire, Police, and L & I.

If members have concerns or questions they are advised to call the City Controller’s Office directly at 215-686-8888, use the Philly WatchDog App, or call or email the Director of Community Affairs, Isaiah Thomas, at 215-686-7030 or

The next Northwood Civic Association meeting is scheduled for December 15th, 7-8pm, at St. James Lutheran Church on Pratt St. and Castor Ave. All are welcome to attend.