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Mary Carroll, You Brightened Our Lives!

Photo courtesy of Tina Dambach

Sadly, we learned another of our dear friends was called home to God recently. If you’re a member of St. Joachim or if you live in the area on the corner of Church St. and Griscom St., a very special woman lived in the first floor apartment, Mary Carroll. She knew everybody even if you didn’t know her.

Mary loved God, her Church and everyone else, too. She was a member of the St. Frances de Sales Court #2617 Catholic Daughters of the Americas as well as a member of Keep the Faith in Frankford! When she attended our 8 AM Prayer Services in front of St. Joachim Church, she would always pray for “the animals, the cops, the firemen, all the people, for us and everybody have a good week!” Mary, we pray for you and we also pray for ourselves because Frankford is a little less bright these days without you! Go in peace, sweet friend!

In the Catholic Daughters’ Newsletter, a section called “Members Spotlight” highlighted Mary Carroll in 2015. Regent Tina Dambach wrote the following about Mary:

“Mary Carroll “Call Security!” That’s one of Mary’s catch phrases to ease an awkward or dicey situation or just to bring a little comic relief. Mary recently turned 70. She loves animals, especially her cat, Rocky. She misses her mother who passed away 3 years ago. Before her death, Mary’s mother was living at Chapel Manor Home and Fr. Wetzel and Fr. Large as well as others would take Mary to visit. Mary is a survivor.

It’s anonymous, but Mary has no problem letting you know she has been in A.A. and sober for 35 years as of April 26, 2015. After 5 years of sobriety, Mary came back to the Church after hearing others speak of the peace they had found. Mary joined Catholic Daughter’s because of our own Fr. Wetzel whom she refers to as “the priest” and who helped us find a lot of our members. She likes the people, the parties and helping out. Mary helps as much as she can at all our fundraisers and meetings. She has helped at Matthew 25 on distribution days and on other days she helps pack bags. Mary has also contributed food to Matthew 25. That’s just one example of her generosity.

Mary hopes to hit it big in the lottery one day, but when Mary does hit a number, she is sure to share some with the Church or another person. The thing she shares the most though is her personality. Mary is down to earth, kind, humble and serene. I only saw her get upset once and she immediately let it go. I only saw her cry once and that was the day Father announced that our parish would be merged into Holy Innocents.

She has a great sense of humor too as her, “Call Security”, phrase indicates. Mary has worked at a few different jobs. She worked in a factory until it closed up. She did cleaning at Shriner’s Hospital which used to be on the Boulevard where the kids loved her. Mary also worked for 8 years at McDonald’s before retiring. Her work ethic extended to the Church.

Mary helped at St. Joachim as a greeter and taking the Offertory gifts up and she would help do the readings at daily Mass. Mary is often chosen to take the gifts to the altar at Holy Innocents Church which she finds to be a great honor. Another way Mary shows her faith and evangelizes is by displaying prayer cards, the cross and other religious articles in the windows of her first floor apartment which is directly across from the Church. Mary also has attended prayer services in front of St. Joachim Church every week since the church was closed. She used to attend healing prayer services at St. Anne’s Church.

How lucky we are to have Mary in our court!”

PS. Many thanks to Tammy Hartenstine for providing Rocky with a new home!!

There is a GoFund Me page started by the Court St. Francis de Sales #2617 of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas for the cost of Mary’s funeral, burial and the vet costs for her cat, Rocky! Any amount will help and is most gratefully received! God bless you!



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A Gift of Friendship That Began At the Frankford YWCA

The Frankford Y has long been closed but to the “Young Mothers’ Club” our hearts were forever opened there. I’m sure we’re one of the only groups, if not THE only group, from the Frankford YWCA that still keeps in touch and has lunch get-togethers. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

The Frankford Y is located at 4704 Leiper St. but we know its location is also commonly referred to as Leiper and Orthodox Streets. Everyone knows about this historic site.

It was built by one of the early mill owners, John Garsed, of Richard Garsed and Brother, who were cotton manufacturers. This mansion was built sometime during 1866 and 1867. John would later fall on hard times and it became known as “Garsed’s Folly”. His brother, Richard, would buy it to bail him out. In 1941, the Young Women’s Christian Association took it over and the mansion became a neighborhood center. Something I didn’t know was that many, many USO hostesses were trained there during World War II. During the 1960’s, with “white flight” happening, the Y would be used to foster a better understanding between the races. There was even a community paper there, called “The Northeast Liberator”.

There was a preschool there for many years on the third floor. I even worked there for a while.

A pool would later be added. In fact, I lied about our Jimmy’s age – you had to be 6 months old for swimming lessons and he was 5½ months old. Well, of course, he was precocious. Sadly, in 2009, it closed with nearly 68 years of housing community service activities. Though a few people have tried to revive and repurpose the building, efforts up to now have not been successful. At present, the building is up for sale.

You know me in many different roles. But did you know I’m a “Young Mother”? And that there are other “Young Mothers” just like me?

Back in 1979, I’m pretty sure, there was an ad in the News Gleaner about a group starting up at the Frankford Y that was for young mothers. Now, none of us that came to the first meeting had any idea how “young” the mothers would be. We learned that, of those who did come, the first was in their later 20’s, I was second at 25, and the youngest from there down to 19 or twenty years of age. There were 5 of us at first and then we had one young mother join us soon after we started. What’s interesting is that we were not in the digital age yet, so we can’t find a copy of that ad from the News Gleaner nor did we take a lot of pictures. But in my mind’s eye, I can still see us at the Y and also “through the years”.

We were mostly from Frankford with the others from nearby neighborhoods. One of the Young Mother’s boyfriends would be the babysitter for our weekly hour or so get togethers. I would get teased because my Great Aunt Pearl lived with us and she would care for Jimmy, so at first he didn’t attend. So it was always suspected I didn’t even have a child. Once he was walking, he did come, too.

Well, we met for at least 2 years there but some of the Young Mothers would move, work, have more children so we would occasionally meet at each other’s houses. However, much time passed between us seeing each other, but we can truly pick up just like it was yesterday. We have been doing that for 39 years.

We meet for lunch now every few months and at a recent luncheon, I said a story about the Young Mothers would be a good one for The Frankford Gazette. These photos were taken at a 1999 swim at Anne Marie’s home. Looking at the cake it says “Forever Young Mothers”. Enough from me, let me let you hear from the other Young Mothers.

Let me introduce them to you:
Anne Marie Imperatore is our leader and has done much to keep us together over these years. As we reflected on what the Young Mothers’ Club meant to us, Anne Marie, said that, back then, she didn’t have a lot of friends. She and Donna became “fast friends” and would help each other and just be friends. Now we’re best friends and if some one has trouble, we would be there for that person. Anne Marie has 4 kids, Richie, Nikki, Mario and Brad. She also has 3 grandchildren that she absolutely adores, Brittany, Gianni and Sofia. Home is Hammonton, NJ.

Donna Budelis, is the youngest of the group, and she was a teenage Mom – an amazing Mom. Her role as Mom really put her beyond her high school friends as her responsibilities changed. Donna wanted understanding and new friends who knew what it was like to be a Young Mother. Donna has suffered the loss of a son. It’s still hard for many of her friends to talk to her but she finds that with us, it’s much more comfortable. Thank you, Donna. I think we all appreciate and are glad you feel that way. Donna has 5 kids and lives in Mayfair. As Donna lives closer, we travel to our lunches together and it’s been a treat to reconnect with her.

Peg McCauley is our wise one. When we first met, she had a daughter, Sarah, and I had Jim who was a little younger. Sarah would call him “Mim”. Peg and I became friends and I always admired her. She had a home on Foulkrod Street with the original hardwood floors, stairs and bannisters. She also bought a white sofa from Work Bench, if you remember them. Well, I wanted to have something nice, too. So, I bought one. But I also had day-care in my home. A day or two after I got it, somehow Jim and Philip got a hold of the Vaseline and put it on the new sofa cushion. Vaseline is oil and you can’t get that out. Well, Aunt Pearl and Bob, turned the cover over and it was some time before I learned of this!! Peg, too, wanted friendship and understanding of what it takes to be a mother. Peg remembers the fun, crafts, a summer barbecue and playground time. Most of all, it was the acceptance and no judgement space that we all needed. Peg has 3 kids and now lives in Swarthmore.

Maryann King is our positive and effervescent, ever youthful Young Mother. Maryann has two boys, and was very active in their sports and school. They are now 41, and 37. Maryann went on to be a “perpetual student”, and became a registered dietitian. The “Young Mothers’ Club” was a haven for all of us. We were able to talk about the challenges of being “young mothers”, and there was such comfort in our friendship. The fact that we’re still friends, and love getting together is a testimony of what a support/friend’s group can do.

I, Pat Smiley, have one son and I have always worked with children, so Jim has always been around children. When I had child care in my home, he would wake up and ask, “Where are the friends?” I, too, wanted friends who would have similar interests and could understand that kids change your life in many ways but so enrich your life as well. I didn’t keep in touch with high school friends, college I went evenings and Saturdays, many work friends I didn’t keep in touch with but these Young Mothers were special. And they still are. I am very happy to keep in touch with them. I’m the only one who still lives in Frankford. We lived at 2961 Fairhill St. – the house is not the re anymore. But Great Aunt Pearl and I were always riding over here to Frankford on the bus from Rockledge (right outside Fox Chase) so I really feel I grew up here.

L – Pat Smiley, Maryann King, Peg McCauley
R – Anne Marie Imperatore, Sally Wiley, Donna Budelis

Sally Parham Wiley is the funniest and lots and lots of fun. She describes herself as a suburban brat from South Philly (South Philly is suburban?) but she loved Frankford. Sally needed something in her life like the Young Mothers. First we met with our kids; now we meet without them. That’s coming full circle.

The Forever Young Mothers’ Club is very special to each one of us and when we first met at the Frankford Y, who knew where we would go or who we would be? Given all the changes in our lives, we are still Young Mothers from the Frankford Y and that’s a gift that grows more precious each year.




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Post Season Football Continues Sunday; Let’s Get Behind Coach Andy Reid!


We asked Mike Betz, a local Philadelphia Eagles Fan and Sports Analyst, to reflect on this year’s Eagles season.

Kansas City Chiefs’ Andy Reid

Well, the Eagles’ luck has unfortunately run out. The last 2 seasons have given us incredible thrills to last us for as long as we live. We’ll always be indebted to Nick Foles for taking over and ending 57 years of frustration. Finally, that dark cloud was lifted! Nick Foles should never have to pay for a meal in Philadelphia ever again.

Now that the Eagles finally won it, how about we root for the guy who drafted Nick Foles back in 2012? That’s right, I’m talking about Andy Reid. Love him or hate him, Reid is the winningest coach in Eagles’ history. Many Eagles’ fans, myself included, have criticized him for his play calling and time management, or lack thereof. We were all scratching our heads when he’d call a pass play on first down, when he would burn time outs, and especially at the answer he’d give at his post game press conferences. “I gotta do a better job.” “It’s my responsibility to put guys in position to make plays.” 

Andy Reid is indirectly responsible for the Eagles Super Bowl victory. After all, he recommended Doug Pederson to Jeff Lurie after the Chip Kelly debacle. So far, so good! So, let’s root for Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs to win it all! He has a nice young quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, a solid tight end in Travis Kelce, the younger brother of Jason Kelce. Reid finally seemed to have figured it out. Come on Andy, we got our first title. Go out and get yours. Like you always say, “Time’s yours! Go get it!”

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Frankford Civic Association Meetings Update

October 2018 Meeting

The Frankford Civic Association meets monthly on the first Thursday of each month. Meetings are held from 7 -8 PM at St. Mark’s Church, Frankford, 4442 Frankford Avenue, with convenient parking in the lot which can be accessed via Frankford Avenue or Griscom Street. We’re on the main strip!!

This month, we held a meet and greet with Ellie Vamos, the Commercial Corridor Manager for the Frankford Community Development Corporation. Welcome, Ellie, and we’re glad you’re here! Ellie joined the staff there in September. She comes to us with a varied range of experiences and skills that she developed as a community engagement specialist. Ellie has done much to build partnerships using effective communication strategies to further foster a sense of community. Ellie shared with us her vision and what she is currently working on in her new position.

Ellie is a great listener and endeared herself to the group at large immediately. Ellie would like to build and develop our local business organization by recruiting new members and helping them to see the importance of their investment in Frankford and how it can improve their own business success. Partnering with the greater community, the Frankford Civic Association agreed to co-sponsor the Monster Bash on Halloween which was held at the Pause (Pink) Park. Due to a recent fire on Paul St., the planned movie had to be canceled unfortunately.

Ellie is scheduled to return for this month’s meeting, too, to continue our discussions of how we can support the CDC’s effort to revitalize our commercial corridor.

We also discuss upcoming issues for the Neighborhood Advisory Committee such as zoning, expansion of existing properties and other issues directly affecting the community. Christine DeJesus serves as Co-ordinator of the NAC.

So join us at our next meeting on Thursday, December 6! There’s always something new to learn about Frankford!



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Hometown Champions

After you read the article, there will be information regarding how you can register your 5-14 year old child(ren) for the Frankford Chargers. 

When you first meet her, you are struck by her energy and her enthusiasm. You know, immediately, that she cares for the kids and for the games they play.  She is Coach Kisha Thompson.

Coach Kisha, Aaron Gary, Floyd Williams, Mark Williams – 8 year olds

Kisha is the Vice-President of the Frankford Chargers Sports and Mentoring Association. She is also a coach for the sports teams – football, basketball and baseball. The Frankford Chargers also have cheer and dance teams as well. The coaching part is a big part of her life. But so is the fund-raising and the organizing of the teams. Finding sponsors is one of her most important jobs and, if you and your organization are interested, we’ll give you contact information at the end of this article. If you live in the Frankford area, these teams are very successful and when the football teams or cheer teams win the regionals, they will travel to Florida (even the youngest at 5 years old) to participate in the national championship and cheerleader competition. She finds and raises the money and somehow  finds time to do it all. But she doesn’t do it alone. She and many other dedicated individuals and supportive parents come together to give our local youth the opportunity to play on a team and to learn what it means to be part of a team. In addition to all she does for the Chargers organization, she has a Bachelor of Science degree and works full time as a tax accountant. 

Kisha now lives near the Frankford neighborhood where she grew up. She attended Smedley Elementary School, Harding Jr. High School and then graduated from Frankford High School. Believe it or not, she joined the Frankford Chargers at the age of 3 in cheer and quickly became their Mascot. She did not have an official name, she was just known as “Little Kisha” wearing her cheerleader outfit cheering her teams on to victory.  Mentored by Big Rasheed Muhammad, he encouraged her to stop cheerleading and start coaching at the age of 12. Sadly, he passed away last year. Kisha continued along the path and always remembers he was the one to inspire her. She just wants to pass that on to the kids she meets and gets to know so well.

Older Age Teams

Kisha realizes how important that inspiration is to our young people. Besides the rules of the game, Kisha and the other coaches try to convey, to their players through sports, real life skills like teamwork and looking out for each other. This is a brotherhood and when you become successful, you come back to give back. Kisha mentions two players who made it to the NFL – Will Fuller, a wide receiver for the Houston Texans, and Zaire Anderson, linebacker for the Denver Broncos, who were both a part of the Frankford Chargers. Not every player will be able to do that she says, but they can be anything they set their minds on to be. Most importantly, she wants to see them grow up to be  productive citizens. She points out one of the coaches who came right from work, still in his suit because these boys matter to him. It’s important that they see people from all kinds of occupations modeling for them what it means to be a man or, in Kisha’s case, a woman who have taken their talents and used them for good – for themselves and for others. Kisha was elected into the Frankford Chargers’ Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Little Guys Football Conference Hall of Fame in 2012. Way to go, Coach!

Coach Robert Williams and the 5 year old team

This is her 30th Anniversary year of coaching and last year was the 50th Anniversary of the Frankford Chargers Sports and Mentoring Organization. Looking ahead, Kisha remembers when the Gambrel Recreation Center (4800 Ditman St.) fields were “dust bowls” until they got help with new turf so maintaining the fields, the equipment, etc., is an investment. Parents are supportive and help with fund-raisers but corporate sponsors can make an even bigger difference and get the opportunity to help develop their future workforce.

What keeps Coach Kisha returning is, of course, the kids. She recounts stories of when she’s out and about, a young man will come up to her and say “Coach Kisha, do you remember me?” That’s the greatest feeling for her. Coach Kisha knows that life is a game won off the field or outside of a job. She coaches her players for both arenas.

Jeanette Hines and her 2 daughters, Montana (stroller) and Madison, root for Christopher despite a few drops of rain!

This year the Frankford Chargers have 300+ children as members of the organization. Your child must be 5 – 14 years old. They are still accepting applications through September 6. They practice 3-4 nights weekly. They are organized into teams by age. Here’s a list of equipment the players need – There is also a link to the individual registration forms that you need for each sport. As for physicals, a nurse practitioner is onsite at the Gambrel Recreation Center, 3 days a week, to complete the necessary forms. You can stop by the Rec office, contact the Frankford Chargers by phone at 215-685-1243 or email them at

If you’re inspired by Coach Kisha and the work of the Frankford Chargers, please contact them and find out how you can get involved, too! Corporate sponsors, you won’t find a better investment anywhere!

Thank you, Coach Kisha Thompson, for all that you and the Frankford Chargers Sports and Mentoring Association do for our youth in Frankford! Go, Chargers! You are making a real difference in these children’s lives!