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Shootings in Frankford Last Night

If you live in Frankford, as in most neighborhoods of the city, when you hear a helicopter circling overhead, you know something is wrong. Last night and very early this morning, there were two separate shooting incidents involving three people, two of whom are now dead.

The first was in the 5000 block of Frankford Avenue and the victim killed had no id and is considered to be “John Doe” at this point. The other victim, 35 years old, is in critical condition at Temple as of now. Police are hoping surveillance cameras in the area will help in their investigation.

Shortly after midnight, another “execution style shooting”, according to Channel 6 News, occurred in the 1400 block of Adams Avenue. Suffering over 2 dozen bullets, this 27 year old victim died at the scene.

We could be tempted to ask why but there are most likely only a few reasons for these killings. The bigger question is how do we put an end to this violence? The most important question is what are you going to do about this?

This time of year, most of us are filled with “good cheer” and our outlook might be a little brighter. We see lights and there’s excitement “in the air”! But singing about peace on earth is not going to make it so.

Frankford Forward has had some success in bringing attention to the violence in the area. If you’ve seen our Prayer Witnesses and Vigils at crime scenes, you’ve seen a few people. Imagine more people – crowds even – who say “Enough”! We want peace – we will work for peace! This is not going to happen in our neighborhood any more!

If you are not an active member of Frankford Forward, you need to be. The only alternative is when you hear that helicopter above your home, you know something is wrong but it won’t change, it will only get worse if you choose not to act.

The next meeting of Frankford Forward is Monday, January 9, at 6 PM at St. Mark’s Church, 4442 Frankford Avenue.…/1-dead-1-critical-in-frankford-s…/1654868/…/police-man-killed-execution-styl…/1655327/

Due to the much colder temperatures, there will not be an outside Prayer Witness and Vigil at this time for all of these victims and for those who shot them.

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PSA 1 – Facing Tough Issues With a Lot of Heart


L-R Pete Specos, Co-ordinator PSA 1, Lt. Duane Gordon, Capt. Anthony Luca and Ronald Ryan, WalkSafePHL and Town Watch Integrated Services


Captain Luca and Lieutenant Gordon from the 15th Police District met with Frankford, Northwood and Bridesburg residents last Thursday, August 25 at Aria Frankford Hospital. With a standing room only crowd, residents listened to the litany of the crime statistics which they know all too well since they live them. Several residents reported drug houses, prostitution activity, problems with halfway houses, etc.

Burglaries are up in Northwood, shootings and stabbings continue in Frankford and Bridesburg continues to work for more police presence from a District that is the largest in the city and uses what officers and resources they have as strategically as they can.

The police continue to remind us to lock windows and doors to prevent easy access. They do have a suspect they are watching but you have to do more than just arrest them. You need proof and that takes police work and neighbors’ help. A local 7-11 has been robbed 4 times during the overnight hours and most crimes are crimes of opportunity. Police use “Leads on Lines” where pawn shops now have to id those wishing to do business with them and that is sometimes a help. Captain Luca is very much aware of the drug dealers – who they are and where they are. Some recent staffing issues have been, of course, the Democratic National Convention, nationwide police shootings, where for our officers’ sakes, they’ve been assigned 2 to a car so some plainsclothes officers were temporarily reassigned.

Change won’t happen overnight. Many residents realize this and that’s why our civic groups have gotten more active and involved. Town Watch Eyes and Ears – you don’t patrol – you just observe and then call in what you see. We’ve been told if you identify yourself as a Town Watch member calling 911 – that helps. Lt. Gordon promised to come up with a different way to help us report and get action on what we see more quickly. Get trained with your neighbors. Ronald Ryan, Recruiter, for WalkSafePHL and Town Watch Integrated Services, offered to help train residents. Frankford Forward, our community group focused on issues causing violence, can provide meeting space for ongoing training.

Relations between Police and citizens have been in the news consistently. Captain Luca says his officers are motivated and he works to deploy them so they are most effective. Change won’t happen overnight.

But there are signs of hope. Aria Frankford has donated space to have a Police substation located there. This will be used for bike cops to ride up and down Frankford Avenue and some side streets. The current grid is from Penn to Duffield Sts. and from Arrott to Brill Sts. One of the areas of concern had been Margaret and Worth – site of a former drug rehab center. Bob Smiley and I were out delivering The Frankford Gazette and we saw two bike police officers pull up there and just get off their bikes. I don’t think the people there knew what to do. The bike cops have a specific route and so far they have made quite a few arrests – for guns, in particular. One of the guns confiscated was found to be involved in multiple shootings.

The meeting took an interesting turn as the people gathered started talking about what we needed to do to take back our community. The Police alone cannot solve the problem. One resident, Josue, says he comes out and talks with his neighbors. Other residents wanted to see more officers representing the ethnicities of our community. Lt. Gordon and Capt. Luca understood that but they have no control over how officers are assigned. Captain Luca recalled that the role of police officers has changed from a “warrior mentality” back in the 70’s and 80’s to a “guardian mentality” today. Who wouldn’t agree that a police officer is taking his/her life in their hands every day? We would have to admit it can very much be the same way for some of us!

There used to be several places youth could go in the community that are no longer there. Everyone agreed that there was respect for your elders. Parents were concerned that their children’s activities in the neighborhood would reflect on the family and, as a kid, you didn’t want to be guilty of that. Neighbors would tell your parents/grandparents what you were up to and then it all hit the fan. Today, parents are using their children to sell drugs to help support the family. No one really wants to live that way has been said at a few community meetings by people who know. That realization is why the Frankford CDC is working hard to bring more economic development to Frankford Avenue.

Another positive development is that the Police are looking to re-establish a PAL Center in the neighborhood and have the funding to develop and maintain it. A future police vs. youth softball game is in the works, too!

Everyone realized that it must be a “grassroots” effort that takes a community and its people. Would you like to get involved? Here’s just a few of the groups that would warmly welcome you, your friends and family to support their efforts:

  • Neighborhood Advisory Committee Meeting (Zoning), Thursday, Sept. 8, 7 PM, Second Baptist Church, 1801 Meadow St., 19124
  • Frankford Forward, Meets every 2 weeks, Monday, Sept. 19, 6 PM, Presentation on Mental Health First Aid and training that we may be interested in, St. Mark’s Church, 4442 Frankford Ave., 19124
  • Northwood Civic Association Meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 7-8 PM, St. James Church, Castor Ave. and Pratt St., 19124
  • PSA 1 Meeting, Thursday, Sept. 22, 7 PM, Bridesburg Boys and Girls Club, 2901 Bridge St., 19137

There will be a Community Bike Ride in Frankford on September 24 beginning at Aria Frankford Hospital. All are invited! Details below!

Bike Rally Frankford

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Giving Hearts!

The Morgan Stanley Foundation is supported by each of the departments within Morgan Stanley. The Foundation has given Keep the Faith in Frankford much needed donations over the past two years.

Those donations go directly to helping us feed those in need through the Northeast Committee on the Homeless’ Dining with Dignity Program that operates at St. Mark’s Church. We have prepared and served over 500 people a hot meal and and have sent them home with dinner bags because of these donations.

There are very good people in our community who don’t need accolades nor do they want them. They genuinely care for others and do the right thing. Morgan Stanley does that, too! They encourage their employees to get involved in their communities and they support their efforts with matching grants and additional monies.

To our unsung hero at Morgan Stanley whose heart is in our Frankford community, thank you for all that you do! We also thank Morgan Stanley for acknowledging your efforts with their generous donations to Keep the Faith in Frankford!



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Eric Stieffenhofer Left Us Smiling!

Eric and Bee dancingEric Stieffenhofer almost made it to his 81st birthday. He liked marking milestones and he had had many in his life. You couldn’t sit in his and his wife, Bernice’s (Bee’s), living room without him pointing out to you his wedding picture proudly hanging over the mantle.

Married for 56 years, he always said it was destiny because you could find the letters of his name, B E R N I C E. A real love story they had. They met at the Fairmount Wallet factory where they both worked. In fact, they were both engaged to someone else. Eric was right about that destiny – they broke off their engagements and the result was five children, Lori, Krae, Beth, Mark and Tara and 12 grandchildren so far.

Initially settling in the Hunting Park area, the family moved to Northwood in 1974. They liked the diversity of the people and had very good neighbors. Beth tells the story of one of the neighbors asking about Eric only to learn that he had really just died. The man stopped and stood in the middle of their street upon hearing this news.

Eric would stop many people walking by as he sat on the front steps. Whether he knew you or not, he soon had you engaged in conversation. You would think you knew him all your life. No matter how he was feeling, Eric always wanted to lift others up. He would do that with a joke. Even the way he told them, you were intently listening until the punch line.

Truly, Eric put the “Pop” in “Pop Pop” as the grandchildren called him. Pop Pop would do the silliest things to keep them entertained. They loved to be with him and his family was most important. He would wrestle with the kids and always showed an interest in whatever they cared about. His granddaughter, Megan, would do puzzles with him on the iPad. His family just loved being with him because he was so much fun. He knew a lot about sports and there’s a lot you can learn from the game shows that he and Bee would watch. Eric was a favorite uncle, too. Eric loved parties and dancing; he knew how to enjoy life.

Eric and Bee were VIP’s, very important parishioners of St. Joachim. I used to see Eric at Mass, and he struggled with health issues that would have stopped anyone else in their tracks, but he was able to keep going.

During one of my visits, he showed me how he kept up with all the Keep the Faith in Frankford news on his iPad as we worked to reopen St. Joachim. I was impressed. Eric took the closing of the church, very, very hard. In fact, his family felt that when his beloved St. Joachim closed in June, 2013, that his health declined further as a result.  He truly believes St. Joachim will reopen. He recounted a vision he had one day and told me he knew the Church would open again. I believe, Eric and we sure are trying!

Eric had special powers. One of them was his sense of humor, a gift he shared freely with all those he came into contact with. His son, Mark, during Eric’s funeral Mass, began a eulogy to his father by telling all gathered a joke. That made us all feel a little better. We all smiled. Eric was still lifting us up and reminding us to smile. We won’t forget to “hear the laughter”, Eric, and we won’t forget you either. You are a part of all of us. There won’t be much resting in peace in heaven as you’ve already had them laughing with a few good jokes!





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Community Meeting Takes Aim at Recent Violence in Frankford

Dean Jon Clodfelter and Deacon Phil Geliebter, St. Mark’s Church, have been on a mission to address the drug trade and the violence that results because of it. Monday, March 28, they invited the community to get involved at a meeting held at the Church. The community was well-represented with faith and community leaders, active and concerned residents. To succeed, this effort will include everyone in the community and we must believe that we can make a difference. There was a roomful of believers present. The meeting was led by Deacon Phil.



We heard a presentation about Cease Fire, a national program, which intervenes in a community to prevent violence. Funded by many national and local partners, and based at Temple University, to bring this program to Frankford would cost $250,000. Cease Fire employs people who live in the community who have experienced and lived the “high risk street activity” but can be the “right messengers” to “interrupt” and offer different choices, a different path. You can learn more about them at http:// We can look into possible funding.

A representative from Temple was willing to help. All present agreed, that this would be but one strategy and we need to tackle these problems with many different solutions.

We know that everyone reacts differently to stress. We know that our modern times are stressful and made more so by the shots we hear, the news reports and the frustration and sadness that comes because it’s not only the loss of the victims of crime we mourn but also the lives of those who commit them – it’s senseless and tragic.

The best advice for dealing with some of this stress was shared by Ysaye Zmore, Human Services Incident Response Planner, of the city’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services. Ysaye suggested that we each take the time every day to do something we really like – cook, garden, read, walk, play with your children or grandchildren. It’s trying to keep the balance in an unbalanced world. You can learn more about their services here – http://

The Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia also provides counseling for individuals and families and victim assistance services to those most directly affected by violence. Lisa Christian explained that they serve families, individuals and work in high schools, too. This age of students 13-17 are the ones most savvy in social media. Of late, they have observed more posting of pictures of themselves holding weapons. Many, many autopsies of our youth, 17 years and older, reveal drugs in their system.

Speaking at a drug abuse summit in Atlanta, President Obama has made the correlation that we see drugs as a criminal problem but we need to look at as a health problem. Our youth are in crisis. Lisa told us, too, that 60% of school age children in our city have an episode of homelessness – 6 out of 10 children.

These were the experts sharing their truth. Those attending the meeting were experts, too, as each had many experiences and knowledge in addressing these issues, too. Robert Cook, the Pastor of St. James has done much work with youth and families. St. James has regularly scheduled activities and programs for families and youth. All are welcome! Pastor Rob also hosts a Family Movie Night, etc., bringing families in the community together. For more information, contact Pastor Rob at

Pastor Richard Smith of the Faith Assembly of God, spoke very passionately about the need for us to carry on Christ’s mission of caring for each and everyone in the community. Pastor Smith makes a dedicated effort to feed the children that are hungry in our area.

Jim Boxmeyer, a local resident, spoke about he and his wife’s efforts to maintain and improve a block on Foulkrod Street by screening tenants and taking care of the properties they own. We know many stories of absentee landlords in our area who care nothing except for the revenue their properties generate. Kudos to all who attended. An impressive group!

The meeting of this community group held on April 11, invested time in further organizing. It was agreed that the group will meet every other week for a time while getting things started.