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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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Kimberly Washington to the Helm of the Frankford CDC

Kimberly Washington has been chosen as the new Executive Director of the Frankford Community Development Corporation.  Kim has served as the leader of the Northeast EPIC Stakeholders group for several years and will be stepping down from that position.

In addition, the Frankford Neighborhood Advisory Committee has moved into the Frankford CDC headquarters at 4900 Griscom Street.  The NAC had been resident at the Carson Valley Children’s Aid office on Frankford Avenue.  Carson vacated that location and has moved into another of their locations at 2300 West Allegheny Avenue.


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Let’s Move It Philly Provides Information and Entertainment

There was a really great crowd Saturday, February 16th at St. Marks Let’s Move It Philly.  I stoppped by for a few minutes and took a quick tour of the health forum exhibits.  Also had time to stay for  Jeanine Kayembe (see her performance here) and a performance by four of the students from Harding middle school.

The girls, Jasmine Richardson, Janaya Alexander, Sabria Henderson and Samaya Smith-Bey attend the Carson Valley Children’s Aid C.H.I.C.K.S. program at Harding Middle School.  CHICKS stands for Creating Healthy Informed Confident Knowledgeable Selves. The program teaches the girls about the importance of building self esteem and confidence along with eating healthy, exercising daily and building good peer relationships.  See their performance here.

This was a great program by Carson Valley Children’s Aid.


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NE EPIC Stakeholders Meeting 8/30/12

Steve Blackburn with Ama, Ann and Andrea

The EPIC Stakeholders had another informative meeting on Thursday, August 30th.  It was held at 2nd Baptist this time.

  • Steve Blackburn, of Carson Valley Children’s Aid gave an update on truancy enforcement for the public schools.  Carson Valley is one of two providers in North and Northeast Philadelphia who will be visiting students homes to do investigations of truancy.  This will usually come after a student has 10 unexcused absences.  Steve introduced Ama Paasewe, Truancy Supervisor and Ann Bourdeau and Andrea Julius, both Truancy Case Managers. Only about 50% of public school students who enter high school finish.  Truancy is the first step on the road to failure.
  • Hope4Philly will be having their annual event at Harding Middle School on September 15th from 11 AM to 3 PM.
  • Tree Philly event is coming up on November 3rd at 2nd Baptist.  Free trees for those who apply in advance.
  • A build out at Hedge Street park in in the planning stages.  This will mean a major improvement coming within a year.
  • Affordable new houses will be built on the lot at Gillingham and Tackawanna Streets.  Information will be available as that project gets underway.
  • Affordable senior housing is proposed or the former faculty house at NE Catholic High School, at Torresdale and Kensington Ave.
  • Dan Duffy of Councilwoman Sanchez office gave a presentation on the new zoning code recently implemented in the city.
  • The Frankford NAC has been designated as a RCO (Recognized Community Organization) in relation to zoning.  That means that the NAC will have standing when a zoning project requires community support.  Those who have to make a community presentation will have to include the NAC in that meeting.  This means that Frankford will have greater overall representation in those issues.
  • C.H.A.M.P.S. (Choosing Healthy And Mature Principles for Success) Mentoring Program is in need of more mentors for Frankford High school students.  They had a very successful first year with the vast majority (106 of 111) of students in the program staying in school and moving on to 10th grade.  If you would like to be a mentor, contact Stephen L. Stevens Jr.,Program Coordinator, Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia at 267-971-2540 or email

The next EPIC Stakeholders meeting will be held on September 27th at a location to be announced.