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That thing you do: What happened around Philly in May

May 28, 2019 Category: FeaturedLongPurpose

That thing you do is a new, semi-regular column featuring photos from events held by nonprofits, mission-driven organizations and businesses across the Philadelphia area. Send photos and captions from your events  to

1. SBN acknowledges those making a difference in the region’s green infrastructure.

On May 23, the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia celebrated its annual Excellence in GSI Awards recognizing the achievements of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects in the region. Winners were selected and based upon on how their projects highlight the triple bottom line: environmental, social and economic benefits of green infrastructure. The triple bottom line is one of the core aspects of Green City, Clean Waters – Philadelphia’s plan to reduce stormwater in an environmentally conscious manner.

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown was recognized for her years as a champion for sustainability measures in the city, while the excellence in GSI awards were presented to:

  • SALT Design Studio for the Chester Arthur schoolyard project.
  • West Laurel Hill Cemetery for Nature’s Sanctuary.
  • Asarum LandDesign Group for the Kelly Green project.
  • Stroud Water Research Center for the WikiWatershed project.


2. Seventh-grader Brooklyne Spraggins wins award for her business plan for a food truck.

From left: Tara O’Neill and Jamie Gumina of KPMG; Brooklyne Spraggins, S. Weir Mitchell School; Elaine Melchiorre, Executive Board Vice Chair of PFCU; and Jeff Ryan, Executive Board Chair of Spark. (Courtesy photo)

More than 100 seventh-grade students from four Philadelphia schools —S. Weir Mitchell School, Middle Years Alternative, Boys’ Latin Charter School, and Henry C. Lea — came together May 21 for a project-fair style event at which they presented the career interest projects they developed with professional mentors. It is an initiative of Spark Philadelphia, a career exploration and mentoring nonprofit. Throughout the 2018-19 school year, Spark mentors — including architects, web developers, and engineers — volunteer to work with middle school students in a 13-week workplace-based mentoring program.

From our Partners

Brooklyne Spraggins, a seventh-grader at S. Weir Mitchell School, worked with mentors from KPMG to create a business plan for a Parisian food truck, complete with merchandise and a menu. She was awarded the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union‘s  Get to Work Award in recognition of her efforts.


3. 19 young adults graduate with JEVS program.

JEVS programs graduates

Joy Campbell with “Miss Alberta.” (Courtesy)

Friends, family and community leaders come together at the Mayor’s Reception Room May 17 to celebrate 19 adjudicated young adults who, through the Opportunity Youth Academy and The Choice is Yours programs of JEVS Human Services, completed their high school degrees via Penn Foster‘s online and blended learning programs.

“I never thought I’d still be alive. How I am and who my family is … I never thought I’d be here,” one of the graduates, Joy Campbell, said in a statement released before the graduation. According to that statement, Campbell had been in the system for more than four years and came home in October of 2017. After an unsuccessful and short stint at Northeast High School, she started with JEVS and Penn Foster in March and in two months earned the 5.5 credits she needed to graduate.

“When I first started, this program was such a help,” Campbell said. “They help you with work, help you find a job if needed and Miss Alberta really helps everyone. She is like a mother to every student and she loves and cares for all of us.”


4. Lincoln Financial employees donate books, volunteer time to build ‘book nooks’ for children.

Lincoln Financial employees sort donated books to fill the 20 book nooks for Read by 4th. (Courtesy)

Lincoln Financial Group donated 20 book nooks and 2,000 books to Read by 4th, in support of the organization’s promise to ensure all of Philadelphia’s children are reading on grade level by the time they enter the fourth grade.

More than 130 of Lincoln Financial’s IT/Digital employees volunteered May 15 to build bookshelves for the book nooks that will be placed throughout the city, to serve as a reminder that reading can happen anywhere, not just at home or at school. The employees themselves donated more than 350 of books with which they filled the shelves.


5. Project HOME cuts ribbon on LGBTQ-friendly affordable housing for young adults.

Ribbon cutting at the Gloria Casarez Residence. (Courtesy photo)

Project HOME hosted an opening celebration for the Gloria Casarez Residence at 1315 North 8th Street on May 14. Named for the civil rights leader who was the director of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia and died in 2014, the residence includes 30 units of LGBTQ-friendly, affordable housing for young adults who have aged out of the foster care system and/or are experiencing homelessness. It is the first residence in Pennsylvania to provide permanent supportive housing for young adults that is LGBTQ-friendly. All residents will have access to education, healthcare and employment services.

A second phase of construction will take place in the future, creating an additional 40 units of permanent, affordable housing for adults who have experienced homelessness.


6. Net zero-energy greenhouse education center opens at Overbrook School for the Blind.

Local officials joined Overbrook School for the Blind (OSB) students, staff, and the board of trustees to celebrate the opening of the M. Christine Murphy Horticulture and Education Center — a LEED- Silver certified and planned Net Zero Energy greenhouse — May 10. The 1,780 square-foot adaptive and accessible building houses OSB’s Farm to Table program and horticulture therapy activities.

The center is outfitted with a high-efficiency misting and irrigation system; manual solar shades that will balance the temperature in the greenhouse, and reduce the electric, heating and cooling costs; and a 50-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system which has been installed on the roof of OSB’s Nevil Field House. During the PV system’s first year of production, it is expected to harness and distribute more than 85,000-kilowatt hours and, in the process, take a step towards the school’s goal of earning a Net Zero Energy Building certification.


7. PHLDiversity holds Hospitality Education Day at Community College of Philadelphia.

PHLDiversity’s Hospitality Education Day at CCP. (Courtesy photo)

Some 80 students gathered May 9 at Community College of Philadelphia for PHLDiversity‘s annual Hospitality Education Day. The empowerment and networking event brought  junior and senior high school students, along with adults from the Opportunity in Hospitality Training program, to the college for a day of learning.

The programming included workshops on hospitality and tourism marketing and financial budgeting, entrepreneurship, restaurant management, college preparedness and more. Those in attendance received valuable information from industry professionals on how to successfully plan for a career in hospitality, witnessed a culinary demonstration, participated in initial screenings for internships, scholarships, and summer employment and had the opportunity to apply to CCP on site.


8. ComcastNBCUniversal employees beautify McKinley Elementary on Comcast Cares Day.

On May 4, more than 150 local Comcast NBCUniversal employees and their families, friends and community partners volunteered with City Year to improve McKinley Elementary School as part of Comcast Cares Day.

Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh, NBC10 President Ric Harris, NBCSports Philadelphia President Brian Monihan, Comcast Freedom Region Senior Vice President Jim Samaha, and volunteers at McKinley school worked alongside Mayor Jim Kenney, councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez and superintendent Dr. William Hite to paint mini murals and inspirational quotes and spruce up the grounds of the school in West Kensington. McKinley was one of 13 school district of Philadelphia schools that hosted Comcast Cares Day projects in 2019.




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