The choice to receive or not receive the co-vid vaccine is a personal one. Some have taken a wait and see approach expressing concern over the speed at which the vaccines went from development to delivery. Others have been confused and frustrated trying to determine if and when they may become eligible for the vaccine and how to sign up. For those in the second category who are Philadelphia residents, an announcement was made this week that starting April 19, all residents 16 and older will be eligible for the vaccine.
The announcement also invited additional categories of workers to join the ranks of the vaccinated even sooner. As of April 5, sanitation workers, maintenance and janitorial workers, utility workers and postal delivery workers became eligible. Starting Monday, April 12, the rest of the city’s Phase 1C — including a number of essential workers who cannot work remotely — will be eligible as well.
The new schedule puts Philadelphia on track with the rest of the state, building on the 566,733 vaccinations already administered in the city, 318,604 of whom are fully vaccinated. According to recent state data, Pennsylvania as a whole has administered 5,702,677 vaccinations which means that 35.2% of the state’s eligible population has received a first dose and 2,037,055 people have been fully vaccinated. In the immediate region, New Jersey is on a parallel pace of vaccination and Delaware expanded eligibility to all residents 16 and older on April 6th.
Reported by Hannah Chin for WHYY News Daily, 4/6/2021
Can a college degree shift from a dream to reality when you’re a young mother, on your own and homeless? It’s more than possible. It was done by graduate Sharon Birckett.
College was something Sharon had wanted to do, but life seemed to keep putting it off. She had learned about Harcum’s partnership site program in Coatesville from a friend’s mother who worked in the education field, but without permanent housing, childcare or transportation, could not get her head around making it happen. Sharon just wasn’t ready at the time but for two years, earning a degree remained on her mind. Then, even though circumstances had not changed, she made a decision. ‘It started to seem like ready was never coming. I looked at my daughter and myself and decided ‘I need change. And nothing will change if I don’t make it happen.”
Sharon regathered the information she had learned about the program the year before and reconnected with site coordinator Sondra Brewer to apply and enroll. Upon joining the program, Sharon encountered a support network she didn’t have in her life. She learned that she wasn’t alone in her struggles, other students were also young mothers and going through difficult life challenges. She found an on-site coach in Ms. Brewer who encouraged and supported Sharon day in and day out, class in and class out to keep going. She learned from instructors who also offered encouragement and motivation, even giving Sharon some tough love when she needed it. And when that internal voice of self-doubt grew too loud, her aunt, who had walked a similar path and could speak from the other side, expressed assured confidence in Sharon’s ability to succeed. Her fellow students, site coordinator and instructors became a team who gave her the drive to continue when some days she just couldn’t find it herself.
Not only did making the decision to go back to school generate a support network for Sharon, but she came to learn that one of her employers had a childcare benefit and could provide transportation. In her third semester, Sharon also moved to her own apartment.
But it was Sharon who found and channeled her inner strength into earning a degree, day by day, week by week, semester by semester. Without pretense, Sharon says honestly, “It was hard. I wanted to quit every day.” Working two jobs and going to school, Sharon was severely sleep deprived and had very little time with her daughter. But she knew earning a degree would pave the way to a better life in the long term. “I wanted to show her that you don’t quit when things get tough.”
And Sharon did not quit. She graduated a semester early in October of 2020 with an associate degree in human services. “When my degree came in the mail, I cried tears of relief and rejoicing.” Sharon is not putting off furthering her education this time around and is in the process of identifying a bachelor’s degree program to begin this fall.
Congratulations Sharon. You earned that degree! We hope you are as proud of yourself as we are.
Serenity NOW!!! A shout from all of our souls at times, and assuredly desired, if not voiced, far more frequently over the past year. Of course the path to peace is hardly immediate, but the reflection shared below on the well-known serenity prayer suggests some changes in perspective that may help pave the way.
“One thing that has struck me during this year, as I have weathered fears of this pandemic, worries for my family, homeschooling teenagers and dealing with anxious and grieving clientele, has been the ever-increasing responsibilities and worries that come with working from my home and trying to keep myself…well… myself…as this seemingly endless crisis unfolds. One thing that has kept me, largely, sane during this time, has been reflection on the wisdom contained within the serenity prayer. All of it, sure, but specifically the first 4 lines:
God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.
To understand how this has affected me, and how it has changed the ways in which I viewed myself and my life during this pandemic, it might be helpful to break down the components which have been most impactful.
Serenity: the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.
What does that even mean right now as we have political upheaval, an invisible, yet persistent threat to all that we hold dear, and constant worries about work, money, family, and self? You name it, we fear for it. And yet, serenity is possible. HOW?
By accepting the things we cannot change.
As much as I would like to, I cannot change the fact that this pandemic exists. I cannot change the fact that it is an ever-present threat over the lives of those I know and love and those that I have yet to know and love. There is nothing I can do to change that. Focusing on my fear of dying or of my loved ones dying does nothing but keep me locked in a cycle of anxious worry and pain. Yes, I think about it. No, I do not dwell on it. And in those moments that I am not dwelling on the fear and stress brought on by this pandemic, I encounter something bordering on peace.
Courage to change the things I can
During this time, it feels like my work has increased tenfold. At the beginning, and sometimes still, I found myself working 12-hour days. So much to be done, no commute, no excuse. But, when I do that, the stress creeps up and begins to destroy that momentary sense of peace that I had worked so hard to foster. Then, I remember, I need to have courage to change the things that I can. So instead of answering the frantic, (non-emergency), email or text I receive from a client or coworker at 2 AM on Saturday, I wait until my workday begins on Monday. I stop myself from working into the night or worse, waking up in the middle of the night and jumping on the computer with a deadline on my mind, frantically working at the projects that are indeed important, but are not worth my peace of mind. The result? I sometimes miss deadlines. But guess what? My serenity was worth it. Which leads me to the next point:
The Wisdom to know the difference.
This pandemic has led me to be busier than I have ever been. I have work and health and kids and school to juggle on a constant basis. If I let it, these burdens would fill my every waking moment, and rob me of joy. The thing is some of these things are not going to be impacted by me. Ever. I know that I, with my worrying, cannot stop this pandemic from threatening my life and those of my loved ones. I know that I cannot worry the world into a place where we love and accept each other for who we are, and do not fight over trivial things such as skin color or political affiliation.
There are, however, some things I CAN change. I can treat my body as well as I can, make good choices about food and exercise, interact with my family from afar, and start and stop my workday at a reasonable time. I can demonstrate love and acceptance for everyone I encounter, online or off. I can, and frankly must do those things, for the sake of my peace.
But I will not do them perfectly. I will miss deadlines and work too much or too little. I will sometimes be angry and unloving. I will mess up, over, and over again. And THAT is another one of those things I cannot change, which of course takes me to my last point:
Forgiving ourselves for our shortcomings, and others for theirs, having compassion on ourselves for the fact that we are human, and frail, and scared, and imperfect…in this frankly terrifying and difficult time, is the only way to maintain a few moments of serenity.
I can absolutely guarantee that the world will not end if you stop worrying about it for a few moments, or hours, or days, while you take a breath.
from Sassy’s Blog of the Women’s Resource Center, named for the very astute cat of WRC’s Clinical Director and Resource Coordination Counselor, Kai Qualls, M.A., LPC. The theme of the Blog is Resilience, which is especially timely given our shared uncertainty during the COVID-19 crisis.
You don’t often get flowers while you are living, nor many awards for doing the right thing.
If you knew my story you would cry tears of joy. Making my own executive decision for my life, exactly two years ago I came back to my forgotten city of Chester, Pennsylvania from the state of Mississippi where I had begun a degree program in communications at Rust College, a four-year college. I came back to continue to serve the amazing City of Chester as well as achieve academically at another institution of higher learning. I am a Harcum Community Scholar.
The goal was to come back to Chester and show every young person that if you believe in yourself and have hope, faith, and a great work ethic, you can not only make it out of your community, but you can also reach back.
A path less traveled is what I call it because I wanted to come home to inspire young men and young ladies to excel. Don’t listen to what anyone has to say. If you go to college or not, still live your wildest dreams and always remain consistent, humble, and develop your God-given talent to display unto the world.
During these two years, I rallied against gun violence, championed for the youth, fought against hunger with youth and adults, fought against racism, and worked within the political rim of things building relationships to make a more influential, and hopefully, lovable city.
Difference is I wanted to do it while I’m home.
Sometimes believing in yourself is the hardest part of the journey to success. This was the case for Stephanie Hunt who found the ACE program from a friend who was enrolled .She had decided that continuing her education was a way to get her life back on track after it had been derailed by addiction in young adulthood. Even with more than a decade of sobriety under her belt, Stephanie wasn’t sure she could do it. ‘This is crazy me — going to college now — at my age. Last time I was in school, I wasn’t really in school, I was in addiction.”
Willing to put a toe in the water, Stephanie called for more information about the program. From that first conversation, site coordinator Judith Ortiz was a source of support and encouragement. “You can do this!” It was this level of caring and encouragement from Ms. Ortiz and her instructors that sustained Stephanie on her journey right up to graduation and in spite of health challenges along the way. “They helped me not give up on myself.”
Within the first year, Stephanie exceeded her own expectations by earning a place on the President’s list. “When I opened that letter, I just started crying. I didn’t know I could have that level of success in school.” Stepanie was later inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society and graduated in 2017 with an Associate Degree in Human Services.
Several years earlier, Stephanie couldn’t imagine being where she is now. She did the hard work of recovery, founded on the love and acceptance she received from her church family and spiritual parents, Dr. Hal T. and Madelin M. Best. Accepting this love helped Stephanie to love and accept herself. This radical self acceptance fueled her journey to the successes in life she enjoys today. She has created a safe and secure home, renewed broken family relationships, and earned a promotion in her career field. She was working as a Peer Support Specialist at Aquila of Delaware when her supervisor took note of her unique blend of natural compassion and high quality program management. Now serving as Housing Manager of a woman’s home with six staff reporting to her, Stephanie creates transitional plans and provides informal group and individual therapy for residents. Her life experience equips her to build trust with and inspire her clients at a level that surpasses other staff. As a next step, Stephanie is taking classes to become a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor and aims to join the therapeutic counseling team. She is also pursuing a bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University with an anticipated December graduation.
“God put people in my life to teach me how to love myself; now I do the same for others because I know their pain. I tell them recovery is possible.Your life can be different. And YOU are worth it.’”
You may not think you have time to read a good book, but we think if you choose one of the 12 on this list that we found on www.blackmilkwomen.com, you’ll make the time to finish it!
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the White House.
Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University.
Our “30-is-the-new-20” culture tells us that the twentysomething years don’t matter. Some say they are an extended adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. But 30 is not the new 20. In this enlightening book, Dr. Meg Jay reveals how many twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation that has trivialized what are actually the most defining years of adulthood.
Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, Tiffany learned to survive by making people laugh. If she could do that, then her classmates would let her copy their homework, the other foster kids she lived with wouldn’t beat her up, and she might even get a boyfriend. Or at least she could make enough money—as the paid school mascot and in-demand Bar Mitzvah hype woman—to get her hair and nails done, so then she might get a boyfriend.
Falling in love is easy. Staying in love—that’s the challenge. How can you keep your relationship fresh and growing amid the demands, conflicts, and just plain boredom of everyday life? The 5 Love Languages is as practical as it is insightful., you’ll discover the secret that has transformed millions of relationships worldwide. Whether your relationship is flourishing or failing, Dr. Gary Chapman’s proven approach to showing and receiving love will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy with your partner—starting today.
Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle–and how to give yourself grace without giving up.
This is the highly anticipated second novel by Angie Thomas, the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling, award-winning The Hate U Give. Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free.
8. Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittany Cooper
So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting. Eloquent rage keeps us all honest and accountable. It reminds women that they don’t have to settle for less. This book argues that ultimately feminism, friendship, and faith in one’s own superpowers are all we really need to turn things right side up again.
Profound, compelling, relatable, and full of purpose. A new and important addition to the conversation of race and privilege going on in America right now. Ms. Bernard shares the story of her stabbing, her black physical body and also her black cultural body experience.
Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them. “I’d become a nameless ghost,” Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients. Her compassionate, unflinching writing as a journalist gives voice to the “servant” worker, and those pursuing the American Dream from below the poverty line. Maid is Stephanie’s story, but it’s not her alone. It is an inspiring testament to the strength, determination, and ultimate triumph of the human spirit.
Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas, and has the courage to develop that potential. But daring leadership in a culture defined by scarcity, fear, and uncertainty requires skill-building around traits that are deeply and uniquely human. In this new book, Brown uses research, stories, and examples to answer these questions in the no-BS style that millions of readers have come to expect and love.
In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don’t dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.
We recently partnered with Delta Family Services, an organization that provides foster care services to youth and young adults primarily in Philadelphia. If you’ve ever been in the foster care system, or know someone who has, you know how complicated it can be to try to stand on your feet, especially when you age out.
For those unfamiliar, ‘aging out’ refers to turning 18 and realizing you have three years of support to get yourself launched into your adult life. Decisions need to be made about where you are going to live, what kind of work you want to do and whether or not to go to college or into a training program. It’s a lot to ask of an 18-year old!
For someone in the system who goes to college, the benefits can be enormous. Assistance with housing and general living expenses now can continue until age 26. And students will receive an education grant — commonly known as the Chafee grant — until age 26. Combined with Pell grants and the PHEAA grant, youth aging out and young adults with histories in the system can practically go to college for free.
For this year only, until September 30, the maximum Chafee grant has been increased from $5,000 to $12,000 . To qualify, individuals must complete a financial aid application (FAFSA) and enroll in college within the next month or two to qualify for that money.
IF YOU KNOW ANYONE who aged out of the foster care system and will be age 26 or under in September 2021, tell them to get in touch with us right away. They can come back into the Chafee program and earn a college degree debt- free through ACE and Harcum College. You can get more information by contacting [email protected]
“College to me means stability.” Amara was working in the restaurant industry when the pandemic hit. Furloughed and then laid off from the job, she determined she wanted a more stable and sustainable source of income. Looking around at those who stayed employed during covid, she noticed they had something in common – a college degree. “I asked everyone around me – my restaurant friends, my social worker, city council members – I learned that college puts you in a much better position in terms of income and employment.”
Amara wasn’t sure about school at first either. “I was listening to everyone saying it’s a waste of time, people don’t use their degrees. But I learned education is NOT a waste of time. You get a degree and you can use it in all kinds of jobs.”
She is now pursuing an associate degree in human services, but admits she needed convincing. A persistent social worker kept reaching out and telling Amara that she had an incredible opportunity to go to college for free as a foster youth and didn’t rest until Amara enrolled in the program.* And that kind of support has continued with program staff checking in on her progress, asking if she needed help, and teachers making sure she understood the lessons. “At other places, you’re just thrown in, but this program provides consistent and personal support every step of the way.”
Equipped with the gift of gab, Amara has even found online classes to be easier than in-person classes because they are distraction-free. “I tried the one semester to see if I could do it, and found out that I liked it more.”
Amara is planning for a career in the behavioral health field, looking to help foster youth whose behavioral health needs are often overlooked. As a counselor in a crisis unit, she will be able to provide kids with the services and support they need that she didn’t have growing up.
One of the oldest in a large family, Amara is modeling educational success for her younger siblings. “Where do you plan on being in the next two years? How far do you think you’re going to get with the job you have?” She will go on to demonstrate that a college degree equips you for a career where you can make a financially stable future for yourself.
*The Chafee ETG grant and Pennsylvania’s tuition waiver program offer former and current foster youth aging out of care the opportunity to attend college without incurring debt for tuition related expenses.
Participants in the Harcum Community Scholars Leadership Program recently completed a section where they explored their Visions and Values. The reason to do this is to discover what is most important to you, your personal values and what you want for your life. Visioning work explores various aspects of our lives — health, career, family, faith and community. Students in the Leadership Program said that this section was one of the most powerful in the entire program so we thought we’d share it with all of you. And remember, the Leadership program is totally free for Harcum Community Scholars. There will be a new cohort forming for September. If you want to participate, send an email to [email protected].
Write a description of what you want to create in your life within each focal area in your journal at least once a week. Don’t worry about whether your vision is practical, possible or feasible. This practice requires you to dream in an unconstrained way about what you truly desire for your life and for those with whom you are in relationships.
As you describe your visions, reflect upon your fundamental values: What do you care about in your life and why? Writing down your visions and values is a powerful practice that engages you in a dialogue with yourself about the future you want to create. This practice helps you to develop the belief that you can create, shape and improve your life, which is called a growth mindset.
Step by Step
- Select three to five focal areas that have a strong meaning to you as you think about your future. Examples are health, family, career, faith and community.
- Select a medium for your journal that you can always access. This could be a notebook that you keep with you, or an online space you can easily access.
- Select a time of the week when you have peace and privacy and at least one hour to write in your journal.
- Within each focal area, write down your thoughts about these questions: What do you want to create? Why and toward what end? How are you doing so far? What values underlie your creative visions for yourself? Be fearlessly honest with yourself. Try to explore your deepest and most passionate visions for your life.
- Return each week to build upon your reflections about these questions.
The full suite of Leadership Practices can be found in David Castro’s new book Inward Sun, available for purchase from amazon here.
The close of 2020 was a glad event for many of us. It was even sweeter for Faith Bartley, who graduated in December from the ACE Partnership Site program of Harcum College at Deliverance with an Associate Degree in Human Services. Faith chose to begin her college journey with ACE because of the convenient schedule and familiar faces found at Deliverance. The choice to pursue higher education in general stemmed from a desire to elevate her mind. Evidence of that commitment to personal growth is readily found in her work with the People’s Paper Co-Op of the Village of Arts and Humanities. Here, she recycles paper from old criminal records into handcrafted journals and canvas for original art; literally transforming the histories of women with criminal backgrounds into fresh blank pages on which they can imagine and create new stories. Proceeds from the sale of journals and artwork fund bail payments for mothers who cannot post cash bail so they can remain at home with their children until the next court proceeding.
Recently, Faith and her work with the People’s Paper Co-op was shared on 6ABC’s program Visions. Below is the text of the story as narrated in the video clip (linked to title and worth enduring the preceding 30 second advertisement!).
Inside the Village of Arts and Humanities, Faith Bartley is hand-making paper, creating what will be the canvas for art or the pages of a hand-crafted journal.
The art is an exercise in healing. The paper is made from old criminal records, including Bartley’s own, creating a symbolic and clean slate for the women to re-enter society and embark on a fresh start.
Bartley grew up in North Philadelphia with, as she says, a mom who was addicted to drugs and a dad missing in action.
She also turned to drugs and did several stints in prison. Every time she got out, she vowed not to go back in, but the high school graduate and Army veteran couldn’t convince anyone to hire her.
Then she found the People’s Paper Co-Op, a place that would teach her how to make paper and how to advocate for women still behind bars.
For Mother’s Day, the women sell their art to raise money for moms who can’t post cash bail. The past two years, they’ve raised more than $120,000 for the Mama’s Day bailout
By Wendy Daughenbaugh
Art for sale: http://peoplespaperco-op.weebly.com/