Center for Literacy
You know what’s cheaper than keeping people on welfare and housing them in prison? Teaching them to read. While we so often hear mantras about the relationship between education and the economy, we rarely peel that logic back to its most fundamental building block: literacy. More than three out of four people on welfare and 68 percent of people arrested are illiterate, according to the Washington Literary Council. In Philadelphia, more than half the population is considered “low literate.” We are in education and prison population crises in part because we are in a literacy crisis. Enter the Center for Literacy (CFL). The CFL is the nation’s first nonprofit literacy center; over the years since its founding in 1968, it’s evolved from a simple West Philly tutoring program to a full-spectrum center that teaches adults basic literacy and offers a host of related courses such as English as a Second Language, Adult Basic Education, work skills and “family literacy.” The family literacy program is based on the reality that a child’s capacity—and desire—to read is directly influenced by his or her caretaker. The program uniquely integrates the simultaneous literacy learning of parent and child while teaching direct, how-to parenting skills. No special certification is necessary to volunteer to teach, though a bachelor’s degree is required (or enrollment in a program to obtain one). CFL will conduct all training necessary for volunteers, who are asked to make a six-month commitment.
Volunteer: The next set of orientation classes for teacher-volunteers for both literacy and English as a Second Language begins Wed., Jan. 9. RSVPs are required. See centerforliteracy.org for details.
Center for Literacy
399 Market St., Suite 201
Philadelphia, Pa. 19106.
Five weeks after Hurricane Sandy struck the Jersey coast, lots of our neighbors down the shore are still hurting. Families suffered catastrophic damage to their homes, their cars, their income—Gov. Christie announced two weeks ago that the estimated cost of damage to the state stands at more than $29 billion, and yes, that’s billion with a b. The Red Cross led the charge in charitable response, of course, but there are lots of other regional organizations and benefit events you can support to help the recovery effort. Here are a few:
Community Foodbank Of New Jersey: Coordinating relief efforts with FEMA, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and others, the Community FoodBank distributes more than 100,000 pounds of food daily to families displaced by Sandy. More info: njfoodbank.org
Covenant House New Jersey: The state’s largest provider of services to homeless and at-risk adolescents—food, shelter, clothing, crisis care, health care, counseling, mother/child programs and more. More info: covenanthousenj.org
Best Friends Animal Society: This national animal rescue group is giving grants to local organizations on the front lines, including the Monmouth County SPCA and the Liberty Humane Society. More info: bestfriends.org
A Special Evening with Neil Young & Crazy Horse: The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City has lined up this benefit concert tomorrow night, Thurs., Dec. 6. Tickets are $75 and $150; proceeds will go to the Red Cross’ Sandy relief effort. More info: theborgata.com
Savor for Sandy: Philadelphia chef Chris Scarduzio of Table 31 has teamed up with Caesars Entertainment to produce a special tasting event on Sun., Dec. 16, showcasing an array of Mediterranean, Mexican, Creole, Asian, American and Philly cuisines. The $100 tickets will benefit the Wish Upon a Hero Foundation’s Sandy relief effort. More info: savorforsandy.eventbrite.com
A relatively young Philadelphia-based arts nonprofit that works to support the artistic education of children in an era when public-school budgets are being hacked and slashed worse than ever, Fresh Artists is built on a concept so simple it’s stunning: It acquires original artwork from grade-school kids. It reproduces that art in high-quality, wall-sized format and frames it attractively. It provides those irresistibly colorful decorations to businesses that need to spruce up the aesthetics of their space, in exchange for $500-and-up donations that go to pay for art programs and supplies in underfunded schools. But you don’t have to be a big corporate partner to support Fresh Artists’ work. You can buy tickets now to the organization’s 2013 Salon on the Schuylkill fundraising party—as little as $15 for an evening of art, socializing and open bar on Wed., Jan. 16, at World Cafe Live.
Donations: Fresh Artists is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Contributions are tax deductible. Private donations can be made directly to Fresh Artists via freshartists.org.
P.O. Box 44
Lafayette Hill, Pa. 19444
The Joseph J.
The statistics are staggering: One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused in this country before the age of 18. Here in Philadelphia, there are a number of organizations that provide excellent counseling services to survivors of sexual abuse. But one local organization in particular, the Joseph J. Peters Institute, seeks to do more than treat the aftermath; its bigger mission is to reduce the causes of sexually abusive behaviors with prevention programs designed to stop child sexual abuse before it occurs. This is why, in addition to treating both child and adult survivors, the JJP also treats child and adult offenders. This approach addresses the complete cycle of sexual abuse—not just the aftermath, when the damage has already been done. The JJP’s prevention services specifically educate adults on how to recognize sexual behavior that’s directed toward children, and how to stop it. It’s a crucial strategy, especially when you consider that, according to the JJP, 30 to 50 percent of perpetrators are under the age of 18. So, while most of us would prefer to view sexual predators as animals who need to be locked away for good, the treatment of offenders—and the public’s understanding of what compels people to abuse others—is as much a part of combating sexual abuse in this country as our dedication to helping survivors heal from their trauma. The sooner we can come to grips with that, the sooner we can stop the relentless cycle—which has gone uninterrupted for way too long.
Donations: The Joseph J. Peters Institute is a 501(c)3 nonprofit agency. Contributions are tax deductible. Private donations can be made directly to the Joseph J. Peters Institute or through the United Way via jjp.org.
The Joseph J. Peters Institute
100 S. Broad St., 17th Floor
Philadelphia, Pa. 19110
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Calendar: March 25-April 1
PW's 2015 Philly Spring Guide