ABOVE: Moises Torres of #FBOFAPPAREL (Family Built on Faith Inspired by Loyalty) wraps up a meeting with Pardon Project Director Tobey Oxholm from Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity in September. Follow him on Instagram: @THEE_APPAREL_FBOF.
Last month New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) hosted our first event in the new Kensington Empowerment Hub next to our offices at 2771 Ruth Street.
The event, a clinic about how to clear and seal criminal records to improve your job prospects, is typical of the kind of opportunities NKCDC plans to bring to the Hub.
“The Kensington Empowerment Hub will give access to support that families need to move out of poverty and build wealth,” said NKCDC Executive Director, Dr. Bill McKinney.
“For decades, Kensington has suffered the effects of disinvestment after major manufacturers left the neighborhood,” he said. Families now face recurring crises and traumatic experiences that come with poverty, unemployment, displacement, stress, crime, addiction, and poor physical and environmental health.
The Hub provides a central location where residents can access multiple services. NKCDC plans to host regular office hours as well as free events with partner organizations. Our partners include Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity, who provided the record clearing and sealing clinic; Community Legal Services which offered a clinic on wills, financial power of attorney, and healthcare directives in October; and Campaign for Working Families, which has provided free income tax preparation at NKCDC for several years.
NKCDC‘s own housing advisors and community health workers will also connect residents to free resources that improve household health, ranging from nutritious food to home repair, child care, or job training. In addition, we hope that activating a very visible space on the corner of Ruth and Somerset Streets will reduce drug activity there and make a more welcoming environment for our neighbors and the tenants of Orinoka Civic House.
Part of a comprehensive model
The Empowerment Hub is an extension of NKCDC’s comprehensive community development model, Dr. McKinney said. “Barriers to benefits access and economic support are also barriers to community engagement and neighborhood revitalization,” he said. It is challenging to ask neighbors to commit time to community planning if they currently live in unstable housing or are struggling to put food on the table. Bringing partners and experts into the neighborhood—and employing residents to reach their neighbors—will reduce barriers to engagement, resources, and financial stability.
Jayda Stanford-Collier, a Kensington resident who graduated from NKCDC‘s Community Health Worker training program earlier this year, was accepted into the AmeriCorps VISTA program and was chosen to be the Empowerment Hub’s first coordinator. She will work with neighbors and partners to schedule the space and promote it during its first year. Organizations interested in offering free community services at the Hub can reach Jayda at email@example.com or 215-427-0350 x127.