Doing Good in the City of Brotherly Love
Podcast #56 — Aired March 19, 2015

Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love and that nickname is backed up by the countless people doing good in and around the city. This week on BetterWorldians Radio, we’re talking about three diverse non-profits that are committed to improving the lives of those in need in the Philadelphia area. Our guests this week are Betsy Anderson from The Philadelphia Foundation, Crystal Brown, the founder of Two Dollars Can Change a Life, and Jacqueline Patterson from Northern Children’s Services. All three guests will talk about the great work their non-profits are doing to help those in need in the Philadelphia area.

 

 

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Betsy Anderson
Communications Director, The Philadelphia Foundation

Betsy Anderson is the Communications Director at The Philadelphia Foundation, where she has worked since 2009. Prior to joining The Philadelphia Foundation, Betsy worked as an award winning reporter and editor for newspapers in Michigan and New Jersey. Betsy has worked in public relations for Garden State Cable, Moorestown Friends School and the School of Communications and Theater at Temple University. She is a summa cum laude Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Albion College.

Crystal Brown
Founder, Two Dollars Can Change a Life

Crystal Brown is the founder of the non-profit Two Dollars Can Change a Life. Crystal’s motto is that sometimes all it takes is two dollars to put a smile on someone’s face. Crystal spends her time seeking out opportunities for kindness, and she seems to find them at every turn.

Jacqueline Patterson
Chief Development Officer, Northern Children's Services

Jacqueline Patterson is Chief Development Officer at Northern Children’s Services. Prior to joining Northern, she held the Vice President of Organizational Advancement position at Legacy Youth Tennis and Education where she led fundraising for more than half of the organization’s general operating budget. Jacquie holds a Bachelor’s of Arts and Master’s in Public Administration from New York University.

Episode Transcript

Raymond Hansell
This week on BetterWorldians Radio were talking to a community foundation centered right here in Philadelphia. There are community foundations like them doing important work all over the country and The Philadelphia Foundation is a great example. Well talk first to a guest that will tell us all about The Philadelphia Foundation and then also feature two additional organizations that The Foundation supports. Our first guest is Betsy Anderson from The Philadelphia Foundation. The Foundation has been committed to improving the quality of life in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties since 1918. Betsy Anderson is Communications Director at The Philadelphia Foundation, where she has worked since 2009. Prior to joining The Philadelphia Foundation Betsy worked as an award-wining reporter and editor for newspapers in Michigan and New Jersey. Betsy has also worked in public relations for Garden State Cable, Moorestown Friends School and the School of Communications and Theater at Temple University. She is a Summa Cum Laude Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Albion College. Hi, Betsy. Thanks so much for joining us today at BetterWorldians Radio.

Betsy Anderson
Hi, there. Thank you for having me on to discuss The Philadelphia Foundation.

Raymond Hansell
Oh, what a great segway for our first question. Tell us a little bit about The Philadelphia Foundation, which is one of the oldest foundations in the country?

Betsy Anderson
Yes, it goes all the way back to 1918 and it came about four years after the very first community foundation was established in Cleveland. The President of Fidelity Trust at the time, William Purves Gest, learned about this new kind of philanthropy called the community foundation and took it to his Board of Directors and so we were established on December 20th of 1918. And the idea is that we help people give money to support things over the long term. Were going to be celebrating our Centennial in 2018.

Raymond Hansell
Well, tell us about what a community foundation does, what is a community foundation all about?

Betsy Anderson
You can almost think of it as a community bank with charitable money market accounts because what happens is that you have people, businesses, families come to us with their money that we invest over the long term and then distribute it, as well, over the long term so the initial amount grows. So, say, instead of having $10,000 that you give away once you can use that same amount and have it build over time and give away many more times than $10,000. Were actually still giving away money that Ben Franklin left the City of Philadelphia, and we also get funds through estate planning, so we have Luther Vandross estate, his royalties from his songs are now supporting college scholarships.

Raymond Hansell
How about that. I thought I saw Ben at one of your meetings recently, but I wasnt sure. It may have been an actor.

Betsy Anderson
He gets around.

Raymond Hansell
He does, he does, indeed. So whats the present goal of The Foundation and how has that evolved over the years?

Betsy Anderson
Well, our goal has remained the same, we want to build philanthropic resources, manage them well, and distribute them effectively, but many people find us to be a more cost effective alternative than a private foundation because we handle all the administrative burdens and they get to do the fun part, they get to recommend where the money goes while we do the tax returns and the accounting and the research on the nonprofit thats getting a grant. And we are able because we have 900 funds to support all sorts of a wide range of causes, depending on the persons interest who set them up. So we have grants that go out to help endangered species, historic site, Latino females, graphic artists, those who have fallen on hard times, Holocaust awareness, sending kids to camp, its a whole host of activities that we support.

Raymond Hansell
And what is your role like and what drew you to that role that you play at The Philadelphia Foundation?

Betsy Anderson
Well, as Communications Director I oversee all of our communications, so that includes the informational materials that go out to people, advertisements, a series of newsletters, a Facebook page and, of course, our website, which is www.philafound.org. Its a challenging role because we have so many components to it. We have sort of the financial side. We have the money that gets given away side. And, of course, we have the donors and what theyre trying to accomplish. So I enjoy all of those aspects and I get to talk every day about the good that we do in the community.

Raymond Hansell
Thats exciting. Now The Philadelphia Foundation, speaking about doing good, gives away about $20 million each year so how does The Foundation decide which causes to support?

Betsy Anderson
Well, only about a quarter of that money, about $5 million is directly under the control of The Foundation staff. And our strategy on that is that nonprofits supply and we use the money to make nonprofits stronger, we help them get to their next stage of development. So if they need a strategic plan, if they need financial help, all those kinds of structural things regardless of what their mission is we help them become stronger and more effective at what they do. And we do that because we know the big role that nonprofits play in the community and how they improve the quality of life for everybody in the region. Thats the $5 million. And then the rest of it, the $15 million that we give away each year, is really under the recommendation of the people who set up funds with us, so you can have theres six different types of funds, from scholarships to ones that are very flexible and give away money to different causes each year, we call those donor advice funds and thats really up to the donors who set up those funds as to what they would like to where they would like to make a difference and then we help them find nonprofits that are doing good work in that area and then we help make sure that their intent is honored over time.

Raymond Hansell
So what would you say some of the greatest achievements of The Foundation have been so far?

Betsy Anderson
Well, for over 100 years we have done a lot. Were pioneers. We were we started funding the fight against cancer back in 1941, addresses that, goes back that far. We started, have a fund that we set up specifically to support the African-American community and that goes back to 1967. We were the regions primary funder for Aids programming beginning in 1986. And one of our grants helped support this experimental Public Television show called Sesame Street when it was launched. So weve been in the forefront of a lot of things. But the other thing is that were very flexible in responding to emerging needs. So there was a devastating earthquake in Haiti that we were able to help. When Hurricane Sandy hit we were able to help get some support out for that, including one fund that made sure that animal shelters were able to deal with displaced pets. And we provided the largest grant in its history, The Philadelphia Corporation of Aging, so that seniors wouldnt have to choose whether to keep their homes or have something to eat. So were not done yet, were here for the long haul and were looking forward to what the next 100 years bring.

Raymond Hansell
The next 100 years. Well, stay tuned, listeners, youll be hearing more about that over the next 100 years. In the meantime, lets talk a little bit about one of your one of the ones that youve worked with thats certainly standing on its own quite successfully, Alexs Lemonade Stand, a nonprofit that weve featured right here on BetterWorldians Radio last year. Tell our listeners a little bit about your involvement with Alexs Lemonade?

Betsy Anderson
Well, I wasnt personally here at the time, but Im told that when that particular fund was established Alex, herself, who was six years old, brought in a jarful of coins that had been collected because she was trying to get support for children with cancer, find a cure for childhood cancer. So the official fund was started in 2002, and we helped make sure that her supporters could receive tax deductions. And, of course, we did the accounting for the money that came in in the jar and other ways to proof all of her outreach. Of course, her concept caught fire and spun off into its own foundation, but we have a lot of funds that continue to fight cancer breast cancer, brain cancer, cancer research, cancer camps, so were still carrying on a lot of that work, as well.

Raymond Hansell
Now you also have offered workshops to help nonprofit staff to enhance their skills, what are those like?

Betsy Anderson
Well, another way its part of the way that we help nonprofits become stronger at what they do. So our workshops address such topics as how to set up a summer internship program, how to manage leadership transition, how to identify and use data or how to begin a conversation on sharing services with another nonprofit.

Raymond Hansell
And have they been well attended?

Betsy Anderson
Oh, very much so.

Raymond Hansell
It sounds like you really are sort of telling these nonprofit charitable organizations that are in a fledgling state well help you stand up, well help you move forward, well help you get on your feet, is that a good way of putting it?

Betsy Anderson
Well, we really take the nonprofits at whatever stage they are, so we do also deal with some very well established effective organizations that a lot of times people will try to support a nonprofit for a program purpose, you know, they want to start an arts program or they want to do something very specific, but finding money to support the day-to-day in and out work that they do is a little more tricky, so thats our niche that we try to make sure that they have the ability to do, to perform the role that they are designed to play.

Raymond Hansell
And why would you encourage an individual or for that matter an organization to support The Philadelphia Foundation?

Betsy Anderson
Well, we like to say that when you establish a fund with us your generosity is well spent. We have sort of a slogan that we say your support is done smarter because your grant making is made easier. We take on all the administrative burden and because your philanthropic dollars are made stronger your impact lasts longer. You get maximum tax benefits because were a public charity. You can get credit for what youre giving and the good that youre doing in the community and you get sound management. We have rigorous integrity and accountability standards. Weve been independently honored through the National Council on Foundations for meeting national standards. But mostly were connected to the community. We know the community very well having been in it for so long and we can help you find something to support if thats what youre looking for or help you find an effective organization if you already know the kinds of causes you want to address.

Raymond Hansell
Thats very interesting. Now tell our listeners a little bit about the scholarships that The Foundation supports?

Betsy Anderson
Well, we have several different types of those, depending on how involved you want to be in personally giving away the money. So you can support scholarships at a specific university or in a field of study, like biology, or for a specific type of student. I think one of ours actually does support a student who skateboards, thats what the person wanted to support because they were honoring somebody who did that. Other ones that we have are for those who had to interrupt their degrees and go back to school. So we have really a wide range of scholarships. The Vandross scholarship that I mentioned earlier that is supported through Luther Vandross music, helps students who are attending historically African-American colleges and its also New York Theological Seminary because his mother had a strong faith background. Weve got the JFK Opportunity Scholarship, which helps Philadelphia people who have overcome adversity, whether its serious illness, sexual abuse, domestic violence, those kinds of things. Our DeAnn White Scholarship honors a woman who died in the tragic pier collapse, and lets others study the communications field in which she excelled.

Raymond Hansell
So theres a wide range of things. I can speak, also, as a bit of a participant here. This organization, for our listeners information, is extremely good at what they do. Your participation with them you can rest assured that they will find you the right people, they will direct the funds in the right way, that theyll manage it very successfully, and they work with marvelous people, several of which well be speaking with later on in the show in our next upcoming segment.

Betsy Anderson
Thank you.

Raymond Hansell
So in summary, Betsy, thanks so much for joining us today on BetterWorldians Radio. Its been a great episode.

Betsy Anderson
Well, thank you.

Raymond Hansell
Youre very welcome. For our listeners to learn more about the great work being done at The Philadelphia Foundation please go to philafound, p-h-i-l-a f-o-u-n-d Dot Org. We need to take a short break now, but when we come back well talk with a woman who has dedicated her life to making a difference through random acts of kindness. Well be right back.

Raymond Hansell
Youre listening to BetterWorldians Radio. Were talking about community foundations, in fact, The Philadelphia Foundation and two of the great nonprofits they support that are helping to make a difference in the lives of so many people in the Philadelphia area. Our next guest is Crystal Brown, the Founder of the nonprofit Two Dollars Can Change a Life. Crystals motto is that sometimes all it takes is just two dollars to put a smile on someones face, and she would know. Crystal spends her time seeking out opportunities for kindness and she seems to find them at every turn. So lets welcome Crystal Brown and MarySue.

MarySue Hansell
Hi, Crystal.

Crystal Brown
Hello. How are you?

MarySue Hansell
Good. Thanks for joining us today.

Crystal Brown
Thank you for having me.

MarySue Hansell
Now we have a very interesting story here, the idea for your organization, Two Dollars Can Change a Life, came from a meeting with President Obama back in 2006 when he was just a Senator. Can you tell us a little bit about that meeting?

Crystal Brown
They called, someone called from his organization and said they wanted to meet me because they had seen my article and me and my children, we went down to the center and we listened to the speech for awhile and then eventually someone came and got us and took us down to the basement. And my son was complaining the whole time about waiting so long and then he said a man has got to eat, and at the time a gentleman had approached behind and said, well, a man has got to eat, a man has got to eat. So he said I will give you this right here, he took $20 out of his pocket and told my son but you have to take a picture of me. And I had no idea who he was because I didnt follow the politics and all that crap, so he was just some man that called about the article. And at that time a lot of people were calling so I didnt know who he was. And he talked to me for a second and I was telling him that I was trying to raise money to get a handicapped accessible house because I had two children with muscular dystrophy. And he said, well, you did like we did with the campaign. He said if you had $2 from everybody he said thatll change your life. And I said, wow, I think thats going to be the name of my business. And I never really wanted to start a business, but that was it. That was it and thats how I named it.

MarySue Hansell
He really inspired you.

Crystal Brown
Oh, yes, yes, most definitely.

MarySue Hansell
Really took it far. Now your organization revolves around random acts of kindness, is that something youve always been interested in?

Crystal Brown
No, not at all, no, maam. I once bought breakfast for this lady, she asked me for some money to buy breakfast. I bought breakfast for her and she threw it away.

MarySue Hansell
Oh.

Crystal Brown
And I said, wow, that was cruel. I said, you know what, Im not doing anything nice for anybody anymore.

MarySue Hansell
Oh.

Crystal Brown
So that stopped me for a long time. And then my children were diagnosed with having muscular dystrophy and the doctor told them that they wouldnt live long; they didnt have much time to live past 15 years old. And it just seemed like, you know, God had abandoned me with everything I had been through, incest, rape, the whole molestation thing all those years. It seemed like just God wasnt present in my life. I said, you know what, Im not doing anything for anybody, nothing good happens to me. And it just so happened that I met people from Saint Martin de Porres Church on 23rd and they changed me. They changed my way of thinking because people just, they really were kind. I mean the Principal, Sister Nancy, I was driving for SEPTA and she was on the corner crossing the kids. And I was the bus driver at the time and she was walking the kids back and forth and making sure they got on the bus. So I saw her at the light and then she just was running across the street in her sneakers, and she went to the store and got the kids off and made sure they got on the bus. Thats a lot, you know, gee, I said if they care that much about the kids, Id like my kids to go here. So I, you know, I registered and then I found out they actually care because someone from the organization paid my sons tuition. And I was like, wow, you know, like Im struggling and they saw my struggle. So it just kind of like changed my life. Then eventually they helped me get a handicapped van for my children. I said, wow, if you can do that for me I can go back to doing nice stuff for people. So I went to Walmart one day and I have very limited funds and my kids only get Social Security, and so I had an umbrella and I saw a lady on the corner and I just gave her my umbrella. And she said why would you do something like that? I said, well, I dont know I just did because I was in the car with the kids, didnt need it. So I bought the umbrella and I gave it to her. And I said, wow, Im going to start doing this all the time, you know? And then I started doing this random stuff and then I realized people dont really do stuff like that. If they do you dont hear it.

MarySue Hansell
You certainly dont hear much of it.

Crystal Brown
Yes, so thats what I started doing.

MarySue Hansell
So it sounds like it really made you feel good inside when you did those good things?

Crystal Brown
Oh, yes, maam. Oh, my God, you have no idea what it feels like to just do something unexpected for someone. I mean when you struggle --

MarySue Hansell
Yes.

Crystal Brown
-- you get a chance to help somebody because you can see their struggle and it really does change you, it really does change your heart.

MarySue Hansell
Well, thats a beautiful story. One of your biggest accomplishments is Wash Water Wednesday, tell our listeners what Wash Water Wednesday is?

Crystal Brown
Well, Wash Water Wednesday, it all started where I was actually leaving my house one day and I saw a lady sleeping on the porch outside where I live and Id never seen that. I know we live in a crazy neighborhood and all, but Id never seen a homeless lady sleeping on the porch. So I saw her, and then I walked to the store, I was always curious, and I asked her how you doing? And she said to me what are you doing, my goodness, get out of my business. You just want to look down on me. And I said, you know what, thats bull. I walked to the store and I said, you know what, I know what Ill do because people like children, they like children, they feel more comfortable with children. And I have a three-year-old daughter, shes sitting on my lap now, her name is Wednesday. And I told Wednesday I said were going to go to the store and Ill get you some snacks, but I want you to say hello. And at the time she was hi, hi to everybody. So she just go crazy with the hi. So I said when you see somebody, I said when you see the lady laying down I said you make sure you say hi to her real loud so she can hear you. Well, the lady was actually cleaning up outside, she was pouring bleach outside and she was cleaning up the porch where she lived at. And so my daughter says hi. And before I knew it shed asked my daughter for a hug, and my daughter reached and grabbed her and gave her a hug. Im like, wow, you know, I would never have kind of hesitated if she was clean. So I came in the house and I said what can I do to help her? So I went in the house and I gathered some baby wipes because Im thinking how in the world is she wiping her butt? So I got some baby wipes and I got some paper towels and I got some soup I had made her, I made her a sandwich, and I got some water and some hot chocolate, some popcorn. And I told my son, Greg, because I know she was real comfortable with kids, I told my son, Greg, I said run down there and I said put this on the porch and then run off real quick. So he did that. He said, Ma, why is that lady sleeping on the porch? I said I dont know. He said, Ma, what are you going to do about it? I said, well, I dont know, Im going to plan something right now. So I figured I saw on television and God always puts me in a place where I see certain things and Im supposed to pay attention to certain things so I saw on television kind of like where you wash clothes when you have like hurricanes and different things like that and they do shower trailers, but they only had them for like far off. So I said, you know what, Im going to bring the shower trailer and Im going to sit it down in Fairmont Park and Im going to give people showers. Now what you saw in the newspaper was the second time I did Wash Water Wednesday.

MarySue Hansell
Oh.

Crystal Brown
I did Wash Water Wednesday the year before that in Fairmont Park.

MarySue Hansell
Where did you get the trailers from?

Crystal Brown
I got it from a place in New York and really, I mean they have all kinds of trailers.

MarySue Hansell
Oh.

Crystal Brown
They have eight-stall shower trailers, they have 16-stall shower trailers. Eventually I want to get like one myself and just be able to go around and do that, either that or get a building where I can give people showers. But, yes, I bought it and I sat it down, and I called some people that I had met, which is Mr. Levy from the Brown Brothers and Harriman because I actually drive one of his clients around, and I knew him and I kind of just begged for some assistance and I asked for help especially if I know its going to help other people. And then I called the Philadelphia Foundation. Well, I had known I didnt get a chance to know who Mr. Swinney was, but I knew that there had to be a top person at The Philadelphia Foundation so thats who I asked for. And he was nice enough to call me back, and I told him a little bit about what I was trying to do. And he says, okay, Ill help you, he says, because I cant believe that you would do something like that.

MarySue Hansell
Thats a wonderful story.

Crystal Brown
Yes, it was really cool, he was down to earth and thats what I dug about him.

MarySue Hansell
I wanted to ask you how did the people react when they got the showers?

Crystal Brown
Oh, my God. After they finished crying. They hadnt had a chance to wash with hot water.

MarySue Hansell
I can just imagine.

Crystal Brown
They washed with bottled water, they might jump in the fountains downtown when the city closes down, but they washed with hot water. And the lady said to me, she said well, the second Wash Water Wednesday she started singing. She said I feel pretty. Im like, wow.

MarySue Hansell
Oh, thats great.

Crystal Brown
And it was really different, it was definitely a life changing experience.

MarySue Hansell
Heres another great story I read about, that you took a dozen medically fragile men I think they had Aids to lunch?

Crystal Brown
Yes, they had Aids and terminal cancer.

MarySue Hansell
Oh, wow, how did you pull that off?

Crystal Brown
Well, initially I had gave out 300 hats, coats, blankets and gloves to shelters. I took 75 to each shelter, and St. Johns just happened to be one of the shelters. Well, what happened is my sister was in labor at the time and she had lost her twins, so I didnt get a chance to actually go down and meet the main person. I like to do everything personal, Im that kind of person, you know what I mean? I want to see people and let them know that somebody actually cares. And my sister told me she delivered that stuff for me to that one particular shelter, but I went down and I visited them. And I said, well, I dont want them to feel like I was looking down in any kind of crazy way so I sat down and I started talking to them. And I said I wanted to get to know something about them. And I said what are you guys eating? And theyre like, oh, the food is not that great. I said, well, how about I take you out to lunch? And they were like, what? Ill take you out to lunch one day. And I said are you guys allowed to go? They said, yes, so I said after all of this Ill send a car for you guys and then me and my kids, well just come hang out with you, well get to know eachother. And then I asked how many guys there was, and they said 12 or there was about 14 guys, but some of the guys they get sick on and off. So the guys, I sent cabs for them, and I didnt want the cab to look like a regular cab, so I got the little Chryslers 300 cabs, you know, and they came and the men dressed up and then they went out to lunch. And we went out and we had lunch, me and my kids we sat down with them and had lunch.

MarySue Hansell
That must have been a great experience for them.

Crystal Brown
Well, for them definitely it changed their lives because they said how could somebody care about us knowing were sick.

MarySue Hansell
Yes, jeez.

Crystal Brown
You never know what a situation is, you know? And my whole thing is if you have children that means at one point you had unprotected sex, so if you had unprotected sex you never know what your situation could be. So it could be any of us, so you cant look down on somebody just because theyre sick, you know, thats not right.

MarySue Hansell
That was very kind. You know, you manage to do so much for other people having limited resources yourself. What would you tell someone who wonders if they can help make a difference in the lives of others, what would you tell someone?

Crystal Brown
I would say just kind of go with God, like I mean I didnt used to be religious and all and Im not 100% do what I need to do because Im not perfect.

MarySue Hansell
Right.

Crystal Brown
But the thing is just do what you feel in your heart, and help somebody dont hesitate, just do it. As long as youre paying your bills and your family, if you have two extra dollars in your pocket help somebody with those $2, I mean you really can change somebodys life. Just imagine theres a guy on the corner, right, and hes trying to figure out how in the world hes going to get to work. Just come up out of the blue and hand him a token, which cost you $2, and he gets to go to work and take care of his family. Then the boss says, listen, you lost your train fair so guess what you showed up today with the token that you gave him that only cost $2, right? And he gets a chance to explain to his boss I lost my train fare, because Im saying this from experience because Ive actually done it for a gentleman that lost his train fare.

MarySue Hansell
You know, I like that, that was a great story, too.

Crystal Brown
Giving tokens and eventually I would up going back and giving him a trains fare, and you help people thats all, you help people. It doesnt even cost money sometimes, you can just actually, we went to the market, me and my kids, and my son, I said hey go and help that lady and she said no, no, thats okay. I said, no, maam, thats what hes supposed to do. Why he cant help you? And she said because young people dont do that, well my young people better do stuff like that because thats how I raised them. My mother taught us to do stuff to help people, theres no charge for it.

MarySue Hansell
Thats right, that was very good advice from your mom. You know, you said that the more you do for other people the more blessed you feel, the more blessed you are what do you mean by that?

Crystal Brown
Every day you wake up, every day my kids wake up Im blessed. How can I not feel it? Me and my children are still alive, thats what you need to know. But it seems like the more I help people it seems like Im free of a lot of the stress that Im dealing with. I mean theres a lot of stress due to the muscular dystrophy, especially when the kids used to walk. And then my whole life changed, and my kids became disabled, and theyre only 10 and 14 years old. I mean they didnt used to be in wheelchairs. In two months time they were both in wheelchairs and why would I not help somebody? It makes me feel better, makes my kids appreciate more, yes.

MarySue Hansell
Well, thats good advice for everyone, Crystal. Thank you for all your acts of kindness.

Raymond Hansell
And, Crystal, thank you so much for sharing so much of what youre doing and for encouraging people to do some more. We call that in our social game on Facebook spiritual do-good gold and youve certainly stored up a lot of do-good gold for yourself and passed it along to a lot of other people. So thank you so much for joining us today on BetterWorldians Radio.

Crystal Brown
Thank you for having me.

Raymond Hansell
Youre very, very welcome, its been a wonderful story. To learn more about the great work being done by Crystal Brown you can check out her Facebook page at facebook.com/Two Dollars Can Change a Life. Were going to take another short break, but well be right back.

Raymond Hansell
Youre listening to BetterWorldians Radio. Were talking about the community foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation, and two of the great nonprofits they support right here in the Philadelphia area that are helping to make a big difference in the lives of so many others. Our next guest is Jacqueline Patterson from Northern Childrens Services, a nonprofit that supports the healthy development of children while stabilizing their families to build stronger communities. Jacqueline Patterson is Chief Development Officer at Northern Childrens Services. Prior to joining Northern she held the Vice President of Organizational Advancement position at Legacy Youth Tennis and Education where she led the fundraising efforts for more than half of the organizations general operating budget. Jacquie holds a Bachelors of Arts and masters in Public Administration from New York University.

Gregory Hansell
Hi, Jacquie, this is Greg.

Jacqueline Patterson
Hi, Greg. Its nice to meet you.

Gregory Hansell
Nice to meet you, and thank you for joining us today.

Jacqueline Patterson
Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.

Gregory Hansell
Sure. So tell us about all the great work that Northern Childrens is doing in the world?

Jacqueline Patterson
Well, right now Northern has a long history of providing services in the Philadelphia area. We were founded in the 1850s at 23rd and Brown Street and moved to our six-acre beautiful Roxborough Campus in the 1920s. For most of its 150 years of serving children we were a residential facility that was described as innocent victims of social poverty. The childrens lives have been shattered by untimely death of parents or guardians or by the separation of parents and other factors that necessitate a residential placement. Basically, some families simply didnt have enough money or the father took off. Our campus back in the day offered four dormitories and housed as many as 100 young girls and boys over the years. Northern is completely different today. At the close of the 20th Century we shifted our focus and began to develop and implement programs to reach out to more children and families and expand our services to provide this whole continuum of care, services to children directly in the community were added, and we also maintain a small residential program. And now Northern focuses on providing a whole broad range of preventative services to children and families, including residential care for young mothers and their children. We also provide outpatient counseling, behavioral health therapy. We also provide behavioral health therapy and the afterschool program, and we also provide therapy in schools in Philadelphia, as well as the home. We call that wraparound. And all together today our programming reaches more than 3,000 children and their families throughout Philadelphia and Chester and we offer a full range of compassionate and care for children, youth and young adults who have experienced some kind of a trauma, abuse, neglect and some kind of behavioral health challenge in school and at home.

Gregory Hansell
Well, that is amazing work. Thank you so much. So I was curious with this long history how have the needs of children changed over time?

Jacqueline Patterson
The needs have I would say that Northern turned its attention to promoting the emotional wellbeing of children to stabilizing and reunifying families that have faced some kind of they have been fractured by some kind of trauma, it could be domestic abuse, it could be violence in the home, and really poverty. I remember growing up myself, you know, having my mother having the sheriff come to the door because we were going to be evicted, and that is for that matter that is traumatic because youre not able to make your basic needs so youre always having these feelings of anxiety.

Gregory Hansell
Yes.

Jacqueline Patterson
And those manifest themselves in the classroom and children are unable to succeed in the classroom because theyre thinking about are the lights going to be on when I get home, are we going to have food on the table? So todays emphasis empowers children of families to lead healthy and productive lives and to contribute to society in meaningful ways, and I think if I hadnt had a program like this myself that Im not sure I would be where I am today.

Gregory Hansell
Thats incredible. So what stayed the same in childrens needs across this 150 years do you think?

Jacqueline Patterson
Well, Philadelphia continues to have an extraordinarily high poverty rate of families with children and, unfortunately, many children are falling through the cracks of our educational system. And what were finding is that theyre lacking the supports to become a contributing member to todays society. And so this has remained the theme from over 150 years ago and it remains today.

Gregory Hansell
Well, what are some of the behavioral health services that you offer?

Jacqueline Patterson
So our behavioral health services, our programs treat children. I talked a little about this earlier in youth with social and emotional symptoms, including depression, impulsivity, hyperactivity, anxiety, which I talked about, and some kind of disruptive behavior through a comprehensive array of services. And what youre finding is that a lot of children according to PCCY, Philadelphias Childrens for Citizens and Youth, a large majority of children are not even completing high school because theyre going through school with some kind of undiagnosed behavioral problem.

Gregory Hansell
Right.

Jacqueline Patterson
So what we provide is individual, group and family therapy here on our campus and also in various public schools and even in the home through a multidisciplinary team, I would say thats highly skilled and dedicated in those variety of settings. And I think being able to provide those services to a child in a setting is where we can have the most impact, so the behavioral health program has a lot of flexibility and we assess the child and based on their level of need we will provide that level of therapy. So it could be very light touch, for lack of a better term, and then it could be highly more hands on and the whole team approach and we involve the whole family and even caregivers that are involved.

Gregory Hansell
And you find that youre able to help a lot of these kids and help them transition to better behavioral health?

Jacqueline Patterson
Absolutely, we have numerous examples of one gentleman who was here as a lifeguard this past summer, he was here when he was nine years old and he came back. He lived here for about three years and during this time he really bonded to one of our employees, and I think our employees are dedicated employees, are really the success of Northern. And he said to him Im not going to make it, and this guy made him believe that he was going to make it. And 20 years later this young man came back to Northern as a lifeguard, a certified lifeguard this summer and he was giving swimming lessons to the kids. And he said that he could have been sitting in a jail or lying in the ground in West Philadelphia, but here he was giving back, paying it forward, and he made it. So I think its the staff and our qualified staff that really help our children take small steps and there are many hurdles that they have to overcome many times, but they can make it with the right support and if its diagnosed.

Gregory Hansell
So what are some of the child welfare services you offer?

Jacqueline Patterson
Well, all of our child welfare programs are designed to protect and nurture the healthy development of children, while keeping them safe and strengthening and supporting families. So we provide foster care, we provide treatment, foster care for children as young as infants, all the way up to probably as old as 21, placing them into homes throughout the region. And we even work outside of the Philadelphia area, as well. Likewise, we also provide adoption care services and we also have some afterschool programs in the community, for example in Strawberry Mansion, at Blaine Elementary School we have some STEM programming with the science, technology, engineering and math, and we provide those services in the community. And our latest venture, which has been our mother-baby program here on campus, its a transitional housing program and we serve 24 mothers ranging in age as young as 15 and as old as 21 years of age, and they could also be young expectant mothers, as well, and theyre supported through while theyre here on our campus a beautiful housing facility. Theyre supported through life skills training, individual, they also have access to our behavioral health group therapy, vocational planning. We also provide childcare here on our campus, so its very easy, they get up, they can go to school and then at the same time take their child into our daycare, which is certified as Keystone Start II and working towards III. And then what well do is these young women typically move from dependency to some form of self-sufficiency or theyre reunified with their families and onto independent living within at least 18 to 24 months. We have one particular young lady and shes been residing here with us just over two years. She came here when she was very young, 15 years of age, and her son was two days old. She recently graduated from Strawberry Mansion High School and then she is now a freshman at CCP and gainfully employed, and were looking forward to seeing her progress, but she came to us because her family was pretty much very upset that she was young and pregnant and she wanted some additional support and wanted for someone to have her son. And now her son is here in our daycare as a toddler and is doing very well and is getting a head start with his education, as well. So I think that whats key to our residential program is the fact that many of our staff, as I mentioned, are very dedicated and walk these young ladies through how to grocery shop, how to pay their bills, how to just even hygiene and various other life skills that many of us take for granted.

Gregory Hansell
Those are wonderful programs. So I know you have a great event coming up called Mothers Fresh Start, can you tell our listeners about that?

Jacqueline Patterson
Yes, so a lot of these young women are coming here with pretty much just the clothes on their back. We recently had a family here, a young mother with four children under five and literally they were evicted from their apartment and had just the clothes on their back, and I saw that she was putting her belongings in a black plastic bag. And what we want to do with a fresh start is to provide a suitcase to a lot of our mothers with some basic toiletry items so when they arrive we can provide like a welcome package. But were having open house here on our campus and what would really be helpful to us would be a donation, $100 donation if its easy on your budget, you can become a regular monthly donor through our website, which is Northern Children Dot Org, and for as little as $10 a month you can help one of our young moms on their path to self-sufficiency. So the Fresh Start is basically an appeal for cash donations to help our moms and all of our families in the community and some of our schools really to start the next chapter of lives. Some of these donations will also be shared with we have some of our families in our programs that have a fire. We had one family that had a fire. We were serving the young lady who is autistic, but also has three other siblings ranging in age from seven to 14 and they were in a fire and lost all their belongings, and we want to be able to support families like that. So a Mothers Fresh Start is just that, a fresh start to start a new chapter, not just for here, the moms on our campus and our residential programs, but for all the families that we serve in our behavioral health and our child welfare programs.

Raymond Hansell
Well, thats an amazing story that youve shared with us today about the Northern Childrens Services and also the Northern Childrens Home, its predecessor. Its great work that youre doing. I really appreciate you sharing your story with all of us today on BetterWorldians Radio. Jacqueline, thanks again.

Jacqueline Patterson
Thank you.

Raymond Hansell
Youre very welcome. For our listeners, you can learn more about Northern Childrens Services by going to Northern Children Dot Org. As we end our show each week we like to share our BetterWorldians mission here. And, in effect, we strive to make the world a better place and we do so by encouraging the very best in everyone. We focus on things like positive thinking, positive values and positive actions. In short, our vision is to bring out the BetterWorldian in everyone so that we can all make it A Better World. And so until next time please be a BetterWorldian.