According to the 2010 US Census, just about 22 percent of Germantown residents live below 100 percent of the poverty line. That’s over 5,000 people. East Germantown is even worse, with 28 percent of its 26,000+ residents living in such squalor. The area is plagued by poor education, poor housing, and crime.
But one organization is fighting tirelessly against the strength of Germantown’s poverty trap and with the help of La Salle LGU students, real change is happening.
Barrfare chatted with Kellsey Turner, a La Salle senior who double majors in communication and leadership & global understanding. The honors student spends a significant portion of her weekly routine at The Family Life Center, located around the corner from its parent, the Canaan Baptist Church, on Pulaski Street.
BF: What is the main goal of the Family Life Center?
KT: The Family Life Center is associated with Canaan Baptist Church, however it is a separate entity. The mission of the FLC is to provide the people of Germantown with the services and resources necessary for a quality life. These include services such as counseling, education, job training, incarceration re-entry assistance, emergency food and clothing, and housing assistance. In essence, the FLC’s main goal is to support and provide for the people of Germantown.
BF: So FLC works to support residents, but who supports FLC? Where does the money for these programs come from?
KT: The FLC is mainly supported through grants. Their food pantry is associated with Philabundance and receives additional support from them. They’re also supported through the generous donations of the local community and the members of Canaan Baptist.
BF: I’m sure their workload is lighter with you there as a volunteer. What sort of tasks are you involved in?
KT: I work specifically with the Incarceration Re-Entry Assistance Program. This program is called Sisters Returning Home and is directed by Peggy Sims. The faith-based non-profit works with previously incarcerated women to assist them with re-entry into the community by providing them with housing assistance, food and clothing, and assistance finding a job. The program helps each woman identify their needs and goals, then it works to address these needs and fulfill these goals by empower the women to take action in their own lives and providing them with the resources necessary to do so. In my role as a volunteer, I am currently working on building a website for Sisters Returning Home. I am also assisting in creating and maintaining a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for the organization.
BF: What a great way to utilize your skills as a Communication major to help benefit this great organization! I’m sure your supervisor is thrilled to have someone like you on board. What is she like, Peggy?
KT: She founded the organization back in 2007 after working with women in prison. She recognized that there was a need for services specified toward females in prison, as their special needs were not being met and they had access to less resources than most prisons for men. As a result she opened Sisters Returning Home, which is dedicated to assisting these women in their re-entry process. Peggy is a passionate woman. She loves helping others and she loves her work. A member of Canaan Baptist who attends worship regularly, Peggy is an inspiration and a joy to work with.
BF: Have you had any emotional experiences during your time at FLC?
KT: I can’t say I have had any overly emotional experiences. I do not work directly with the women in the Sisters Returning Home program, but it has been a lot of fun and I look forward to going there every week. I find the work I’m doing to be fulfilling and I like knowing that I am able to make such a positive impact on the organization.
For more information about the FLC, check out this. Click the circles below to look at stills from around the FLC, taken by Amanda Johncola on her iPhone 5.
Looking up the block towards Germantown Ave.
You can see the church and its preschool’s playground from the FLC’s walkway.
The FLC is surrounded by beautiful stone homes.
FLC is located at 304 School House Lane, around the block from Canaan Baptist Church.
Family Life Center front entrance on School House Lane.
Looking Southwest on School House Lane.