2017 Philadelphia Award Winner
T he trustees of the Philadelphia Award are pleased to announce Mel Heifetz as winner of the 2017 Philadelphia Award. The award was conferred on June 7th, 2018 in recognition of Mr. Heifetz’s commitment to, activism for, and financial support of LGBTQ people in his early 20s, and is today regarded as a generous supporter of organizations serving Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community as well as civil rights causes.
Mr. Heifetz is renowned for his public policy activism, and has been a major political contributor to candidates supportive of LGBTQ rights. Mel Heifetz is the 97th recipient of the Philadelphia Award. For more information, explore Mel's bio below or contact us at email@example.com.
The mission of Coded by Kids is to ensure that every child has the support, resources, and opportunities to build the next Google, Microsoft, or Facebook, regardless of what they look like or where they come from. Because of the dominant role technology plays in our society, Sylvester believes that building a tech industry that is diverse, inclusive, and equitable is one of the most pressing issues we face today.
Under Sylvester’s leadership, Coded by Kids has grown from an organization that served fewer than 15 children in o ne Philadelphia recreation center to serving more than 650 students in schools and community centers in three states. Since 2014, Coded by Kids has built a scalable model for youth tech education that provides students with intermediate- to advanced-level software development, data science, and user experience design skills.
One of the differentiating aspects of the Coded by Kids model is that Sylvester is committed to ensuring that his students can use their tech skills to have a clear pathway out of poverty. It starts with building students’ confidence levels, helping them become more engaged in every level of school from elementary through college, and encouraging them to pursue careers in technology or to become tech entrepreneurs – no matter where they begin. Sylvester sets high expectations for himself and for his students.
Sylvester has received awards and recognitions for his work from multiple organizations, including the Philadelphia City Council, the Philadelphia Business Journal, The Philadelphia 76ers, Billy Penn, and Philadelphia Academies.
Sylvester is a husband, a father of three, and a graduate of Temple University’s Fox School of Business. Having served for 12 years in three branches of the military – the Marines, Army and Air Force – Sylvester is a proud veteran of the war in Iraq. He is still inspired today by the Marine saying “No short cuts. No retreat. No surrender.”
Virtually every LGBTQ organization in Philadelphia has benefited from Heifetz’s generosity, including the William Way LGBT Center whose mortgage he paid off in 2005. He is the founder and benefactor of the Philadelphia Foundation’s multimillion-dollar GLBT Fund of America. In 2017, Heifetz announced a $16 million endowed gift to the Philadelphia Foundation to support LGBTQ-serving organizations, including the Attic Youth Center, GALAEI, and the Trevor Project.
Heifetz was key to identifying the need and providing early philanthropic support to address the problem of LGBTQ youth homelessness. An instrumental early supporter, he helped to break ground on Project HOME’s new Gloria Casarez Residence, which will provide 30 LGBTQ-friendly affordable homes for young adults who are homeless, have experienced, or are at risk of homelessness, including those aging out of foster care.
Heifetz is also renowned for his public policy activism, and has been a major political contributor to candidates supportive of LGBTQ rights. His contributions have kept several HIV/AIDS nonprofits afloat, and at the peak of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s, he put countless uninsured people with the virus on his company’s health insurance plan.
Additionally, he formed a sustaining relationship with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which stems from a time when a coffeehouse owned by Heifetz – known for welcoming all people, including interracial and gay couples – was shut down by local police; ACLU attorneys defended Heifetz.
Born to working class Jewish parents, he began cleaning his parents’ hair salon and selling household products door-to-door with his father at age 9. An Eagle Scout, he later offered to buy the Boy Scouts of America’s Philadelphia headquarters for $1.5 million, at a time when the national Scouting organization excluded gays, so that the building could be given to a nonprofit that does not discriminate. Heifetz joined the Army at age 18 and was stationed in Germany; upon his return, he studied real estate for one year at Temple University.
Over his professional career, Heifetz has built several successful hospitality and residential businesses. He opened the city’s first gay hotel, The Alexander Inn, and owned three of the most prominent gay and lesbian bars in Philadelphia, as well as hotel and bar properties in Key West, Florida.
Among numerous community honors, he received the 2015 Humanitarian of the Year award from the William Way Center and the 2008 Equality Award from the Philadelphia Human Rights Campaign.
Blockson’s passion for history and books began at the age of nine when a teacher asserted “Negroes have no history”. That experience as a young child marked the start of a lifelong journey of unearthing, collecting, and preserving the history, culture, and contributions of African descendants. Over the years, his research and travels have inspired him to write 12 books on the topic, making him one of the foremost experts on the Underground Railroad.
In 1984, Blockson donated his personal collection of rare publications and artifacts related to African American history and culture to Temple University. The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, one of the nation’s leading research facilities for the study of the history and culture of people of African descent, now contains more than 500,000 books, documents, and photographs.
In addition to overseeing Juvenile Law Center's litigation and appellate work, she spearheaded the litigation arising out of the Luzerne County "kids fo cash" scandal winning the expungement and vacatur of thousands of these children's cases before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
She has authored numerous briefs in state and federal appeals courts throughout the county, including many before the United States Supreme Court, including Roper v. Simmons, eliminating the death penalty for youth; Graham v. Florida, eliminating life without parole sentences for juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses; J.D.B. v. North Carolina, ensuring appropriate Miranda protections for youth in custody; and Miller v. Alabama, eliminating mandatory sentences of life without parole for youth convicted of homicide.
As a songwriter, music producer and entrepreneur, he was one of the founders of Philadelphia International Records in 1971, which generated The Sound of Philadelphia - known throughout the world.
Beyond this imprint on Philadelphia with his musical genius, Mr. Gamble was moved to address the problems of this city's urban communities. His Universal Companies, one of the largest African-American real estate developers, has been a conduit for over $1.5 billion of real estate development and investment in extremely distressed neighborhoods.
Due to his insistence, Comcast's headquarters remains in Philadelphia, which has helped the city flourish by providing employment, tax base, and corporate philanthropy. In 2014, the new Comcast Innovation and Technology Center broke ground in Center City.
With a focus on the less fortunate, the Middletons have generously supported a wide variety of charities. Their gifts are helping to change lives.
Dr. June is the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and director of translational research in the Abramson Cancer Center.
His team’s cancer gene therapy research has triggered vast professional interest and global media coverage in well over a thousand news outlets since its first round of groundbreaking results were published in August 2011 in the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine.
Those papers detailed the world’s first successful and sustained demonstration of the use of gene transfer therapy to create designer T cells aimed at battling cancerous tumors.
Bast was chosen as the recipient of the 2010 Award for her “tireless passion for health and education [that] has shined light upon a disease that went undiagnosed for decades.” The award recognized “her drive to bring relief and treatment to those dealing with Celiac disease in Philadelphia and throughout the world—no matter their financial background.”
Bast grew up in a middle class family in Wayside, New Jersey. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Bast started a career in business development and marketing for medical companies, married, and gave birth to her first child in 1988.
She also had the good fortune to study with Antony Tudor of the Philadelphia Dance Guild, who chose her for a lead role in “Les Sylphides.” The casting of an African-American dancer, Brown recalled, “caused a stir but I was in heaven.”
Mattleman was raised in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia. Her businessman father and homemaker mother instilled in her the belief that “what was important in life … [was] that sense of giving back.” Mattleman earned her Ph.D. in Education from Temple University, where she also taught for 18 years as a professor of reading and language. Her educational expertise and civic-minded personality allowed her to make an easy transition from academia to the government and non-profit sectors.
But for the better part of her life Leonore Annenberg played the role of social hostess, living lavishly at baronial estates and well appointed apartments -- until 1981 when long-time friend Ronald Reagan nominated her as Chief of Protocol.
Levy was born in Newark, New Jersey, and grew up in a nearby suburb. While a Ph.D. student in history at Columbia University, Levy worked as a teacher at public schools in Brooklyn and the Bronx. “The subways were sweltering and smelly. Crime was a reality that cut very close and very personally,” Levy recalled. “It was not a great time for cities.” After being laid off due to budget cuts, he fled the city and moved to a farm in rural New York. Almost five years later, Levy visited Philadelphia during the 1976 Bicentennial celebration and, impressed by the city’s historic preservation efforts, moved to the city (as he said) “on impulse and without a job,”
Not much else about Philadelphia impressed him. As Levy later explained, “Dirty, graffiti-covered streets, a public environment in disarray, broken car windows, aggressive panhandling all send the message that no once cares; that no one is in charge.
Levy worked as a director at the Institute for the Study of Civic Values, the city housing and parking authority agencies, and the University of Pennsylvania’s real estate department. Since 1979, Levy has also been a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania.
Guard transformed a small homeless shelter in the basement of a church into a thriving organization, providing housing and social services to over 400 homeless people each year.
A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Guard was a teenager when her family moved to Washington, D.C. Her father was a Senate staffer with “a deep commitment to social justice;” her mother was a concert pianist. A sociology major at Trinity College, Guard has joked that she partied harder than she studied.
By the age of 30, Guard was divorced with two children, relying on food stamps to feed her family. Fortunately, she received a scholarship to Bryn Mawr College, where she earned two Master’s degrees, relating to social work and public policy.
Improving the area around Penn would make that community a more desirable place for Penn faculty and students to live, enabling the continued growth of the university, while (hopefully) making it a better place for the community’s non-academic residents as well. Raised and educated in West Philadelphia, Rodin attended Girls High School and Penn, completing a B.A. degree in psychology (1966). With a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University, Rodin began her professional career as an assistant professor of psychology at New York University. She soon transferred to Yale University where she spent the next 22 years of her career, moving from assistant professor up to chair of the Psychology Department. An award-winning researcher, Rodin was a pioneer in combining the insights of behavioral medicine and health psychology, studying obesity, eating disorders, and women’s health and aging.
Cary was raised in Yeadon, Pennsylvania, a predominantly black middle class suburb of Philadelphia. Her father taught science at a local junior high school and her mother worked as a beautician. In 1972, Cary was accepted to St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, a formerly all-boys boarding school. She was one of fewer than a dozen black girls in a school of approximately 500 students. Cary then earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from the University of Pennsylvania and a second master’s degree in Victorian literature and religion from Sussex University in England.
Watson was born in Gary, Indiana where his father had moved the family to work in a steel mill, a good job for a man with only a few years of schooling. In contrast, his mother, who had taught high school, was a college graduate who came from a family where education was prized.
She passed on her love of learning to her son, who earned a bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science at Indiana University (1951), a master’s degree in Educational Administration at the University of Illinois (1955), and a doctorate in Educational Administration and Sociology at the University of Chicago (1967). However, even with scholarships, Watson had to work full-time in a steel mill for nearly two years and serve in the United States Air Force during the Korean War to afford his education.
As a girl, Drinker was not encouraged to attend college. After graduating from St. Timothy’s Finishing School in Maryland, she married lawyer Frederick Ballard in 1939 and settled down to raise a family.
As she later expressed it, Ballard grew tired of just being somebody’s wife and somebody’s mother; she wanted to be somebody in her own right. In 1954 she graduated from the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women and established her own horticulture business, Valley Gardens. She wrote two popular books on plants, The Art of Training Plants (1962) and Garden in Your House (1971), and hosted radio shows that gave gardening tips.
The community gained an anchor with the building of the Holy Redeemer Church and School at 915 Vine Street in 1941. The school sent buses to pick up students and accommodated non-English speaking children. Since the school catered to the Chinese, non-Catholic Chinese parents sent their children there.
”Throughout his career, Finney promoted cooperation between government, corporate, and non-profit organizations, resulting in improvements in the lives of residents of the greater Philadelphia area, with a special focus on the disadvantaged.
As a girl she met many famous artists, including Marcel Duchamp and Georgia O’Keefe, but dreamed of a career as an actress or politician, later as a historian or poet. After studying European history and literature at Radcliffe College, d’Harnoncourt turned her gaze toward art.
She gained experience working at the Tate Gallery in London, while earning a Master’s degree in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Arts. In 1967 she was hired as a curatorial assistant at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA).
Five years later, d’Harnoncourt was appointed curator of modern art at PMA, after working as assistant and associate curator of modern art at the Art Institute of Chicago and at the PMA, respectively.
She won a $300 grant to create a mural. Thrilled by her experience as a community artist, Golden joined with friends to found the Los Angeles Public Art Foundation in 1981. Golden painted over 50 murals and became a sensation, heralded in the media as the best muralist in California.
However, sick with Lupus, and distraught by how often her murals were destroyed by graffiti, Golden moved back east in 1983 to be closer to her family in New Jersey. In 1984 Golden was hired as a field representative for Philadelphia’s Anti-Graffiti Network, led by activist Timothy Spencer and supported by Mayor Wilson Goode.
She reached out to graffiti writers and worked to redirect their energies toward “something positive”—in particular, tossing their spray paint cans and picking up paintbrushes. The strategy worked. The graffiti writers were hired to work on murals, and the murals sprouted up throughout the city, generally unmolested by graffiti. Once she started “working with these kids from tough neighborhoods,” Golden recalled, “I realized I had never felt so at home. I knew this is where I belonged.”
During World War II Adams served as a Navy logistics officer in the North Pacific. Adams began his legal career with one of Philadelphia's largest law firms, Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis. From 1963 until 1966 Adams remained with the firm while serving as secretary of public welfare under Governor William Scranton, where he helped introduce the educational program that became the model for Head Start. Adams was named senior partner before leaving the firm in 1969 when President Richard M. Nixon appointed him a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
“I don't know anybody who can communicate like Ed Rendell can, and I think it's because he tells people what he believes…He doesn't waste a lot of time trying to tell you what you want to hear. He tells you what he wants to say…and people believe him,” explained Rendell’s longtime friend Michael Stiles in 1997.
Rendell graduated from the University of Pennsylvania (1965) and Villanova Law School (1968). He began working in the district attorney’s office, where he gained a reputation for his passion (and his temper). He won election as the youngest district attorney in Philadelphia history in 1977.
After serving two popular terms, he left to run for governor in 1986, losing to Bob Casey, Sr. in the Democratic primary. The following year, he ran for mayor of Philadelphia, but lost in the primary to incumbent Mayor W. Wilson Goode.
After a few years working as a lawyer, Rendell was ready to get back into politics. He ran for mayor again in 1991, this time with a different outcome. Rendell was set to face former Mayor Frank Rizzo in the general election, but Rizzo passed away during the summer, and Rendell easily defeated his replacement.
With a City Council known for obstructionism, Street delivered majority votes on critical issues including budgets, a five-year financial plan, city charter reform and redistricting. These votes, desired by Rendell, saved the city from an economic abyss and led to increased business investments in the city.
Ron Naples, chairman of the Philadelphia Award, said, “It’s refreshing to find two leaders working together as do Mayor Rendell and Council President Street.” That Street would be awarded for effective working relations with the mayor would have been unthinkable when he started his public career. First as a scruffy-bearded defense lawyer wearing jogging suits and sneakers and then as a city councilman, Street proudly considered himself one of “the rabble-rousers.”
Started in 1985 and originally called the Delaware Valley Community Reinvestment Fund, the fund began with a $10,000 foundation grant. This money was used by a group of socially concerned investors, professionals, and community activists to hire Nowak to create and run an investment fund.
This fund would provide small low-interest loans to community groups and small businesses in economically distressed communities in the Delaware Valley. A community organizer, Nowak had been working in the Logan neighborhood of North Philadelphia as a block organizer--one who organizes residents to come together to deal with crime, housing, and other issues on their block.
The fund had no money to start with. Nowak spent about a year to raise the first quarter of a million dollars. It reminded Novak of his work as a block organizer--he spoke to one person, than another, just like he had gone door to door.
To Annenberg the Philadelphia Inquirer was not just a newspaper. He used the paper’s influence to his own advantage, deriding non-Republican politicians and slighting social or business acquaintances who had snubbed him first. But perhaps his most successful campaign was when the Inquirer sued the Barnes Foundation in 1952 (challenging their tax-exempt status) to open up to the general public. In 1944 he bought the Philadelphia Daily News. Annenberg added TV and radio stations to his media empire, by now Triangle Publications, and started up Seventeen Magazine (edited by his sister, Enid Haupt) and TV Guide.
When named ambassador to Great Britain in 1969, Annenberg sold the Inquirer and Daily News. His time in London got off to a rocky start; British society mocked his lack of diplomatic qualifications and speaking style. But eventually he (and his wife Leonore with her social skills) won over not only the British public but also the Queen and royal family, who would be life-long frequent guests at the Annenbergs’ California estate, Sunnylands—named after Moses Annenberg’s summer place in the Poconos.
Born in Philadelphia, Robert Venturi was raised in nearby Upper Darby. He attended Episcopal Academy in Merion, Pennsylvania. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1947 and an M.F.A. in 1950 from Princeton University. He worked briefly for the Finnish architect Eero Saarinen and for Philadelphia’s own Louis Kahn. From 1954 to 1965, Venturi held a teaching position at the University of Pennsylvania, where he met fellow faculty member, architect and planner Denise Scott Brown. The two were married in 1967 and Scott Brown joined Venturi’s architectural firm, Venturi and Rauch, which was renamed Venturi, Rauch, and Scott Brown in 1980--and ultimately Venturi, Scott Brown, and Associates in 1989.
Denise Scott Brown, who is considered by some critics to be the world’s foremost female architect, was born Denise Lakofski in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). She studied at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and then continued her education at the Architectural Association School in London, from which she received a degree in architecture in 1955.
She joined the Sisters of Mercy at age 19, and eventually began working at Mercy Hospice, a women’s shelter operated by the Sisters. For Scullion, this “was the most profound experience I ever had of God. There’s no pretense. It’s true. It’s real.”
Mayor William Green III appointed Mattleman, Ernestine Rouse and Sam Katz to the board of education to bring reform to the failing system, and to reduce and better manage Philadelphia’s looming school deficit. In 1983 Mattleman was elected president of the school board, with the backing of Mayor Wilson Goode.
Mattleman was born and raised in Philadelphia. His parents were Russian immigrants who instilled in their son the values of hard work and the importance of education. His father owned a kosher butcher shop. The family settled in a small Jewish neighborhood in the Strawberry Mansion section of Philadelphia.
During the summer Koprowski had worked in a laboratory in Dublin, Ireland, where he “was bitten by the bug of experimental medicine and [became] very little interested in patients.” When the Nazis invaded Poland, Koprowski and his wife Irena fled the country. Upon graduating from the Santa Cecilia Conservatory of Music in Rome in 1940, Koprowski made a final decision to dedicate his career to science.
After spending the next four years as a research associate for the Yellow Fever Research Service in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Koprowski settled with his family in Pearl River, New York where he worked as a researcher at Lederle Laboratories. In 1948 Koprowski tested the polio vaccine he was developing, by swallowing a liquid (his vaccine) that included mashed rat brains infected with the live polio virus. By 1950 Koprowski had developed the first oral polio vaccine. The vaccine was administered in mass trials, including to nine million children in Poland and 250,000 children in what today is called Zaire. These trials proved effective, and thousands were saved from the crippling disease.
Thacher Longstreth, the patrician councilman from Chestnut Hill, explained that Strawbridge was so effective as a civic leader, because he had “a mind like a steel trap, and combines that with the most extremely agreeable personal charm.” “A pimple on the backside of the city” is how Strawbridge referred to himself. However, he exercised his clout for the betterment of Philadelphia.
Strawbridge was the grandson of the co-founder of the Strawbridge & Clothier department store situated at 8th and Market Streets. After high school, Strawbridge worked at lower level positions in the store for nearly two decades, before serving twelve years each as company president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the executive committee. Under his direction the family-run company expanded from three to thirteen stores, and annual revenue increased to nearly $1 billion.
Brown had a connection with another Philadelphia Award winner, 1943’s Marjorie Penney. The Singing City Choir started during the mid-1940s as a 15-member community chorus directed by Brown at Fellowship House (the organization founded by Penney). Following Fellowship House’s mission, the choir was always multi-ethnic and multi-racial. It was meant to bring people together, not apart.
Rouse then had a painful awakening -- he was a “gross underachiever”-- and decided to pursue a career in real-estate development. He re-enrolled at the University of Virginia where he graduated with a major in English, but took courses -- city planning, accounting, business law -- appropriate to his career goal.
Washington was, in many minds, synonymous with the Church of the Advocate, a predominately Black, Episcopal congregation in North Philadelphia. But the influence of that church had implications beyond those borders. He was assigned to that struggling parish in 1962. By the time he retired in 1987 the church was not only thriving, but also had a $3.2 million community center named after Washington and his wife Christine.
In 1968 the Church of the Advocate hosted the National Black Power Conference; two years later it hosted the Black Panther Party convention. But it was 1974 that almost brought the national Episcopal Church to its knees. For Washington opened the Advocate’s doors to host the ordination of the first 11 women into the priesthood.
The ordination was performed by three retired Episcopal bishops in defiance of church law. The Episcopal Church eventually changed its rules and recognized the ordinations in 1976. In 1980, at the request of U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Washington participated in an international peace conference in Iran.
She observed that “having come here before as a VIP, I’d seen everything through rose-tinted spectacles…[At the hospital I found] a shortage of nurses; there were no bandages; we had to break up boxes to make splints. It was primitive. And it [the hospital] was full of the very poor and the very sick.”
Allcock was leaning toward accepting a position in Nigeria until some friends of hers suggested another plan—purchase a house in a poor section of Philadelphia, and service the needs of the neighborhood. Inspired by the civil rights movement, Allcock took up the challenge, purchasing a house in Germantown. She and her friend, Joan Hemenway, founded what would later be called Covenant House. Hemenway became her lifelong companion.
As a child, Bacon stood on the observatory platform at City Hall and surveyed the city. “He told me that [even at that early age] …he understood the plan William Penn laid out,” said Alexander Garvin, a member of New York City’s planning board, “From that point on, his plan was very clear how the city should progress.”
Bacon graduated from Cornell University’s School of Architecture in 1933. With the economy in the grips of the Great Depression, Bacon used a $1,000 inheritance to travel around the world. While in Egypt, Bacon learned that there was a building boom in Shanghai, China. He obtained employment designing public and private projects in Shanghai.
As the founder and leader of several organizations, Johnson had utilized new and cutting-edge ways to bring public awareness to the plight of children who needed adoption, particularly “hard-to-place” youngsters--those over age eight; with mental, physical, or emotional handicaps; of minority backgrounds; or in sibling groups which needed to stay together. She waged a campaign that resulted in a dramatic increase in the adoption rate of “hard-to-place” children—children who, all too often, had been considered “unadoptable.”
aised in Buffalo, New York, Johnson and her husband Rod, adopted their first child in 1967. Loie was a newborn of Iranian-American descent. The Johnsons fell in love with the baby immediately.
After moving to Philadelphia in 1968, the Johnsons struck again by adopting Gregory, a mixed race infant of eight months, and Dennis, a black child of sixteen months.
During the 1970s Johnson experienced the trials and joys of raising a multi-racial family. She organized the Open Door Society, a network of bi-racial families that strove both to support the parents and to ensure that their children had ample opportunities to learn of their own cultural heritages.
From 1955 until 1984 Wolf held the chief executive position, that of Librarian, at the Library Company of Philadelphia, an institution founded by Benjamin Franklin.
He received the Philadelphia Award for having transformed the library from a struggling institution in South Philadelphia into a world-renowned research center in Center City, specializing in both the history of Philadelphia and the United States before 1880.
Wolf was a gifted student who graduated at the age of fifteen from the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia. He continued his secondary education with “three years of polishing” at the Bedales School in England. He credited the classical liberal education he received there for his ability to adapt to diverse academic fields in his work.
Upon returning home in 1930, his father Morris Wolf, a leading Philadelphia lawyer, arranged for him to work at the rare-book firm of A.S.W. Rosenbach, one of the world’s premier antiquarian book dealers.
The Foundation, which is quick to point out that it is the “Original Wish Granting Organization,” granted its first wish in January 1977, by taking a four-year old boy, who dreamed of playing in the snow in the Poconos, to the mountains.
Since then the Foundation has grown to include Dream Village (a 22-acre complex to house families of children who are visiting one of the Orlando theme parks); Dreamlifts (a chartered airplane service to enable children, who cannot stay away from medical care or home for more than 24 hours, to have a daytrip to one of the Florida theme parks); and Progeria Reunions.
Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS) is an insidious rare genetic condition which causes physical changes that resemble accelerated aging in children. The Reunions are week-long getaways for fun and friendship. The foundation has come a long way from when Sample had to take out personal loans to fund the projects. In 1983 Sample retired from the police force to devote himself full-time to his work as president of the foundation.
Like all things that grow, the Sunshine Foundation has had growing pains. In 1987 the foundation came under investigation by the attorney general’s office for mismanagement. No charges were filed. Sample’s defenders asserted that he was a former cop with a big heart, not an accountant.
After years of research and trials, his vaccine for pneumococcal pneumonia was first marketed in 1977. At that time there were 750,000 cases of this form of pneumonia in the U.S. yearly. Then, pneumococcus was showing a resistance to penicillin and other antibiotics, pointing clearly to a need for a vaccine.
His breakthrough discovery earned him the prestigious Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award in 1978, the Bruce Award of the American College of Physicians and election to the National Academy of Sciences (both in 1979).
Pneumococcal pneumonia was a major killer of the elderly and chronically ill. At the time of his research, over 90 strains of pneumococci had been discovered. What Austrian did was identify those types that most frequently caused disease.
His 1977 vaccine contained antigens of 14 serotypes (serotypes are distinct variations of a bacteria or virus). In 1983 he introduced an improved version of the vaccine, containing 23 serotypes, which accounted for 85% of the infections associated with pneumococcal pneumonia.
No, these were not cold-hearted thugs, but rather chessmen. And not just self-absorbed chessmen, but dedicated math teachers, Michael Sherman at Vaux Junior High and Stephen Shutt at Douglass Elementary, who set up chess teams at their respective schools.
This was a logical set-up since Douglass was a feeder school for Vaux. Both public schools are in North Philadelphia, a tough area that had not been known for its chess players. But like most devoted teachers, these men spent a good deal of their personal free time (and disposable income) coaching the teams, sponsoring trips, and mentoring the students.
Chess does so much for a young person, by promoting patience, planning, and analytical thinking. These skills are especially valuable for young persons faced with seemingly limited choices and options.
This was both a new, yet logical role for Rauch, given his past experience in civic engagement. Until that time Rauch was more likely known as the head of Philadelphia Saving Fund Society (PSFS), which he presided over as president or chairman for twenty-five years until his retirement in 1979.
He was also a respected figure in the business community, who had played a vital role in the revitalization of Society Hill, the development of Penn’s Landing, and the establishment of the historic district. He was contacted by civil rights activist Cecil B. Moore, who told him that the business community had to act quickly to avert riots.
Calling itself the Good Friday Group, the group that formed was an uneasy coalition of white business leaders, black moderates, and black militants which first met in the board room of PSFS.
He attended Germantown Friends, Westtown School, Haverford College and John Hopkins University (all Quaker-affiliated schools). He was an active member of Germantown Friends Meeting.
He served on committees overseeing Germantown Friends and Westtown School, as well as on the boards of Bryn Mawr and Haverford colleges. Rhoads traveled on medical missions to Vietnam and Korea through the American Friends Service Committee.
During his tenure Crawford increased the number of Philadelphia’s recreational areas from 94 to 815, including 84 pools, 47 recreation centers, and nearly 400 parks and playgrounds.
When he retired in 1981, Mayor Bill Green said “I will tell you now who will take his place. Nobody, because nobody can.”
A recognized leader in his field, he served as president of the National Recreation and Park Association and co-founder and executive director of the National Recreation Foundation—the latter now awards an annual Robert W. Crawford Achievement Prize to individuals who make an extraordinary contribution to recreational activities for at-risk youth.
He went on to found the Dental First Corporation, which is now run by his daughter, Dr. Renee Fennell Dempsey. Besides his work in dentistry, Fennell was a social activist.
He founded Interested Negroes Incorporated, an organization of volunteers providing career counseling to junior high students. From 1967 until 1982 this organization served over 1500 children per year.
In his later life, he has had to deal with the effects of Lupus. In his autobiography, Reflections of a Closet Christian: A Basic Primer for Life, he writes: “I am a separate and unique individual like no other that God has created.
I feel that I am the culmination of the genes of all my fore-parents arranged in a specific pattern. Every person born can make claim to the same thing, so I’m not so special.” But what Dr. Fennell did with his life was indeed special.
This former gang member, turned gang-patrol cop, turned gang-ministering crusader, acquired a reputation for fearlessness when confronting gang members and drug dealers. After a life as a troubled youth, Floyd reformed his ways, eventually joining the Philadelphia police force, specializing in juvenile aid, community relations, narcotics, gang control, human relations and the morals squad.
A thirteen-year police veteran, Floyd left the force to found the Agape Christian Chapel in Germantown in 1972. Most Philadelphians did not know the church, but they knew its van, outfitted with a stuffed torso sitting up in a coffin with the message: “Take Dope and End up a Dummy.” Floyd is a relentless crusader (again literally—he founded Neighborhood Crusades, Inc.) against drug dealing, absentee fathers, street crime, and, of course, gangs. He has produced and directed films and commercials depicting the horrors of drug addiction and gang violence.
Floyd has received numerous awards, including Philadelphia Outstanding Policeman (1968), Philadelphia Tribune Humanitarian Award (1971), and Prince Hall Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons’ Man of the Year (1977).
Haas steered the Balch Institute to provide educational programs which would promote better intergroup understanding, particularly in Philadelphia. He was an active supporter of the United Way of America and chair of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia. In 2006 Haas and his wife established the Stoneleigh Foundation to serve the needs of vulnerable and underserved children and youth.
Besides supporting the Balch and HSP, Haas was instrumental in establishing the Chemical Heritage Foundation (a research center for the history of chemistry) in 1982. Haas and his wife both received the 2009 Founder’s Award from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Hayre went on to be the city’s first African-American high school teacher, first African-American principal, first female African-American district superintendent, and first female president of the board of education. She received her bachelor, master and doctorate degrees, all from the University of Pennsylvania. As a principal Hayre established WINGS (Work Inspired Now Gains Strength), a program which encouraged students to discover their talents through college preparatory classes and diverse cultural experiences.
After retiring from the school district she turned to philanthropy. Inspired by millionaire Eugene Lang’s venture providing college education for at-risk youth, Hayre started and personally financed the Tell Them We Are Rising Fund at Temple University. This fund “adopted” 119 middle school students from North Philadelphia and guaranteed their post-secondary school tuition if they graduated from high school.
The league primarily supported desegregation, for both students and teachers, in the Philadelphia public school system, as well as another famous, albeit private, Philadelphia educational institution—Girard College. Logan and his organization were instrumental in helping fellow Philadelphia Award winner Ruth Hayre obtain a secondary school teaching position in the district.
Under Schoenbach’s leadership, the school focused more on charting and evaluating individual student development and improving performance and instruction opportunities. The number of students increased from nearly 700 to about 3,000. “When Sol arrived, Settlement Music School was…somewhat exclusive,” explained Robert Capanna, who became executive director after Schoenbach, “Sol walked in and said…why not open the doors?”
Schoenbach was a colorful man known for wearing bright vests and claiming to have coined the name Queen Village for the area in South Philadelphia around the music school. While at the Philadelphia Orchestra, he organized its pension fund, revived its children’s concert series, and formed a credit union for the musicians.
Skid Row is perhaps every large city’s greatest shame, since it brings attention to the city’s failure to provide its most vulnerable citizens solace. But that did not hinder Shandler, even though as the years passed his clientele profile slipped deeper into the depths. Alcoholism was replaced by heroin addiction, and then “polydrugs”—crack cocaine and alcohol. The addicts became younger, angrier, more aggressive, and much more numerous.
Many resorted to criminal activity. “To change that lifestyle, that’s a massive effort…I’m not even sure what you do…I’m not sure what the pathology and illness is.” But that did not stop him from making a difference in what he described as a “small, limited way.” Shandler served as executive director or president of the Diagnostic & Rehabilitation Center of Philadelphia until his retirement in 2006.
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Hastie moved with his family to Washington, DC when his father accepted a position as a clerk in the U.S. Pension Bureau. He attended Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, considered one of the best black schools in the country. His parents were both college-educated and ambitious for their son.
After graduating with a degree in mathematics from Amherst College in 1925 (Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude), Hastie taught at the Bordentown Manual School in Bordentown, New Jersey before going on to Harvard University to receive a law degree in 1930.
At the time of his graduation, less than one percent of all U.S. lawyers were African American. Hastie moved to Washington DC and joined the black law firm of Houston and Houston (later Houston, Houston, and Hastie). He returned to Harvard, receiving a doctorate of juridical science in 1933.
As a young girl, her reward for good behavior was a peek into her father’s microscope, and she received his childhood microscope as her own when she was seven-years old.
Weekly expeditions together resulted in the collection of various specimens from local woods and streams. “Though I can’t say I chose a career in science for my father,” Patrick said, she did keep her maiden name at his request.
In 1934 Patrick graduated with a PhD in botany from the University of Virginia. The year before Patrick had enlisted as a volunteer at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, having moved there with her husband Charles Hodge, an entomologist.
Her first task was to “clean about 25,000 slides,” but a few years later she was appointed curator of microscopy.
Originally told that women scientists were not paid at the academy, Patrick worked for a decade there before receiving a salary. In 1947 Patrick founded the limnology (fresh water biology) department at the academy, and served as its director for over four decades.
The class was being offered at the school in conjunction with the U. S. Army, which was seeking young engineers trained in operating communications and electronic weapons systems. Mauchly was enrolled in the course to learn more about engineering, so that he could make a greater contribution to the war effort.
He had one-man shows at the Rehn Gallery (NYC, 1934, 1937, 1942 & 1948), Smith College Museum of Art (1940), the Arts Club of Chicago (1945), the Museum of Modern Art (NYC 1950) and a retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1964). He was known in the 1920s and 30s for his “expressionistic realism.” In the 40s he began exploring religious themes.
He was also a portrait painter. A press release from the trustees of the Philadelphia Award in 1972 described him as having “inherited the mantle of Thomas Eakins and to be in the direct line of descent of the best Philadelphia painters.” Yet his path as an artist had a couple of detours. He won a Cresson Travelling Scholarship to study art in 1917, but it was withheld due to the War.
After serving time in the Navy, he moved to New York City and started off as a commercial artist before winning a second Cresson Scholarship, after which he traveled and studied in France, Spain, Italy, North Africa, Russia and Greece.
The family remained poor in America. Kahn recalled that their home lacked sufficient space for both his bed and the piano. This problem was solved by having him sleep atop the piano. A talented draftsman, Kahn graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Architecture program in 1924.
His first major project was as chief of design of the Sesquicentennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1925. Kahn then worked in the offices of several architects, including his professor at Penn, Paul Philippe Cret. In 1935 Kahn established his own private practice, but work was not frequent. Kahn was a practitioner of the International Style, a modernist, minimalist approach to architecture, centered on functionality and rejecting the merely decorative.
At the age of five he was accepted into Hungary’s prestigious Royal Academy of Music, where he studied violin under his namesake, Jeno Hubay. Ormandy completed a degree in philosophy from the University of Budapest in 1920.
As a concertmaster (lead violinist), Ormandy toured Europe with a German orchestra in the early days of, and immediately following, World War One.