They work in Point Breeze and Grays Ferry, from the banks of the Schuylkill River to a skate warehouse on Alter Street, with one goal in mind: improving daily life for their neighbors and their neighborhoods. Meet the men and women turning their passions into positive changes for Point Breeze and Grays Ferry residents.
Alter Street Arts and Cultural Center
The center is actually a private skate facility known as the Warehouse. Scott Kimiec (above) founded the organization to provide a place where adult skateboarders could skate indoors without the hassles of street skating or the rules of corporate skateparks. After renting a warehouse in Point Breeze, Kimiec and a group of founding members built the wooden ramps, pockets and bowls with pool coping edges.
Now that the Warehouse is running smoothly, Scott has turned his attentions to giving back to the Point Breeze community that has welcomed the skaters. The group fixed up a small gallery space at the warehouse where they are hosting First Friday events open to the public. The next event is May 2, from 6 to 9 p.m., at 1702 Alter St.
Ella and Norman Best
Don’t Shoot…I want a Future
Frustrated with the high incidence of gun violence in their community, Ella Best and her husband Norman founded the non-profit program “Don’t Shoot…I Want a Future” in 2009. The program sponsors an annual book bag giveaway, a spring candy hunt and kickball and basketball leagues.
“We’re mainly trying to give the kids something to do, instead of just hanging around,” said Norman, “something positive, with discipline and structure, to increase their sense of self-worth.”
The program runs mid-April through August and culminates in a back to school awards ceremony and picnic.
Zoe Axelrod and Joshua Sims
Sims and Axelrod want to give Philadelphians a reason to enjoy the the Schuylkill River. Sims works on the maintenance side, coordinating improvements at green spaces along the river adjacent to Grays Ferry. Axelrod works to attract investors from the state and others.
Dominique Johnson grew up in the Philadelphia Arts Community performing with the Messiah Dance Works. After graduating from college she started her own program called the Horizon Youth Experience.
The mission of her program is, “to expose the children to new cultural experiences,” she said, “and expand upon the things they are already interested in.”
The students who participate in the after-school program are mainly interested in dance, fashion, modeling and acting. Johnson instructs the students in the performing arts. She also brings in speakers in related fields such as sound engineers, producers, stylists and set designers. Field trips to area museums are planned for the spring.
Unity in the Community
Anton Moore lived in the Tasker Homes housing projects until he was 10-years old.
“I decided early on,” he said, “that when I was in the position to help other people, I would.”
At the age of 16, Anton became the youngest intern at Power 99FM. The internship helped pave the way to a full time job at BET. With his career on track, Anton looked for ways to give back.
In 2009, he founded Unity in the Community, a non-profit organization dedicated to changing the lives of others in South Philadelphia. Unity in the Community offers the following programs; the Ultimate Prom Experience giveaway, Peace Week, South Philly Clean-Up, Operation Holiday Help and field trips to New York for neighborhood kids.
Director of Membership and Community Relations
Inside the sleek office-warehouse hybrid building of Nextfab Studio on Washington Avenue, a wide range of technological pursuits stay in high gear year round. Tekac attracts innovators in fields as varied as robotics, 3D printing, computing and manufacturing to the studio in the hopes of breeding new ideas and methodologies.
“If you look down Washington Ave. west of Broad, the history is very much one of industry,” he said.
Nextfab, he said, isn’t exactly in the business of manufacturing products. Rather, they hope to manufacture innovation itself.
– Text and Images by Jessica Griffin and Jad Sleiman