Allegheny West is on the rise. Community leaders are fighting poverty and hunger, but they’re also being proactive – job training and placement is offered through more than one organization. Although the end goal is the same, these influential people are taking several approaches. Whether they deliver the message through prayer, music or media, the residents of Allegheny West are being led by fine examples.
1. Jeffrey Hewlings (above) works hard to enlighten potential members of the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center and make sure current members experience all it has to offer. “A picture’s worth a thousand words,” said Hewlings, the operations director. “It’s really worth coming in here and taking a tour of what we have. It’s not your typical Salvation Army.” Some of the operations Hewlings oversees include the new performing arts program, the fitness center, Sunday worship and education services. Hewlings said the center is a great outlet for the community and a good way to help to build it up.
2. The Georgia E. Gregory Interdenominational School of Music offers private and group lessons for music and dance. As members of Nazarene Baptist Church, Joyce Drayton and her husband Stan originally started their program as a faith-based music school. But after 15 years of coordinating its volunteers and programs, Joyce has transformed the school into something much bigger. Students can now study all types of music, with opportunities to receive grants and scholarships. Volunteer Florence Feggans describes the program as “a place where local kids get opportunities they don’t have elsewhere.” Drayton, who graduated from Temple in 1974, is now planning the school’s 15th Year Awards Luncheon Celebration.
3. After graduating from Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater in 2005, Milli Protheroe went on to work with The Arc of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Developmental Disabilities Corporation. She helps local residents with disabilities by gathering volunteers to teach classes. This allows people with disabilities to have access to resources like job training, art therapy and community events. As a member of the marketing team for The Arc, Protheroe is helping to bring the organization and the Allegheny West community even closer.
4. Barely a year old, the Allegheny West Newspaper is taking off with strong forces behind it. One of them is managing editor Thera Martin Milling. She writes and oversees production of the paper, fully incorporating the community. Milling sells low-cost ad space to businesses in the area in hopes of creating buzz and job opportunities. Every other month she ensures 30,000 copies are distributed door-to-door to the locals, who have given lots of positive feedback. Overall, Milling hopes to use this paper as a tool to bring up the community. “[Allegheny West] has never had its own community newspaper,” Milling explained. “I want to put the spotlight on them.”
5. The Rev. Gregory Holston took over as the pastor of New Vision United Methodist Church three years ago and made an impact immediately. As the spiritual, administrative and community leader of his church, Holston has made important ties to other community organizations. In conjunction with groups such as POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild), congregants are given opportunities ranging from Sunday breakfast and worship to business and entrepreneurial training. Holston practices what he preaches. “In an area with 45 to 50 percent of people in poverty … we can’t just give them a fish,” Holston said. “We have to teach them how to fish.”