Northwest Philadelphia: Five Women Making A Difference

While the cliche might state “a good deed never goes unnoticed,” that doesn’t quite hold true for these five women you need to know. Collectively they’ve harnessed their skills and passions to give back to neighbors in their communities who are sometimes in need of a little help. These five woman normally play their parts in the trenches, but today they’re ready for their close-ups.

Pam Henshall sharing a moment with a client.
Pam Henshall sharing a moment with a client.

Pamela Henshall

Pamela Henshall spends much of her workday figuring out options to serve individuals and families with disabilities throughout five counties. Henshall, the director of development at United Cerebral Palsy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, is in charge of generating the funding for her organization’s Community Social Services program which provides necessities like wheelchairs to over 3,000 families yearly. Henshall and her team plan year-round, attracting individual and business participation in six signature fundraising events UCP of Philadelphia and Vicinity hosts. It is a job Henshall adores.

“Seeing our clients reminds me of how rewarding my job is,” says Henshall.

Celeste Hardester
Celeste Hardester filing paperwork.

Celeste Hardester

When Celeste Hardester learned a position was open at the Chestnut Hill Association, she jumped at it. The job was a learning experience for CHA’s community manager.

“I realized there are all kinds of people here,” she says with a pleasant smile.

Hardester is one of several pieces to the puzzle that keep Chestnut Hill vibrant. No two days are alike for Hardester. One day she may be slaving over important community paperwork, the next she’s organizing hundreds of community visits to neighbors’ houses for holiday house tours. She feels privileged to serve such a loyal community.

Bishop Michelle Cherry
Bishop Michelle Cherry preaching to her congregation.

Bishop Michelle Cherry

Aside from her Sunday morning service, Bishop Michelle Cherry has used her pulpit as a platform for community outreach. Cherry, a second generation pastor at New Hope Outreach Center, followed in her mother’s footsteps. Cherry was able to establish several ministry programs aimed at improving the lives of women in need.

“We’ve been a part of the prison ministry for nearly 30 years. Just last year, we were named volunteer of the year,” Cherry says.

Under her leadership, New Hope Outreach Center teaches the Bible to individuals diagnosed with HIV and AIDS and ministers to incarcerated women battling substance abuse.

Nancy Gennatt begins warm-ups at her Sunday afternoon class.
Nancy Gennatt beginning warm-ups at her Sunday afternoon class.

Nancy Gennatt

Nancy Gennatt is not the plié-crazed dance teacher obsessed with structure. Instead, she provides the gift of meditation through movement. Gennatt, a trained physical therapist, began studying with 5Rhythms creator Gabrielle Roth in 2001. 5Rhythms is a global dance community focused on exploring the body’s natural flow to each of the five rhythms: flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness.

After years of intense training, Gennatt became a certified 5Rhythms instructor. She is one of the many instructors in the 5Rhythms Philly tribe who teach weekly classes at Summit Presbyterian Church.

Gennatt is a “Spacious Sundays” leader, a class offered to everyone. There’s no choreography, only the body’s response to the music.

Lillian Saunders
Lillian Saunders practicing for her spring showcase.

Lillian Saunders

After her mom lost her job, a 14-year-old Lillian Saunders turned to dance as her emotional outlet. She recalls dance helping her through very tough times.

Saunders, now 24 years old, teaches contemporary dance and runway etiquette at Point Flex Studio. The studio offers numerous classes for children and adults for little to no cost.

“We get the community together so the kids don’t end up doing dumb stuff,” Saunders states.

The studio’s non-profit traveling dance company, Point Student Dance Company, has afforded Saunders and students opportunities to perform at well-known locations, such as Disney World, Bush Gardens and Universal Studios.

– Text and Images by Imani Abdus-Saboor and Charles Watson.

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