Northeast Philadelphia: Five People Making a Difference in the Community

In all parts of Philadelphia, there are people who are making efforts to help their various communities in different ways. In Northeast Philadelphia, there are many organizations that use unique methods to make a difference in their respective areas. These are five people who devote time to helping out environmentally, socially and academically.

1. Lisa Mennick (above) is a teacher who works with children between the ages of two and five. She helps them develop motor, social and language skills. She also works with autistic children and children of immigrants with a language barrier in order to help them learn the skills they need to live in their new environment without struggling.
2. Jenna Antar
Jenna Antar is a high school student who attends George Washington High School in Northeast Philadelphia. She participates in many charitable organizations, especially environmental efforts. She joined Temple University and Drexel University students to clean up parks and plant new trees. Antar has previously tried to start a “Green Thumb” club in school, but wasn’t able to continue due to low participation.
3. Mark Ruebenshtein
Mark Ruebenshtein_Gravestoens
Mark Ruebenshtein owns a shop on Bustleon Avenue that creates mementos for people who have lost a loved one, and also designs gravestones. This shop is unique because it caters to Russian immigrants who want to use their own language and culture to give tribute to their families and friends. Ruebenshtein’s shop offers a great service to the grieving residents of the Russian community in Northeast Philadelphia.
4. John VanvivierJohn Vanvivier2_LibraryJohn Vanvivier is a librarian at a free public library along Bustleton Avenue. He has managed several free programs for children in Northeast Philadelphia. One of these programs is an after-school homework help session that takes place Monday through Thursday. Vanvivier also helps out in summer programs, like a math and science learning experience for children.


5. Thomas Brooks

Thomas Brooks is a clergyman who serves at a Methodist church on Bustleton Avenue. He participates in many programs that help his community and others outside of it. He assists a Narcotics Anonymous group in coming together by making space for them to have their meetings inside the church. Brooks and his his congregation have also built a school for underprivileged kids in Liberia.
– Photos and text by Hend Salah and Sergei Blair 

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