Point Breeze: Organization Provides Leadership Services to Strengthen Community
An organization where people can learn and grow on the basis of creating a well-rounded community is essential to the South Philly neighborhood of Point Breeze.
“Diversified Community Services is a neighborhood-based nonprofit, so we target our services to the South Philadelphia community, particularly the Point Breeze community,” said Siria Rivera, the director of Two Generational Programming at Diversified Community Services.
It is the organization’s mission to help create a diverse and prosperous community in Point Breeze. Diversified is a social service agency that serves nearly 8,000 children, youth, adults and families, highlighting the importance of education and skill building.
“We serve anyone who needs our services and if we are able to do it, we will accommodate,” said Rivera. “We have an array of services that are family oriented and a lot of our programs are a two generation approach.”
The two-generation approach means they try to meet the needs of both parent and child at once. They do not want to provide fragmented services.
“We identify that in order to really help a family out of poverty and provide the best services we can,” said Rivera. “We need to meet the needs of both the child and parent at the same time.”
DCS focuses on the development of healthy children and youth that come from low-income families. They want to help them understand long-term social well being in the Point Breeze and surrounding communities of South Philadelphia.
Rivera explained there usually is not just one reason families come to DCS, but many reasons.
“People come here to job search, do research for school, print things, pay bills, whatever they have to do,” said Rivera. “Some families will come because they are buying their first house and don’t know where to start, while others need help writing checks.”
Rivera has been doing non-profit work for about 10 years and knew very early on that she wanted to work within communities.
“Growing up, I experienced the issues with language barriers and low income families and living in poverty, raising three or four kids, so I understood that a lot of that had to do with the lack of education of understanding what services you have,” said Rivera.
Diversified Community Service’s Dixon Learning Academy, located in South Philadelphia, is an early childhood education center. It has programs focused on preparing young children for success in school, active citizenship, work, and healthy and safe lives. It also provides services for adults and families, community development, and any person who needs the help DCS can give them.
“We provide workshops for parents to provide them with personal and professional development opportunities, and then on top of that, Dixon Learning Academy is also the early childhood education center,” explained Rivera.
Diversified has been a leader in childhood and youth development for more than 100 years. It leads initiatives to increase graduation rates, family financial stability, and improve access to basic needs that affect the Point Breeze neighborhood.
Denzel Wingate, a Group Leader who works with children at the Dixon Learning Academy, plays with them at recess, reads to them, and provides different services throughout the day.
“I think Diversified Community Services is really important because you need that core place where everyone comes together with the kids for a good purpose,” said Wingate.
It is Dixon Learning Academy’s vision to provide young children with the building blocks to succeed in a high performing educational system and use the necessary skills such as adaptability, achievement, motivation, self-esteem, literacy, language, math, science, and more.
The Western Learning Center, another agency within DCS, focuses on quality early childhood education, while focusing on resources for the parents, said Tynetta Beyah, Director at WLC.
“One of my proudest moments was being able to provide parents with different resources,” said Beyah. Providing the parents with those resources, such as connecting their child with interventions, helps their child catch up while making sure their child’s development is on task.”
DCS has a summer camp program that provides children with academic and extracurricular activities, while also serving them breakfast, lunch, and snacks. It is to support the retention of students’ in-school knowledge, while focusing on team building and working with others. Activities like swimming, dance, karate, and arts and crafts are part of the daily routine at the camp. The students also attend weekly educational trips.
“We serve over 5,000 families each year so I think it’s important for them to see us here and see our faces and know that we are embedded in the community and want to understand what their needs are and service them accurately,” said Rivera. “That is what makes it really needed and essential.”
Diversified Community Services offers leadership and many services to children, youth, and families who need it most. It is their goal and mission to provide as much care and assistance to the residents of Point Breeze as they can.
-Text, images, and video by Taylor Calta and Catherine Campana.