Over the past 42 years, The People’s Emergency Center has served the West Powelton, Mantua, Belmont, Mill Creek and Saunders Park neighborhoods to provide comprehensive support services to homeless women and their children with temporary and permanent housing and services. The non-profit organization has invested over $57 million in quality-of-life improvements for West Philadelphia residents.
The PEC board of directors appointed Kathy Desmond as the new president of the organization effective July 1. Desmond has been with People’s Emergency Center for two years but has previously served families in the area as CEO of BestNest for 14 years. She holds a Master of Social Work from Temple University. Desmond’s first order of business will include an analysis of where the organization stands and refining PEC’s strategic plan, to better serve the neighborhoods in the area.
We had the opportunity to speak with Desmond who shed light on what she intends to do in her new role.
– Do you have any ties to the areas that PEC serves?
I have worked for PEC for two years in several capacities in the social services department, focusing on serving mothers and children experiencing homelessness. In my previous role as CEO of Best Nest, a foster care support services agency, I did work with families in the neighborhoods served by PEC. I am excited to be in this new capacity at PEC, where I can impact all of PEC’s programs so that we can continue to nurture families, strengthen neighborhoods and drive change.
– How do you plan to improve services to the communities you serve?
PEC’s role in the community is to be an amplifier to the strengths and voices already present in Belmont, Mantua, Mill Creek, Saunders Park and West Powelton. PEC’s activities are currently guided by the resident-driven “Make Your Mark” neighborhood plan. We are particularly pleased that the planning process engaged and brought together the very diverse communities we serve, which we couldn’t have achieved with the leadership of the civic groups and residents in each of our neighborhoods, the creative implementation from Interface Studios, and financial support from Wells Fargo Regional Community Foundation.
Going forward, we are pledged to continue to work with our neighbors to build on the community’s assets and to amplify their voices to the institutions, agencies and market forces that impact where they live. As we develop PEC’s next strategic plan, our community development work will continue to respond to the issues raised in the “Make Your Mark” neighborhood plan, such as quality of life, education and increasing affordable housing stock. PEC’s work in these areas so far include the Bigham Leatherberry Wise Place development, the LISC-supported Financial Opportunities Center, and working with the Philadelphia Promise Zone collaborative.