Food & drink, fun and great auction items at St. Mary’s Nursery School Annual Fundraiser on April 25

Posted on 08 April 2015 by

SMNS_SFOS_2015_EMAIL (2)Get ready, get set, go! A bike package from Spruce Hill business Keswick Bikes (kids’ 20” bike, helmet, bell) is just one of the exciting auction items featured at the 11th annual Saint Mary’s Nursery School (SMNS) “Spring for Our School” Silent Auction & Cocktail Party Fundraiser. SMNS is a non-denominational, Reggio Emilia – inspired nursery school and afterschool program located at 3916 Locust Walk.

The fundraising event will include catered hors d’oeuvres, Yard’s beer, wine, great community, and an exciting silent auction to benefit the program. The after party will take place at City Tap House from 8:30-10:00 p.m. Proceeds will help SMNS make essential playground improvements including an organic “green” shade for the playground.  Continue Reading

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What could be better? Good food, music and prizes while helping neighborhood students pay for college

Posted on 03 April 2015 by Mike Lyons


Some past scholarship recipients (photo from Cedar Park Neighbors).


It’s that time of year again when all sorts of friends and neighbors gather together to eat good food, have fun, and raise college scholarship money for Cedar Park neighborhood kids.

This year’s annual Gary Bronson Memorial Scholarship Fund fundraiser will be held April 12 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the St. Francis de Sales Parish School auditorium (917 S. 47th St.).  The event will feature food and drink from local restaurants, including Gold Standard Cafe, Fu Wah, Aksum Cafe, and others. It will also feature live music from West Philly based singer-songwriter Gretchen Elise, kids activities and music from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.; prizes from local West Philly artists; gourmet gift baskets; and gift certificates to West Philadelphia businesses.

Tickets are $40 and sponsorship packages are also available. Go to the Cedar Park Neighbors website here for tickets and more details.

This is one of our favorite events of the year and the money goes to support terrific young people. Since it began the scholarship fund has raised thousands of dollars and given out 149 scholarships to 71 young Cedar Park residents. Last year’s event raised $10,000 to provide scholarships for eight students.

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Café Renata owners: “We will be back!”; fundraiser at The Bar(n)

Posted on 16 March 2015 by


Cafe Renata owners, Yasser Aiq and Kate Steenstra, at the cafe (archive photo, West Philly Local).

As many of you know, an overnight fire destroyed Café Renata at 43rd and Locust and injured a neighbor last Thursday. Café Renata co-owners, Kate Steenstra and Yasser Aiq, are safe, but heartbroken over the fire and are still assessing the damage. A lot of support has poured in to them from the community members, which Katie and Yasser are very grateful for.

“Our neighbors and friends have been so supportive of us during all of this and we are so grateful for their encouragement and hugs. We are lucky to be part of such a loving community,” Katie wrote in an email.

While it is still unknown when the popular Spruce Hill coffee and brunch shop will reopen here’s some encouraging news from Katie:

“After taking a few days of reflection Yasser and I would like to tell our friends and customers that we are so encouraged by their support and love the past few days. Without them, Renata would never have been the vibrant café it was. We are looking forward to your continued support during our rebuilding efforts. We will be back!”

If you would like to support Katie and Yasser, visit Cafe Renata’s Facebook page and leave a message. We’re also sharing information about a fundraiser for Café Renata this Thursday, March 19, at The Bar(n) (49th and Catharine) in Cedar Park. The Barn and Wyndridge Farms are teaming up for the Café Renata Tap Takeover Fundraiser where Wyndridge Farms brew will be hooked up to all four of The Barn’s taps. Admission fee is $10 at the door, but guests will get their first brew for free. All drafts will be $3. All of the door and draft proceeds will go to the owners of Café Renata. The event will take place from 6 p.m. – 2 a.m. Check The Barn’s Facebook page for updates.

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Storytelling Slam to benefit free youth storytelling class

Posted on 06 January 2015 by

storytelling_slamYouth from around the city have a unique chance this winter to learn storytelling basics at a free six-week long class. The class, presented by Project Arts, kicks off next week and culminates in a performance on Feb. 16.

This Wednesday, Project Arts and RISK!, a wildly popular storytelling podcast with hundreds of thousands of listeners and millions of downloads, present a Storytelling Slam contest to benefit the class. Young people ages 16 and up will compete in the contest, and 30 percent of the funds raised at the event will provide cash prizes for the top three winners. The show organizers are asking for a $5-$15 donation.

The storytelling class is also a chance for local young people to be heard and share their experiences with others. The project is “part art and part healing work,” according to Project Arts director Rich Wexler (more information about the class is available at:

The Storytelling Slam will take place at The Rotunda (40th and Walnut), on Wednesday, Jan. 7, from 7 – 10 p.m.

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‘Microbirth’ film screening on Tuesday to support free childbirth classes

Posted on 10 November 2014 by

microbirth-A3-poster1There will be a great event this Tuesday to support free childbirth classes in the area. Microbirth, a brand new documentary looking at childbirth through the lens of a microscope and raising awareness of the importance of “seeding the baby’s microbiome,” will be screened. All proceeds from the screening will benefit childbirth classes offered by the Helen O. Dickens Clinic at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to free childbirth classes, the clinic provides birth balls, sleep sacks, baby books, and healthy snacks to attendees, mostly low-income families.

The film will be followed by a discussion panel with Penn/CHOP faculty and researchers, and there will also be concessions and a lot of fun items to raffle off. Suggested donation is $5-$20 (click here to buy tickets).

West Philly community members are welcome to attend this event. “The film is awesome, and it would be great for everyone to see,” writes Nicole Chaney, one of the event organizers and the Dickens Clinic staff member.

The event will be held at the University of Pennsylvania (Hall of Flags, Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce St), from 5:45 – 10 p.m. Check out the event’s Facebook page.

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Neighborhood institution needs some help: Walk on Saturday to help Calvary Center

Posted on 05 November 2014 by

Calvary UMCThe Calvary Center for Culture and Community, the beautiful old church building at 48th and Baltimore, needs some help. Over the last decade the building has undergone some critical restoration, which gave it a new vibrant life, but a lot of work still remains to be done. Current plans include construction of an elevator in the western section of the tower to accommodate neighbors on wheelchairs or with other physical difficulties. Several other major improvements, renovations, repairs and restorations are also planned.

The center, which hosts a myriad of activities each year and also is home to many community, art, religious, educational, social justice and other organizations, was recently offered a $100,000 challenge grant by the Wyncote Foundation. This amount has to be matched by the end of the year. The center was able to raise almost all of the match, but a few thousand dollars are still remaining. So here’s how you can help:

On Saturday, Nov. 8, come to the “Raise the Roof” Walkathon for Calvary Center. The 5 km walk around the neighborhood will start and end at the center. Participation fee is $25 ($10 for children) and you can register online here before the event or at the event itself (for $35), beginning at 9 a.m. on Nov. 8 at the 48th Street entrance to the building. The walk will be from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., followed by a celebration of its completion (12 – 1 p.m.). The event will take place rain or shine.

Here’s a reminder of what organizations are located at Calvary Center: Cedar Park Neighbors, the University City Historical SocietyWest Philly Mennonite Fellowship, Kol Tzedek West Philly Synagogue, Calvary United Methodist Church, Grace Chapel, Children’s Community School, Curio Theatre, Crossroads Music, and more! These and other organizations will participate in Saturday’s event and encourage their members and all neighbors to join them.

If you can’t participate in the walkathon, you can support the center by making a donation online (please go here) or by sending a check to: Calvary Center, 801 S. 48th Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19143.

“Raise the Roof” Walkathon for Calvary Center
48th and Baltimore
Saturday, Nov. 8, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. (registration starts at 9 a.m.)
$25 online (children $10), $35 at the event


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