Celebrating civil rights champions from across the city

awardds_logoPHILADELPHIA — On Tuesday, April 28, PCHR will lead hundreds in recognizing and celebrating individuals and organizations from across the city and region who work in their daily capacity to improve the quality of life for all.

The 2015 PCHR Awards will honor a variety of civic  and social leaders, from the public, private and nonprofit sectors at the Arts Ballroom, 1324 Locust Street, Philadelphia, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The complete list of this year’s honorees:

  • Bishop Dwayne Royster and Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild (POWER), Clarence Farmer Sr. Service Award recipients
  • Gloria Casarez, former LGBT affairs director for the City of Philadelphia (posthumously), Sadie T.M. Alexander Leadership Award recipient
  • Lt. Joyce Craig (posthumously), PCHR Chairman’s Award recipient
  • Adrienne Simpson, PCHR Chairman’s Award recipient
  • Ellen Somekawa, PCHR Executive Director’s Award recipient
  • Art-Reach workshop


    Art-Reach, PCHR Award for Arts and Culture

  • Kelvyn Anderson, executive director of the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission, PCHR Award for Public Safety
  • Philadelphia CeaseFire, PCHR Award for Community Service
  • Steven Seibel and TC Shillingford of Broad Street Ministry, PCHR Award for Nonprofit Stewardship
  • Rosa’s Pizza, PCHR Award for Corporate Responsibility
  • Officer Juan “Ace” Delgado, PCHR Community Excellence Award

    Officer Gary Harkins

    Officer Gary Harkins

  • Gearing Up, PCHR Community Excellence Award
  • Officer Gary Harkins, PCHR Community Excellence Award
  • Officer Nokisha Jacobs, PCHR Community Excellence Award
  • The Rev. Frank Lettko, PCHR Community Excellence Award
  • Linda Toia, PCHR Community Excellence Award
  • The Rev. Frank Toia, PCHR Community Excellence Award

    Regina Young

    Regina Young

  • Marsha Wall, PCHR Community Excellence Award
  • Officer Tina Willis, PCHR Community Excellence Award
  • Regina Young, PCHR Community Excellence Award

You can still join Mayor Michael A. Nutter, PCHR leadership and other notables at this event, as well as jam with great sounds from members of the Philadelphia Clef Club’s Youth Jazz Ensemble, explore a silent auction packed with goodies, enjoy great food and even better company. Tickets are $75 and are still available for purchase here.
PCHR also would like to thank its generous sponsors for helping to make this event possible:

Regina Austincruz
Cruz ConstructionGraham Logo (Lt Green)
The Graham Company
Mel Heifitz
Rebecca Alpert
The Arts Ballroom
Beneficial Foundation
Kearsley Rehabilitation and Nursing Center
Sarah Ricks, Esq.
Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin and Schiller
Orthodox Auto Company
The Philadelphia Foundation
Society Hill Congregation
Asian Bank
Gateway Health Systems
Greater Philadelphia
Chamber of Commerce
Jerner & Palmer, P.C.
LAZ Parking
Liberty Resources Inc.
Lockton Insurance
Philadelphia Committee for
Affordable Communities
United Bank of Philadelphia
Angelique Benrahou
Cashman & Associates
Cruz Construction
Hard Rock Café
Joy Tsin Lau
Office of Mayor Michael A. Nutter
Philadelphia Theater Co.
Philadelphia Mural Arts
Reading Terminal Market
Andre Richard Salon
The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia
Sally Saddiqi
Sang Kee restaurants
Speed Raceway
Vedge/V restaurants
V Trainers

List as of April 22, 2015

Walking for peace

Spring is often noted for a time of renewal and reemergence, making it the perfect time to strengthen communal bonds – and the Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation.

This year’s walk kicks off at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 27 at Al-Aqsa Islamic Society, 1501 Germantown Ave. and will end at 6 p.m. at West Kensington Ministry, 2140 N. Hancock St.

In its 11th year, the ecumenical event draws hundreds of Philadelphians from an array of faith traditions and invites them to transform themselves from strangers to neighbors through conversation during a serene stroll with multiple stops at various houses of worship.

While synagogues, mosques and churches along with faith leaders feature prominently throughout the event, conversion does not. All faiths – even those questioning the concept – are welcome. The agenda is squarely fixed on considering new ways to achieve peace, starting one neighbor and one neighborhood at a time. PCHR is a longtime supporter of this event.

“People can look at this as ‘hippy trippy,’ but what are the options? What we’re seeking is to be a part of society in an active way,” said Lance Laver, one of the co-founders of the walk and member of Mishkan Shalom Synagogue. “That’s peace work. And we’re enlarging the community that’s doing this work.”

Participants are encouraged to wear white, as a show of unity. All ages are welcome and a bus will be available for those unable to walk the distance.

Peace Walk

The 2014 Interfaith Peace Walk

The walk emerged from the confusing, even dangerous, early days after 9/11 – when anyone seen as “other” automatically drew suspicion. It was an atmosphere that threatened to poison the American ideal. Building on earlier interfaith efforts by Pennsylvania native Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, a band of thoughtful people gathered to replicate peace walks that were budding throughout the country, many inspired by Buddhist monks trekking across America.

“It has exceeded our earlier vision,” said Vic Compher, a member of Tabernacle United Church and another one of the co-founders of the local faith walk. “But that’s the nature of an adventure, going to where you don’t know where you’re going to end up . . . really being side-by-side with the people in these communities and the sacred ground they’ve created.”

What Compher and his compatriots have witnessed flourishing from that ground is hope – in the form of constant work toward improving communities from the ground up. The walk continues to travel to various corners of the city, from Germantown to West Philadelphia and this year in Kensington.

Yet the movement extends beyond just the walk.

A core group gathers monthly at the Al Aqsa Islamic Society, where the idea was hatched among members of the three Abrahamic traditions – Jewish, Islamic and Christian. It has since grown to include Buddhists, secular humanists, Sikhs, Hindus, Baha’i and others to exchange insights, discuss concerns, and, more importantly, viable solutions.

Topics may be the latest developments in Syria or a shooting in Olney, as every ripple can impact the world, Haver said.

During its 11-year history, some three dozen houses of worship have engaged directly, along with a growing list of community organizations that share common goals for creating more peaceful environments, groups as diverse as Mothers in Charge to Heeding God’s Call to the Ethical Society of Philadelphia. Initiatives such as the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia’s Zones of Peace have arisen. And the numbers of people lacing their sneaks has swollen to some 1,000 in some years.

April 2014 has some 20 religious and spiritual observances – from the birth of Lord Swaminarayan for followers of that Hindu tradition to the birth of Guru Nanak for Sikhs to Passover for Jews and Easter for Christians.

In fact, April 27 also serves the Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day, a time when people of all backgrounds reflect on the evil that can come when good people do nothing to stop it.

It’s contemplating scenarios such as these and many others that are the real drivers for organizers, not necessarily tallying a huge number of participants, said Linda Toia, who heads the program committee.

“My hope would be that we provide a place and a time of trust, where people feel safe to have the opportunity to interact with each other as human beings, to get underneath some of our distances and see each other as individuals,” Toia said. “We’re all here on this earth at the same time, living together.

“It’s not just about the differences. It’s about finding the commonalities we have with each other.”