Bear Affair

The 12th annual Harmelin Media Bear Affair was a roaring success Thursday night at the Crystal Tea Room in Center City, Philadelphia.  I again had the opportunity to emcee and auction off a few items to benefit the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance.  I was joined by Mike Missanelli, of 97.5 The Fanatic (great job Mikey Miss), plus Philadelphia Eagles Chad Hall and Riley Cooper.  Pete Ciarrocchi, of the Philadelphia Soul, and Don Tollefson stopped by to help out.

The biggest stars of the night were the survivors, and the police officers, the workers at the Department of Human Services, of course the Alliance folks, and all the corporate and other contributors who know the importance of  preventing child sexual abuse and of helping rebuild lives if that abuse has occurred. A big moment is when young ladies, members of the Daisies and Brownies, brought teddy bears they had made to make them available to kids who could use the comfort of a good bear.

Probably the biggest fun moment of the night was how enthusiastically Riley and Chad allowed themselves to be auctioned off.  As I said to the bidders, they are wide receivers, you’re allowed to make a pass at them.

Stand Up. Take the Pledge.

The Philadelphia Children’s Alliance issued a call to action today. PCA, which seeks justice for victims of child sexual abuse, called on everyone to pledge not to stay silent, but to report child sex abuse. At a news conference today in Center City, Philadelphia, PCA unveiled a pledge it hopes everyone will embrace.  (The pledge is farther down below.) Joining PCA today were the Philadelphia Soul and the Greater Media radio group.  I’ve been involved with the Alliance for a few years and was also asked to make a few statements and lead folks in the pledge.  The Soul is donating to PCA some of the proceeds from every ticket sold for the home opener against Cleveland on April 1st.  The 5 stations of Greater Media will be talking about the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance and urging you to take the pledge and support the cause. Ron Jaworski, part-owner of the Soul, hopes everyone will, “Stand up and be sure that people are aware that sexual abuse of our children is taking place. Don’t be quiet. Let the authorities know.”  The great Olympian Carl Lewis told me, “This is not just about someone else’s family. This is about all of our families, all of our communities. So, we need to come together.”  Here’s the pledge:

“If I see, hear, suspect, or in any way become aware that a child is being abused, I will not keep silent.  I will have the courage to help that child break free of the silence, secrecy and shame that should never define a child’s life.” 

If you see a child being abused, please call 911 immediately.

Officer Steven Brennan & Quaker City

About 1100 people came out last night for the annual Philadelphia Police Athletic League Awards Dinner at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel.  I was there along with a bunch of good citizens from PHL17 and NBC10. Proceeds go to the more than two-dozen PAL Centers providing a safe haven, recreation and mentoring to thousands of young people.  Congratulations to the big three honorees of the evening: Ruben Amaro, Jr.,of the Philadelphia Phillies, Dan Hilferty of Independence Blue Cross, and Jeff Scarpello, of NECA.

I want to mention some other folks, too, who continue to do great work and who I’ve been in the company of in the last week or so. Brother Al and Sister Rosemarie of Inn Dwelling, which for 30 years has been helping people get on their feet, sustain themselves and have opportunity to succeed through transitional housing, educational and other assistance in Germantown, Mt. Airy and Northeast Philadelphia.  They shared some time with me during the weekend at Merion Mercy Academy.

I also emceed the annual Philadelphia Young Playwrights production at World Café Live last week.  The fundraiser, awards ceremony and theatrical production was a thrill to see. The creations of these young folks who got to work with professional producers, directors and actors, came to life on stage and provided more evidence of the transformative power of the arts.  Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes (seen at right) applauded the participants.  Former Governor Ed Rendell stopped by, too.  Former Chair of the PA Council on the Arts, Diane Dalto Woosnam, was honored for her years of supporting and leading the arts.  However, the young playwrights shined the brightest!  Executive Producing Director Glen Knapp does an outstanding job with the program. Young Playwrights is all about lifting voices, raising self-worth and awareness, making good writers, enabling expression and helping teens become the great people they can be.  

The other night I emceed a fun but emotional event : the Inaugural Karen Graham Golf Classic Dinner at JC Melrose Country Club in Cheltenham.  Karen’s husband, Jim, and other family members and friends launched the effort to raise money for the Joan Karnell Cancer Center, which Karen praised during her valiant fight against cancer.  Even though she was ill, Karen started an endowment fund to help women who couldn’t afford or undertake transportation to and from treatment, who needed money until a person’s disability began, and other needs.  This inaugural effort is a credit to her family and friends, but also it speaks volumes about how Karen positively impacted everyone around her and will for generations to come.

At anothe event I saw folks who work every day to prevent child abuse and when child abuse happens, help children overcome what they have suffered.  I saw a lot of good folks at the annual Philadelphia Children’s Alliance Bear Affair.  The Alliance is one of the unsung heroes of our nation. They quietly work to bring justice to children who have been victims of child abuse.  The event at the Crystal Tea Room raised vitally needed funds to make sure that over the next year nearly a thousand children, as well as innocent members of those children’s families, can find justice and can begin reclaiming their lives.