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July 2022


Dear Giving Circle Members and Friends:

What began as a vague idea in the fall, in June blossomed into 6 successful volunteer activities, each an important component of the TTN Giving Circle’s "Year of the Child".

We stamped and sorted books, weeded kiwi vines and planted Dalia, savored tea and critiqued presentations. We chatted and laughed and learned about each other and the nonprofit we were helping.

The two-hour volunteer experiences turned out to be loads of fun, and a huge help to the organizations that most of us had previously known nothing about.

Many of us spend hours each year volunteering at nonprofits dear to our hearts. In June, we expanded our worlds: we traveled to locations in all parts of Philadelphia, and met people who have devoted themselves to improving the lives of others, many of whom face huge challenges. We met other members who share our commitment to taking small steps to improving the world. 


Many thanks to our volunteers and to those who supported this effort in other ways. I am so grateful for each of you.

Mary Klein


June was volunteer month! Below are some photos and a brief description of three of the volunteer events in June. On June 1st, a group lead by Mary Klein went to the Philadelphia Book Bank. Then on June 8th a group of volunteers spearheaded by Madeline Sherry headed to El Centro de Estudiantes. Finally, on June 9th Joan Gordon gathered a group at Stomping Grounds Cafe. The other three events that occurred in June will be featured in the August newsletter. They are: Tree House Books, Crayons to Cradles and Camp Sojourner. Thanks to everyone who participated and we hope to see you again next year!

The Philly Book Bank, run by Reading Recyled, provides books for Philadelphia teachers who are committed to instilling a love of reading in their students. Our group of seven volunteers was welcomed by Anne Keenan, the Executive Director who gave us a tour of the rooms in MLK High School that the Book Bank uses to store and organize their huge collection of books. Surrounded by boxes of new books, we stamped the books with the “Philly Book Bank” stamp and sorted books for students based on reading level and interest. The time flew by. The Book Bank needs volunteers as well as new or gently used books appropriate for infants through young adults.

“It was a great experience. We had so much fun.” - Marsha Silberstein

The Book Bank, Martin Luther King High School, 6100 Stenton Ave, Philadelphia

El Centro de Estudiantes, 1241 N. Taney Street, Philadelphia

“I just wish I had had the opportunity to attend a school like El Centro. This is the kind of education all of our children need-- one that develops the whole person! Healthy interpersonal relationships, development of self-confidence, and the skills to continue to explore one's purpose to the fullest.” - Joanne Kundrat.

El Centro de Estudiantes is a nontraditional public school in the Opportunity Network, serving students who are determined to complete their high school educations. Eight volunteers attended student exhibitions that highlight the semester’s work, and include power point presentations and demonstrations of what the students learned in their coursework. Volunteers shared their thoughts, insights and gave positive feedback about the exhibitions. They were impressed with the students’ presentation skills and noted the poise and polish the students demonstrated in the exhibitions. 

The volunteers expressed interest in attending future exhibitions and in other volunteer opportunities at El Centro, including a career day which will be scheduled in the Fall of 2023.


Stomping Grounds Social Justice Café is operated by YouthBuild Charter School’s Business Administration Scholars program and its main purpose is to help motivated young adults succeed. Nine volunteers attended a session with the staff of the Café, including the dynamic teacher, Kim Paulus, current students and alumnae.   We learned the diversity of teas from all over the world. The staff shared their personal stories of how they became part of the program and how much they have learned and how significant their experiences have helped them to be self-sufficient young adults. It was a wonderful morning!

Stomping Grounds Social Justice Café - 3859 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia

"Volunteerism is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year but, when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in". - Author Unknown


Year of the Child Campaign

Here’s the good news — we now have raised $71,000 towards our campaign goal of $100,000 earmarked for nonprofits serving Philadelphia’s children! We are so grateful to those who responded to our June renewal request, a number of whom increased their gift in support of our city’s children. In our renewal request we asked you to consider a one-year “bump” in your renewal amount to help us meet our goal. Thanks for stepping up. And please consider asking friends and family to contribute. Many of us are asking those closest to us to give to “The Year of the Child” in lieu of holiday gifts. We are edging toward 75% of our goal. Together we can make it happen!


Giving Circle Member

Each month we are going to feature one of our own Giving Circle members "in the Spotlight." This is a great way to get to know your fellow Giving Circle members and to learn why being part of our Giving Circle is important to them.


Past Grant Recipients

In honor of our 10th Anniversary, each month we are going to feature one of our past recipients. This month we are featuring Turning Points for Children to which we awarded a grant in 2018.


Meet Risa Granick. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Risa graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to have a very successful career in health care as a teacher and administrator in Physical Therapy. After a few stints in local Philadelphia hospitals, she joined the faculty at Columbia University in New York City where she oversaw the Columbia University Doctorate Program for Physical Therapy.   Living and working in NYC for fifteen years, she felt it time to retire from her position at Columbia although she is still on the faculty and trains students when requested.

In 2015, Risa returned to Philadelphia where she coincidently met an old friend who suggested that Risa join TTN.  Risa expressed her gratitude for finding TTN. She now has strong relationships with TTN members and has gained new friends, so much so, that Risa serves as a TTN Ambassador welcoming new members into the fold.

As part of her SIG (Special Interest Groups) memberships, she is co-chair for Wine Lovers, is engaged with Art Matters and participates in Lunch and Dinner groups. “It is great fun to eat dinner out with friends in Philadelphia where there are such wonderful restaurants.”  Risa shared that “TTN is the best kept secret.”

Three years ago, Risa joined the Giving Circle because she came to appreciate its mission in reaching out to the larger Philadelphia community. She was invited to join the Grants Committee where she worked closely with Ann behind the scenes to prepare training video workshops for prospective grantees and the Grants Committee members. Risa brings strong professional experience to the grants process from her days at Columbia University.

Risa strongly advocates for the Giving Circle urging TTN members and friends to join. Philadelphia is the first and only TTN chapter to create a Giving Circle. Risa sees the positive impact of ‘giving back’ to our community and feels the value of helping so many of our Philadelphia families.

contributed by Joan Gordon


Turning Points for Children, 2018 recipient of a Giving Circle grant, is one of the largest organizations serving children in Philadelphia. The grant was specifically for helping one of their programs, LifeSet, get off the ground. 

LifeSet, a program conceived and started in Tennessee, serves children aging out of foster care. Turning Points connected with LifeSet in Tennessee and started Philadelphia LifeSet in 2017. Roughly 800 youths in Philadelphia age out of foster care each year. A way to close this gap was needed. How dire that need was is exemplified by the fact that when LifeSet was set to open here, on the very first day there were two clients already sitting on the steps ready for support before the doors had even opened. According to Monika Kreidie, Senior Development Associate for Turning Points, of the 800 teenagers leaving foster care, 250 have no support and 40% will be homeless. LifeSet steps in with trained social workers (called specialists) with limited caseloads (8-10 clients), to be the support and help they need. The specialists connect them with education, job training, housing, life skills support, etc. Their record of success is amazing. 

The key to the success of LifeSet is that youth participants set their own goals at in-take and have a meeting with their LifeSet Specialist at least once per week, and more frequently if necessary. Weekly case reviews happen at the team and supervisor level, and no one goes unnoticed. Program discharge happens when the Specialist, participant, Supervisor and Clinical Director all agree that goals have been met. A permanency plan and packet are created for each youth before graduating the program. Before leaving the program, Ms Kreidie said the graduate must identify two people who can serve as supports for the rest of their lives (as parents are to their children).

Ms Kreidie cited one example of a youth who had always dreamed of being a pilot. Everyone told him that would never happen, he was not someone who could become a pilot. At his intake meeting for LifeSet, a stated goal of his was becoming a pilot. Within months of that meeting he was enrolled in aviation school. He eventually discovered being a pilot was not for him, so LifeSet helped him enroll in CCP where he is training to be a social worker. It can be just as important to learn what you don’t want to do, as it is to learn what you do want to do. Setting out on the path that’s right for you is the objective and LifeSet helps their clients do just that.

LifeSet youth can re-enroll in the program at any time. They are contacted 6 months and 12-months post program to make sure that they are still employed, housed, and using their permanent connections to live successfully as adults.

The Giving Circle gift in 2018 not only allowed LifeSet to hire a second team of specialists and thus double the number of clients being served, the program was making a difference and noted by DHS as they doubled their LifeSet program from the previous year. In that way, the Giving Circle funding was multiplied and helped LifeSet really take off. It is now one of the premier programs of Turning Points, serving 100-120 youth annually with 3 teams of specialists and an on-site clinical specialist. 

LifeSet Philadelphia continues to be connected to the model program in Tennessee, still adhering to the model and jointly assessing outcomes every month. For more information, click here.

contributed by Janet Weinstein