MLK Day: Personal Memories of the First Day of Service

By Iris Lozada In 1994, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service was launched thanks largely to U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford Jr. of Pennsylvania and U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia. Wofford was an attorney and civil rights activist. He was a Democratic politician who represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate from 1991 to 1995. He also was a special assistant to President John F. Kennedy and an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. during the decade of struggle from Montgomery to Memphis. His “passion for getting people involved helped create John F. Kennedy’s Peace Corps, Bill Clinton’s AmeriCorps and other service organizations and made him America’s volunteer in chief,” according to his 2019 obituary in The New York Times. It isn’t surprising that, given his strong interest in volunteerism and knowing what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stood for, he launched the campaign to make MLK Day into a day of service, what Wofford called “a day on, not a day off.” Todd Bernstein – Chief of Staff of Wofford’s Philadelphia office when the campaign was launched – supported those efforts. Bernstein is the founder and director of the annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service. Today, Philadelphia continues to host the largest King Day of Service in the country, according to Global Citizens. I [...]

2022-01-03T13:22:35-05:00January 10th, 2022|Awareness, Community|

We Breathe, We Live. Brothery Love Protest Stories

“We Breathe, We Live. Brotherly Love Protest Stories” is a made-for-television film presenting first person experiences of men who participated in the George Floyd protests in Philadelphia during the summer of 2020. Gabriel Bryant, Engaging Males of Color (EMOC) coordinator for the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services in Philadelphia, wrote a guest post on Generocity.org that highlighted his experience and the approach to the film. Here is an excerpt: We identified seven men of various backgrounds, ages and experiences to share their story, as we prepare for the one-year anniversary of this infamous murder and subsequent summer of protests. Where were they? How did they feel? What was it like to be on the ground in the marches? How has this trauma affected them and/or their loved ones? The director of the film, Glenn Holsten, brought a brave and innovative vision to catalyze and link the ideas presented in the film. These rich stories, plus the inclusion of spoken word poetry and conversations with our DBHIDS EMOC colleagues, give life to a moment that was a peak example of dehumanization. This film has further resonance since we find ourselves in Mental Health Awareness Month; additionally seen in the relief of millions now that Chauvin has been convicted of his charges. “We Breathe, We Live. Brotherly Love Protest [...]

2021-05-30T14:31:55-04:00May 24th, 2021|Community, Racial Equity|

Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Compiled from DHS.gov What Is Human Trafficking? Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States. It can happen in any community and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. Traffickers might use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations. Language barriers, fear of their traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement frequently keep victims from seeking help, making human trafficking a hidden crime. Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are susceptible for a variety of reasons, including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of a social safety net, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings. Many myths and misconceptions exist. Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Not all indicators listed are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or [...]

2021-01-28T22:19:13-05:00January 28th, 2021|Community, Trauma|

Closing the treatment gap: Time to address inequality within mental health

By Sosunmolu Shoyinka, MD DBHIDS Chief Medical Officer Two months ago, the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services and the City of Philadelphia took the occasion of Mental Health Awareness Month to remind residents -- especially during this difficult and unprecedented time of COVID-19: “You’re not alone. Help is out there.” Much has changed in the national dialogue since early May. And now Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, recognized in July of each year, gives us the opportunity to look more closely at overall mental health awareness -- and focus on the shortcomings of mental health treatment among minority groups. Mental health issues are not limited by race, gender, sexual identity, or anything else. Sadly, data suggest that access to mental health care does have limitations. This is particularly the case for minority populations. Across the United States, minority groups are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to use community mental health services, more likely to use emergency departments, and more likely to receive lower quality care, according to a report from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. They are also disproportionately impacted by socioeconomic determinants such as housing, food and financial insecurity, inadequate health insurance, exposure to violence, unemployment and lower access to quality education. The disproportionate impact of the [...]

2021-01-28T23:04:59-05:00July 7th, 2020|Community, Pandemic, Racial Equity|
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