Around Town

DMVA mobile outreach teams can help veterans apply for benefits  

The state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs announces its Mobile Veterans Outreach Vans are available throughout the state to assist veterans in obtaining information and initiating benefit claim paperwork through the assistance of DMVA-accredited veteran service officers.

The DMVA brings services directly to veterans and can be booked online for community events such as county fairs and festivals. The vans offer no-cost on-site assistance with veterans benefits thanks to accredited veteran service officers.

“We pledge to see that every veteran who is eligible for benefits related to their dedicated service receives those benefits,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the DMVA. “When our outreach vans travel to events in communities throughout Pennsylvania, veterans are provided with a convenient way to apply for benefits at no cost thanks to our team of accredited veteran service officers.”

The DMVA also staffs outreach teams throughout Pennsylvania communities that build relationships with veteran advocates, and connect veterans in need of specific services with those advocates.

Over the past year, outreach efforts supported 190 events (35 by scheduling an outreach van) with nearly 4,000 veteran interactions. These teams also coordinate events with county directors of Veterans Affairs, veteran service organizations and local and state officials to maximize awareness and attendance.

There are a range of federal, state and county benefits available to qualified veterans and their families, and DMVA’s accredited veteran service officer outreach staff can be a source of information and assistance. Such benefits might include service-connected disability compensation, pensions, VA health care benefits, burial benefits, education benefits, vocational rehabilitation, active service bonuses and veterans homes long-term care.

For more details on how to request a van for a community event, visit

City opens “Philadelphia Black History: The People’s Stories” at City Hall 

The City of Philadelphia and the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy opened a Black History Month exhibition at City Hall entitled “Philadelphia Black History: The People’s Stories.” On view through April 12, the exhibition features 44 local artists’ visual and written tributes to late black Philadelphians.

“When I was a candidate for mayor of Philadelphia, my team and I knew how important it was to share my personal story and the stories of the members of the community who supported and shaped me into the person I am today,” said Mayor Cherelle Parker. “The stories we shared resonated with so many residents of this city, and we believe this exhibition honoring black Philadelphians will resonate with and impact everyone who sees it.”

The exhibition is presented as vinyl square tiles respectfully arranged on the second, fourth and fifth floors in the northeast corner of City Hall. The tiles tell the stories of family members, community members and prominent figures, each a part of Philadelphia’s black history.

This exhibition is one in a series of National Endowment for the Arts grant-funded cultural programs honoring the rediscovered historic Bethel Burying Ground, a 19th-century black cemetery. An upcoming public art memorial by Karyn Olivier will honor the over 5,000 African Americans buried there through multiple design components, including stone pavers that will be installed on the ground and engraved with stories of the interred. 

“Philadelphia Black History: The People’s Stories” pays homage to Olivier’s design by telling the many untold stories of black Philadelphians through square tiles on the floor of historic City Hall, much like the engraved stone pavers in Olivier’s design.

“This exhibition offers rare insights into the lives of black Philadelphians and illuminates the impact their lives had on the artists who chose to commemorate them through art during Black History Month,” said Kelly Lee, Chief Cultural Officer for the City of Philadelphia and executive director of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. “Through all our programs, OACCE is committed to telling and elevating untold stories.”

Celebrate revolutionary women during Women’s History Month  

Celebrate Women’s History Month at the Museum of the American Revolution this March to uncover a fuller, more inclusive history of the nation’s beginnings. Discover lesser-known stories of Revolutionary women through immersive seminars, in-gallery programming, extensive online resources and more. Throughout Women’s History Month, be sure to explore the newest special exhibition Witness to Revolution: The Unlikely Travels of Washington’s Tent to learn the diverse stories of the women who played roles in the tent’s journey, including Martha Washington, Hannah Archer Till, Mary Custis Lee and Selina Gray. Witness to Revolution greatly expands the story told in the Museum’s award-winning Washington’s War Tent film and brings to life the stories of individuals from all walks of life who saved George Washington’s tent from being lost over the generations, and who ultimately fashioned this relic into a symbol of the fragile American republic. Witness to Revolution is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and included with regular Museum admission.

Addiction recovery nonprofits can apply for microgrants

District Attorney Larry Krasner and the Philadelphia Foundation announced the reopening of the application process for the District Attorney’s Office Violence Prevention Grant Program. Specifically, the DAO and Foundation are encouraging local, community-based 501(c)(3) organizations that provide supports to people in active addiction and those who are in recovery to apply for financial assistance.
A report issued by the city Department of Public Health last October found that over 1,400 fatal overdoses — an 11% increase and a record for the city — occurred in Philadelphia in 2022. The report also indicated that fatal overdoses are disproportionately impacting black communities.

“The appropriate use of civil forfeiture means taking money away from drug dealers and other threats to the community,” Krasner said. “But we don’t stop there. This administration believes that in order to prevent drug addiction and violence, we must reinvest in the communities hardest hit by these public health and safety issues. That’s why we are strongly encouraging small, local community-based groups to apply for these funds. Let’s work together to make our city safer and healthier for everyone.”

Grant funding applications are now being accepted. 501(c)(3) organizations that provide addiction recovery services must email the Philadelphia Foundation in order to begin the application process: Grant funding is derived from the lawful and appropriate use of civil asset forfeiture. The Foundation audits and distributes microgrants.

Evans welcomes growing support for victim act

Congressman Dwight Evans is co-leading a $360 million anti-crime and victim aid bill that has picked up bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

“I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan bill that would help our state and local police solve more fatal and non-fatal shooting cases. This would be a huge win for public safety in Philadelphia and across the country – district attorneys can’t bring cases that don’t reach them, so this would help make our neighborhoods safer,” Evans said. “As someone who has pushed for help for victims of gun violence, I’m also very pleased that this bill would provide victims and family members with mental health resources and assistance with shelter, wage and relocation costs.”

Evans said he hopes the bill can build on the recent overwhelmingly bipartisan House passage of a bill that would expand the Child Tax Credit and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. That bill is pending in the Senate.

Evans said the Violent Incident Clearance and Technological Investigative Methods Act is designed to improve clearance rates for homicides and violent gun crimes by allocating funds for hiring and retaining detectives and evidence-processing personnel to investigate and solve homicides and violent gun crimes; acquiring, upgrading or replacing investigative, evidence-processing or forensic testing technology or equipment; training detectives and personnel in effective procedures and techniques; developing evidence-based practices to improve clearance rates; and ensuring victims and family members of homicide victims receive mental health treatment, grief counseling, relocation support, emergency shelter and transportation.

The bill would require grantees to report their use of the funds and how it affected clearance rates to the Department of Justice. Additionally, the National Institute of Justice would conduct periodic evaluations of the grant programs to identify practices and procedures that successfully improved clearance rates for homicides and have potential to be scaled nationally. All reports and data collected from individual grant recipients would be compiled by the DOJ and provided to Congress.

Help repair Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Philadelphia’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, located at 108 Spruce St., near Penn’s Landing, was badly vandalized last August, with the thief making off with brass lighting plate covers and custom-made concrete skateboard barriers.

Despite IBEW Local 98 stepping up to offer to cover all costs of the labor required to repair the extensive damage, officials of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial just announced that they still need $50,000 to cover the costs of materials. IBEW Local 98, which has long supported military vets, police officers, firefighters and all first responders, is leading a fundraising effort on behalf of the Memorial.

“Approximately 58,000 members of the U.S. military died in service to our nation in the Vietnam War, many of them Philadelphians,” said Mark Lynch Jr., Business Manager of IBEW Local 98. “Our city’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a beautiful, moving tribute to those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. The fact that someone would vandalize it is a disgrace. It’s now up to everyday Philadelphians, as well as to our corporate and philanthropic communities, to raise the funds needed to return the Memorial to its original glory.”Checks payable to “Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial” can be mailed to the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial, P.O. Box 29425, Philadelphia, PA 19125. You can also make a secure online donation on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial website (

Dental education program

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and research shows cavities are the most common childhood disease in the United States.

Doc Bresler’s Cavity Busters Community Outreach dental educators offer a free early childhood dental education program to preschools, daycare centers, elementary schools, day camps and  other educational organizations that teach children about proper oral health in a fun and interactive way and how not to be afraid of going to the dentist.

In age-appropriate, 30-minute lessons for children ages 2-6, dental educators teach how to combat cavities with proper brushing and flossing techniques, healthy nutrition and visiting the dentist twice yearly for checkups and cleanings.

The program explains to children what they can expect to see, hear, smell and experience during a dental visit. The lesson allows children to share their individual experiences and emotions in a supportive format, with any early misconceptions or misinformation explained away. When the program is over, each child goes home with a goody bag containing a new toothbrush, coloring book, stickers and important parent information that reinforces lessons they have learned and encourages them to practice good dental hygiene at home.

The early dental education program is available year round. For information, email

For more early childhood oral and dental health information, visit

Doc Bresler’s Cavity Busters is home to eight Philadelphia and suburban locations, including one at 330 Oregon Ave. ••

Democrats want lower income limits for scholarships

State Rep. Joe Ciresi, a Montgomery County Democrat, has introduced a bill to reform the Educational Improvement Tax Credit and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit programs for private and religious schools. There are 17 co-sponsors, all Democrats, including Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler. Ciresi argues that taxpayers are subsidizing private school tuition for many families who could afford it even without the taxpayer-funded scholarships. The legislation would lower the eligibility income limit for EITC and OSTC scholarships to 200% of the federal poverty line and adjust definitions of household income to better align with what’s used for other state programs; reduce the cap on administrative expenses and close loopholes by requiring money to be spent on administrating scholarship programs; and expand data collection that will allow for the evaluation of program effectiveness and to ensure that scholarships are going to those who need them. ••

Support Storm the Heavens

Storm the Heavens Fund will hold its sixth annual Bean’s Ball on March 9 at 7 p.m. at Vie, 600 N. Broad St.

The masquerade ball will be held in memory of Philomena “Bean” Stendardo, an 8-year-old from Port Richmond who died in 2017 of Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a fatal form of brain cancer that mostly affects kids under 11.

Philomena’s parents, Mark and Mina, started the Storm the Heavens Fund to spread awareness and fund research for DIPG.Tickets cost $275. For information on tickets, sponsorships and event booklet ads or to make a donation, visit ••

Sign up for senior softball

The Philadelphia Senior Softball League is looking for experienced players for its 68-and-over and 58-and-over leagues. The 58-plus teams play Tuesdays and Thursdays. The 68-plus teams play Mondays and Fridays. All games start at 10 a.m. and are played at Crispin Fields, at Holme and Convent avenues. Games start mid-April and run till the end of September. No games in July. For the 58-plus league, call Mike Bojanowski at 215-801-4869. For the 68-plus league, call Marty King at 215-409-5021. ••

VFW looking for members

Bustleton-Somerton/CTR1 Michael J. Strange VFW Post 6617 meets on the third Wednesday of every month at American Legion Post 810, 9151 Old Newtown Road.

Meetings start at 7:30 p.m.

If you are a military veteran who served in a designated combat zone, you are eligible to join the VFW.

Call Commander Israel Wolmark at 215-725-0630 if you would like to join the post. ••

Trip to Northern Europe

The Bristol Cultural and Historical Foundation is presenting a Northern Europe: Iceland, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium and London cruise, July 25 to Aug. 4, 2024, aboard the new “Norwegian Prima.”

Rates per person are $6,261 and $6,495, which include roundtrip airfare from Philadelphia.

Deposit of $350 per person double occupancy is required when booking.

Call 215-788-9408. ••

Ballot released for Philly Sports Hall of Fame

The Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame has released the ballot for its 21st class of inductees.  

Brief career profiles for the nominees can be found at

The Hall of Fame offers fans an opportunity to select their favorites from the ballot, though it’s not part of the official voting.

Living nominees are Andy Talley – Football; Art Still – Football; Brendan Hansen – Swimming; Chase Utley – Baseball; Cheryl Reeve – Basketball; Christy Morgan – Field Hockey; Clyde Simmons – Football; David Reid – Boxing; Donald Haldeman – Marksmanship; Dwight Muhammad Qawi – Boxing; Eddie Coyle – Paralympics-Powerlifting; Erik Williams – Football; Gail Ramsay – Squash; Jameer Nelson – Basketball; Jim Foster – Basketball; Mandee Amanda O’Leary – Lacrosse; Mary Ellen Clark – Swimming; Mike Rozier – Football; Paul Westhead – Basketball; Rod Brind’Amour – Hockey; Ryan Howard – Baseball; and Stan Walters – Football.

Heritage nominees are A.W. Tillinghast – Golf; Alice Putnam Willetts – Field Hockey/Lacrosse; Andrew Matter – Wrestling; Battling Levinsky – Boxing; Bertha Townsend Toulmin – Tennis; Charles Moore – Track & Field; Douglas Stewart – Soccer; E. Carroll Schaeffer – Swimming; Eddie Stanky – Baseball; Frank Spellman – Weightlifting; G. Diehl Mateer Jr. – Squash; George Benton – Boxing; George Munger – Football; Harry Schuh – Football; Joan Moore – Gymnastics; Ken Myers – Rowing; Mendy Rudolph – Basketball; Ralph Morgan – Basketball; and Roy Thomas – Baseball.

Fans may submit their selections online at

The induction ceremony and reception will be Nov. 7 at Live! Casino & Hotel. ••

March book club

The Book Club of Congregations of Shaare Shamayim will be hosting a Zoom session on Monday, March 4, at 7 p.m. The book is The Star Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lois Nelson Spielman. To register or for more information, call Lynn Ratmansky at 215-677-1600. ••

Bingo in March

The Sisterhood of Congregations of Shaare Shamayim is hosting bingo on Zoom on Mondays, March 11 and March 18, starting at 7:30 p.m. The cost is $36 per person and includes two cards for eight games of bingo each night. Send your payment to the CSS office, 9768 Verree Road, Philadelphia, PA 19115, attention: Bingo. Payment must be received no later than Feb. 26. Include your email address to receive the Zoom link. Call Gerry or Nancy at 215-677-1600. ••

April book club

The Book Club of Congregations of Shaare Shamayim will be hosting a Zoom session on Monday, April 1, at 7 p.m. The book is The Gown by Jennifer Robson. To register or for more information, call Lynn Ratmansky at 215-677-1600. ••