ABOVE PHOTO: Kindred the Family Soul.
(Photo by Robert Mendelsohn)
By Denise Clay
Getting dressed to the nines in eveningwear can be a real challenge when the thermometer reads 100 degrees.
But that’s what about 550 people did on Sunday night for We Feed The Homeless Philly’s Black Tie Fundraiser at the Crystal Tea Room in the Wanamaker Building in Center City.
The fundraiser, designed to raise money to make We Feed The Homeless Philly’s dream of having a place to provide GED classes and job training to supplement the meals that the organization feeds the homeless on a weekly basis, featured entertainment from Kindred the Family Soul, trombone virtuoso Jeff Bradshaw, gospel songstress Tamika Patton and DJ Jazzy Joe.
But while the entertainment was star-studded, and the food, catered by We Feed the Homeless Philly board member Gerald Drummond was top-notch, organization founder Craig K. Stroman Sr., was quick to remind the audience why their presence was so important.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, roughly 39 percent of the nation’s homeless are under 18. It was seeing one of those children that inspired Stroman to begin the organization, which has grown from four volunteers to 600 helping it perform its mission.
“About two-and-a-half years ago, I saw a homeless family downtown,” he said. “They were coming out of a tent and I thought, ‘We have to do something.”
That something has turned into non-profit organization that has a feeding program that gives bags of food and hot meals to the homeless. But Stroman saw another need; the need to help the homeless be able to do for themselves. Because many of the homeless are children, neither they nor their parents may have the basics needed to look for work, such as a high school diploma or a GED.
“These people need jobs,” he said. “They need to be taught life skills. Many of them don’t have a diploma or a GED. We want to help them. That’s our mission.”
In addition to the prominent local musical artists on the bill, two other prominent local media personalities, Radio One’s E. Steven Collins and WURD’s Mannwell Glenn, started the evening’s festivities and kept them moving.
While on its face Sunday night’s event could be seen as a group of people getting dressed up to see a really good concert, Collins told the audience that their support of the event was more than that; It was a chance to show what a good legacy can look like.
“Each of us can affect change; create a legacy, by engaging in acts of benevolence,” he said. “Tonight provides one of what I hope are numerous opportunities to improve the lives of homeless people in Philadelphia and create a legacy of service. Craig Stroman Sr. and the “We Feed The Homeless Philly” team are to be applauded for their leadership as shining a light on those most ignore and pretend don’t exist.”
Glenn kept the show moving by introducing the performers and providing a tone that was just lighthearted enough to allow people to have fun while reminding them that their presence was for a serious cause….a cause he believed in enough to volunteer for.
“I called them,” Glenn said. “I saw that they were doing this event on Facebook, and asked if they needed an MC. They said yes, and here I am.”
At press time, there was not word on how much the fundraiser had raised for We Feed The Homeless Philly, but Drummond, the board member that catered Sunday night’s festivities, said that the cause would be a winner no matter how much money was raised.
“Even if we don’t raise a lot of money, we’ve gotten the word out,” he said. “We may start small, but people are going to hear our message and know more about us.”
The event was sponsored by Charmed I’m Sure: An Event Planning and Design Company, Philadelphia Federal Credit Union, The Administrative Link, Marquis Vacations, CarDex Inc., Phoenicia, Brown Family ShopRite, Phillies Charities, Sixers Charities, and Elite Personal Training.