Northeast Times

Leadership changes at Frankford CDC, EPIC

Passing the bat­on: Kim­berly Wash­ing­ton (left) leads Frank­ford CDC, while Char­lene Lewis (right) suc­ceeds her at North­east EPIC Stake­hold­ers. JOHN LOFTUS / TIMES PHOTO

At­tor­ney Kim­berly Wash­ing­ton, whom many Frank­ford res­id­ents know as the co­ordin­at­or for CORA Ser­vices North­east EPIC Stake­hold­ers, is the new ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Frank­ford Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion.

Wash­ing­ton, 29, was on the job June 1. Her po­s­i­tion merges the po­s­i­tions of former dir­ect­or Tracy O’Drain and former com­mer­cial cor­ridor man­ager Michelle Feld­man. Both Feld­man and O’Drain left in the spring.

Wash­ing­ton began her new job dur­ing the last month of the CDC’s fisc­al year, which made tack­ling the group’s budget her first task. But what she hopes res­id­ents will no­tice about the CDC is that it will forge stronger al­li­ances in the neigh­bor­hood.

“There will be a lot more com­munity ties,” she said.

The free com­munity com­puter lab, which opened last year, will stay in place, she said, and North­east EPIC Stake­hold­ers, a non­profit set up to pro­mote com­munity in­volve­ment, will be headquartered at the CDC’s build­ing at 4900 Griscom St. The Frank­ford Neigh­bor­hood Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil’s of­fices are in the same build­ing.

The CDC will be work­ing with the City Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, she said.

Wash­ing­ton said she will host pro­grams with the Fin­an­cial Em­power­ment Cen­ter, a non­profit that helps res­id­ents with per­son­al fin­ances and con­ducts leg­al in­form­a­tion work­shops.

The CDC was set up to pro­mote hous­ing and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment in Frank­ford, Wash­ing­ton said dur­ing a June 26 in­ter­view at the CDC of­fices. Right now, the or­gan­iz­a­tion owns prop­er­ties on the 4600 and 4700 blocks of Griscom St., sev­er­al lots at the in­ter­sec­tion of Dit­man, Gilling­ham and Tack­awanna streets, and a prop­erty on the 4200 block of Penn St.

Wash­ing­ton wants to get those prop­er­ties sold or de­veloped for hous­ing. Part of the chal­lenge in do­ing that is that “Frank­ford, as a neigh­bor­hood, gets a bad repu­ta­tion,” she said. 

Wash­ing­ton, who was raised in Frank­ford, knows the neigh­bor­hood’s good and bad sides. She gradu­ated from Frank­ford High School be­fore go­ing to Temple Uni­versity for her un­der­gradu­ate de­gree in busi­ness and then her law de­gree. She’s worked as co­ordin­at­or for North­east EPIC Stake­hold­ers for three years, con­duct­ing monthly in­form­a­tion­al pro­grams first at Aria Health’s Frank­ford cam­pus and then at the Second Baptist Church of Frank­ford. She and Jason Dawkins, an aide to City Coun­cil­wo­man Maria Quinones Sanc­hez, formed the Frank­ford Parks Group to re­vital­ize a few small neigh­bor­hood parks. Wash­ing­ton had served as pres­id­ent.

She’s al­ways work­ing for Frank­ford and is not shy about it, said Dwight Leevy, com­munity de­vel­op­ment spe­cial­ist for the city’s De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices. “She’s the one who asks the ques­tions that get on every­body’s nerves.”

WHY NOT FRANK­FORD?

Frank­ford has its share of crime, va­cant prop­er­ties and lit­ter.

But people don’t real­ize Frank­ford has many as­sets, Wash­ing­ton said. It’s a neigh­bor­hood with good ac­cess to pub­lic trans­port­a­tion as well as bridges and high­ways. It has a com­mer­cial cor­ridor and reas­on­able real es­tate prices.

For ex­ample, Wash­ing­ton said the CDC hopes to sell its Penn Street prop­erty for about $50,000.

Real es­tate is a big plus in Frank­ford, Quinones Sanc­hez said in a June 20 in­ter­view. The neigh­bor­hood needs to at­tract de­velopers who could ren­ov­ate build­ings to provide af­ford­able hous­ing.

“There is so much that is pos­it­ive in this neigh­bor­hood,” Wash­ing­ton said.

Part of that, Quinones Sanc­hez said, is that Frank­ford has a sol­id col­lec­tion of stake­hold­ers that in­cludes charter schools and many churches. Sanc­hez has been spon­sor­ing façade im­prove­ments to the 4600 block of Frank­ford Ave. Wash­ing­ton said she is look­ing for­ward to see­ing that work con­tin­ue on the 4700 and 4800 blocks.

The CDC gets its funds from the city’s De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices as well as from “tax part­ners” Aria Health and Mc­Don­ald’s. For every dol­lar the hos­pit­al and the fast-food chain donate to the CDC, Wash­ing­ton said, they get a dol­lar in city tax cred­its.

Con­nec­tions, ex­per­i­ence and ad­vice are big factors, too. Wash­ing­ton said the CDC has got­ten help from the coun­cil­wo­man’s of­fice, the of­fice of state Rep. James Clay (D-179th dist.), the city’s Com­merce De­part­ment, man­aging dir­ect­or’s of­fice, vo­lun­teers and the city’s Of­fice of Hous­ing and Com­munity De­vel­op­ment.

Is there any one ma­ter­i­al thing that could help the CDC?

Two things, Wash­ing­ton said. If any­body could spare a couple of com­bin­a­tion copi­er-print­er-fax ma­chines, the CDC wouldn’t say no.

For more in­form­a­tion, call Wash­ing­ton at 215-743-6580. •• 

Lewis ‘couldn’t stay away’

North­east EPIC Stake­hold­er’s new co­ordin­at­or is  Char­lene Lewis, 48, a Frank­ford res­id­ent — “born and raised.”

She had worked at the Frank­ford Neigh­bor­hood Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil un­til Novem­ber 2012.

“But once you do this kind of work,” she said, “I couldn’t stay away.”

Lewis was ex­pec­ted to start her new job on Monday. She’ll keep hours three days a week at the CDC of­fices on the 4900 block of Griscom St. and work two days a week at the Ver­ree Road headquar­ters of Cath­ol­ic non­profit CORA, which spon­sors EPIC. Ex­act days and hours will be set later, she said.

Lewis suc­ceeds Kim­berly Wash­ing­ton, who has be­come ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Frank­ford Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion.

The North­east EPIC Stake­hold­ers bring help­ful in­form­a­tion to res­id­ents so they can im­prove their own lives and their neigh­bor­hood. Pro­grams at the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s monthly meet­ings over the past three years have ranged from edu­ca­tion, neigh­bor­hood safety and per­son­al fin­ances to art, leg­al is­sues and health care. 

At the June 27 meet­ing, at­tor­ney Steven Bar­rett said he will be con­duct­ing leg­al work­shops at the CDC of­fices on such top­ics as un­em­ploy­ment, prop­erty con­dem­na­tion, com­mer­cial leases and con­sumer pro­tec­tion.

Leslie Kauf­man, pres­id­ent of Phil­adelphia Sculptors, talked about a $335,000 grant the Phil­adelphia City Plan­ning Com­mis­sion got from Art­Place Amer­ica, a group of non­profit found­a­tions that have ban­ded to­geth­er to sup­port the arts na­tion­wide. Kauf­man said plans for “Des­tin­a­tion Frank­ford” in­clude a sculp­ture in Wom­rath Park at Kens­ing­ton and Frank­ford av­en­ues as well as street fur­niture and plant­ers. An­oth­er part of the pro­pos­al is to open a “pop-up store” in a yet-to-be-named va­cant Frank­ford Av­en­ue store to house artists and re­tail­ers.

North­east EPIC Stake­hold­ers’ two-hour ses­sions be­gin at 5:30 p.m., usu­ally on the last Thursday of the month, and are held in the base­ment of the Second Baptist Church of Frank­ford, Mead­ow and Mul­berry streets. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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