Phila. Auto and Parole mobilizes neighbors to help with distribution
When he started his non-profit initiative, three years ago, Jermaine Womack began reaching out to at-risk young people and providing them the auto repair skills that would enable them to avoid the pitfalls that marred his early adult years. While he is still able to work one-on-one with a few of his students, the restrictions imposed on contact because of Covid-19 he had to defer expansion of the auto instruction and further development of the community center he was creating at 5224 Woodland Avenue.
But as the door to that enterprise was abruptly closed, another door opened… the chance to distribute much-needed food to neighborhood families. The loss of jobs and layoffs in urban communities like Southwest has been far more devastating than elsewhere, for reasons that are well known. And given the high rates of unemployment and underemployment in the City, and the high incidence of food insecurity, the closing of schools where many children were given breakfast, lunch, and snacks had a disproportionately negative impact. Southwest, 19143 is still a “red zone” as far as basic food needs are concerned,” advised Womack.
Recognizing this and with the help of his wife, Chenice Rogers-Womack, sister Christina and sister-in-law Evelyn Mouzone, his Philadelphia Auto and Parole has a major new outreach in food distribution. They currently give out generous food parcels to local residents on the Woodland Avenue sidewalk in front of his business.
Cherise is available because of the Covid-19 limitations the operations of her popular children’s haven, Snuggles and Smile family daycare. “People may have felt some hesitation asking for food for the first time, but now they are simply appreciative for what we can provide.”
Maintaining strict social distancing is a requirement, and on hand to pass out free face masks where people need them is ward leader and community activist Greg Benjamin.
Assisting with the distribution itself is the dedicated quartet from Neighborhood United Against Drugs down the street, Joe Purnell, Hanna Bryant, Cristine Riddick and James.
From across the street came Pastor Goodson of the small but active Chosen Generation COGIC church who braves the traffic to bring food parcels to families who have to park on the west side of Woodland Avenue.
An unusual feature of the Woodland food programs is a supply of pet food provided by the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in cooperation with the Philadelphia No Kill Coalition. Standing by her table ready with a small supply of packaged dog and cat food, volunteer Emily Callaghan affirmed, “When food is needed for beloved pets, that need is desperate!” she affirmed.
To find out more about Womack’s organization, visit: wpps://philadelphiaautoandparole.org/
For information about Cherise’s children’s group email SnugglesandSmile.firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 267-269-0464