Southeast PA Day of Hire for Childcare, 10.7.21

Southeast PA Day of Hire for Childcare

North Light is proud to participate in the Southeastern PA Early Childhood Coalition Day of Hire! Stop by North Light on Thursday, October 7, 2021 for a walk-in interview for all open positions. Check out our postings on the SEPA Day of Hire website!

Pints for North Light 2021

Join us on Thursday, November 18 for the 2021 Pints for North Light, presented by Manayunk Brewing Company! This year’s event will be held at The Nickels Building, the storied and beautiful home of Fat Lady Brewing Company.

For more information and to purchase tickets, head to our event website! You’ll be able to grab some Mad Elf raffle tickets and browse our exciting auction items.

Yoga: Fun for the whole family!

Yoga: Fun for the whole family!

Contributor: Natashja Rinaldo, Unity Yoga

Unity. That is the purpose of yoga; to connect our mind, body and breath. Yoga has so many
positive outcomes for our children! This summer North Light campers had such a terrific time in
yoga class; we moved our bodies in ways that felt good– we stretched, we danced, played and
breathed. Here are just a few reasons why you should keep doing yoga, all year long.

5 Benefits of Yoga for Children:

  1. Aids in Physical Development: Children are growing, and yoga helps them create
    an awareness of their bodies. It improves their balance/coordination, strengthens
    their muscles and increases flexibility. All of which can decrease the chance of
    bodily injury over time.
  2. Increases Emotional Regulation: Yoga teaches children discipline, which in turn
    helps to lessen negative behaviors. Breathing exercises practiced in yoga
    classes result in a calming of their nervous system too. This reduces feelings of
    anxiety and worry and improves overall well being.
  3. Improves Memory & Concentration: Yoga allows children to slow down and be
    mindful. It requires focused attention, which then translates to improving their
    ability to concentrate. Imagine how much this skill would assist them in school!
  4. Boosts Self-Esteem: Children gain a sense of confidence when they try a new
    posture. They feel empowered and it reinforces to them that they can do
  5. It’s FUN: Children’s yoga classes are often filled with games, catchy tunes,
    sensory toys and more. Yoga allows children to be joyful, silly and creative; all in
    the name of health and fun.

    Now, take a few mindful moments and give Miss Natashja’s 5-Finger Breathing Exercise a

    For more information about yoga for children, connect with our partners on
    Instagram: @unityyogaguru or @namaste.natashja.

    Have a happy, healthy & peaceful school year.

Pivoting Pathways: NLCC & Mental Health

Pivoting Pathways: NLCC and Mental Health

North Light has partnered with Pivoting Pathways and Northern Children’s Services to emphasize the importance of mental health and coping skills with our campers. Read on for more from Pivoting Pathways and stay tuned for information from Northern Children’s Services.

Kim Ochester, Pivoting Pathways

Pivoting Pathways offers “Traditional Services in Nontraditional Platforms” and has had the opportunity to get to know some of the kiddos here at North Light. Meeting with two different age groups weekly, we have created a curriculum around the specific targeted needs of these kiddos with the mission of providing essential tools and life skills that will help them throughout their life time.  This summer’s curriculum began with discussions about what the group would consist of, followed by conversations about the importance of emotional expression and emotional intelligence in a way which our groups can understand. We identified our coping skills (things we do to help us calm down when angry or upset) and challenged each other to try new ones that work for us. This past week we focused on anger being a feeling we all face, but must choose to work through in healthy ways so we don’t face negative consequences.  Pivoting Pathways realizes our kiddos are growing up in a challenging world and we want to help equip them with the skills to navigate these difficulties to the best of their abilities.  We often care for our physical health and forget to actively address our mental health, which can catch up with us and negatively impact us in the long run.  Pivoting Pathways is here to remind us that Mental Health Matters and to seek help and support in any time of need.

Here an activity we’ve done in group that you can try with your kiddos at home!

Take a deep breath to begin. 

5 – LOOK: Look around for 5 things that you can see, and say them out loud.

4 – FEEL: Pay attention to your body and think of 4 things that you can feel, and say them out loud.

3 – LISTEN: Listen for 3 sounds – Say them out loud.

2 – SMELL: Say two things you can smell – If you can’t smell anything at the moment or you can’t move, then name your 2 favorite smells.

1 – TASTE: Say one thing you can taste- if you can’t taste anything, then say your favorite thing to taste.

Take another deep breath to end.

This activity helps ground us (bring us back to the moment) so that we can regroup and move forward.

Important Numbers:
24/Hr Suicide Prevention and Crisis Intervention Service 215-686-4420
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK(8255)
Red Nacional de Prevenci’on del Suicidio 1-888-628-9454

For more information on Pivoting Pathways and how they can help you and your family, call Kim at 215-686-4420 or North Light at 215-483-4800.

2021 Annual Gala, Presented by Bryn Mawr Trust

2021 Virtual Gala, Presented by

Join North Light from May 14-21, 2021 for our Annual Gala! While we can’t be together in person again this year, we have a week of fun events planned for you!

Head to our event page to purchase dinner tickets and browse our exciting auction items!

Thursday, May 13 – Stroll the Street!
Come meet representatives from North Light Community Center at Manayunk Development Corporation’s Stroll the Street event! You’ll find us right at Canal View Park. Buy your Gala dinner tickets, check out some exciting silent auction items, and learn more about what NLCC has to offer!

Friday, May 14 – Official Gala Kickoff!
Our auction items are live! Get ready to bid on some exciting packages, including vacations, golf foursomes, and items from your favorite local restaurants! Don’t forget to buy your dinner tickets for a delicious meal from McShea’s in Narberth! Head to our Facebook page to learn how to make a Liberty Gin martini and don’t forget to check out their basket at our auction!

Monday, May 17 – Last Day to Order Your McShea’s Dinner!
Head to the event page to order your dinner. Open until noon today!

Tuesday, May 18 – Precious Places Video Premiere
The Precious Places Community History Project is a community oral history project inviting members of the Philadelphia region’s many neighborhoods to document the buildings, public spaces, parks, landmarks and other sites that hold the memories of our communities and define where we live. Precious Places teaches the video production process to participating groups, fostering projects authored by those who intimately know the featured neighborhoods.

Wednesday, May 19 – McShea’s Dinner Pick-Up at North Light
Stop by NLCC and pick up your delicious McShea’s dinner from 12PM-6PM.

Thursday, May 20 – Stroll the Street & McShea’s Dinner Pick-Up at North Light
Visit us one more time on Main Street and stop buy to purchase one of our limited-edition North Light t-shirts, with 100% of the price going back to the facility! It is also the last day to pick up your McShea’s dinner (12PM-6PM at North Light).

Friday, May 21 – Gala Ends!
Friday, May 21 is your last chance to bid on auction items! Auction closes that evening and winners will be contacted.
*Schedule of events subject to change.

As I See It: Diane, Food Pantry Volunteer

I’ve lived in the Roxborough/Manayunk area for most of my life. I even graduated from Roxborough High School! My son and his friends used to come to North Light to hang out and play basketball. It is a true community center.

I began volunteering at North Light about 5 years ago. I had come into talk to Theresa, the Office Manager, about something and saw how much work they were doing and offered to help. Steve, the manager of the food pantry at the time, asked me to come in to help with the books at first. As I worked with Steve and started learning more about the cupboard, he asked me to help with the deliveries of food. One day, it got so busy that he told me to handle the distribution. I’ve been here ever since!

While the food pantry is only open on Mondays and Fridays for a few hours, there’s so much work that goes on behind the scenes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the food pantry has had to adapt some of our work to accommodate social distancing. While we operated as a shopping model in the past, we are pre-bagging food for pick-up and giving out pre-ordered boxes of canned goods to people. We also began a delivery service for people who are unable to come to the facility, so we pack up food for 32 people and our delivery drivers come to take it to the people who need it. It’s a lot of work, but we manage to get it done. We try to get everything done as soon as possible because we know that sometimes this is the only food people will have in their house. I don’t want them to wait longer than they have to. No one should be worried about what they’re going to eat.

While our participants mainly come for the food, I know a lot of them also look forward to the social interaction. You can tell when someone is just excited to have the chance to laugh and joke with people, especially since we’re all spending so much time at home right now. I love getting to know the clients and learning more about them. It helps us personalize our work. If we know someone has children at home, we try to throw in some things we know they’ll like. Everyone deserves a treat!

I know what it’s like to go to bed hungry at night. Someone helped me then, and I’m helping people now. Paying it forward is my motivation for my work at North Light. If we aren’t there for them, who will be?

Our food pantry is open Monday and Friday afternoons. If you, or someone you know, is in need of food assistance, contact Shontell at If you’d like to volunteer with our food pantry, contact Renee at Volunteer opportunities are available on Mondays and Fridays.

MDC: Developing A Community

While you can’t be everything to everyone, the Manayunk Development Corporation (MDC) makes a good effort. To local businesses, MDC is a strong advocate for the development of the Main Street business district and beyond. To neighborhood residents, they’re the people who plan fun events like Stroll the Street and Arts Fest. To North Light, they are a long-term partner that is always advocating for and supporting our programs and participants.

The MDC formed in 1992 as a nonprofit corporation with a focus on the development of businesses as well as the community. MDC is responsible for the management, promotion, and positive development of the Manayunk business district. MDC works with other civic and community organizations in the Manayunk area to plan and implement programming and physical improvement projects of interest to both businesses and local residents. Right now, you’ll see their fun signs lining Main Street as the City of Philadelphia performs a full streetscape renovation (think new pedestrian lighting, crosswalks, and sidewalk bump outs). Don’t worry, your favorites are still open and a more walkable Main Street is on its way!

Have you laughed at these clever signs on Main Street? If so, you can thank MDC for that!

“We are grateful for the generous and collaborative support we received from both MDC and our Manayunk businesses. Many of our programs, particularly around the holidays, wouldn’t be successful without them. We consider it an honor to be a part of a community with a vibrant and active business corridor, thanks to MDC,” says Krista Wieder, Executive Director of North Light. For many years, MDC has been a strong partner for North Light. They offer monetary support, advertising and collaborative events and opportunities for the North Light community. Have you ever taken the Arts Fest shuttle? Chances are you were on a bus manned by North Light volunteers!

In partnership with MDC and other local organizations and businesses, NLCC distributed over 700 meals for Manayunk Meals & More!

“North Light Community Center is such a crucial asset to our community,” says Gwen McCauley, Executive Director of MDC. “We cherish and appreciate the partnership we’ve cultivated with them throughout the years, from the annual holiday meal program Manayunk Meals and More to running our shuttles during the Manayunk Arts Festival as a way for them to fundraise for their organization. We are always looking for more ways to partner with them.”

While COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in MDC’s event plans for another year, you’ll start to see a slow return to normalcy, beginning with Stroll the Street on May 6! Join your neighbors for drink specials, appetizer discounts, musicians, and local vendors along Main Street. Don’t forget to stop by the North Light table on May 13 and May 20!

As I See It: Renee Banson, NLCC Staff Member

Every time I’m out in the community and meet someone and tell them that I work at North Light, they always fondly say something such as, “I love North Light. If it wasn’t for North Light I don’t know where I’d be today. I grew up at North Light, when Mr. Willard was there.” The memories they recount are filled with mischievous but harmless deeds, funny incidents and how important North Light was to them and their family in general. And the best stories are from those young people who were taken under someone’s wing, kept on the right track and led to where they are today. Many of whom are college graduates or business owners who would never have made it there without our Teen Services having been mentored by someone…Mr. Keith, Mr. Willard or Irene to name a few. Just recently, a young woman received a full basketball scholarship to Millersville University, saying, “Mr. Keith taught me everything about basketball.”

The first time that I came to North Light, I met Irene Madrak, former Executive Director, for lunch and she showed me around as she told me about all the programs they provide for the community. She included the Childcare Programs, Teen Services, Holiday Programs, the Food Cupboard, open gym, recreational activities and the North Light Players.

I was not only impressed but it hit home hard.

I grew up in a very similar working class neighborhood that did not have anything like North Light. I realized that if we had, many of the young people in our neighborhood would not have fallen through the cracks or died young of drug related causes. I was filled with bittersweet emotions: admiration for all North Light did, but sadness for the revelation that very likely, my brother and others would still have been here if we had a neighborhood touchstone like North Light.

Now, having worked here for 6 years, I experience firsthand the direct positive effect we have on families. For example, our affordable childcare program is essential for the health and well-being of families struggling to make ends meet. I still remember clearly a few summers back when I told a woman that we offered financial aid. After I asked what her income was and told her what she would have to pay, she just started to cry, repeating, “I didn’t know how I was going to afford it, but I have to work and wasn’t sure what I was going to do.” She kept repeating the dollar amount I told her, saying “That’s for a week, for both children?” She thanked me profusely and kept saying how relieved she was.

One other day stands out when a mother came to pick up the Christmas gifts for her children from “Adopt a Family,” one of our long standing Holiday Programs. When I pointed to the gifts, she started thanking me repeatedly as she picked up a bag to take to her car. There were tears of joy as she shared that she recently was laid off and separated from her husband. Until she came to NLCC, she didn’t know how she was going to make Christmas happen for her family. This program demonstrates the generosity and caring of the families from our surrounding community who generously contributed to making a “Merry Christmas” for her and her children.

NLCC is full of examples that prove “It takes a village,” which is precisely why I love working here. It makes me happy to be among the wonderful people who help make our village not just work, but flourish.

 I truly believe that if every neighborhood had a North Light, many families would have a guiding light when it seems like there’s no place else to turn.

NLCC & Unity Recovery: Partners in Support

North Light Community Center focuses on the wholistic health of our community, but we know that we can’t make a difference alone.

In addition to the 40 million Americans living with mental health disorders, 22 million live with a substance use disorder. In Philadelphia alone, we lost 1150 lives to overdoses in 2019. North Light knows that having support for recovery is crucial to supporting our families. 

We are fortunate to only have to look down the street to find a partner in support: Unity Recovery.

Unity Recovery began as an idea after board member and co-founder Arielle Ashford participated in a recovery yoga class in 2016. In just four short years, it has grown to a dual location facility (their new location is opening at 106 Gay Street next month) that has served over 460,000 people since opening their doors.

“Unity knows that recovery happens in the community; and Manayunk is a great community for recovery,” says Adam Sledd, Recovery Support Director. “We can’t wait until we are able to welcome everyone into our new space!”

Unity, like North Light, believes that costs should not be a barrier to quality services. They operate on grant funding and all services are free of charge.  There is no need for insurance or even identification, as Unity is a low-barrier recovery community organization (RCO).

Offering comprehensive recovery support through individual peer support, group meetings, social events, outreach, and advocacy, Unity understands that recovery is driven by the individual. Unity’s digital recovery program, RecoveryLink, allows participants to create their own path in recovery, focusing on the social determinants of recovery, such as housing, education, finances, and life skills. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Unity was able to serve thousands of individuals through RecoveryLink, making sure that not even a global pandemic would get in the way of necessary recovery support. Included in that is employment, which can often be challenging for those in recovery or returning from incarceration. Unity also partners with Unity Yoga and Unity Taqueria to offer community recovery yoga and job opportunities to individuals who might have difficulty finding employment.

Even with their extensive reach, Unity is always looking to serve populations in need. In December 2020, Unity launched a Pregnancy and Postpartum Recovery (PPR) Program. Funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, the program is aimed to serve pregnant and postpartum mothers in their recovery from substance use. and mental health.  Programming, including workshops, all-recovery meetings, and one-to-one recovery support is delivered by peer recovery specialists who have lived experiences during the transformational time of becoming a mother while also focused on their recovery journey.

Beginning this Spring, representatives from Unity Recovery can be found at select Food Pantry dates. For immediate assistance, contact Unity Recovery directly at 267-748-2454.

For more information about how Unity Recovery can help you or a loved one, check out Unity Recovery or contact our Emergency Services Coordinator at 215-483-4800.

Alumni Spotlight: Renee Deas

My name is Renee Deas. Currently, I am a mental health therapist, a school clinician and and an Adjunct Professor. I attended North Light’s Summer Camp program when I was 11 years old. 

I participated in the co-ed basketball program  and any other program that resulted in me dedicating my time for community service. I became a Counselor-in-Training after I aged out of the Summer Camp program. While at Central High School, I used North Light as a resource to assist me with SAT prep and help with my homework.

I was intrigued by the Summer Career Exploration Program (SCEP) because of the career building skills I was taught, such as constructing a resume with very little work experience, interview readiness, and creating a cover letter. These are valuable skills that I did not receive from the high school I attended. 

I became a volunteer during my freshman year at college going into my sophomore year. North Light created the foundation for me to be successful in my careers. The skills I acquired earlier than my peers while being an active member of North Light’s programs have made me successful. 

My advice for young adults is to not take their time at North Light for granted. It is OK to have fun and interact with their peers. However, remember to be optimistic because when you focus on preparing yourself for the future, whatever skills you learn while at North Light you can use them later on in life.