North Light & Villanova: A match made in Manayunk.

North Light & Villanova: A match made in Manayunk.

The North Light Villanova Alliance (NOVAL) began in 2003, spearheaded by the late John Kelly and former Executive Director Irene Madrak.

NOVAL is an innovative partnership that couples the resources of a major university with the needs of a direct service, neighborhood based community center.

“A university is the perfect example of resources and minds at work,” says Meghan Dietzler, Director of Campus Ministry Local Service at Villanova. “We shouldn’t only be supporting ourselves.”

The NOVAL partnership touches all aspects of North Light’s programming and can benefit our students and families throughout all seasons of their lives.

Our Villanova volunteers work with our KidZone students, even during a pandemic, to offer educational and emotional support. NOVAL students also work with our children to teach them important life skills that they can carry with them, like when RUIBAL came to the facility to teach kids how to prepare quick and nutritious meals. The College of Nursing develops health-related programming to share with our students, from dental care to mindfulness.

The Villanova involvement doesn’t stop once a child ages out of KidZone. They are active participants in our College & Career Development programs, from college visits to assistance with applications and information about financial aid.

“The first time we did a college visit we had about 5 kids,” said Mary Beth Avioli, a North Light Board Member who is instrumental in the NOVAL relationship. “The last one we did before COVID was up to 60 kids. It was amazing!”

Villanova also supports our Emergency Services Program through food collection and donation. Whether it be the Greek Week canned goods drive or our holiday programs, the NOVAL partnership affects many members of our community. Last year, Villanova donated over 250 meals, from appetizers to desserts, to our program participants.

NOVAL isn’t just limited to our targeted services. Representatives from the Villanova College of Engineering have helped North Light with capital projects, like the HVAC system. Students from the School of Business are currently working with our strategic planning committee to fine tune the newest North Light Strategic Plan.

This relationship is truly reciprocal.

“NOVAL allows our students to get out into the community,” says Meghan. “They form that deeper connection with people outside of the University and bring that energy back to campus.”

“[It] redefined ‘service’ for me, says Katherine Dzwonczyk, a former NOVAL volunteer.  “Prior to this program, I often thought of ‘service’ solely as grand acts and big sacrifices. I had seldom interpreted ‘service’ as small acts, [like helping a student with their homework.] Spending time with the students each week was very impactful, as it encourages trust and promotes reliability in the developing relationship.”

As I See It: Jaret Lyons, Volunteer

Jaret Lyons, VP of Sales & Operations at Emerald Business Supply, and his wife set out to volunteer at 52 organizations in 52 weeks. From this goal, Mission:Possible was born. This was originally posted on LinkedIn after Jaret volunteered with us on May 24.

UPDATE! I’m excited to share the latest experience from my #missionpossible quest to volunteer at 52 organizations in 52 weeks. This was # 38 on my journey! Yesterday, I volunteered with North Light Community Center in their food pantry in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia. Twice a week, North Light provides both fresh & nonperishable food, as well as other grocery related items, to food insecure households.

This wonderful community service is done through a partnership with Philabundance, with funding from ShopRite and through the #GrocersAgainstHunger Program with the help of Acme Supermarket Roxborough, Target City Line, and Whole Foods Market Plymouth Meeting. Non-perishable items are donated from food drives from over 100 distinct individuals & organizations from the region.

Led by Executive Director Krista Wieder, North Light is also a place where children learn and play in a safe and nurturing environment, teens learn skills to prepare them for college and career opportunities as well as realize their full potential, and families and individuals in need receive critical assistance.

Thank you (and Happy 25th!) to Shontell Moman for coordinating my visit!

Schuylkill Center: Roxborough’s Backyard

Schuylkill Center: Roxborough’s Backyard

When you enter the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, it is easy to forget that you’re within city limits. Covering 340 acres, including 3 miles of hiking trails, it feels like you have been transported to another world, one without city buses, honking horns, and cracked sidewalks.

Founded in 1965, it is one of the oldest urban environmental education centers in the country, but many locals don’t know about the opportunities in their own backyard.

“We are a hidden gem in Philadelphia,” says Eduardo Duenas, Manager of School Programs at the Schuylkill Center. “It’s rare to have a privately owned but still public space. And it’s free!”

The Schuylkill Center operates in four main areas: environmental education, environmental art, land stewardship, and wildlife rehabilitation. The staff works to educate everyone from children to adults on not only the ecology of our own neighborhood, but our impact on the environment worldwide. They are also the facilitators of a true Manayunk/Roxborough experience: The Toad Detour!

Even though they offer their own summer camp at the facility, the staff at the Schuylkill Center will be regularly making the trek to North Light this summer, bringing along their love of nature and some creepy, crawly, and furry friends!

“We have a lot of exciting things planned for our time at North Light this summer,” says Eduardo. “We are going to be working with the students on everything from a garden revamp to climate change education.”

The programs will be tailored to the ages of the students, so no child will feel left out of the experience. Younger children will start by learning about different parts of a plant, while the older children will be getting their hands dirty alongside the staff to grow food, herbs, and even plant a pollinator garden.

“We want to teach the students that every little thing matters, something as small as turning off the water while you brush your teeth makes a big difference in the long run,” says Eduardo. “We want to educate this generation to be environmentally responsible adults. We want them to be ready for a changing future.”

To learn more about the Schuylkill Center for environmental education, visit their website. The North Light summer camp runs from June 28 to August 20. Spots are still available! To learn more and register, check out our website or contact Renee at rbanson@northlightcommunitycenter.org.

Pints for North Light 2020

Pints for North Light 2020

Pints for North Light 2020: the same great event with a 2020 twist!

Join your friends at North Light Community Center for a night under the Venice Island stars, featuring local brews, bites from some of your favorite Manayunk restaurants, and exciting auction items.

This year’s silent auction will take place entirely online. Take your chance and bid on great items from Philadelphia sports teams, local breweries, your favorite businesses, and more. Bidding begins on Thursday, November 12 and will close at noon on Friday, November 20. Winners will be contacted and contactless pickup will be arranged.

Feeling lucky? Grab a raffle ticket for a chance to win a case of Troegs limited-release holiday ale, Mad Elf. The lucky winner will be announced at the conclusion of the auctions on Friday and a contactless exchange will be arranged!

Early Bird Tickets are available until October 31st. Can’t join us in person but want to show your support? Grab a 100% tax-deductible “There in Spirit!” ticket and raise a glass to North Light from wherever you are.

Purchase tickets, enter our raffle, and bid on our auction items!

*Masks must be worn at all times while not eating and drinking. North Light will comply with all City of Philadelphia COVID regulations.*

Election Day 2020

Election Day 2020

Election Day 2020 is fast approaching!

On Tuesday, November 3, polling locations around the city will be open from 7AM to 8PM. North Light serves as the polling location for Ward 21, Divisions 6, 7, and 12.

Check out some frequently asked questions below to make your Election Day plan!

Where is my polling location?

Confirm your polling location here. Be sure that your name, polling location, and party are correct.

Can I vote early?

Yes. Check PhiladelphiaVotes for a list of satellite election offices that allow for in-person voting.

Do I have to vote in person?

No. The deadline to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot is Tuesday, October 27, 2020. Ballots can be requested through the Department of State.

Do I have to mail my ballot through the USPS?

No. Ballots can be dropped off at any of the satellite offices or you can drop your ballot into a ballot box at City Hall, Eastern State Penitentiary, or Riverview Place on Columbus Boulevard. Please check PhiladelphiaVotes for the exact location of ballot boxes.

Can I see a sample ballot?

Yes. Search here for the address at which you are registered to vote.

Where can I find more information about the candidates and issues?

While nothing can replace doing your own research from various sources, the Committee of Seventy is a non-partisan organization that encourages engagement and advocacy. They can provide you with information and resources to inform yourself before you cast your vote.