PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- 6abc's Visions, hosted by anchor Rick Williams, celebrates stories of Black excellence in and around Philadelphia.
Mothers in Charge helping victims for more than 20 years
Dorothy Johnson-Speight started Mothers in Charge in 2003, two years after the murder of her son Khaaliq.
The goal was to create a space that supports victims' families. More than 20 years later, she is still working and her organization has spread to four more states across the country.
Sadly, the work of Mothers in Charge is more important than ever.
According to Philadelphia's Office of the Controller, homicides in Philadelphia spiked to a record number 562 in 2021. Gun violence took the lives of 474 people in 2022 and the number of gun licenses issued in the city spiked 600% in 2021.
Mothers in Charge offers counseling by meeting victim families where they are with a staff of mothers who have experienced similar grief.
They mentor youth groups and hope to influence the next generation to change the violence that currently plagues Philadelphia.
Mothers in Charge | Facebook | Instagram
Call 215-228-1718 for support and service.
Administrative Offices: 990 Spring Garden St, Suite 703, Philadelphia, PA 19123
Training site: 2839 Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19130
As I Plant This Seed mentors youth at The Tree House
When Ryan Harris was growing up in the heart of Hunting Park, the neighborhood was less than ideal for a young person.
But his parents and other adults kept him and his brother on a path toward success, and now he devotes his life to giving back.
The Tree House is a safe space for young people in that same neighborhood, and since 2012 Harris has been running a non-profit there.
With As I Plant This Seed, Harris heads up a mentoring program, activities, trips, and more for kids ages 7-17.
Even though he has a busy schedule with his job at Jefferson Hospital, he devotes almost all of his time to exposing the youth to people, places, and things that can expand their view of life beyond the neighborhood, and the possibilities for their lives.
The Tree House - As I Plant This Seed | Facebook | Instagram
3959 N. 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140
One Art Community Center is West Philly's hub for culture, creativity
One Art Community Center started as an idea and has bloomed into a reality.
It is a campus of culture and creativity in West Philadelphia.
Once a junkyard, the space has been cleaned and reinvented with a gigantic stage, murals and spaces designed for community.
Fruit trees have been planted and harvested on site to promote healthier eating.
They farm a small plot of land and have greenhouses featuring herbs and crops providing for the neighborhood.
As you walk the property, you can find chickens, ducks, a peacock and a horse.
The space is meant to be a resource for the neighborhood and a place to nurture the next generation.
One Art has also become a hub for small business owners to engage.
INI Collective is a curated shop featuring black and brown creators who have designed fashion, jewelry and art pieces.
Plant & People is a mother-daughter team that cultivates indoor and outdoor garden pieces and offer advice on how local Philadelphians can add a green space to their city space.
One Art Community Center | Facebook | Instagram
1431-39 North 52nd Street Philadelphia, PA 19131
Register for upcoming class 'It's a wrap: The art of adornment'
February 19 | 3-4 PM
INI Collective | Facebook | Instagram
1439 North 52nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19131
Plant & People | Facebook | Instagram
1431 North 52nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19131
After5 turns up the volume at new Black-owned recording studio
The audio engineer behind music that gets nods from the Grammys, top listings on the Billboard charts, and record sales that go gold and platinum is a young Temple grad named Ben Thomas.
He took an interest in music recording as a teen and built a studio in his mother's basement while growing up.
After graduating with a degree in entrepreneurship five years ago, he now owns a recording business in Kensington called After5 Studios.
While he works around the country with artists such as Lil Uzi Vert, he heads a team that runs sessions in Philly -- working with artists both new and seasoned, and recording podcasts and more.
After5 is also expanding into offering creative services and event spaces at the studio loft.
2628 Martha Street, Philadelphia, PA 19125
Local Pulitzer playwright James Ijames takes Fat Ham show to Broadway
The play is called Fat Ham and it's the story of 'Hamlet' only set in the American South with a Black family, a queer-focused narrative and a main character named Juicy.
It's the work of South Philly-based playwright James Ijames.
It was originally a digital production, shot on location in Virginia during the pandemic.
Ijames won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for the work in 2022. Fat Ham opens on Broadway in late March.
Fat Ham |Website | Facebook | Instagram
American Airlines Theater, starting March 21
227 West 42nd Street, New York, NY.
Blind, deaf athlete from Pottstown is on a journey to the Paralympics
One Pottstown man is proving that disabilities don't put athletes at a disadvantage.
24-year-old Marvin Pearson has set a goal of competing in the Paralympics, and the community has rallied behind him.
That goal, though, requires a lot of work.
"My team is locked in and ready to go," says Pearson, who hopes to compete in the 100 merger dash in the 2024 Paralympics in Paris.
Pearson is blind, but he wasn't always without sight. His sight loss began when he was in the second grade
An unexplained retina detachment caused Pearson to slowly lose his sight. Doctors still have no explanation for why it happened.
Later, Pearson also lost his hearing and received cochlear implants that now help him hear, even though he is deaf.
Even without sight, Pearson was a gifted athlete in football and track and field. He won a state championship in track and field as captain of the Overbook School for the Blind track team.
Pearson now hopes to accomplish another dream: winning gold for Team USA in the 2024 Summer Paralympics.
Pearson has six to nine months to perfect his speed and beat the competition in qualifiers.
But Pearson is up for the challenge because, even without sight, his vision is clear: to be a part of Team USA.
"It's not only the goal, it's what we're gonna succeed at," he said.
Basketball clinic aims to protect Philadelphia youth from gun violence
A basketball clinic in Philadelphia is serving as a safe haven from the violence playing out on their blocks.
The man behind "Shoot Basketballs, Not People" said he is working to protect city youth one basketball shot at a time.
Every Sunday, Gary Mills hosts about two dozen kids at the Germantown Friends School gym to shoot hoops.
"I just wanted to provide a safe space that I had for these children in Philadelphia," he said.
It's a lifesaver for 8th-grader Tameir Harris.
"My dad has recently been killed. It helped me here. Basketball has been a getaway for me," he said.
Coach Mills calls it a safe haven, but the kids it serves see it as an outlet from the emotional triggers of what's plaguing their blocks.
The program started 10 years ago and is free to kids.
Mills has funded the nonprofit on his own. The goal is to hopefully get help raising money to find a home for the nonprofit.
"We want to make sure this program is an outlet for kids to be themselves away from what's going on in the streets because some of its undeniable. Some of its unavoidable," said Mills.
So far, more than 2,000 children have been helped by the nonprofit.
The program is also featured in a local documentary, "Bad Things Happen in Philadelphia" that's backed by Sixers great Allen Iverson.
Meet Jamila Winder, MontCo's first Black female commissioner
Jamila Winder was sworn in as Montgomery County commissioner on the first day of Black History month, becoming the first African American woman in the county's history to serve on the board.
Winder was born in Philadelphia and moved with her family to East Norriton Township when she was 5; she's lived there ever since.
She served on the Norristown School Board and then the East Norriton Board of Supervisors, another first.
Winder fills the term left vacant by Dr. Val Arkoosh, named by Governor Josh Shapiro to be Pennsylvania's Secretary of Human Services.
Winder is not the only history-maker on the Montgomery County Commissioners Board. Just six years, County Commissioner Chair Kenneth Lawrence became the first Black person ever to serve on the county board.
Montgomery County Commissioners
6abc Philly Proud Black History Month honorees
6abc is Philly Proud to honor four honorees for their contributions to local media and displays of Black excellence in TV and radio brodcasting.
This year's honorees are former 6abc public affairs executive Linda Munich and the incredibly popular ex-Action News anchor Lisa Thomas-Laury and radio personalities Patty Jackson and Gary Shepherd.