North Philadelphia woman calls on friends to serve seniors and veterans

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Saturday, February 4, 2023
North Philadelphia woman calls on friends to serve seniors and vets
Dr. Shirlana Dash was accustomed to cooking for a crowd. But a few years ago, she decided there was room for senior citizens and veterans at the table.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "Serving is in my heart. It's what my family has always done. It's what I do," said Dr. Shirlana Dash.

Dr. Dash has had a lot of roles between social worker, author, motivational speaker, and now, Chief Operating Officer of SELF, Incorporated, a human services agency. But through it all, she found room in her heart for seniors and veterans.

"In 2016, I saw a story on food insecurity and seniors, and it really troubled me," she said.

Dr. Dash was already used to cooking lots of food and hosting large family gatherings. But after her spark of inspiration, she decided to take her talents, and her friends, out into the world.

"The first place we went to was Opportunities Towers in North Philadelphia," she said. "It's a senior housing development. And we took about 30 volunteers."

Today, over four years later and with an official nonprofit in tow, "Dr. Dash and Friends" returned to that very location for an afternoon of food, gifts, and dancing.

"Sometimes, people tend to forget that we exist and that we like to do things and be recognized," said Dolores Biggs, a resident of Opportunities Towers. "The fact that Dr. Dash takes such time to do this work is a tremendous thing."

Dr. Dash and Friends has expanded with relatives doing similar work in Florida. Both groups offer community outreach every other month in their respective areas.

To learn more about the work they do, visit their website.

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