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Prominent members of Philadelphia’s government, nonprofit, and business sectors gathered on to the Main Campus of Community College of Philadelphia to welcome Single Stop USA.

Turning Community Service into a Family Affair

As a young man, Gilberto Gonzalez worked with his father, Teofilo, as he helped their Spring Garden neighbors settle into new housing. Father and son would help move furniture and make small repairs in the homes.

Those experiences embedded deep values in the younger Gonzalez that motivate him to continue to give of himself. “Whether it’s getting assistance for neighbors, connecting them with city services or getting food for their families — I try to do what I can, and people appreciate that,” said Gil, 49, now a graphic designer at Community College of Philadelphia.

On Nov. 22, Gonzalez found himself in the local spotlight, yet again, after he was named one of the Delaware Valley’s Most Influential Latinos for 2013 by the Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress, Impacto Latin Newspaper, and The Most Influential Latinos Foundation.

Gonzalez received the prestigious award during a black-tie gala with more than 500 guests at the National Museum of Jewish History on Independence Mall. WPVI-6ABC’s Walter Perez and news anchor Ilia Garcia of WUVP Univision served as co-hosts at the event, where Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., federal judge Nitza Quinones-Alejandro and Philadelphia managing director Richard Negrin were among the other honorees.

Though his list of community activities is too long to mention, many Philadelphians know Gil because he is an author of two books, a paint artist and, most recently, a documentarian whose film, “Cuentos,” a Spanish term for storytelling, documents the celebrated, yet often difficult, history of a Puerto Rican neighborhood in Philadelphia.

He also worked with world-champion handball player, Wally Amaro, to establish the Pennsylvania Handball Association and organize the first city-wide tournament.

When Gil was in his youth, his father worked as a locksmith for the College. Gil credits the creative faculty with shaping and guiding his artistic talents during his 19-year career. When he was ready for higher education, he began his path here. His son, Gilberto Kiati Gonzalez, later followed in his footsteps. His son is taking classes at the College while he pursues careers in physical therapy and nutrition.

“If the faculty had not cared about me as an artist, I would not have achieved a lot of what I have achieved,” said Gonzalez, who also hosts a weekly current affairs TV show, “Entre Nosotros” on CCPTV (Comcast53 – Fios21). “The College has played an integral role in my life.”

Philadelphia, PA. (Dec. 6, 2013)—On Saturday Community College of Philadelphia’s men’s basketball team will honor the life of a student and former player, Micah Fisher, who was killed November 9 by gunfire.

The College will retire Fisher’s number 11 Colonials team jersey and hold a moment of silence for him at the start of the 11 a.m. men’s basketball alumni game. The game will be played in the Athletic Center/Gymnasium on the west side of 17th Street between Spring Garden and Callowhill streets.

Fisher, 25, was taking classes at the College this semester, though he was no longer a member of the Colonials, the name of the men’s basketball team. He played on the team during the 2009-2010 and the 2010-2011 seasons. Philadelphia police said Fisher, an innocent bystander, was hit by gunfire during a dispute in the Hunting Park section of the city.

On December 7, basketball team alumni will gather for a moment of silence and the athletic director, Rogers Gipsy, will offer a remembrance. A replica of Fisher’s number 11 Colonials team jersey will be displayed and eventually encased and hung on a wall in the gymnasium, according to Anita Lewis, the administrative assistant who is helping to organize the event. Fisher’s family and friends have been invited, and his mother, Kasey of the Frankford section of the city, said she will attend.

Alumni games are held annually, but this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Colonials first state championship. Players from 20 years ago, including those who played in that first championship game, have been invited for an hour of basketball where they will play against former team mates and colleagues. The men’s basketball team has a 4-3 record for the current season.

The Lady Colonials (2-4) will also host an alumni game Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. Their game also will begin with a moment of silence honoring the memory of Nyesha “Woe” Whitney, 26, who was shot and killed in June 2009. Her number 13 Colonials jersey, which was retired the year she died, is displayed in the building.

During both the women’s and men’s alumni games, players will wear jerseys that reflect the team’s colors as they were 20 years ago. The women will wear headbands that bear Whitney’s “13”, and the men will wear headbands with Fisher’s “11”. The alumni games are expected to end shortly after noon. A regular basketball game will be held at 1 p.m. with the women playing against a team from Patrick Henry Community College in Virginia.

The College recently joined the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA.) Athletes competed in Region XIX this year as part of the Eastern Pennsylvania Athletic Conference (EPAC). The NJCAA is the national governing body for two-year college athletic programs nationwide. The men’s and women’s basketball, cross-country, tennis, and track and field teams have participated in structured conferences, regional tournaments, and national championships.

Larry Thi was a stand-out student at Community College of Philadelphia before transferring to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a scholarship worth up to $30,000 a year.

Now a UNC graduate and a high school teaching fellow with a nonprofit group called 12+, the scholar and alumnus last month came back to the place where his higher education career started, but this time he was looking for new tools to help inner city youth realize academic success.

Thi was among more than a dozen educators and advocates who attended a town-hall style information session for community leaders on November 19 in the Main Campus Pavilion. The workshop was part of an initiative that seeks to give Philadelphia’s influential teachers, mentors and community leaders, who we call Pathfinders, timely access to the latest information regarding changes to financial aid, admissions deadlines and scholarships.

In 2011, Thi was selected to receive the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, a national award given to outstanding community college students. The award helped fund his undergraduate degree in history at UNC Chapel Hill, which Thi received in May 2013.

Since August, Thi has taught high school students in Kensington through 12+, which seeks to serve students from the most impoverished sections of the city. His mission now is to empower students and provide a road map to college.

“My current duties as a 12+ Fellow include providing college access to students at Kensington Health Sciences Academy, cultivating a college-going culture and promoting academic achievement,” Thi said. “I facilitate workshops to equip students with necessary skills to succeed, advise students one-on-one, and operate multiple after school programs including Chess Club, ESL Club and Poetry Club.”

The Pathfinders workshop provided useful information, he said. “I attended a teacher-parent conference and the parent asked me about learning disability support services provided by universities and colleges for her son. Having attended the Pathfinders workshop, I informed the parent about the Center on Disability and certain accommodations and support that may be provided for her child,” Thi said.

At the November workshop, Samuel Hirsch, Ed.D., vice president for Student Affairs, discussed the broad range of support services available to new students at the College. The Pathfinders asked a lot of questions about Single Stop, a national initiative that is new to our College. It provides free and comprehensive social and financial services to students as part of an effort to foster economic security and support student retention.

Students around the nation have received an average of $2,000 in public benefits, services and tax credits through Single Stop USA. Community College of Philadelphia is the 16th College in the nation to launch Single Stop.

Jennifer Cardoso, of Philadelphia Academies, Inc., a nonprofit youth development organization that works with several district schools, said she came to learn more about the Single Stop initiative. “I knew about it but was interested in knowing more,” Cardoso said.

New market research has shown that the College’s enrollment is being driven in part by community influencers who convince prospective students to enroll. The Pathfinders initiative is designed to support them and create opportunities for them to gather and share new ideas.

For more information about Pathfinders, contact Diane Kae, manager, Student Outreach and Recruitment at dkae@ccp.edu.

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