Susan O'Hagan Marley (left), director of development, Face to Face Germantown, and Sherry Mischler, a former board member, Face to Face Germantown, show off their turkey hats at last year's Turkey Trot before the race held in the Wissahickon Valley Park. (Photo courtesy of Face to Face Germantown)

Susan O’Hagan Marley (left), director of development, Face to Face Germantown, and Sherry Mischler, a former board member, Face to Face Germantown, show off their turkey hats at last year’s Turkey Trot before the race held in the Wissahickon Valley Park. (Photo courtesy of Face to Face Germantown)

by Sue Ann Rybak

Before you gorge on turkey this Thanksgiving, trot on over to Forbidden Drive for Face to Face Germantown’s 23rd Annual Turkey Trot five-mile run and one-mile fun run/walk along the Wissahickon Creek in Fairmount Park.

Face to Face Germantown is a nonprofit human service organization dedicated to alleviating hunger and suffering by meeting the basic needs of those living in poverty.

All the proceeds from the Turkey Trot, which starts at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 26 (Thanksgiving morning) at Northwestern Avenue and Forbidden Drive, benefit and support the organization’s many social service programs, including a dining room that serves almost 800 people a week, a nurse-managed health center, a legal center, a social services center and a washeteria where people can take a hot shower and receive a new set of clothes. It also operates a children’s summer camp and after-school programs.

“Our motto is hospitality, mutuality and transformation,” said Susan O’Hagan Marley, director of development at Face to Face Germantown.“We welcome everybody here as though they were a member of our family,” she said. “At Face to Face each person knows they are truly valued, no matter what their challenges are. Many people here are not used to being looked in the eye. They are used to being invisible. By restoring their dignity and dealing with them as an equal, both of us are transformed.”

According to a 2012 Pew Research Initiative Report, “26 percent of East Germantown residents live in deep poverty,” which can be defined as a single person having an annual income of less than $5,700, or a family of four living on less than $11,700 a year.

O’Hagan Marley said a majority of Face to Face clients have physical or mental challenges that hinder them from navigating the health care system. She added that less than half of their clients have a high school diploma.

Noting that the annual Turkey Trot event is the organization’s biggest fund-raiser of the year, O’Hagan Marley said Pennsylvania’s budget impasse has negatively impacted many social service organizations and has increased the need for services at Face to Face Germantown, 109 E. Price St. in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.

She said one of the things that makes the organization unique is its holistic approach to meeting the needs of its clients.

“We offer services under one roof,” she said.

O’Hagan Marley said the dining room services often act as a gateway to other social services.

“People will often just come in to get a nice meal, but during conversation mention a problem they are having, and then a volunteer or staff member will suggest they see the nurse, social worker or lawyer across the hall,” she said.

O’Hagan Marley said that without the support of numerous organizations, schools and businesses like Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, Martin Elfant Inc, The Philadelphia Insurance Companies, Peco, Germantown Friends, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill and many other generous donors, Face to Face would have to close its doors.

She added that Face to Face Germantown’s Turkey Trot was a great way extend a family’s Thanksgiving table to those in need.

Registration for adults is $35 for the five-mile timed run or $35 for the one-mile fun run/walk. Children 12 and under are $10. All participants receive a dri-fit shirt. A post-race party will be held from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at MacGerks Pub and Grill, 528 S. Bethlehem Pike in Fort Washington.

For more information or to register for the Turkey Trot, go to register.chronotrack.com/r/15702 or call 215-849-0179. Participants can also register on the day of the race, beginning at 7 a.m., for $40.

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