State Sen. Art Haywood

State Sen. Art Haywood

by Sue Ann Rybak

State Sen. Art Haywood (D-4) told attendees at a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, April 28, that his priorities for this year’s legislative session include raising the minimum wage, reducing gun violence and ensuring fair and adequate funding for public schools.

More than 20 residents attended the meeting at the Corinthian Baptist Church of Germantown, 6100 N. 21st Street in Germantown.

“Last year’s budget impasse made it clear that significant citizen advocacy will be needed in order to make change in Harrisburg,” he said. “To that end, I’ve been encouraging citizens across the state to make their voices heard on critical issues through calls, letters and legislative office visits. At the same time, I want my neighbors to know that there are actions we can take here in the 4th District to improve our community. There are a number of things that only we can do for each other.”

Several residents voiced concerns about hearing gunfire at the corner of Norwood Street and West Godfrey Avenue.

One elderly woman told Haywood she was afraid to call the police because they often asked for her name and address. She added that when she does call 911, the police do not immediately respond.

Haywood encouraged residents to talk to the 35th District Police Captain and get involved with the neighborhood Town Watch in their area.

“If you see something, say something,” he said.

The Rev. Ronald King Hill, pastor of Corinthian Baptist Church, said a community meeting is scheduled at the church at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 5. He said representatives from the 35th Police District will be available to talk to residents about any questions or concerns they have.

Haywood said community involvement and participation is crucial to addressing crime, adult literacy and ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

“I am a solutions-oriented person, “he said. “The answers are in our community.”

Haywood said for the second year in a row his office is partnering with education advocates and other neighborhood partners to organize four READ! by 4th summer camps at the following locations in Northwest Philadelphia: Dorothy Emanuel Recreation Center, 8500 Pickering Ave. in Cedarbrook; Pleasant Recreation Center, 6720 Boyer Street in Mt. Airy; Finley Recreation Center, 7701 Mansfield Ave. in Cedarbrook, and Simons Recreation Center, 7200 Woolston Ave. in West Oak Lane.

The READ! by 4th program is a citywide effort coordinated by the Free Library of Philadelphia in collaboration with more than 50 partners at 100 sites across the city. The program’s goal is to increase the number of students in Philadelphia entering the 4th grade at reading level by 2020. The READ! by 4th programs are integrated into the four Northwest Recreation Centers neighborhood summer camps.

A retired Pre-K Philadelphia school teacher, who preferred not to give her name, said children in low-income neighborhoods often have illiterate parents, adding that to end the school-to-prison pipeline and increase literacy rates, the school district, public officials and politicians must work together to provide adults with opportunities to continue their education.

Hill agreed and praised Haywood for making himself accessible to his constituents.

Hill said despite Haywood’s hectic schedule he continues to provide people with opportunities to have their voices be heard and encourages them to join the conversation about issues that impact not only the state of Pennsylvania but individual communities.

“It’s unique for a politician to make himself available to constituents,” he said. “Senator Haywood continues to seek innovative and creative ways to address issues in the community. He has been very forthright about the need for community participation.”

“Everyone in our community can be a part of the changes we are trying to make,” Haywood said. “By shopping local, reading aloud to children and speaking up when we see suspicious activity, we can play a part in improving public safety, increasing literacy and building our local economy.”