Growing up in North Philadelphia, you’re probably thinking about it’s share of adversity and challenges — the stories that make the news and not so much in a positive way. But I want you to know a different story. The one where life isn’t always about the struggle but the beauty of it. Growing up in a single parent home didn’t mean lack of structure, nor role models or a hard life. My mother had the help and support of my grandmother and great-grandmother until their passing. I was blessed with aunts and an uncle who provided for me as well. If that didn’t seem like enough, I also had the support of my community — particularly those who were mothers, aunts, or care-givers. I was “village-raised”. I was rich!

I learned about the 4-H club from an elder, whom had an infinite love for her community. She would gather all the children at our neighborhood garden to teach us about planting, and taking care of the earth and harvesting our own food. She invited us into her home and taught us how to make deserts from scratch, and allowed us a safe space. We learned team-work, accountability, leadership, and being dependable and reliable. We competed in city horticultural competitions, and won! We had neighbors who taught us how to sow, how to count money at the corner store and water ice stand. I even learned what it meant to barter and buy goods on credit without the actual plastic. I now understand what it means to create community, faith, and most importantly unconditional love. I had elders that poured into my spirit, fed me when I was hungry, and protected me when I felt alone. I was village-raised, and proud! Rest in Power Ms. Hilda Armstrong.

In loving Memory of Eleanor Hamilton and Bonnie Luck Logan.

*Image credit to Meghan Puhr for Mural Arts Philadelphia Beacon Project

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