Blog: April 2010

Tuesday, April 20

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This Spring Break eight kids from the Southside After School Program,(Camp Freedom), headed west to the city of Angels with seven kids from the Eastside After School Program. One of the goals we have at Urban Promise is to establish community amongst our junior high school students where they begin to view one another as family rather than rival camps or neighborhoods. These trips over Spring Break are intended to do just that and the results were visible.

On Monday April 5th we arrived at Philadelphia International Airport bleary eyed (some of us propped up by a 4:30 a.m. visit to Dunkin Donuts for some much needed caffeine) to prepare for our early morning flight and for some of our students it was their first time on a plane-- a few kids even raised their arms to the sky as if they were on a roller coaster. Upon arrival at LAX we began what would become for many a trip of a lifetime.

We participated in many incredible activities while on our trip.  For some, the highlight may have been running into each other "NASCAR style" on the go-cart track or perhaps eating the same fast-food burger as their favorite athlete or celebrity at In-and-Out-Burger.  For others the highlight of the trip might have been the day at beautiful, but chilly, Lake Elsinore (water temps were frigid at best) where we all had a chance to ride a jet ski. Our fearless intern Chad logged 40 miles and
six straight hours driving everyone around the lake which gave everyone panoramic views of snow capped mountains in the distance-- a sight that none of the kids will ever forget.

The students were also able to visit the Nickelodeon Studies and saw where some of their favorite television shows are created. From "Fan Boy and Chum Chum" to "Dora the Explorer" we saw where it all happens.  I believe a few students realized that there is a way to make a career out of their artistic abilities.

No trip to California would be complete without a visit to Mickey's House.   It was an amazing thing to watch these kids enjoy the thrills of Space Mountain and the Tower of Terror, many of their hearts have yet to stop beating so fast from the excitement of the rides.  To be able to provide them with a few totally care-free hours of pure fun was wonderful.

Our trip concluded with a trip to Universal City Walk where the kids had fun walking, talking and shopping at the same places as their favorite celebrities, followed by a red-eye flight back to Philadelphia.  As I fell asleep I thought back on the fact that we brought fifteen students from Camden to the glitz and glamour of "Tinsel Town" and I remembered then and will never forget posing for pictures in the Hollywood Hills with the famed "Hollywood" sign on one side and the L.A. Skyline on the other  and thinking to myself that we had an amazing time-- watching kids enjoy the sights and sounds of Los Angeles all the while growing in friendship with one another and God-- A trip of a lifetime.

Saturday, April 17

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Friday, April 16

Fresh air, beautiful mountains, seeing the stars at night - we were definitely not in Camden anymore!  For Spring Break 2010 the fourth grade class of Rosedale AfterSchool Program at UrbanPromise ]Ministries enjoyed five days in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  One child asked while driving through the Smoky Mountains National Park - "Where are all the police?" This was only one of the many differences between the most dangerous city in America - Camden and the countryside of East Tennessee that the kids noticed.

The kids enjoyed hiking, horsebike riding, visiting a children's science museum, go kart riding, ice skating, and many more activities.  Some of these activities "Most of all, the kids enjoyed quality time with our group - the 12 hour van ride and hanging out at the cabin.  "I'm glad we could all be together," Irving, age 10, remarked when asked about his favorite part of the trip. There were many opportunities for conversations about life and faith that I know none of the kids will ever forget.

Our hearts are very grateful for the UrbanPromise sponsors who made this trip possible.  It was nice to have a trip where we didn't have to worry about money, but could enjoy ourselves and allow the kids to have a "family" vacation that they may have never experienced before. Thanks for giving our Camden kids the trip of a lifetime!

Friday, April 16

Link to article

Courier Post • Reader Submitted • April 5, 2010

Mount Laurel, NJ, March 30, 2010: This afternoon many Mount Laurel young athletes and their families hosted an Easter party for the UrbanPromise afterschool program at their facility in Pennsauken, New Jersey. The young athletes goal was try to provide support to some of the less fortunate children from Camden in an effort to allow them to flourish. Jackie Galaida, the events coordinator, said, “I think this will be valuable for our children to have the understanding that they have the power to help other children.”

In late February Jackie Galaida, a Mount Laurel mom, sent out an email to many of her children's friends parents saying, “Most of us saw the movie The Blind Side which showed how one teenager was able to flourish when given a safe and supportive environment. I'm amazed at how little our children understand how fortunate they are to have so many things they take for granted not just video games and vacations, but even things like a safe home and parents to support them.“ That is what prompted her with the idea to give back by hosting an Easter party.

The kids were involved every step of the way- from the initial meeting deciding what age/gender appropriate Easter basket items the kids would like to the Easter basket stuffing party, craft preparation and setting up for the party for the 25 children in the program. Fun was to be had by all and it was an excellent opportunity for the young athletes to meet and interact with the children from the school by playing freeze dance, bingo, face painting, crafts, egg races and of course many yummy snacks.

Jackie Galaida researched several programs and thought UrbanPromise was a good non-profit organization to help. Their mission is “to equip Camden's children and young adults with the skills necessary for academic achievement, life management, spiritual growth and Christian leadership.” You can learn more about UrbanPromise by visiting their website at They have their own private school for children in grades K-8. Although the annual cost per student is in excess of $7,500, the families only pay a small portion of this. They run an afterschool program for their private school, and 5 other afterschool programs for children throughout Camden. In addition, they have a high school for at risk students and a StreetLeader program where they hire area teens to work as a counselor, mentor, tutor, etc. for children in their after school and summer camp programs.

Mount Laurel's young athletes hope to host an Easter party again next year and maybe support UrbanPromise in other ways down the road.

Thursday, April 15


UrbanPromise School student Tatiana Davis, 12, of Camden, sands down a wooden sailboat she is helping build at the Camden Shipyard & Maritime Museum in the city. Davis was taking part in an after-school program.

By KEVIN CALLAHAN • Courier-Post Staff • April 15, 2010

CAMDEN — Holding a paper chili cup, Shakyra Howell was asked to bring over "the soup" to the

The 13-year-old student who attends the UrbanPromise School in East Camden smiled and
then she said, "it is epoxy."

Shakyra is among 10 middle school students in the UrbanPromise Waterfront South After School
Program who are building two wooden sailboats in the basement of the Camden Shipyard & Maritime Museum on Broadway in South Camden.

"I know if I can build a boat, if I have enough patience with this, I will have enough patience with
anything," said Shakyra, a Camden resident who wants to be a forensic scientist.

Tatiana Davis, another student at UrbanPromise, also said she felt this fun afterschool project will
help her. She plans on becoming a neonatologist.

"I like that this new experience will give me great opportunities when I am older," said Tatiana, a 12-year-old from Camden.

Last August, the afterschool program built three wooden rowboats and launched Faith, Hope and
Promise into the Cooper River.

"That was our first venture into boat building," said Jim Cummings, director of UrbanTrekkers, an
outdoor program of UrbanPromise.

It took six weeks of labor for six teens from this faith-based organization's UrbanTrekkers program
to build the three 12-foot-long rowboats.

"The kids worked from blueprints and they cut the plywood for the boats," Cummings said.

Now the students are building the two sailboats from kits. The 15-foot boats are double-ended with
a single sail in the middle. The boats are made of marine mahogany plywood.

The 10 students -- nine seventh- and eighth-graders and one sixth-grader -- started the project
in early October. They work in split shifts with five building on Monday and the other five building on Wednesday.

The boats are scheduled to be launched on July 10 at the Cooper River Yacht Club. Before the students sail the boats, they will attend an eight-day sailing class on the Cooper River.

Throughout the winter, the students -- six girls and four boys -- have been going to a classroom
session on sailing every Tuesday.

"They built little models and they race them down the rain gutters," Cummings said. "It helps them with the terminology of sailing and what are the different components of the sail."

The students have also been attending swim classes at the Boys and Girls Club in East Camden.

"We are consistently working as a team," said Bob Lehman, 62, a Haddonfield lawyer and one of four mentors for the students as they build the boats.

Charleston Clark, 12, a seventh-grader from Pennsauken, said he always wanted to own a boat
one day.

"I still dream about that," Charleston said, taking a break from working on one of the boats. "I still hope my dream comes true."

Reach Kevin Callahan at (856) 317-7821 or

Saturday, April 10


Join the UrbanPromise community today in celebrating the release of Bruce Main's powerful new book, Why Jesus Crossed the Road: Learning to Follow the Unconventional Travel Itinerary of a First-Century Carpenter and his Ragtag Group of Friends as they Hop Fences, Cross Borders, and Generally Go Where Most People Don’t.

Christian leaders, across the country, are heralding Main's new work as "daringly challenging", "gritty", “inspiring” and a "solidly theological" new way of understanding spiritual growth.

Main beckons readers to take up the call of Jesus and become "road crossing Christians"--people committed to crossing cultural, social and religious roads, turning these barriers into bridges for dramatic personal growth and social change.
Let's get the word out about Bruce's book!  Order a copy! Tell your friends!  Share it with your pastor or mission committee.

Click here to PREVIEW Chapter One

To discuss coordinating a "road crossing" Sunday with Bruce or a retreat for your church or Bible study call UrbanPromise's director of Church Relations, Jeri Alverez (856) 382-1864 or email

P.S. Click here to follow Bruce on Twitter.

Friday, April 2

Jerritt Clark Shares B-Day Wishes with UrbanPromise

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link to article

Thursday, April 1st
: Balloons hovered above the intimatesetting of LES's The Eldridge last night in celebration of photographer Jerritt Clark's birthday.

His birthday wish? To send 15 inner city children ages 11-14 from America’s Most Dangerous city- Camden, NJ, (2009 FBI Ranking) on a week long vacation to “The Happiest Place on Earth,” Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

In 2004, Clark left his comfortable living environment and upbringing to join UrbanPromise in Camden, NJ and "saw firsthand what these kids endure on a daily basis." Clark spent 13 weeks in Camden with the bright children of Urban Promise and helped make their goals a reality. He realized that UrbanPromise has one clear mission:to build a city of promise, one child at a time. Clark held this fundraiser, which featured a silent auction and raffle, to help fulfill his b-day wish of granting 15 wishes of 15 exceptional kids. Stellar.

I had the pleasure of meeting UrbanPromise President, Bruce Main, who launched the organization in 1988 as an outreach to children and teens in the city of Camden. It began with one summer camp of about 80 kids run out of a struggling Baptist Church, and has since grown to a multifaceted institution with a reputation of solidarity and success.

I also had the great fortune of chatting with Camp Spirit Site Director,Alberto Vega. Both he and his brother Tony, participated in various programs at UrbanPromise as children, graduated from college, and returned to

work full-time at UrbanPromise. As Main remarked, "It's amazing for the kids to have them as role models to look up to. You know, I used to pick them up since they were 5 years old to take them to camp. They went off to college and then returned to UrbanPromise." That is truly amazing and inspirational.

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