People's Emergency Center sees historic Hawthorne Hall as a very important piece to the revitalization of the University City community where it is located.
So, too, do residents of the surrounding neighborhoods along lower Lancaster Avenue -- Belmont, Mantua, Mill Creek, Saunders Park and West Powelton.
Wells Fargo Regional Foundation agrees.
And that's a good thing.
The foundation recently awarded PEC a $750,000 grant to help it transform Hawthorne Hall into the gateway to a more promising future for the Lancaster Avenue neighborhoods.
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"They made initial investments in a planning process that we put in place in 2004 that was also neighborhood-based, but it got to the point where we are now that we can, in my mind, really turn the corner and make Lancaster Avenue a prize and a jewel in the community," PEC President and CEO Farah Jimenez said.
The recent grant award represents half of Wells Fargo Regional Foundation's $1.5 million commitment to PEC's revitalization efforts, now largely focused on breathing life into Hawthorne Hall.
PEC ultimately hopes its efforts will not only attract business to Hawthorne Hall, but also to vacant storefronts along Lancaster Avenue in West Philadelphia.
A brick-laying ceremony was held Wednesday at Hawthorne Hall to celebrate the $750,000 implementation grant.
Now 40 years old, PEC provides housing to families at risk of becoming homeless. It has more than 240 housing units in University City, where it also serves as a community development engine.
The year-long "Make Your Mark" planning process that led to the $750,000 grant award included input from PEC residents and others living as their neighbors in the five University City neighborhoods over the past year.
"This investment that Wells Fargo Regional Foundation is making in PEC is going to let us be able to look back five years from now and see a real transformation." - Farah Jimenez, president and CEO of People's Emergency Center