February 6, 2019
David Chiles – Executive Director, Providence Center
Providence Center is a sponsored ministry of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.
Recently released statistics revealed that the poverty rate in the Fairhill section of North Philadelphia has risen to 61%. We are the economically poorest community in the United States’ poorest large city, and the poverty is getting worse.
Sophia, a former Teen Leader and now Providence Center’s Program Aid, describes what it can feel like growing up in Fairhill. “We’re in a really bad neighborhood where you’re exposed to a lot of stuff, just from walking down the block. I walk out of my house — there are drug dealers on the corner. I walk down the block — there’s prostitution. I get to the next corner — there’s someone shooting up. It’s a lot that you face when you walk out your door.”
The situation is a crisis, and Providence Center continues to challenge itself to find ways to bring joy and hope to the community. One of our core commitments is to welcome youth into the safety of our building and help them grow into people who have the power and spirit to transform their lives and community.
“I know a lot of kids would be influenced differently if they didn’t come to Providence Center,” Sophia says. “They wouldn’t have certain role models. If they weren’t coming here, what would they be doing? I feel like this job has taught me so much about making sure that other kids don’t have to go through the stuff that I had to go through. I’m not leaving the environment. Instead, I’m posting myself right in the middle of it and helping out my community, starting with the youth.”