HACE’s New Community Room for Lehigh Avenue Apartments
J.Smith/ El Hispano
Philadelphia – Dr Martin Luther King’s “legacy of community service” was recalled by Maria N. Gonzalez, the President of the Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises (HACE), during ribbon cutting ceremonies, Monday, of a multifaceted Community Room in their Lehigh II Apartments at 2622 – 44 N. Lawrence Street, below Lehigh Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets.
Named the “Lowe’s Community Room at Lehigh II” in recognition of the contributions in supplies and materials for the rehabilitation of the 300 sq. ft. space made by Lowe’s hardware store at 3800 Aramingo Avenue, the community room offers a range of amenities, including a 50” flat-screen television, six computers and will eventually have books, films, magazines and other educational materials where Ms. Gonzalez said, nearly two hundred residents “can come to learn and play.”
“At HACE community service is not something we do once a year, it’s something we do all year round,” said Ms. Gonzalez, who went on to praise HACE’s staff, board members and volunteers who “support us in our mission for a prosperous community.”
As part of a $2 million rehabilitation to Lehigh Park Apartments I and its neighbor Lehigh Park Apartments II, that includes new elevators, a laundry room, security cameras and lighting, Property Manager David Gonzalez noted, “part of challenge is funding to make things happen.”
But in the case of this community room project, Mr. Gonzalez recollected an “old Spanish” saying he often heard growing up in a poor family from New York city, “querer es poder,” or the willing something and wanting it gives power. “So what you care about, that’s when you have to grab the bull by the horns and make such transformations possible.”
A Marine Veteran, Mr. Gonzalez additionally suggested that the “team” effort behind the creation of the community room resonated with lessons he learned in the military: “Without a team you can’t get anything done.” He added that it was the commitment of Lowe’s Manager Patrick Kirby and the “can do” attitude of Site Manager Frank Campos that made the ‘Lowe’s Community Room Lehigh II” a reality.
“We’re very fortunate at HACE to have a dedicated staff, board, volunteers and partners that support us in our mission,” said HACE Pres. Maria Gonzalez.
“The Community Room is amazing,” said Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, who has been instrumental in providing support from the city for similar development projects throughout her eastern-north Philadelphia district. “The place has a totally different feel to it,” she added. “It’s complementary to what we’re trying to accomplish across the street at Lehigh Park.”
The former President of HACE, Guillermo Salas, applauded the “difference” that HACE’s new community room would make in the lives of children and adults. “This is something that children will benefit from for a long time to come.”
Philadelphia Police Community Relations Officer in the 25th District, Ed Correa echoed the sentiment, that the “community involvement” of HACE was having a profound influence on a Lehigh Avenue neighborhood often referred to as the “Badlands.”
“The police can’t do it alone and we can’t arrest our way out of problems,” said Officer Correa.
‘We have a lot more to do,” said David Gonzalez, “and part of our mission is going to be focused in the next year to be to do a lot more with Lehigh I and we’re going to continue to do that and let nothing get in our way.
The Friends of the Free Library of Philadelphia, Barnes and Noble, Toys-R-Us and Wal-Mart also made contributions of supplies and equipment to refurbishing the Lehigh I and Lehigh II Developments.
Juvencio Gonzalez Joins Staff of Pennsylvania Senator Mike Stack
Philadelphia – Looking to better outreach efforts to a rapidly growing Latino community in the Philadelphia area and statewide, State Senator Michael Stack (D-Pa.) has tapped Juvencio Gonzalez to serve as a Legislative Aide and liaison with the Latino community.
A Media Consultant, Veteran U.S.M.C., and former advisor to Governor Bob Casey, Sen. Stack noted that Mr. Gonzalez is “highly respected” throughout the Hispanic community, and recalled working with Gonzalez on several issues, including a resolution on behalf of the Borinqueneers, 65th Infantry Regiment, the naming of a stretch of highway after Police Officer Brian Lorenzo and local job development.
“I noticed his relentless work ethic, a non-stop motor and drive to serve the people in our community,” Sen. Stack told El Hispano. ‘We’ve done a lot of outreach to the Latino community, but with Juvencio, I think we can accomplish a lot more.”
“I’m very excited” about the appointment, said the State Senator, adding that he anticipates Mr. Gonzalez will “really excel” not only in his role as a liaison with the local Latino community, but in “building bridges” with Latin American countries like Brazil, Chile and Mexico.
“He can have a large impact,” on a variety of other issues, including education, job development, and the needs of veterans.
Having already announced his candidacy for Lt. Governor, Sen. Stack’s appointment of Juvencio Gonzalez comes in the wake of a summer that witnessed demonstrations outside the Broad Street office of Gov. Tom Corbett. What were widely perceived as cavalier and dismissive remarks about the absence of any Latinos on his staff, prompted an immediate backlash from several community activist.
Philadelphia Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez praised Sen. Stack on the addition of Mr. Gonzalez as a recognition of the “value of diversity in his team.”
“Juvencio has a long history of providing constituent services for the city and state, and will be a valuable member of his team,” said Councilwoman Quinones Sanchez.
Not unlike former Gov. Bob Casey, who Mr. Gonzalez worked with in the early 1990s, Sen. Stack has a record as a staunch defender of labor and the rights of workers, most recently demanding Gov. Corbett and other local officials “take action” to forestall the closure of the former Nabisco/Kraft factory on Roosevelt Blvd., where more than 300 workers are slated to lose their jobs.
The Fifth District Senator has pushed for infrastructure investment, in a proposal that would provide funding for “crumbling” roads, bridges, and mass transit, and would create 60,000 jobs.
A critic of wasteful spending, Sen. Stack has also decried as a “fiasco” the Corbett administration’s spending on an effort to privatize the state lottery. Meanwhile, the Senator has also urged local electricity providers to delay electricity shut-offs, recognizing a brief interval can often allow customers to make timely payments.