Karen Coleman Honored at MLK Award Ceremony
On January 12th, Karen Coleman, Lisa Balkir, Larry Buchholz, Amanda So, and Ismael Bailey attended an award ceremony hosted by Covenant House Inc. In celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy, Covenant House honored community leaders who continues King’s legacy of Sacrifice and Service.
The ceremony was more than just a gathering of honorees, it was a moment of history. Among the attendees was one of the first children to come to Covenant House as well as many people who were delivered by the first CEO of Covenant House Inc. It was an honor to be surrounded by so many people that have watched Covenant House grow and who have continued to bring their children and grandchildren to be patients as well.
Hosted at the Wister Townhomes Community Room, there were around 50 people in attendance. 14 awards were given out to the following recipients:
- Jim and Linda Wilson (Mercy Truck)
The Wilsons created Mercy Truck Services exists to bring assistance and compassion to the community by providing groceries, hygiene products, giveaways for children, and other essentials to those who need it.
- Lisa Kramer, VP of Integrated Care (NET Centers)
Lisa has worked with children for over 22 years in the Behavioral Health field. She implemented evidence based practices and innovative new programs as well as identified data driven outcomes to better serve the community.
- Sheila Sanders Ford, Community Engagement Coordinator
- Sheila came to Philadelphia in search of freedom from addiction. Through NET Centers, she was able to overcome her addictions and eventually started her own organization, People About Change Recovery Housing. She now has joined NETs team as a peer specialist, where she assists and engages with those challenged with addiction.
- Gwendolyn Daniels
Gwendolyn has been a crossing guard for 19 years and a Foster Parent for over 30 years. She is a pillar of the community who always greets others with a smile. She was a foster parent to a sickle cell patient and now hosts an annual Christmas event for Sickle Cell patients. She is an Eastern Star and is affiliated with many other organizations.
- Better Tomorrow’s Magnify Opportunities
Their commitment has opened doors for many healthcare services like screenings, vaccinations, SCI/HIV testing, and education and prevention for youth. They elevate awareness and keep the community empowered and healthy.
- Sheron Robinson
Sheron is a long term patient of Covenant House who has always been a kind and welcoming pillar of the community. As of this year, she has been a correctional officer for 22 years.
- Annie Wen (Award received by her daughter, Tracy)
Annie is a long term patient and has assisted with many programs, such as the Get Set School Program. With her daughter Tracy, also a long term patient, she gathers the children in the community and gets them involved with community events. Annie has received many awards from organizations like Planned Parenthood and the United Progressives for Outstanding Involvement.
- Karen Coleman, CEO and President (Tabor Services, Inc)
Karen has been a social worker since 1986 and has a 30 year record of launching, directing, and managing large scale programs. She continues to create an environment that motivates people. Her success is shown through initiatives that exceed expectations and yields amazing outcomes.
- Luis Ramos Soto, Initiative Outreach Specialist (Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services)
Luis is an initiative outreach specialist for the homeless services unit and a respected community leader. He works with recovery support groups and peer mentorship, using his own experiences to guide the community. Luis’ dedication extends beyond support, it encompasses community awareness, inspiration, and a resounding call to action. He is the lead bilingual volunteer with ProAct and founded the Latinos Recovery Support Group. Luis continues to actively help unhoused individuals and those in recovery.
- James Williams, Peer Specialist (Award accepted by program partner)
Through his own experiences, James has become a certified peer specialist, a certified recovery specialist, and a veterans peer specialist. He serves the community in many roles and is very involved. He‘s part of the BHSI’s Access to Recovery program, the MHA Homeless to Home Program, and the Philadelphia Veterans Support. He works tirelessly as the city assistant manager to the Police diversity program and continues to be a beacon of hope throughout North Philly.
- Alex Peters, Project Manager (Opioids Response Unit for the City of Philadelphia)
In May of 2022, with Alex’s leadership, Philadelphia relaunched a wellness program that offers health and addictions services in Kensington. He is a beacon of hope by empowering and supporting the community through his services and dedication.
- Noah White
Noah has been involved in the community his entire life. He engages the community by building strong relationships and organizing community events. Noah created Soul to Soul Philly, a non profit that fights food insecurity and teaches culinary skills. He brings attention to social justice and creates bridges to engagement in the community while inspiring youth to become to agents of change. He recently joined the Office of Criminal Justice for the City of Philadelphia where he helps grow the Diversity Program’s ability to increase access to quality services.
- Angela Knox
Angela has been a patient of Covenant House for over 40 years. She was delivered by Dr. Alock in 1967 and is a part of a lineage of patients, with her children and grandchildren also being patients. She is well respected and many people in the community look up to her. Angela is a staple of the community and always comes out to support Covenant House’s events and last year was the guest speaker at their Juneteenth event.
- Brittney West
Brittney West has been a patient of Covenant House since she was born. Her mother, grandmother, and children are all patients of Covenant House. She remains active in the schools attended by her children and is a community support. An African Center school inspired her to help others which led her to her first project with a nursing home and also inspired her to help incarcerated men.
The Friday afternoon was a beautiful moment in Covenant House history where we were able to recognize and honor those in the community who truly make a difference. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for hope and service is continued through community leaders like those that were honored. Like him, they serve as an inspiration to the community to come together to work towards a better future for the community.