AnnaMarie Jones was living the suburban dream – happily married to a Rothman orthopedic surgeon, raising three kids in Radnor schools, and active in her church and community.
Life here was good.
The fact that her late father was Black and her mother is a first-generation white Sicilian American just wasn’t that big a deal.
Light-skinned, AnnaMarie has always been “white passing.”
She didn’t hide her biracial heritage; she just didn’t broadcast it.
Well, not anymore.
Broadcasting it – actually, podcasting it – is precisely what she’s doing.
She’s joined hands with Philly-based author, actor and journalist Daralyse Lyons, who’s also Biracial and multi-ethnic, to create The Demystifying Diversity Podcast. The point: to shine an empathetic light on the many faces of “otherness” – including their own.
We sat down with AnnaMarie to ask her about passing for white on the Main Line and why she’s become so vocal about race.
Growing up in Manalapan, NJ, AnnaMarie George “didn’t pay much attention” to her African American side. “It was just easier to live in my whiteness,” she says. “It was all about wanting to be accepted.”
Her brother who “looked more ethnic” was more vocal about being biracial and “got flack for it,” she recalls.
AnnaMarie was following her late father’s lead. Don’t make waves, Ernest James George would say.
Although in his youth, George had made plenty. He had marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. and was trained in nonviolent resistance. One lesson: spit on one another to learn how to be nonreactive. Notably, his cousin, Sammy Younge – shot and killed for using a white bathroom in 1966 – was mentioned by name in the speech King’s grandson gave during the 2020 March on Washington.
AnnaMarie’s father was proud of his civil rights work but when he moved to New Jersey from the segregated South, “he just wanted to blend … I think he was tired,” she says. “He wanted life to be easy for me and my brother … We didn’t grow up in our home really discussing race.”
Instead, AnnaMarie’s father channeled his activism into a life of service: first, with the U.S. Army, then as a teacher, then as a restaurant owner. In poverty-challenged Long Branch, NJ, George subsidized hot meals for local kids and co-founded a Ronald McDonald House. The town’s community service award still bears his name.
AnnaMarie traces the roots of her own racial awakening to her time as a middle-school teacher, when she challenged her students to explore the stereotyping and hate that led to the Holocaust.
She only became fully awake, she says, after she married hand surgeon and Jefferson med school professor Chris Jones, “a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant hetero-normative male who couldn’t be more supportive of the DEI [Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) work I’m doing.”
The Joneses settled in Wayne, where her comfortable life, over time, became increasingly uncomfortable.
“As a light-skin woman, I experience zero racism toward me,” AnnaMarie says. Instead, she has experienced it indirectly, when friends and acquaintances have made unthinking, racially-tinged comments about others in her presence, often passed off as jokes.
There’s the country club’s token Black.
Wouldn’t it be funny if all Black people went to a white party dressing in white?
“The person making the comments always assumes everyone in the room is cool with it because we all look alike,” she says.
At first, AnnaMarie would stay silent, wanting to fit in. “I was forced to swallow my feelings in the moment. It’s really difficult.”
Even in her own home, at dinner parties she hosted, guests have said hurtful things.
The “micro-aggressions” – comments, jokes and innuendos – “really cut deep over time,” she says.
Eventually, they boiled over.
AnneMarie started standing up and speaking out, sometimes perhaps too passionately.
“I’m looked at as a rabble rouser … because I’m not afraid to rock the boat. I’ve lost many friends because of it. When you’ve been forced to swallow things for so long, you come out feeling very powerful and sometimes it can be too much.”
She’s working to find a “happy medium” when she confronts people, she says, and hopes to start a constructive dialogue rather than shame. Still, she says she feels compelled “to say my piece in order to feel at peace.”
In the last few years, AnnaMarie’s words have blossomed into action, a TV show, and now, a podcast.
“Passion and fire fuel activism,” she says. “For me, that passion comes from knowing that I have the same blood coursing through my veins as ancestral slaves and activists. Many years after slavery ended, members of my own beautiful, talented intelligent family were not afforded the same housing, education and job opportunities as whites because hundreds of years later they were still deemed inferior.” She says “being around people in my town who don’t care about that is heartbreaking. That’s what I think we need to help change.”
AnnaMarie’s racial justice work began four years ago, when she sponsored a 17-year-old Congolese orphan refugee, Samuel Cyubahiro, helping him settle into life with her church’s rector (Joseph Smith, rector of St. Mary’s in Wayne) and graduate from Radnor High School.
Samuel’s journey moved her so much she decided to write a book about it.
As luck would have it, she asked author Daralyse Lyons to be her writing coach.
AnnaMarie recalls asking Dara: “Are you biracial? I am, too, and I know you can’t tell.”
With that, the two became fast friends.
“It’s rare to meet someone who’s biracial who also self-identifies that way,” says Dara. “The tendency is to identify as one race or another so to meet someone who embraces all elements of themselves was special. I felt we really hit it off on that level.”
First, AnnaMarie asked Daralyse to be a guest on “Community Voices,” her Main Line Network, public-access TV show that spotlights good works. The two discussed, I’m Mixed, a children’s book Dara wrote under the pseudonym Maggy Williams.
The book about Samuel was tabled; they’d create a podcast first.
In preparation for its September launch, they interviewed 128 people.
On the Main Line, they spoke to immigrants who’d struggled to fit in: Ecuadoran-born yoga teacher Veronica Fitzgerald and Hahn Bui, a Bryn Mawr periodontist from Vietnam. They talked to Radnor Police Chief Chris Flanagan about racial equity and de-escalation training.
Farther afield, they interviewed Holocaust survivors, Muslims, the incarcerated, members of the LBGTQ+ community (Dara herself is sexually fluid) and people who’d experienced body-size discrimination.
They asked their own moms to open up about raising biracial kids. They talked racial justice advocacy with Penn professor and equity advocate Howard Stevenson whose brother wrote Just Mercy.
And for the very last episode, Dara interviewed AnnaMarie and Chris Jones about their mixed marriage.
In the transcript, Chris says his life with a bi-racial woman “really opened my eyes to white male privilege.”
AnnaMaria talks about how much she appreciates that “my husband embraces my biraciality and loves spending time with my [New Orleans] family. He’s always open to learning about others.”
A year ago, Dara and AnnaMarie joked that they’d be happy if the Demystifying Diversity Podcast had 100 listeners.
In today’s climate – even amid competing issues like the pandemic and economic insecurity – it has thousands.
And while she believes the Main Line is waking up to these issues and applauds the June protests along Lancaster Ave., what AnnaMarie says she really hopes is that “we all develop stick-to-it-iveness. The fight to dismantle systemic racism and create equity for all … is a marathon and will take more than one march down the Main Line.”
The Demystifying Diversity Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.
Slow starting, Lascala’s Fire in Villanova should catch fire
Let’s see: Maia, Mixx, Avenue Kitchen, Main & Vine and now, LaScala’s Fire. Five restaurants in 13 years in the same Villanova Center spot. Here’s hoping Number Five sticks around a while.
Early signs are promising.
LaScala’s fires up tasty fare, portions are ample, and sauces, breads and dressings are all made in house. It’s like Nonna’s South Philly kitchen teleported to the middle of the Main Line.
Prices aren’t a tough swallow either – good news for budget-conscious denizens of nearby Nova Nation.
The menu is play-It-safe Italian but executed with aplomb.
The tried-and-trues are all here: Chicken Parm ($18), Caesar Salad ($9) and Margarita Pizza ($13). Plus, there’s trendier fare like a Crispy Artichoke app ($11), truffle fries ($17), and beet salad ($10).
The menu is mammoth: 21 apps, 10 salads, 22 entrées, 15 wood-fired pizzas and eight panini/stromboli.
We visited twice, lapped up what we could, and took the rest home. Our faves: the Meatball Trio ($12), the Brussels Sprouts ($12), LaScala Chopped Salad ($13), the Gnocchi ($16) and the Wild Mushroom Truffle Pizza ($15).
The kitchen is “free-flowing” which means food arrives at your table subito – as soon as it’s made.
While the ravioli may remind you of Grandmom’s, the décor won’t. With a sea of white with black iron fixtures and earthen accents, the vibe is more Restoration Hardware than East Passyunk.
A giant outdoor atrium is reportedly planned out front for all-weather dining. (Repeated efforts to get details from landlord Provco went unanswered.)
Owner is industry veteran Rob LaScala, who tells us he has a hand in 25 restaurants and pizzerias in Philly and South Jersey. Villanova is the third LaScala’s Fire, his newest concept.
The place opened quietly last month. LaScala says he likes to fly his new places under the radar until the staff finds its footing.
Does the pandemic scare him? Not at all. “Once you come here, you’re coming back,” LaScala says.
Guy’s got cojones, that’s for sure.
Our Covid safety score: A. Outdoor tables with heaters. Indoor tables are widely spaced and ceilings are high.
LaScala’s Fire, Villanova Center, 789 E. Lancaster Ave., 484-383-3339, [email protected], is open daily for indoor/outdoor seating and pickup.
Upscale Chinese restaurant DanDan heads to Suburban Square
After five years, signs of life in the old Parlor/Saint James space in Suburban Square.
A third DanDan will open in spring, owner Cat Huang tells SAVVY.
Huang and her husband Kevin chose Ardmore because so many customers in Wayne were driving in from Ardmore. Plus, Suburban Square is halfway between DanDans in Center City and Wayne, making it easier to shuttle food and staff between the three.
Another lure: the Square’s new garage and 15-minute parking for pickup orders in the courtyard.
DanDan has thrived during Covid. “Our food travels well and so many new people found us,” Huang says. But while volume is up, delivery services like Caviar and Door Dash have cut into profits, she says.
The Huangs, who live in Devon, are from Taiwan but met as college students at St. Joe’s.
Details of the new restaurant are TBA but Huang offers hints: a slightly more upscale vibe with booths and a private dining room, possibly sheathed in glass, in the skylit center.
Yummy new details on Lola’s Garden, a transformative project for Suburban Square
We’re loving the look and sound of Lola’s Garden, the indoor-outdoor restaurant & lounge slated to open in the Suburban Square courtyard in April.
Indoors, Lola’s has signed for the old Kate Spade and Jack Wills spaces. (See blue doors below).
Outside, it’s putting 120 seats under a trellised patio opposite Sephora. Look for all-season greenhouse-like spaces, heated and covered.
Operator will be FCM Hospitality, proprietor of Philly’s Morgan’s Pier, Parks on Tap, Juno, Rosey’s Taco Bar and others.
Lola’s menu will blend the casual eats of Morgan’s Pier with the local and seasonally inspired plates served at Harper’s Garden. Also on tap: local craft beers, an all PA wine list, handcrafted and batch cocktails.
Count on an eclectic garden vibe with upcycled natural materials and found objects – in the vein, perhaps, of Terrain.
Leading the design himself will be FCM’s owner and Main Line native Avram Hornik, who was raised in a kosher home in Merion Station.
Why Lola? Is Hornik a Barry Manilow fan, perhaps? Not exactly. “We used to spend summers going to shows at the Mann Music Center,” Hornik tells SAVVY. “One of the first shows I remember seeing was The Kinks. Their song ‘Lola’ always reminds me of those summers.”
Hornik says he’s pumped for the Square’s new “energy” and “exciting changes,” including the new rail station and apartments.
In his 20s, he’d hoped to put a small coffee kiosk in the precise spot where Lola’s will bloom.
Thirty years later, he’s back and dreaming big.
Covid closure: Christopher’s in Malvern
After six years, Christopher’s has reluctantly called it quits in Malvern.
Owner Molly Todd blames “empty business parks in the area” and says her lease was not up for renewal.
She thanks “other business owners, Malvern borough staff and the community” for being “so supportive” during the six years she and husband Chris Todd operated in Eastside Flats on King Street. Her Wayne restaurant isn’t going anywhere and the Todds look forward to seeing Malvern faces on North Wayne Ave.
Suddenly, Sandler sightings everywhere
The Main Line is going mad for Adam Sandler – and vice-versa. In the Philly area to film the Netflix movie, Hustle, Sandler and his baggy shorts have been spotted up and down the Pike.
He visited Handel’s Ice Cream in Berwyn on Oct. 2 and returned this past Monday night, Oct. 19.
Handels’ employee Alexander Hallam took this selfie after Sandler was served a double scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough in a cup on Oct. 2.
Hallam says Sandler and actor Jonathan Loughran approached the window without masks and when informed of store policy, apologized and put them on. “He was very kind and easygoing,” Hallam tells SAVVY. “Even as I cleaned the counters outside that night, he rolled down his window and wished me a good night before he drove off. It was surreal.”
And Lily Henderson snapped this pic with Sandler Monday night after serving him a double chocolate with rainbow sprinkles and hot fudge.
Sanders also stopped by Savona in Gulph Mills.
He bought a guitar and an amp at George’s Music in Berwyn.
And he had dinner at DanDan in Wayne with a group of eight, dining outside.
“I didn’t want to bother him at first,” owner Cat Huang tells SAVVY. “But he was one of the nicest guys.”
She was concerned when he ordered wonton soup because it has pork dumpling. “I knew he was Jewish and didn’t eat pork.” So she had the kitchen rustle up chicken dumplings from scratch and Sandler was appreciative. When he chose chicken fried rice – when he could have ordered one of DanDan’s more exotic dishes – he seemed sheepish. “Please don’t yell at me,” he joked with Huang. “He gave me a fist bump for the great food and said he’d be back.” By then, Huang says the parking lot was packed with people looking for Sandler – word traveled fast – and Sandler & Co. made a quick exit.
The Hustle movie crew of about 100 is reportedly staying in a Covid bubble at the Marrriott Residence Inn in Conshohocken. Filming moves to Coatesville High School Oct. 26 for at least a week.
There are unconfirmed reports Sandler is staying at a home in Gladywne that he may or may not own.
What can be confirmed is that Sandler has been a mensch, which is his reputation. He willingly poses for pics and seems genuinely happy to chat with fans.
In a timely choice, Give T/E backs Berwyn first responders
Gather scores of women in a bar – or on Zoom (above) – and change the world. Or at least our small corner of it.
Members of a new group, Give T/E, meet twice a year (pre-Covid, over cocktails), listen to five-minute pitches from local nonprofits, then vote on a winner. Each member writes a $100 check to the chosen nonprofit on the spot, amplifying impact.
At the group’s inaugural meeting, more than $12,000 went to Chesco’s Community Volunteers in Medicine.
And this fall, the meeting moved to Zoom and chose Berwyn Fire Company, which plans to use the donation to support fire, rescue and EMS services and buy Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). The group was won over by a video that showed a grateful Seth and Jen Sirover of Chesterbrook recounting how Berwyn Fire Co.’s EMS team saved Seth’s life with a speedy response and an AED.
Care to join their next meeting March 9? Sign up online.
Berwyn’s Widger family and Elwyn open unique group home, Clark’s Manor
Clark Widger, a former Conestoga athlete with chronic mental illness, has come home. And he – and his family – couldn’t be happier.
After four years at a similar program in Massachusetts, Widger, 37, is settling into life in a lovely 10,000 sq. ft. home off N. Providence Rd. in Media that bears his name – Clark’s Manor.
And he’s ready for company.
Funded by the Widger Family Foundation and run by Elwyn, the nonprofit behavioral health giant down the road, Clark’s Manor is a unique “milieu” style program, designed as a safe haven for adults with chronic mental health challenges.
Residents live together as a family. They spend their days out in the community – working, taking classes, exercising, going to doctor’s appointments – and return home to have dinner together.
Clark Widger is the first resident and there’s room for seven more in the refurbished stone estate on four acres. His mother, Barbara, took a lead in redesigning the home for comfort and privacy.
The program is geared to adults who are stable and committed to their treatment but need extra support. Staff are all master’s trained clinicians. They don’t live on site but are there 24/7 to help residents be as successful and productive as possible.
“It’s like having a life coach with you on a daily basis to give you that extra nudge,” says Elwyn VP of Advancement Meg Kraftson. Shifts overlap by as much as two hours to ensure continuity of support.
Clark had great success in collaborative living at Wild Acre, an innovator in the Boston area – working part-time, taking art classes at BU, going to the gym and skateboarding.
But Boston’s not around the corner and his parents and sister – Charles, Barbara and Ashley Widger – were determined to replicate the program closer to their Berwyn home.
“There’s nothing like this in the tri-state area,” Kraftson says. “There was a big void between Massachusetts and Baltimore.”
Developed after consulting Penn Medicine and Main Line Health, Clark’s Manor is a “small, unique and highly individualized program,” she says. “But for the people who have this kind of need, it can be life-changing.”
The staff helps residents find personalized opportunities in the community – not just one-size-fits-all list. For Clark, that meant finding art classes (online for now), skateboarding routes and comic book stores, with more to come post-pandemic.
“He’s over the moon to be here and proud to be part of something that he hopes can help other people as well,” says Kraftson.
Clark’s father, Chuck Widger, is the leading benefactor of the Villanova Charles Widger School of Law and the founder of Brinker Capital, a leading investment firm in Berwyn.
The Widger Family Foundation bought the Media estate and is committed to Clark’s Manor in perpetuity.
Families interested in learning more about Clark’s Manor are invited to contact Art Fastman, Director of Operations, at [email protected] or call 610-675-7669.
Everybody agrees: Nobody likes a bully …
…but here’s what’s tougher for kids to understand: the difference between bullying and teasing.
That’s why St. Norbert School counselor and Berwyn resident Jennifer Licate (above) wrote “He’s Not Just Teasing,” a new chapter book geared to ages 9 to 12.
A quick read about Malcolm who’s being bullied by Joe, the book is perfect for parents to share with children and counselors and teachers to read in classrooms. (A teacher’s activity guide is available.)
Licate says one of every five U.S. students ages 12 to 18 reports being bullied. ‘I’ve worked in public and Catholic schools and, sadly, I see it everywhere,” she says.
Bullying can put kids on a “downward spiral,” at increased risk of depression, academic problems and suicide-related behaviors, she says.
According to Licate, girls often get targeted for acting babyish, getting upset easily or dressing differently. Boys who are small or less athletic are picked on more, she says.
Sometimes bullies have been bullied themselves or they’re insecure or narcissistic.
Malcolm’s story explains self-advocacy and explores ways to get along better with others.
He’s Not Just Teasing ($12.95 in paperback) is available at Boys Town Press, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Resigned to getting a disease that ‘runs in your family’? This Wayne business isn’t buying it
When is a health-food store not a health food store? When it’s Solutions 4 Health.
No cookie-cutter bromides and vitamins here. Instead, count on cutting edge, customized answers for whatever ails you.
Or might ail you one day, if you don’t watch it.
A mainstay in Gateway Shopping Center for 26 years, Solutions 4 Health is more of a retail clinic than a simple store. Consultations are free – call, contact them online, or walk right in.
Founder Chris Conway and on-staff functional nutritionist Jaqueline Maganas are backed up by reams of research and two MDs – a cardio-thoracic surgeon/integrative physician and a holistic oncologist/hematologist. Conway and Maganas do the legwork so you don’t have to.
“The core of our business is information,” Conway says.
Clients scared away by the fees charged by functional medicine physicians often try Solutions 4 Health first, he says.
In addition to health coaching, Conway and Maganas can order bloodwork, stool testing for gut microbiomes, saliva tests for hormone balancing and food sensitivity tests. Tests “get to the root of the issue instead of just living with it,” Maganas says.
Throughout the pandemic, Solutions has soared.
Sure, there are folks coming in with COVID worries. But more than that, people are waking up to the fact that their genes aren’t necessarily their destinies, according to Conway. They’re taking care of aging parents with chronic disease like Parkinson’s or dementia and don’t want to get those diseases themselves.
According to Conway, current research shows genetics only account for 10 to 20 percent of chronic disease and cancers. The rest – up to 90 percent – is up to us: how we eat and drink, exercise, sleep and manage stress.
Other tidbits from Conway and Maganas:
- Diet soda is a Grade 2 neurotoxin (Mercury is Grade 1) and is associated with multiple chronic diseases.
- Next time your doctor orders bloodwork, ask for a simple ($3) Vitamin D test. Vitamin D supports a healthy immune system, healthy inflammatory response and strong bones.
- Get a Cardiac Calcium Score every five years to see if you have the beginnings of clogged arteries. As with any chronic disease, it’s wise to catch it early.
- Best piece of diet advice: avoid processed foods.
- Be good to your microbiome. To avoid inflammation associated with heart disease, joint pain, migraines, sleeplessness and brain fog, steer clear of sugars and antibiotic-fed animal proteins.
- To prevent arthritis, know your Vitamin D level, eat an anti-inflammatory, low-sugar, low-dairy diet, build muscle around your bones through exercise, and stay flexible to promote blood flow.
- Our “biggest lifestyle disease” is Type 2 diabetes and it’s completely reversible.
“Tons of doctors refer people” to Solutions 4 Health, according to Conway.
Main Line Urology sends UTI patients for a specific supplement. A psychology practice sends patients for hemp oil extract (CBD) because of the in-house brand’s customized dosing and purity. Dentists refer patients for oral health and pre- and post-surgical care.
Dealing with a cancer diagnosis? Solutions 4 Health offers tailored wellness protocols for specific cancers. Other wellness plans include immune support, detoxing, weight loss, muscle building and more.
Conway’s ambitious company also private labels a whole host of supplements and sells super-popular THRIVE Shakes. He and a partner are poised to launch a science-backed, doctor-recommended “functional beverage” early next year.
Solutions 4 Health, Gateway Shopping Center next to Trader Joe’s, 1658 Swedesford Rd., Wayne, 1-800-473-2810, is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays until 8. Conway hosts health webinars and speaks to corporations and groups.
Curious about those black and white lawn signs? So were we.
So we tracked down the family that made them: the Gusdorff/Pludos of Bryn Mawr.
When Jaime Pludo and her daughters drove home from the Main Line for Black Lives March in early June, they found their well-kept neighborhood … unchanged. They’d been deeply moved by walking in peaceful protest with so many. But their home turf was untouched.
“It just felt like the morning we had didn’t match what we were seeing,” Pludo says.
And so, the family whose mantra is “Always be bold. Always stand up.” hatched a plan to keep the mojo going. They’d change the turf, at least a little, with lawn signs – pointedly black and white, bearing words Martin Luther King spoke at his last Sunday sermon: “The Time is Always Right to Do What is Right.”
They chose King’s words because they were “unassailable regardless of what your political leaning may be.”
They’d pay for all the signs themselves, sell them for $20 (extra signs $15), and donate half to Radnor ABC House and half to Equal Justice Initiative, founded by Just Mercy author Bryan Stevenson. Pludo’s younger daughter, Jessica, had just read Just Mercy at Radnor High School and visited the center and other civil rights sites in Montgomery, Ala. with her synagogue.
To date, the family’s sold some 350 signs online and raised $6,500. Signs now dot the Main Line and streets as far as Texas, California and Vermont.
A personal touch: Pludo and her girls offer free local delivery and will plant the signs themselves.
Want one? Order here.
No St. David’s Fair? Unfair!!! Or should we say UnFair?
For 168 years, the St. David’s Fair has been a mainstay of Main Line fall calendars.
Pandemic notwithstanding, the 169th show will go on. Just a month later and online.
And we’re all invited.
It’s called UnFair! – a free hour of livestreamed fun Friday, Nov. 6. On tap are bagpipes, an auction, memories of Fairs past, a tribute to the late philanthropist Betty Moran and more.
Running the show: dynamo Anne Cunningham and a dream team of past Fair chairs.
One-hundred percent of UnFair proceeds will go to whole host of worthy causes that need support this year more than ever: Wayne Senior Center, Main Line Meals on Wheels, Peter’s Place, Surrey Services for Seniors, St. James School, underserved families in Uganda, Cuba and Guatemala and many more.
Instead of popcorn, nosh on UnFair fare: St. David’s famous chili and/or a charcuterie board from DiBruno Bros. Ordering either will support the cause, too.
St. David’s Episcopal Church’s UnFair! is open to the public and will take place wherever you find yourself on Friday, Nov. 6, 6:30 to 7:30 pm. Free but you must register online. Online silent auction bidding begins Oct. 23.
Personal pregnancy losses spur Villa Maria grad to help others
After giving birth to two healthy boys, Katie Smart Hill figured she’d sail through her third and fourth pregnancies. But in a single year, she miscarried a baby girl and delivered a stillborn boy.
Needless to say, the Villa Maria ’05 graduate was devastated. But after the rain, the rainbow. Or in Hill’s case, the butterflies.
Admiring the winged creatures alighting on the butterfly bush in her Great Valley yard last summer, Hill had an epiphany: she could help others experiencing similar losses.
Within days, Butterfly Baskets was born.
A 501(c)3 nonprofit registered in Malvern, Butterfly Baskets coordinates with local hospitals – Paoli Hospital and Lankenau for starters – to make and deliver soothing “comfort baskets” to women after a pregnancy loss.
“You can’t run from grief and you don’t have to,” Hill says. “We hope to create a community of support so no one feels the loneliness and isolation that comes with pregnancy or baby loss.”
In addition to baskets, bags and remembrance cards (which can be ordered online for bereaved friends), Butterfly Baskets’ website connects families to supportive resources in the community including health coaching by Hill’s nurse-practitioner sister Theresa Velasquez.
Butterfly Baskets will host a free Virtual 5K Run/Walk and 1-mile Fun Run/Walk, in your neighborhood or on your treadmill, Nov. 6 to 16. Register individually or as a team. Sponsorships and donations gratefully accepted.
***OPINION*** Divided We Stand: The fall of Haverford School’s headmaster
An Op-Ed by Dawn Warden
(SAVVY encourages readers to submit comments and/or opposing viewpoints.)
2020 has been many things, but unifying isn’t one of them.
Across every social media platform, and our lawns, lines have been drawn. There is no ‘aisle’ anymore. It’s a straight up wall.
Even our youngest citizens are getting an earful of contention – regardless of whether they fully understand the conversations and viewpoints.
Rewind to mid-August when news broke that Haverford School headmaster, Dr. John Nagl — a retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel and Iraqi war veteran — co-authored an open letter denouncing President Trump and calling for military involvement should he fail to acknowledge an election loss. (The letter was addressed to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was co-written by a U.S. Army colonel who served three tours in Iraq.)
Shared on a local website, the now infamous letter incited a lengthy stream of comments, supportive and damning. In short order, Dr. Nagl issued a public apology and soon thereafter submitted a letter of resignation, accepted by the board of trustees.
That’s one helluva lesson for students on the politics of purchasing power.
In an off-the-record conversation, one Lower School parent said she felt “shock and betrayed” by the board. I am inclined to agree.
As a Haverford School parent for 22 years – three of my five kids were “super lifers” (Classes of ’10, ’14, ’18), this was bigger than politics for me. It was a threat to the values we’d worked so hard to instill in our young men. I align with parents who question the hypocrisy of Haverford peddling 24 ‘Core Virtues’ – including courage, confidence, justice and integrity – but delivering a heavy hand when its own leader plays these cards.
Our youth will grow into tomorrow’s leaders – exactly as promised by these elite schools. It is imperative that they learn how to engage in thoughtful, intelligent debate and feel comfortable standing up for their beliefs. Imagine how interesting it would have been if Haverford had used that letter as a teaching opportunity, a mock student debate where research, critical thinking, writing and public speaking skills could have been practiced.
November 3rd is coming fast and hard. We need to brace ourselves for rancor that will ensue regardless of who wins. While the question of whether Nagl’s letter should have been written no longer has shelf life, there are valuable lessons to be gained by all of us.
Dawn Warden is a former Haverford School parent and magazine editor. She is currently grants manager at a local nonprofit and a contributing writer for SAVVY Main Line.
T/E Schools take a stand on racial equity
The T/E School District has unanimously and, may we say, passionately, endorsed a new racial equity resolution.
Rumors were flying that parents opposed to or questioning the resolution would try to “hijack” the last school board meeting when it was up for approval. So TESD School Superintendent Rich Gusick addressed them head on.
“If taking a stand against racism is considered by some to be political, then not addressing racism is equally political,” Gusick said in his personal remarks before reading the resolution. “If that sounds like taking sides, sometimes there’s a side to take.”
One by one, school board members voiced their support.
School Board President Michele Burger said hearing students speak about their experiences of racism at Conestoga at the Main Line for Black Lives march drove home the need for the resolution.
Rev. Scott Dorsey, the first Black elected official in Tredyffrin, called the statement “deeply personal.”
School Board Director Kyle Boyer talked about the micro-aggressions he experienced as one of the few Black students at Beaumont Elementary which happened “not because the TE staff was racist but because of systemic racism.” Both men’s impassioned speeches can be viewed here.
This and That
Snap Kitchen is closing all of its Philadelphia area stores. Last day in Villanova is Thursday, Oct. 22.
A small-format Target is finally coming to Lower Merion, but not in central Ardmore as had long been planned. Target is taking the old Acme space in Wynnewood instead.
A longtime Wayne eyesore looks like it may soon go bye-bye. Developer Wade McDevitt wants to turn the mail-sorting facility behind Wayne post office into headquarters for Two Paper Dolls. The design company has outgrown its nearby space. Bowing to officials’ concerns about parking, McDevitt shrunk his proposal to one story. The project still needs zoning approvals. Said Commissioner Damien Enderle, who’s in favor of the project: “It’s going to bring bodies to Wayne that are sorely needed. The empty retail space in Wayne right now should have us all quaking in our boots.”
Chances are, you haven’t set foot in a movie theater since March – and that’s why Regal Cinemas has temporarily closed all of its locations. Again. With the release of most blockbuster delayed, Regal says it won’t be able to fill enough seats to keep the lights on.
While we’re all fretting over Thanksgiving, most families have settled on Halloween plans. Among the more interesting options: The new Not-So-Scary Drive-Thru in the graveyard at St. David’s Church in Wayne; the Reverse Trick or Treat staged by Lulu’s Casita in Ardmore, where the treats come to costumed kids who stay in their cars; the Spooktacular Park and Trail at the Willows; the 7th annual Cricket Boo bash on Cricket Ave. in Ardmore; Trick or Treat Around the Town Center in KOP. Families who really want to play it safe can sign up for virtual pumpkin carving and costume contests, both hosted by Radnor.
High-profile styling on the Main Line. Philly hair guru Artur Kirsh and NYC celebrity stylist Joel Warren have joined scissors for The Salon Project, a new Covid-smart salon at Saks in Bala Cynwyd.
Why smart? Because unlike most luxury salons, Salon Project stylists do it all – color, cut, keratin, extensions, you name it.
What do President Trump and PA Rep. Melissa Schusterman have in common? Politically, nothing. But both had to quarantine while running for re-election. Schusterman sidelined herself after a fellow lawmaker with whom she’d been in contact, Franklin County Republican Rep. Paul Schemel, tested positive.
Rupert Grint, aka Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, was reportedly spotted at Whole Foods in Devon Village. Grint has been in the Philly area to film the second season of M. Night Shyamalan’s Apple TV+ series, Servant.
Yet another smaller childhood cancer charity has merged with Bala Cynwyd-based Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF). I Care I Cure in Florida is the fifth nonprofit to join with ALSF, which has raised $200 million (!) for childhood cancer research since its founding 15 years ago.
After 18 years, Andi Gilbert will retire as president of Bryn Mawr Hospital at year’s end. Gilbert has left an impressive legacy of expansion and modernization. And it’s not over yet. The cutting-edge Dee Adams Center for Integrative and Regenerative Medicine is slated to open next year.
Which Greater Philly zip code gave the most to the Trump campaign? 19355 (Malvern, Frazer and Devault), which contributed $12,150. In the same zip code, Biden raised $24,813 or roughly double, according to a Philadelphia Business Journal analysis of Federal Election Commission stats from January through August.
With 29 honorees, Conestoga had the most national Merit Seminfinalists in PA – again.
No surprise: Devereux has dropped controversial plans to house migrant children in Devon. The behavioral health nonprofit has been under heavy fire on all fronts after the Inquirer reported multiple instances of abuse of residents by staffers. Immigration rights activists and some Devon neighbors have called the proposed facilities children’s “detention centers” for the undocumented, not shelters.
Imagine if your child had advanced but treatable eye cancer but you couldn’t afford the treatment? A close family friend of Episcopal Academy ’18 alum Emily Wingfield is that child. Donations gratefully accepted via GoFundMe for Emi, 3, who needs to travel to Spain for proton therapy after exhausting all treatments available in his Mexican homeland.
Author Kelly Corrigan, pride of the Radnor High School Class of ’85, has her own PBS interview show, “Tell Me More with Kelly Corrigan.”
Shoutout to Malvern Prep teacher/rapper LeRoi Leviston. Aka Roi Lush, who was profiled in SAVVY, Leviston was selected by the College Football Foundation for its “Extra Yard for Teachers” recognition program. His Stoga football buddy, former NY Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich, nominated Leviston. Herzlich’s parents took in Leviston and treated him as a son when his family fell on hard times.
Cutting back because of Covid, Life Time has nixed plans to put a co-working building next to its fitness club in Tredyffrin.
Those desperate pleas for poll workers paid off. According to the Inky, Chesco, Delco and Montco all report a surfeit of volunteers. If you volunteered but haven’t heard back, you can bet all spots are filled.
Fears of long lines at polling places may be unfounded. Not only are there plenty of poll workers in the burbs, but most polling places are unchanged. Chester County Board of Elections reports 90 percent of polling places will be open Nov. 3. If yours has changed, you’ll get a postcard. In Lower Merion, just six polling places have moved. (And all Montco residents will vote with traceable paper ballots for the first time.)
Polls everywhere are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you’re in line at 8, you still get to vote. And health experts are saying in-person voting is just as safe as visiting a supermarket.
Forget burgers. What really tastes great with beer? Chocolate. Don’t believe us? Sign up for Chocolate + Cheer, a benefit for the Rotary Club of the Main Line. You’ll get “a sweet and savory explosion for your taste buds” from two local food artisans, Eclat Chocolate and Victory Brewing, delivered to your door. Then join the Zoom tasting party on Nov. 6 (TGIF). Register here.
Sunday’s Radnor Run is going virtual. The 43rd annual fundraiser for the American Lung Association offers races and fun runs at various locations, including your treadmill. Some of the raised funds will support the ALA’s Covid-19 Action Initiative for vaccines, tests and treatments. Nancy Fitzgerald, fitness instructor at Club La Maison in Wayne, will open the festivities.
At least one local charity is NOT going the virtual route. The child bereavement nonprofit Family Lives On will host its annual Traditions Ball in person at the Desmond in Malvern with raffle (a smashing $2,700 diamond bracelet donated by Walter J Cook Jeweler in Paoli), silent auction, music and dinner. Like the old days but with limited seating due to Covid-19 restrictions.
And finally… A dog, dear and departed, who’s teaching us new tricks
Over the years SAVVY has memorialized a stream of local luminaries, folks who’ve made a mark on this good earth before leaving it – from civic philanthropists like Dodo Hamilton to hardworking shopkeepers like Polka Dots’ Susan Randels.
This is the first time, though, that we’re remembering … a dog.
We had planned to tell you about Lucy Parry when she was still with us – we met her at her home and interviewed her humans a few months go. She might even have been our first Cover Dog.
While her roots are rather run-of-the-mill – a lab-pointer rescue from Braxton’s Harvest Fest – Lucy was, in her ordinary way, extraordinary.
Because she lived to age 18, about six years longer than she should have. A Superdog, and until her passing last week, living proof that canine lifestyle – diet, exercise and natural TLC interventions – can lengthen lives.
Owner Christy Parry’s big bag of tricks for extending Lucy’s lifespan included:
- A mostly raw, nutrient dense diet of grain-free animal protein mixed with veggies and fruits sold frozen at most pet food stores. No kibble or processed foods in cans.
- No Milk Bone or Mother Hubbard’s biscuits, either. Her treats were dehydrated veggies and fruits wrapped in fish skin. Sounds yucky but Lucy lapped them up.
- A minimally toxic home. Filtered water only, no flea collars and no chemicals on the lawn.
- A homeopathic veterinarian (Ed Sheaffer in Palmyra, PA) and integrative vets Leah Whipple (whose booming Berwyn practice may be full) and Rose Di Leva, who suggested homeopathic, herbal and food-based remedies to prevent Lyme, heartworm, distemper, parvovirus and other ailments.
- Acupuncture, Reiki and therapeutic massage to ease pain and stay limber longer. Dr. Whipple calls acupuncture for arthritis “a no brainer” but says it also helps with disc disease, intestinal issues, cancer and immune support.
- Off-leash romps at the Willows and walks – in all weather – around town. An umbrella shielded black-coated Lucy from the hot sun. Rubber booties protected her paws from ice and snow. In later life, a help-me-up harness boosted her into cars and up steps. “Dogs that stay lean live longer and with less painful arthritis,” says Dr. Whipple.
- And to help solve Lucy’s occasionally perplexing behaviors, consultation with animal communicators/intuitive counselors, if only by phone.
In an email announcement to friends, a heartsick Christy Parry wrote that Lucy had finally “crossed over the rainbow bridge back to pain-free running and happiness,” calling her “our best friend and teacher.”
Lucy has left us, yes, but she’s teaching us still.
Thank you for featuring AnneMarie Jones’ story.
As an Asian American woman raising a daughter, I appreciate stories like this and learning more about the people that live here.
Please let AnneMarie know I’m grateful for her work. Her story resonated with me. I’ve experienced racism directly and indirectly as well.
Caroline O'Halloran says
Thanks so much for sharing that. I will make sure to let AnnaMarie know that her experience – bravely and honestly shared – has helped others like you.
ALLI DANNON says
Enjoyed all the stories! Especially how one family saw a need for their son and decided to do whatever it took to make that happen..and did it with not just themselves in mind but expanding efforts to include our entire surrounding communities. Well done!
Vicki Cassidy says
Haverford School is an “elite” school? That must mean that Dawn Warden should consider herself an elitist. Perhaps she should look up the definition of egalitarianism.
There is not one school in this “privileged” area that hasn’t had it’s share of problems and there is not one single student that is any better than the next when it comes to their education. It is what is inside the student that makes them a law abiding, honest, hard working individual.
It is the attitude of people that carry the “privileged attitude” and beliefs that they are somehow better than the next person are the exact people that any community needs less of.than more. Even Haverford School has unfortunately experienced drug busts and whatever else the school has experienced.
My son went to a private school. My daughter goes to public. My husband and I believe in the public school system but smaller was better for my son. Neither one of my kids have been taught, nor believe that one is better than the other. That one has received a better education than the other. That one is privileged and one is not.
Dawn Elyse Warden says
Vicki, good morning. I think you may have misinterpreted my use of “elite,” and also realize that perhaps I should have put quotation marks around the word.
I am about as wholesome of an egalitarian as you can get, which any one in my circle would attest to. However, I appreciate your point. The use of “elite” was more a reflection on how the school (and other private schools) spins itself than my personal opinion. Happy to continue the conversation offline. As my post suggests, healthy debate should always be encouraged.
Side Note: I work for a human services nonprofit and live a very underfunded lifestyle. I did not come from wealth and did not attend private school. I am also a Libra, which is relevant solely from the stand point of being naturally inclined to equality. We are more alike than different!
Hopefully, this helps. I appreciate you reading and commenting. Thank you.