Articles From the December 1994 Unification News


STF Thanksgiving Holiday Visit to Philadelphia

by Barbara Bright-NYC

On Friday, Nov. 25, the New York Special Task Force (STF) team and New York CARP gathered together university students and people of the Harlem community consisting of over 50 children and parents on a Thanksgiving holiday visit to Philadelphia.

True Parents initiated the direction that the STF reach out to university students, and Jin Hun Hyung Nim, vice president of World CARP, through True Parents' guidance encouraged the STF to create cultural activities and service projects to involve students. We felt that this project in Harlem could do both in bringing together people from all backgrounds. In fact, we gathered not only black and white, but Muslims, Jews and Christians.

This special visit to the birthplace of America was the main event and culmination of a semester's effort. Each Sunday we have gathered with over 20 children and 10-15 volunteers to provide creative art projects and educational activities for the children. Mrs. Barbara Skinner, "mother" of the Harlem community, is our contact person. She is very actively involved in local community affairs and is a very concerned tenant of the apartment complex where we meet the children. It has been a very stimulating project for all participants.

On our first visit everyone was a little shy and distant. But very quickly the barriers fell. We had some worry that the children might have a hard time relating to people of other backgrounds. In the beginning, however, even the racial barrier quickly melted. One white brother became a good friend to a couple of the children, who wanted to hold his hand and be with him constantly. In the following weeks, more and more children and student guests came, including students from Columbia University and New York University. The day of one of the sessions, a child was sick in bed. But when she heard the CARP volunteers were coming, she begged her mother to let her go down to participate. More and more the news has spread, and even children from other buildings have begun to show up. Mrs. Skinner expressed her deep gratitude every time.

The greatest excitement came as the day drew closer to visit Philadelphia. We chartered two buses and headed for Valley Forge, site of one of Gen. George Washington's main camps during the war for American independence. We were welcomed and guided by Dr. Hugh Spurgin. We watched a short film on the history of Valley Forge and visited a museum. Dr. Spurgin explained to us that Valley Forge was a spiritual battle of faith, perseverance and determination. Then we drove to Washington's headquarters. Here the children ran around excitedly on the grass and we shared lunch together.

Our next stop was the "One Day at a Time" (ODAT) drug rehabilitation center. We joined an already-in-session meeting. Everyone was inspired by the openness and enthusiasm of the recovering "ex-addicts" who shared their testimonies and encouragement not to do drugs. Rev. Wells, the founder of "One Day at a Time," testified to the vision and activity of the Unification movement to save the world, in front of our students, members and parents. Then Rev. Jenkins, leader of the Philadelphia Unification Church, shared more about our True Parents' vision and love in a message to the audience that was very moving and inspirational. We spent the last hour and a half visiting the main historical sites of downtown Philadelphia. We rushed around, but kept the children and all participants always entertained. The cooperation on everyone's part was astonishing. One student struggled to feel comfortable taking care of the children, but he challenged himself and later on felt comfortable. He testified that one child called him "daddy". One blessed child, Masato Sudo, made a beautiful relationship with one of the children. Most of the guests felt we were true friends, and some even felt like brothers and sisters.

The guests from Harlem were eager to show their support and enthusiasm for the project. Mrs. Skinner asked local businesses for donations of food and money. The Tenants' Association donated lunch for everybody. Mrs. Skinner and a few other mothers cooked breakfast for all of us at Mrs. Skinner's home. It was inspiring to see how involved parents became. One very involved mother asked many times when the next activity would be. One of the parents was a local minister who brought his six children. At the beginning of the trip he offered a prayer, and was grateful for the opportunity to learn about the history of the country.

For the future, we plan to develop educational programs for the children through computers, music and other means, so that they can develop a sense of responsibility as family members, students and citizens. We plan to contact local politicians and businesses for support.

For this holiday season, we are focusing on spreading the spirit of giving. To teach the children about loving, respecting and serving the elderly, we've decided to go Christmas caroling at the local home for senior citizens. In addition, we are seeking a donation of toys, so that the children can wrap them, make cards and then offer them as gifts to the nearby children's homeless shelter.

We are truly grateful to True Parents and the True Children for the inspiration to initiate and carry out such activities. The ideas and inspirations are continuing to grow and we have so much hope for what we can do to encourage American youth to serve our brothers and sisters in Harlem.


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