There aren’t too many places where you can jump on a moon bounce, learn how to make a career change and receive a free mental health screening — all in one visit.
An upcoming fair in Northeast Philadelphia will offer just that, along with a clothing giveaway, free water ice, face painting, music and snacks.
Community Fest, presented by Catholic Community Services (CCS), will take place on Saturday, June 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Martin of Tours Parish in Philadelphia.
The event is the fourth annual one for the agency, a division of archdiocesan Catholic Social Services that supports youth and family throughout Northeast Philadelphia.
“It started out as a mini job fair for dads,” said Lance Wright, who coordinates CCS’s parenting resources for fathers. “Thirty people got hired for jobs that day.”
The festival has typically attracted an average of 200 to 250 attendees, a number that is expected to increase this year.
“People have come to anticipate our events, now that they recognize the CCS name,” said Ginger Smith, CCS’s community liaison.
Over the years, Smith and Wright have forged partnerships with a number of businesses, schools, elected officials and nonprofits, enabling the CCS team to round up an array of exhibitors for the festival. Connecting parents and children with vital resources is central to CCS’s family-focused mission.
“Safe places for children to play, how to format your resume and interview for a job, seeing where folks are at emotionally and mentally — these are the things our clients want from us,” Smith said.
Wright also noted that clients look to CSS for help in coping with the effects of opioid addiction, such as the loss of a parent to incarceration or overdose.
“It touches this area more than other parts of the city,” he said.
Homelessness, hunger and gun violence are also key concerns that event exhibitor Kasey Fisher will be on hand to address.
Fisher’s son, a Community College of Philadelphia basketball player, was killed as an innocent bystander during a 2013 shootout. In his memory, Fisher launched the Micah “Mizz” Fisher Foundation, which provides a broad range of support for urban youth and the homeless.
Fisher welcomed the opportunity to partner with CCS. “It’s important that nonprofits stick together,” she said. “The more we unite, the more we can reach.”
The CCS team refines its services by actively listening to clients and asking for their feedback. At every event, CCS staff dialogue with attendees to assess how to better meet community needs.
And while many of the resources at the festival can also be found through a simple Google search, Smith stresses the importance of “human contact.”
“A lot of times, folks are isolated, so this is a chance to come out and meet our staff, meet your neighbors, meet new people,” she said.
Wright added that Community Fest also offers an opportunity to encounter the church.
“We are an extension of the church, and we’re the new face of the archdiocese,” said Wright. “We’re real people, we’re parents — we have our struggles, we need resources too. We share the information we have with the community for free. And it comes with no strings attached; it’s all out of love.”
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