ARAMARK Volunteers Tackle Critical Community Issues with Philadelphia, Camden Community Centers

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ARAMARK Volunteers Tackle Critical Community Issues with Philadelphia, Camden Community Centers

In two of the region’s most impoverished neighborhoods, community centers are on the front line, addressing the area’s toughest challenges. More than 200 ARAMARK volunteers will join that effort today, donating their time to the Lighthouse in the Kensington section of Philadelphia and Respond Inc. in Camden to enhance the facilities and their programs, increasing their capacity to provide much-needed solutions to the residents they serve.

In Kensington, the ARAMARK volunteer effort also marks the kick-off of a four month community-led safety and health campaign coordinated by the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service, and the Federation of Neighborhood Centers. The Federation is a network of 10 community centers in the region, including the Lighthouse, one of the centers that ARAMARK supports with its volunteer service.

“ARAMARK has always been dedicated to enriching the lives of our clients, customers and communities,” said Joseph Neubauer, ARAMARK Chairman and CEO. “Our employees are committed to using their skills and expertise to create positive and lasting impact in neighborhoods like Kensington and Camden, as well as other communities we serve around the world.”

The volunteer projects are part of the company’s signature philanthropic and volunteer program, ARAMARK Building Community, created to enrich the lives of families in need by supporting local community centers. ARAMARK develops long-term partnerships with centers to improve facilities, prepare youth and adults to work and connect them to the workforce, and encourage healthy lifestyles through health and wellness education and awareness.

"ARAMARK is on the cutting edge of corporate citizenship. I commend them for their deep commitment to the Federation of Neighborhood Centers, and the communities they serve," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “ARAMARK’s work in Kensington is the catalyst for a series of community driven service activities taking place throughout the summer in partnership with SERVE Philadelphia and a network of community stakeholders.”

COMMUNITY CENTERS KEY TO REVITALIZATION
Diane Cornman-Levy, Executive Director, Federation of Neighborhood Centers, noted that community centers like the Lighthouse must be at the heart of any revitalization effort.

“In today’s difficult economic times, community centers also need extra support to help them do their work better. When government, not-for-profit agencies and businesses work together, change will happen. ARAMARK’s long-term partnership with the Federation, along with the support of the Mayor’s Office and other organizations that have stepped in to help, can leave a lasting, positive impact,” she said.

The need for support is evident in the Kensington area, which ranks among the highest in Philadelphia for families living at or below the federal poverty level, and adults with illnesses like diabetes and asthma. Nearly 42 percent of adults suffer from high blood pressure, compared to the state average of 28.2 percent. More than 35 percent of the adult population and nearly 25 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Camden residents also suffer from health issues. The Rutgers University Center for Health Policy notes that nearly 40 percent of the children in Camden City between the ages of three and 19 are obese, compared to 32 percent nationally.

The volunteer projects at both sites will include the creation of outdoor community gardens that will provide fresh vegetables to city residents in need. Volunteers will also refurbish and paint buildings, landscape grounds, and make benches and picnic tables. The effort is the first of several ARAMARK will support this year with the Lighthouse and at the Respond, Inc. Fairview Village Child Development Center to address these critical local needs.

Building on Partnerships
ARAMARK developed relationships with the Federation of Neighborhood Centers four years ago. In Philadelphia alone, ARAMARK Building Community has supported 16 centers since 2008, engaging nearly 3,000 employees in 7,500 hours of service, and impacting 20,000 Philadelphians.

ARAMARK’s relationship with Respond, Inc. began last year, when employee volunteers transformed an abandoned restaurant into a day care center that is opening this year, and sponsored Respond Inc.’s annual community health and wellness fair. This year, ARAMARK will again support the fair and Respond Inc.’s culinary training program, which will help prepare dozens of young adults for careers in the hospitality industry.
Since it was launched in 2008, ARAMARK Building Community has grown to more than 40 cities, and 11,000 ARAMARK volunteers. Nearly 2 million individuals and families in the US and abroad have been impacted.

About ARAMARK
ARAMARK is a world leader in professional services, providing award-winning food services, facilities management, and uniform and career apparel to health care institutions, universities and school districts, stadiums and arenas, and businesses around the world. ARAMARK has been recognized as the industry leader in FORTUNE magazine's "World's Most Admired Companies," and as one of America's Largest Private Companies by both FORTUNE and Forbes magazines. Headquartered in Philadelphia, ARAMARK has approximately 255,000 employees serving clients in 22 countries. ARAMARK seeks to responsibly address issues that matter to its clients, customers, employees and communities by focusing on employee advocacy, environmental stewardship, health and wellness, and community involvement.

About The Federation of Neighborhood Centers
The Federation of Neighborhood Centers (Federation) was created in 1906 to help build stronger neighborhoods by strengthening families and civic life. Its mission is achieved by working with member agencies - a network of 10 community-based anchor institutions that collectively provide culturally sensitive programs and services to more than 75,000 children, youth, adults and families in 45 neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia per year. Using a three-pronged approach, we strengthen and promote our members through policy development, advocacy, and capacity-building activities. Learn more at the Federation’s website, http://www.federationnc.org.

About the Lighthouse
Founded in 1893 as a settlement house, the mission of the Lighthouse is to provide educational, recreational and economic improvement programs to families and individuals to affect positive change and improve the quality of their lives. For over 100 years the Kensington and North Philadelphia communities have relied on the Lighthouse to provide multi-cultural services that respond to the multi-dimensional needs of the community.

About Respond, Inc.
Respond, Inc. was founded in 1967 by community residents to enhance and promote the economic independence and general welfare of individuals in the City of Camden. Respond provides a number of comprehensive services including child care, senior citizen program, services to the homeless, housing and job training.

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Mary Rucci

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