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North Philadelphia pastor dedicates decades to community service

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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WPVI) – “Where you come from has nothing to do with who you become,” said Alice Martin.

Martin grew up in North Philadelphia and always knew she wanted to give back to her neighborhood. Today, the community service enthusiast is a pastor, real estate agent and executive director of the nonprofit organization Voice Community Economic Development Corporation.

“I understand the struggle that comes with low-income families, because I was also a single mother of three children,” said Martin, who is now a grandmother of 19. “And the children we have here, they are our future. “

For its latest initiative, Martin has created a multi-purpose service center in a former car factory at 3509 Old York Road. The second floor is currently under construction and will become a place of worship for his ministry. The first floor currently houses a pantry and several free or subsidized preschool options. They are partners of Pre-K Counts and PHLpreK. For kids who don’t qualify for either, they run the Champion program to make sure no one is turned away.

“I absolutely see kids who are confident and smart, eager to learn and not afraid of a challenge,” Martin said of his current students. Although they are 3 or 4 years old, they are already learning to count in Spanish.

“But we don’t just educate children,” she added. “We help families.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit organization held weekly food and clothing drives in the community. Mrs. Martin specifically invited everyone even if they were not in need. Although new challenges have arisen over the past two years, their goal is never to let a month go by without offering the same service.

“We also have our pantry there, which we draw on to serve the community and prepare the children,” she said.

Although she has served her community for more than 30 years, Ms. Martin is not slowing down.

“You have the power within you to turn your problems into an experience,” she said. “We can make change. Be the change you want to see.”

To learn more about Philadelphia’s pre-K services, visit the city’s website.

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