Author: Lawrence Schofer

July 8, 2020 – Mass incarceration

Bob Lankin, Northeastern Sunrisers Rotary club, past district governor
Bob discussed the inequities, cost, and possible improvements in mass incarceration in the United States. We currently have 2.3 million people in jail, 25% of the world’s prisoners. The cost is $81 billion to the government plus appreciable family costs.
In Pennsylvania there are 80 to 100,000 prisoners at a cost of $5 billion per year. These people are housed in 17 state penal institutions plus 62 County jails. Most of those incarcerated in county jails have not ever been convicted, but they cannot make bail.
Causes of the extremely high incarceration rate:
1. War on drugs – 25% of prisoners
2. Major cause – their sentences are too long, much longer than in other countries
3 Pennsylvania’s parole system is burdened by too many regulations – because of the intricacies of the regulations, two thirds of those on parole or sent back to jail often because they do not understand the regulations. Parole should be limited to three years. Cash bail should be eliminated.

We could reduce the prison population by half, and use the money saved for education. Prisoners who are educated in prison produce very few repeat offenders.

September 18, 2019 – Laurie Curtin, holistic medicine

Laurie Curtin is Co-founder of Eleven, a platform for connecting patients to holistic medical practitioners, and Eleven Gives, its non profit arm.

The purpose of the company is to create a database of information about alternative health approaches and to assemble an on-line directory of holistic health practitioners. The company will not charge for listings, but will receive a commission on each patient encounter engendered by the website.

100% of the profits will be donated to Eleven Gives.

August 21, 2019 – Mt. Airy Arts Garage

Speakers: Kathy Robinson and Arleen Olshan (Director) of Mt. Airy Art Garage.


Mt. Airy Art Garage is 10 yrs old. It was first housed at the Weavers Way garage. It began with a holiday art market and received strong community support – 100s of people came to first meetings. They moved into11 West Mt. Airy Ave. where they renovated the building and remained for 6 years, and is now located in a small storefront on Germantown Ave. They have worked with both schools and businesses – rain barrel project.


Mt. Airy Art Garage has been delivering art programming to local schools for 8 yrs. Many schools do not have art programs. They want to teach teachers how to do this and bring it back to their schools. This year they will create their 4th mural with Emlen. They work with 10-15 4th and 5th graders on Friday’s from12:30-3. Students learn art terms and techniques. The Art Garage partners with Lovett Library for exhibitions. The students are first instructed in watercolors, and then acrylics. The classroom teachers select which children will take the class – based on talents or other needs. There is also a poetry component to the program where students create art around poetry. There is no art teacher at Emlen. The budget at Emlen is $3,000, but there are supplies that are still usable from past years.


Mt. Airy Art Garage raises money through fundraisers. They have an annual budget of $50,000.

July 31, 2019 Coded by kids

Sylvester Mobley, CEO of Coded by Kids


Mr. Mobley served in three branches of the military. He deployed to Iraq but also received a broad spectrum of technology training and he found his calling. He noticed a lack of diversity, equity and inclusion in tech. It’s an industry of great economic growth, but large swaths of people are being left out. More people from underrepresented groups are moving from middle class to poverty than the other way around. Tech allows people in poverty to move forward economically, and stay there.


He started Coded by Kids. A systemic approach to make sure that EVERY kid has access to tech education. Without that, we cannot build an equitable society.

Wants all young people to get a higher ed degree in tech. Data says that’s what’s needed.

The teens work on real projects. Learn to work together as a team and to discover what it takes to work on a tech start-up. Teens compete in pitch competitions.

Regular classroom teachers are not up to the task. Tech centers often have more resources than they need. They don’t know what to do with tech.

Coded by Kids offers workshops for teachers. It’s hard because tech is always moving forward.

He works a lot with elected officials and policy makers.

Coded by Kids is structured like a youth spirts organization. Kids stay with it, form relationships, and gain mentors.

Funding sources: corporate sponsors – vested interest. Foundations. Earned revenue stream from contracts.

Competitive coding competition. Work in teams on projects. Team wins $5,000.

July 24, 2019 Cancer Who?

Marjani Harris

With her husband, Al Harris, Marjani founded the organization “Cancer Who?” in 2013.  They had several family members who suffered through cancer diagnosis and treatment, and they noticed that there were varying levels of support and needs that weren’t met.  They decided to create an extended family support system.  It started as “Team Overtime,” and is now known as “Cancer Who?”  They sold apparel for fundraising, and helped 200 families. Services include  helping patients through chemo., and trying to keep their minds off cancer.  Patients don’t want to burden their families, so Cancer Who? ambassadors can help.  In February they opened a Cancer Who? center where people can come and enjoy food, games, and programs such as a  biweekly Survival Circle, which is a group for breast cancer sufferers. 

The organization serves Philadelphia, Delaware and New Jersey.  Funds are raised during the annual Cancer Who? weekend fundraiser which includes a Friday event, Cancer Who? Day with St. Christopher Hospital, a bike ride, a kickball tournament, and a comedy show on Sunday.  Demand is rising, but they haven’t  turned anyone away.  They offer a webinar once a week so survivors can talk to each other around the country. Funding is received from a few small grants.