A Simple Act of Love May Tip the Balance: Dedication of the Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Center

Today, our congregants Stephen and Sandra Sheller were honored for their generosity and vision in making the expansion of the 11th Street family Health Center at Drexel University a reality.  Here is the moving speech Sandy delivered:

My heart swells with gratitude and pride for this most beautiful place that is a beacon of healing and hope in this much deserved but often overlooked neighborhood and community. As I stand before this vision that has come to fruition after many years of dreaming and planning, I realize it is so much larger than we ever could have imagined. More than the bricks, mortar, and 17,000 additional square feet of expanded space, is what is, and can now, take place, inside this innovative, patient-centered, and trauma-informed comprehensive health care center. At 11th Street, all of the deeper needs impacting health and well-being in this underserved community are addressed. We have previously stated that 11th Street is a stellar model of care for the entire country and Dr. Patty Gerrity, its director, a passionate and non-stoppable visionary of innovation and exemplary healing practices. What is evident today and something I had not fully comprehended when we first engaged in this process, is how some of the very modalities and paradigms I hold to be most effective for healing, am personally trained in and adhere to myself, are operational at 11th Street, and for the very population I have worked with and hold dear to in my heart.

Included as part of normal care is a loving team approach for the entire family (that looks at healthy birth to the chronic needs of the aging); care that extends to complementary and creative arts and family therapy, full dental (the formal opening of the new dental center will be on Dec. 10 thanks to our good friend Dr. Walter Cohen), nutrition, physical therapy, fitness, home visits, an on-site pharmacy, social services, and much more. The patient is engaged in their own healing and the next generation of healthcare practitioners, are provided a rich laboratory and education in serving the community par excellence.

I stand here today thanking all of you who helped make this possible: President John Fry, Dean Gloria Donnelly, and Patty Gerrity for their wisdom and leadership; the entire dedicated staff, volunteers, and interns at 11th Street who have worked tirelessly; family, friends, colleagues, and other donors, who have been supportive; Jim Tucker, Bob Francis, and Drexel facilities, who together with the architects and builders created and built this beautiful beacon of light; the many dignitaries who have supported and encouraged this expansion and grace us with their presence today (Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, United States Senator Bob Casey and his wife Terese, State Senator Vince Hughes, President Council Darrell Clarke, newly elected Montgomery County Commissioner Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, the newly elected Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty and The Honorables Margaret Murphy who heads family court, Phyllis Beck, William Manfredi, Marlene Lachman, and Gene Mayer; and the Italian Consul Andrea Canepari and his wife) I hope I did not leave anyone out. In addition I thank the department heads of Hahnemann Creative Arts in Therapies and Couples and Family Therapies at Drexel and all their representatives here today who were instrumental in my education and the education of those working at 11th Street in those modalities, and who will be actively involved in continuing to support and expand much healing at 11th Street. A special thanks to Rabbi Jill Maderer from Rodeph Shalom Synagogue for partnering with 11th Street in the Sunday Common Grounds fresh farm market and to Principal Laureal Robinson from the neighboring Spring Garden elementary School for participating in the installation outside the school of the Healing Homes Mural, the culmination of the Porch Light Project of the Mural Arts Program at 11th Street. And finally, I thank my loving and supportive partner and husband Steve Sheller, who matches my love and enthusiasm for this work and place, and has helped make this possible with his generosity.

When we allow ourselves to get close and care about people and communities less fortunate who are often overlooked, it changes who we are and has the potential to transform the difficult things we did not want to see or sought to shield ourselves from. We are proud to somehow be a part of this work and transformation. As Elie Wiesel, a holocaust survivor once said, “A simple act of love may tip the balance.” Providing high quality state-of-the-art holistic and comprehensive care to those who otherwise would not have health care access will make for a better and more resilient community- a better and stronger Philadelphia, and enrich all our lives. There is much more to do. Can we count on all of you to continue to help tip the balance with your involvement and love for this place and the community it serves? Thank you very much.