Yvonne Thompson-Friend

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Daisy Reddick
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Tim Styer
Yvonne Thompson-Friend
Mabel Williams
Dr. William Winston
Dan Winterstein

Yvonne Thompson-Friend

Yvonne Thompson-Friend’s whole life and work has been devoted to public service. She worked in the state legislature for many years and now designs workforce initiatives for Greater Philadelphia First. She has been selected as a Good Neighbor for her work in Mt. Airy. But her previous political experience has helped make her so effective a leader in our community.

Yvonne has long been an advocated for equity in education. But, as she says, “when I became a mother, it became real personal.” For the past four years, Yvonne has been one of the leaders of the Henry Home and School Association. As one of the district representatives of the Henry Home and School Association, Yvonne was an important advocate for the school with city and state governments. In the last year, Yvonne has helped the school get through what she calls a period of “turmoil.” “Folks saw me as a person who could build bridges. So I was approached to serve as chairman of a transition team and then leader of a movement to bring in a new principal.”  Her neighbors say that “her ability to remain focused on the needs of the kids and articulate those needs” lead to election as President of the Home and School Association. As President, she hopes to “reach out to businesses and the community to make Henry much more a part of the community.”

Yvonne is also the leader of the 6600 block of Wayne Avenue, which she was instrumental in organizing. She says, “We organized around issues as simple as tree maintenance. We had several trees fall across the street with some near-fatalities. I found out that there was a program for maintaining those trees. But we were not getting the dollars mostly because neighbors weren’t aware of what was available. When I contacted Councilman Michael Nutter and some other people downtown, he said, ‘Yvonne I an trying to get some legislation through, maybe you can help us.’ So I went and petitioned the neighbors and we provided a statement of support as some other groups did. A million dollars added to the tree maintenance program in the city.” Now everyone on the block relies on her. “We had a block party because the kids knocked on my door and said, ‘Miss Yvonne, aren’t you the organizer person? We want a day in which the street is blocked off and we can play in the street. Can’t you do that?’” “So we organized a block party.”

Yvonne loves Mt. Airy. But, compared to the small town she grew up in, she says, “It is not always easy to get people involved.” “I am from the State College area. There everyone is involved in just about everything you do. There are only 2000 people in the town. Here people are a bit more reticent to come out. They expect that someone else will take care of it. You have to knock on doors, send letters, make phone calls and then you have to do it again. It is not that people don’t care but they are so busy living their lives. For us, with the block association, I had to touch on things that weren’t so global that had to do with everyday living to get them to organize. Once you get people involved, people think ‘hey, we can get this accomplished.” People then get more involved. But, as Yvonne says, “it is hard work and you have to put a lot into it.”

Yvonne likes her work. But, of her community efforts she says, “I do this because this is what I love.”