Lena Graves pumped her arms in the air to the beat of salsa music.
Graves and other participants, mostly women, did a two-step shifting their bodies left to right, then right to left. Then it was back to the frontal position, only this time they had to do a salsa back step. While tennis balls flew on an adjacent court at the Legacy Tennis and Education Center, the women worked on their abdomens and hips.
The repetitive steps required them to transfer their weight on alternating legs. Mental and physical coordination was needed. Some, caught off guard, missed a few steps, but glanced at others who were more relaxed so they could get
back in the groove.
During the Martin Luther King Day of Service on January 19, 2015, We Feed the Homeless Philly (WFTHP) held their 4th annual Get Fit for a Cause. The fundraiser provided an opportunity for people to get in shape and help the homeless.
The participants were led by fitness instructors Yanae Gaskin, Marvette Hunter
and Miko Sampson, followed by celebrity fitness instructor Anowa Adjah, the
CEO of Powerhouse Physiques, LLC. The fitness instructors led the
participants in a round of reggaeton, cumbia, salsa, samba, merengue, and
calypso moves. After a short break, Anowa (pronounced Ah-now-wah)
kept the participants moving with lively music.
Anowa provided a tip for parents to help raise healthy children. “The most
important thing to do for kids is keep it fun,” said the mother of 2-year-old
twin boys. “For kids it’s all about keeping their interest, so you want to keep it
interesting, like playing sports, [such as] basketball, tennis, or running around
the park. You want to keep it fun.”
Graves, from West Philadelphia, said that she participated in previous Zumba
classes and was glad she came. “It was a nice event. It seemed like it was
organized, fun, keeping everyone active. The instructors were great.”
Graves brought along her 4-year-old daughter, Alayna-Joy. When asked to
name her favorite part of the event, Alayna-Joy said, “moving the hands.”
Launched in 2000, Craig Stroman, the founder and CEO of WFTHP, said
that the non-profit grassroots organization focuses on servicing the food
insecure and homeless population in the city and surrounding area.
Speaking in a raspy voice, Stroman reflected on the plight of the homeless.
After a huge snowstorm late 2009, on duty as a civil rights investigator, he
saw a young girl emerge from a tent in Southwest Philadelphia. The scene
shocked him, and led him to think like a servant.
“This is the richest country in the world, and we’re not helping these
people out,” said Stroman, a husband and father of two. “A lot of people
who live in the streets don’t have a problem with [drug addiction], but
suffer from a mental health issue. Being homeless can also cause one to
suffer mental health issues,” he said.
From that moment, Stroman decided he wanted to make a difference. “God
told me to feed his people and I’ve been doing it ever since,” he said.
Stroman said that 80 percent of the proceeds raised from the annual
fundraisers are used to help with providing meals to homeless veterans,
children and families and also fund operational costs.
WFTHP’s annual black tie fundraiser event, which draws ticket sales
months in advance, will be held at the Crystal Tea Room, July 19, 2015.
You can find out how to donate to WFTHP at http://www.wefeedthehomelessphilly.org/