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October 29, 2009

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Unbelievable accomplishments honored this week
No one else on planet Earth like Deborah Groeber


Deborah has had four guide dogs over the past 22 years. Here she is seen with “Etzel,” who has been with her since
November, 2005. “He is a really good guide dog,” she said.

When I was growing up in West Oak Lane, I was very proud of the fact that my mother, Anna, would get on a bus two or three times every week to go to the Lighthouse of the Blind in North Philadelphia, where she was a volunteer. She would read to the blind residents, exchange stories about their respective families and even teach them to crochet. She used to say it was the most rewarding thing she had ever done.

I know my mom, who died in 1987, would have been very, very proud of Deborah Groeber, a truly unique woman whose life’s work has been turning disabilities into abilities, both for herself and for others.Deborah, 43, a resident of Glenside (along with her husband, Anthony Cirillo), a graduate of Columbia University Law School, is the first individual who is deaf-blind in the history of this country (and possibly, the world) to graduate from an American accredited law school!

(Thanks to the play and movie, “The Miracle Worker,” most of us know about Helen Keller, the world’s most famous blind and deaf person, and how she was taught to read by her devoted teacher, Annie Sullivan. But Deborah has gone far beyond that.)

As if her academic accomplishments were not impressive enough (she also has an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School of Business), Deborah also began volunteering at Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in 2003. She is a Board Member and Chairperson for the Gilles Estate Fund Committee, which raises funds to provide adaptive aids and technological devices to assist those who are deaf-blind.


Are current Phillies the city’s best baseball team ever?

Manager Charlie Manuel and shortstop Jimmy Rollins are seen on a TV screen holding up a “Champs!” headline immediately after the ending of game 5 in last year’s World Series. Will this year’s team prove against the Yankees that they are the best baseball team in Philadelphia history? (Photo by Len Lear)

Since the Phillies defeated the L.A. Dodgers, 4 to 1, in the National League playoff finals last week, many callers to local sports radio shows as well as Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist Phil Sheridan have anointed the current Phillies as “the greatest Philadelphia team of all time.”

Are the fans and sportswriters who are proclaiming the present Phils as the all-time best simply caught up in the hype and emotion of the current euphoria? Or are they making an objective evaluation of the facts? To get some historical perspective on the issue, we put the question to John Rossi, 73, who is not only an American History scholar but a baseball history scholar as well.

Rossi grew up on 2nd and Ruscomb Streets in Olney and graduated from La Salle High School and La Salle College. Now a Jenkintown resident, he earned his Master’s degree from Notre Dame and Ph.D. in history from the University of Pennsylvania.


For Halloween, N.W. Philly’s ‘Top 10 haunted places’

Northwest Philadelphia is a neighborhood steeped in history. From the first American protest against slavery in 1688 to the Battle of Germantown fought in 1777, plenty of significant events have occurred in our own back yard. With such a rich lore of history, it is no surprise that Northwest Philadelphia has its fair share of ghost stories as well. 

This Halloween, I decided to visit local archives and residences to assemble a list of some of these haunted sites. After collecting data and personal testimony on several sites in the area, I compiled a list of what appears to be the “Top 10 haunted places” in Northwest Philadelphia. 



Shear bliss at new Hill location for Follicles Salon

Jayne Joseph, 54 (right), and Jennifer Simes, 38, own and operate Follicles Design Center Inc. which just moved to the back of The Chestnut Hill Hotel in August. (Photo by Paula Riley)

Nine years ago, Philadelphia natives Jayne Joseph, 54, and Jennifer Simes, 38, met each other while working at a local hair salon. “I knew instantly,” said Joseph, “that she would make a great partner.”

This partnership began in the fall of 2001 when Joseph and Simes opened Follicles Salon in Chestnut Hill. Originally located at 7723 Germantown Ave., next to the Night Kitchen, their salon has experienced great success which they attribute to their strong partnership and attention to client needs.

With a generation between them and two very different personalities, the partners have created a balance for each other and their business which they believe is the key to their success. “I’m tough. I stir things up, and I handle the business stuff,” says Joseph of herself. Pointing to Simes beside her, she says, “This one is gentle, laid back and always keeping the peace.”



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