June 3, 2010

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TV consumer crusader also on spiritual mission at CHC

Tracy Davidson, who is also a pastoral counseling graduate student at Chestnut Hill College, is seen here prepping for a show in the NBC 10 news studio. (Photo by Charlie Wellock, Studio Ten Creative Group)

Regular viewers of NBC 10 News know that high-profile consumer reporter Tracy Davidson is on a mission to protect consumers from ripoffs and save them money. What they may not know is that Davidson is also on a spiritual mission at Chestnut Hill College by pursuing a masters degree in pastoral counseling.

She has not yet decided whether her course work at CHC will help launch a second career or just enrich her current one, but Tracy believes that at the very least, her current studies will be an added benefit in her work to help those in need. “Maybe I will just be armed with the tools to do my current job better,” she said. “I am driven by my interest, and I absolutely love it.”

Davidson, 46, has been an anchor with the news network for 14 years, but it was about six years ago that she got the itch to try something else. With all that she had already accomplished, she wanted to help guide other people in giving thanks for what they have in life.

Ex-Fairmount Park chief now ‘creating’ landscapes

Michael Zaikowski (left) and his wife, Janine (right), owners of The Photo Workshop, 8011 Germantown Ave., discuss the work currently on exhibit through June 12 with artist Lois Schlachter, a former city official whose stunning images reflect her love of exploring shapes in space, handsome and vibrant color, balance and classical rhythm.

“The Pickers,” a painting with an abundance of colors, shapes and sizes, sits on the wall of The Photo Workshop, 8011 Germantown Ave., telling the story of a man in his childhood years. At the front sits a foreman, overlooking the work being done by a boy and his family, who are picking fruit from trees to get extra money. Lois Schlachter heard this story from her neighbor, and translated it to paper as just one of the paintings being shown at The Photo Workshop until June 12. (The 11” by 14” print is Giclée {jee-clay}, an advanced printmaking process for creating high-quality fine art reproductions.)

He told Schlachter the story, and “the next thing I know I’m painting the pickers.”

Schlachter, who will be having an artist reception at the The Photo Workshop on Friday, June 4, 6:30 p.m., said her work comes from the subconscious. There is no sketching prior to her paintings; it is just Schlachter’s paint and the canvas. “A lot of the time, I don’t know what’s going to come out until five or six days in,” she said of her work.

A decision (amputation) no one should have to make

No one who saw me looking like an ordinary shopper at Super Fresh last week could tell that I was trying to decide whether to put my mother through leg amputation surgery or not. The gangrene in her foot was spreading rapidly, and she was in enormous pain. The blood flow to her leg is almost entirely impeded. She is too old for by-pass surgery and might not survive surgery at all. If we did nothing, we would definitely lose her soon.  Surgery was her only hope for a pain-free life; could I really choose to put her through it?

Mom had only two viable options: Put her on morphine to keep her comfortable and let gangrene eat her alive, or do the unthinkable, which was to have my mother lose a leg because of a choice I made.

37 years of great food and an angel to the poor

The dishes at Portofino, created by Master Chef Giuseppe Falconio of Abruzzi, Italy (who once cooked for Pope John Paul II), are as pretty as a picture.

I will admit that Ralph Berarducci is one of my favorite all-time people because of all the charity work he does. At Thanksgiving and Christmas time every year, he probably feeds as many poor and homeless people as the Salvation Army, all at his own expense.

Ralph is the owner of Portofino, an Italian restaurant that has been at 1227 Walnut St. for 37 years. The odds of a center city restaurant lasting for 37 years are not quite as great as the odds that I will be playing quarterback for the Eagles next season, but they’re close. Yet, Ralph Berarducci, who came to Philadelphia in 1963 in his mid-20s from Italy’s Abruzzi region only to be greeted by federal officers who mistook him for a notorious South American criminal (a story too long to be told here), has made a career of defying the odds.


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