Community Resources

Germantown United CDC announces new team members

Germantown United CDC is excited to introduce new team members Renae Bruce-Miller and Rhakeim Miller to the Germantown community.

Renae Bruce-Miller is a seasoned global business development specialist with a passion for seeing entrepreneurs at all stages thrive. Rhakeim Miller is an experienced grassroots organizer and coalition-builder, with over 10 years of public service as a staffer in city and state government. Both Renae and Rhakeim (no relation) are neighborhood residents, raising young families in the community, and thrilled to have the opportunity to apply their professional expertise in business and housing in Germantown. 

The two join longtime staff members Andrew Trackman, Executive Director, Emaleigh Doley, Corridor Manager, and Administrator Josanne Ford, who began working with GU in the summer of 2018. GU is governed by a volunteer board of directors comprised of Germantown residents and representatives of local business, educational and service institutions. Learn more about the staff and board.

About the new team members

Rhakeim Miller, Neighborhood Advisory Committee Manager

Rhakeim will serve as Germantown United CDC’s first Neighborhood Advisory Committee Manager. The organization is now participating in the Neighborhood Advisory Committees Program, commonly referred to as NAC, an extension of the City of Philadelphia’s Division of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)The NAC Program serves Philadelphia’s low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. NACs provide resources and referrals that address numerous problems that lead to homelessness, and engage residents with activities that support the City’s core objectives, including:

  • Promoting neighborhood sustainability through programs addressing homelessness prevention, energy conservation education, housing preservation, neighborhood safety, and health and wellness
  • Utilizing referral services for available housing counseling, workforce development and economic opportunities
  • Cultivating youth mentoring and civic engagement
  • Ensuring resident participation in City planning and development initiatives

The Germantown neighborhood has not had an active NAC for several years, and we are excited to be reviving this much-needed resource under Rhakeim’s leadership.

Throughout his career, Rhakeim has worked with civic leaders, policymakers, and business owners to institute community investment programs and practices his commitment to housing preservation and economic development by advocating for impactful neighborhood improvements that benefit established and new residents. As a small business owner raising his family in Germantown, Rhakeim has a personal commitment to the continued positive change in the community. He is also an avid runner (you can often catch him running down Germantown Ave) and has a love for art museums.

Renae Bruce-Miller, Corridor Manager

As Corridor Manager, Renae will be facilitating the delivery of local access to supportive business programs and enhancing Germantown United CDC’s commercial corridor and economic development activities. Since 2015, Germantown United CDC has been participating in the Targeted Corridor Management Program (TCMP), managed by the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce recognizes the need in Germantown, and has increased GUCDC’s contract, enabling the organization to grow its corridor management team.

Renae was born into a family of small business owners in Jamaica and was educated at Wolmer’s Girls High School. She went on to study Hospitality Management and Business Administration at Monroe College in NYC and has since earned several additional certificates to satisfy the growing demands of business needs. Prior to joining GUCDC in January 2019, Renae worked with corporations small and large as a consultant, helping businesses achieve their goals in New Market Development, Digital Marketing, Sales Conversion, Brand Development, Business Strategies, Web Development, Financial Guidance and a host of other well-developed skills that she will use to assist the Germantown business community. Renae has chosen Germantown as her home, where she is raising her young family, and sees the neighborhood as a developing community for both businesses to grow and families to thrive. 

Organizational growth

Germantown United CDC grew out of a grassroots movement to protect Germantown from a shortsighted development. The organization was founded in 2012, hired it’s first executive director in 2014, and is now operating with four full-time and one part-time employees as of January 2019.

In 2018, GU adopted a new five-year strategic plan, which sharpened the organization’s mission, assessed program activities, and looked for opportunities to enhance its community building and economic development work through the year 2023. The organization’s mission statement now reads:

The mission of the Germantown United CDC is to promote and facilitate the revitalization of Germantown and its business corridors through a sustainable, creative, and community-driven approach to economic development.

GU has already achieved several of the recommendations set forth in the plan, including increasing its work around housing, from foreclosure prevention to pre-purchase and home-ownership counseling. (For a CliffsNotes version of what’s changed, click here.)

As we enter into the New Year, the board and staff of GU would like to acknowledge and thank our many community partners, stakeholders, and constituents who have shaped the organization, and support our mission and vision for a strong and united Germantown.

CliffsNotes: An Overview of GU’s Five-Year Plan

Germantown United CDC released the organization’s five-year strategic plan in September 2018. This new plan will help prioritize and advance our work in Germantown now through the year 2023.

We encourage all our partners, neighborhood advocates, and community stakeholders to give the full plan a looksee. We also know 36 pages is a lot to take in 🙂 So if you’re looking for a quick overview of what’s changed, read on!

Biggest Update: Expanding Our Mission

GUCDC has expanded its focus on commercial corridor revitalization and role representing businesses to representing the entire Germantown community. We are increasing our investment in community building, outreach and engagement. The issues prompting this shift are documented in the full plan. The organization’s mission statement now reads:

The mission of the Germantown United CDC is to promote and facilitate the revitalization of Germantown and its business corridors through a sustainable, creative, and community-driven approach to economic development.

The bustling intersection of Germantown Ave. & Chelten Ave. (photo: Monique Brand)

Read more »»»

Free First-time Homebuyer Workshops in Germantown

Beginning in September 2018, Germantown United CDC will increase its work around affordable housing and homeownership. We are committed to bringing new housing counseling services to the neighborhood, and connecting residents with existing resources in Germantown and nearby, including pre-purchase and home-ownership counseling, foreclosure prevention, anti-predatory lending education, financial counseling, and a renter assistance referral system. But wait, there’s more! »»»

New Farmers Market Opens in Germantown

Starting Thursday, June 14, 2018 The Food Trust’s newest farmers market opens in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood, as a place for community members to gather, purchase healthy foods, listen to music, enjoy arts and cultural programming, and take advantage of free community resources. The market, hosted in collaboration with Germantown United Community Development Corp. and Weavers Way Co-op, will be open to the public through October every Thursday, 3-7 p.m., at Germantown Avenue and East School House Lane.

Shoppers can enjoy:

  • Fresh fruits & veggies from Zookie’s Produce
  • Cooking demos by The Food Trust nutrition educators
  • Nuts, dried fruit, coffee, granola and other sustainably sourced bulk and packaged foods from Weavers Way Co-op
  • Community resources, music, arts & entertainment sponsored by Germantown United CDC
  • Food truck fare and prepared foods, including Ashbell’s Smokehouse Deli

But wait, there’s more! »»»

Response to Lower Germantown Blight and Housing Threat Before the PRA

The mission of Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC) is to promote and facilitate the revitalization of Germantown and its business corridors through a sustainable, creative, and community-driven approach to economic development.

In February of 2018, Germantown United CDC became aware that the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) was considering a proposal to refinance $3.3 million in loans­––with forgiveness of all back taxes, all utility liens, and all late penalties and interest accumulated over a 25-year period––on 50+ properties concentrated in lower Germantown (an estimated 140+ units of housing).

News of the proposal before the PRA was met with overwhelming outrage. Thanks to substantial pressure, community organizing and advocacy, the PRA rejected the proposal and is moving forward with foreclosure, calling it “the responsible course of action that is best for the Germantown neighborhood and for the ongoing preservation and maintenance of this important affordable housing.” If successful, the PRA will take control of these properties. At this time however, exactly what will happen to these properties remains influx and unknown. But wait, there’s more! »»»

Experience Germantown! The Germantown Second Saturday Festival is Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Germantown Second Saturday Festival will be held on Saturday, May 12, 2018 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Northwest Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood. The community festival invites the public to experience Germantown, celebrates the kick-off the Second Saturday series–when all 16 Historic Germantown sites are open monthly–and showcases the many thriving cultural, civic, and business attractions and activities that make Germantown an exciting place to live and visit. But wait, there’s more! »»»

Germantown Community Radio Now Live at 92.9 FM on the FM Dial

The Germantown Community Radio Partners will celebrate the launch of Germantown’s new low power FM radio station on Saturday, February 17 from 2pm ­– 5pm with special on-air programming and satellite listening parties. 92.9 FM is Germantown Community Radio: All Germantown All the Time. Now broadcasting live from downtown Germantown, the station features locally produced and syndicated non-commercial programming.

The festivities on February 17th include two pop-up listening parties featuring meet-and-greets with show hosts, giveaways, and the opportunity to record an interview for radio broadcast. The listening parties will be held at Germantown Life Enrichment Center, located at 5722 Greene St, from 2pm – 4pm, and Germantown Espresso Bar, located at 26 Maplewood Mall, from 2pm – 5pm.

Representatives from the Germantown Community Radio Partners will also be live in the studio from 2pm – 5pm, located at the headquarters of G-town Radio (26 Maplewood Mall). On-air programming will include an introduction of new radio hosts, special guests from the Germantown community, a sneak peek at exciting programming in the works, and other behind the scenes stories. Listeners are encouraged to call the studio at 215-609-4301 and get on the air. But wait, there’s more! »»»

Speak Up, Speak Out for Germantown at District Plan Meeting January 8th

Like each of the Philadelphia2035 District Plans, The Upper Northwest Plan is informed by a series of public meetings to ensure that the plan’s goals are compatible with community needs. Meetings will be held on weekday evenings in the District at transit-accessible locations. Explore the Upper Northwest District website.

The first public meeting for the Upper Northwest District Plan will be:

Monday January 8th, 2018 at 6:30pm
Brossman Center, Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia
7301 Germantown Avenue

But wait, there’s more! »»»

Germantown Market Square Pop-Up Farmers Market, Sunday, Oct. 8

The Germantown Market Square Pop-Up Farmers Market will be held on Sunday, October 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Market Square Park, located at 5501 Germantown Ave (between School House Ln and Church Ln). The market will feature goods from Wild Flour Bakery, Sweet LadyBug Gluten Free Bakery, Weavers Way Co-op, Lancaster Hummus Company, Germantown Kitchen Garden, and more.

Why a pop-up farmers market? Germantown United CDC, Weavers Way Co-op, and Greener Pastures are assessing the level of interest of consumers in the community for a permanent weekly farmers market. Come experience the pop-up! For more information: 215-856-4303 or info@germantownunitedcdc.org.

Can’t attend? Take this short survey and help us gather information and build a market that provides the products and services you desire. Survey >>

Announcing the 2017 “Pillar of the Community” Award Recipients

Germantown United CDC is pleased to announce the second annual recipients of the organization’s Pillar of the Community award are civic advocate Reverend Chester Williams of the Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club and business leader Suzanne Quinn of Bargain Thrift Center. 

With this award Germantown United CDC acknowledges those among us who have significantly contributed to the betterment of our community. Rev. Chester Williams is a dedicated roll-up your sleeves guy doing everything from networking with politicos to tutoring adults, to cleaning up the neighborhood and running Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club. Bargain Thrift Center is a stalwart mainstay in our community, thanks to owner Suzanne Quinn. The second-hand shop opened in 1985, and remains one of Philadelphia’s favorite thrift stores. Bargain Thrift is a buzz with shoppers and activity day in and day out, and is an important and positive part of Germantown’s business community.

As dedicated and steadfast champions for Germantown the award recipients embody the values of GUCDC. Toast the honorees with us at For the Love Of Germantown! Fundraiser on Thursday, April 27th at Rittenhouse Soundworks. Tickets are now on sale >>

About the Award Recipients

Suzanne Quinn
Bargain Thrift Center

“I love being a part of such a tight knit, vibrant, and historic neighborhood. The best part of my job is the people, and I’m so grateful for the relationships I’ve developed over so many years with customers and staff.” – Suzanne Quinn

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Suzanne Quinn graduated from Temple University (1992) with BA in Economics & International Business. Her father, George Chase, opened his first resale business in Germantown in 1977. Quinn began working in the shop at Germantown Avenue & Queen Lane in 1985 during summer breaks. Suzanne is married (Bill) with two teenage daughters (Brooke and Devon).

As a family-owned business, the core tenants of Bargain Thrift Center are a sense of community and family. Bargain Thrift Center is a place where many of the staff know customers by name and where everyone is welcome to shop in a clean, comfortable atmosphere. Whether you’re looking to snag a unique piece of home decor, a great pair of name brand jeans, or just need a practical kitchen item, Bargain Thrift Center is your source for affordable, quality goods and hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. From the Premium Goods Pop-Up Shop, to the $1 or less clothing section at Bargain Thrift Warehouse Outlet, the store has something for everyone.

Stop by one of Quinn’s two retail locations on Germantown Avenue and see for yourself why Bargain Thrift Center continues to be one of Philadelphia’s leading thrift stores.

BARGAIN THRIFT CENTER
5261 Germantown Avenue (at Queen Lane)
Open Monday-Saturday
10:00am-5:45pm
p: 215.849.3225

What you’ll find here: Brand name clothing and accessories, jewelry, housewares, linens, toys, games, books, artwork, vintage and collectibles.

BARGAIN THRIFT OUTLET WAREHOUSE
4530 Germantown Avenue (at Berkley Street)
Open Wednesday-Saturday
10:00am-5:00pm
p: 215.843.1300

What you’ll find here: All clothing, accessories, small housewares, and bric-a-brac for $1 per piece or less.


Reverend Chester Williams
Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club

Rev. Chester Harold Williams works tirelessly to help his community, located in the Northwest section of Philadelphia. While “pastoring” is his number one calling, Rev. Williams wears many hats. He has served for over 30 consecutive years as Block Captain for the 6200 Block of Chew Avenue in East Germantown. Established in 1981, Rev. Williams is Founder and President of the Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club, Inc., serves as the Committee Person representing constituents residing in the 59th Ward, 10th Division, and works on countless issues that impact his community. He partners with neighboring civic groups, and works diligently to get the voices of his homeowner and renting neighbors heard and their needs addressed.

Recent issues he has represented his community on include: the replacement of SEPTA’s ailing Chew Avenue Bridge (at Walnut Lane) and improved safety measures at the SEPTA’s Washington Lane Regional Train Station; flooding in area homes and streets; identifying greening opportunities in the neighborhood; job opportunities, including for ex-offenders; rallying the community about the dangers of drugs; promoting exercise thru Happy Hollow’s boxing program; working within the area’s business corridor; and helping the Homeless.

Rev. Williams was the 5th child of 10 children, born to Tal and Florence Williams. He was born on December 24, 1946 on an Army Base in Pittsburg, California. He became an Ordained Minister during his high school tenure. Respectfully known as Rev. Williams, he served his nation in the Vietnam War from 1967-1969 as a Combat Medic in the Big Red 1/18th Infantry of the United States Army. He received numerous medals, among them, the United States Purple Heart, and was honorably discharged. In 1970, shortly after his return home from the war, he was called to the position of Ruling Elder, under the direction of Bishop H.D Wilson, in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Rev. Williams worked the majority of his professional career as a Custodian and was later promoted to the position of Acting Supervisor of Mail Handlers for the U.S. Postal Service.

In serving both his nation and community, Rev. Williams has received numerous forms of recognition for acts of bravery, outstanding leadership, and community service.

Rev. Williams’ life Moto is, “You have not, because you ask not.”

He is on a continuous journey to better himself spiritually and encourages others to do the same. Rev. Williams is always concerned with spreading good news throughout his community. He considers himself simply as, “One crying in the wilderness, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.” He is the proud father of Bryan Williams and Dontay Williams, ages 26 and 22.


Celebrate with us.

Join us at Germantown United CDC’s annual fundraiser For the Love of Germantown! on Thursday, April 27 from 6 – 9 p.m.

This year’s party will be held at Rittenhouse Soundworks (219 W Rittenhouse St), a hub for live music housed in a former Chrysler automotive shop turned recording studio. Come out and socialize with your neighbors and supporters of this artistic, historic, and diverse neighborhood, bid on one of a kind auction items, and enjoy good music, food, and cheer! Tickets are now on sale >>

Show your support for the Pillar of the Community participants.
Use Code: PILLAR to receive 33% off your ticket purchase.

Event registration is ​$75.00.
First-time attendee tickets available for $35.

Contact Us
215-856-4303
Open Monday through Friday. We encourage you to call ahead to confirm availability.
Fuel the Momentum
Join us on our annual campaign to raise $55,000 by the end of 2018.
Neighborhood Newsletter

Subscribe to our email newsletter and stay up to date on all things Germantown.