Eagle’s cornerback Asante Samuel arrived in South Philly this morning, not wearing his team jersey, but instead donning a pair of work boots.
The Philadelphia Eagles, he said, “know how to work hard, besides on the football field.”
When asked why he was standing on the steps of 1450 S Marston Street, his straight forward answer was simple: “to change some lives.”
Samuel’s charity, “Bring It Home Single Moms,” partners with Habitat for Humanity to provide housing to single mothers. Samuel grew up in a single parent home, Torrey Pocock, the charity’s spokesperson, said.
“There were times when he would come home and find an eviction notice on the door,” back in Ft Lauderdale where Samuel was raised. “There were times they were living in a hotel, motel, not knowing where he’s gonna be next week. How are you supposed to go to school like that?” says Pocock.
“He wants to show he’s willing to commit to the City of Philadelphia by doing these types of things, because they’ve been so good to him.”
Habitat’s assistant executive director, Corinne O’Connell, praised Samuel’s commitment to the needy. “He is committed to housing for single moms and his passion aligns with the mission of Habitat because many of the homeowners that we work with are single moms.”
“He has made the commitment of time, talent, and treasure,” says O’Connell. What sort of talent does he bring to the project?
“He’s clearly skilled, he’s got good hands,” says O’Connell, before attempting a football pun – “painting between the lines.”
There are two ongoing projects on South Marston street. Two adjacent row houses are today being worked on by Bank of America employees. At 1448 Marston volunteers are rehabbing the home, after it was damaged in a fire.
Next door, at 1450 Marston, volunteers including two Eagles cheerleaders, completely paint the inside of the nearly completed house.
The home’s recipient, Rasheeda Manning, mingles thanking volunteers for their efforts. Like all Habitat homeowners, she has volunteered 350 hours of “sweat equity” in lieu of a down payment on the home.
“We knocked the walls completely down to the beam,” she recalls. “I’ve seen it since when the cats was living here.”
Although she lives nearby currently, she has not checked in on her future home very often since participating in the demolition phase.
“I don’t want to come by here too often because there’s a pain,” Manning anxiously explains. “I’m so excited. I don’t want to keep coming by like ‘is it done yet’?”
Manning looks forward to moving in with her two children, Zahfeer, 15, and Ameerah, 12, when her new home is completed.
Asante understands the struggle single parents and their children experience.
“I was raised in a single parent home. Just being fortunate to buy my mother a house made me realize how important it was, if we had our own house to come home to everyday.”
The project is all about helping children, which are our future, explains Samuel.
“The more chances, the better chances, we can give them, I wanna be down with that.”