With her bright red hair and silver sequined tank top, Loissann Ross stood out as she sang soprano with the Sentimental Journey chorus to a small crowd outside the historic Langhurst mansion last night.
A native of Roxborough and former legal secretary, Ross says singing is a form of medicine for seniors who need some cheering up.
“I think that we bring a lot of joy to Journey’s Way because a lot of the people there are sickly and they come there to get away from sadness in their lives,” she said. “But when they hear us sing, they smile.”
The Journey’s Way program is one facet of Intercommunity Action, a more than 40-year-old human services agency based in Roxborough which offers senior care as well as mental and behavioral health programs across Northwest Philadelphia.
With over 80 attendees, the second annual spring fair, which included children’s crafts, a talent show, and even line dancing, aimed to bring awareness to the neighborhood service organization.
Over in the kids corner, popcorn, crafts, and balloons were a big hit.
Jessica Flynn, a native of Roxborough says she was inspired to bring her two young boys to the fair when she got a flyer from their school, William Levering Elementary, next door.
“It’s a good thing they have this here, there ain’t much for kids to do in the neighborhood,” she said as she slowly placed a soft clay character into her stroller. Her son Colin McCon was working on a self portrait out of white molding clay.
The event took place on the same day that Intercommunity Action launched its new website and slogan in a strategic rebranding effort. The new slogan, “Interact. Achieve Your Potential.” highlights the group’s mission to engage locals with a lively volunteer program.
Interact’s Vice President and Journey’s Way Director Cynthia Wishkovsky says the organization is trying to keep up with a few transitions as the wave of baby boomers hit the age of retirement.
“For one, we’re not as healthy as we think we are and I’ve seen many struggle financially,” said Wishkovsky. She added that many of the center’s services are free and that in 2004, Interact sponsored 64 affordable senior housing apartments. By 2009 another 35-unit housing complex was built next door equipped with dedicated space for adult daycare.
“One of the hardest things in our country in general is the fragmentation of care for families, so we at Interact really pride ourselves on working together, trying to help people find the services they need with our knowledge of various issues,” said Wishkovsky.
And for seniors like Ross, the active community drew her in. An avid tennis player, she won a gold metal during the Philadelphia senior games, an annual competition run by the city’s Parks and Recreation department. Now a great-grandmother, Ross is also part of the “Classictones,” a jazz choir that travels to community centers around the neighborhood to bring live music to events.
“I love to sing and just be around singers, they’re a very, very upbeat group,” said Ross who adds that the traveling choir isn’t an act to miss.
For more information on Intercommunity Action, go to the organization’s website.