If there is one thing that Donald “Ducky” Birts is passionate about, it’s the desire to create a better tomorrow for younger generations.
The Camden native’s entire life has been centered around progress, from marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to being part of Philadelphia’s first black-owned shopping center called Progress Plaza, to the creation of The Ducky Birts Foundation in 2006.
Those that know him best have attested that it’s not just what he does, but it’s who he is as a man.
“He is a man of his word and substance, he never gives up and believes in helping people without asking for anything in return,” said David Birts, his son.
It is his commitment to others that led him to create the Medallion Scholarship Banquet, designed to assist inner-city students with the costs of attending Cheyney and Lincoln Universities.
The organization will host their seventh banquet at the First District Plaza located at 3801 Market Street on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Birts said the scholarship has assisted more than 300 students over the years, raising approximately $50,000 each year. Tickets are $75 per person or $125 per couple.
The foundation will also host their annual Health Fair and Gospelrama on April 27 at the Zion Baptist Church located at 3600 N. Broad Street from noon to 5 p.m. The free event is sponsored by the Keystone Mercy Health Plan and will enable community members to receive valuable information about health issues including diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV and various forms of cancer.
Programs for elementary school children
In addition to aiding college-bound students, Birts is also looking forward to assisting elementary school students through the “Economics and Government Learning Experience Program,” which is designed to educate youth on economic development and government operations. The program will be held on Saturdays and offered to 60 fourth, fifth and sixth graders every 90 days.
The Mt. Airy resident said the idea of a Saturday program comes from his as a prominent high school athlete in Camden playing with Jewish students who used to head to the synagogue immediately after games. There will also be an afterschool program component that will focus on reading, writing and technology.
“I think with the gang, drug and unemployment problem in our community, if we could catch the kids earlier, they would be more successful,” said Birts. “You’ve got to give them a chance by getting them earlier, that’s my philosophy.”
Birts, who is the special assistant to U.S. Representative Bob Brady, said there is plenty left to do in the community and it starts with mentoring our youth.
“If you don’t support the kids, how are we going to prepare for tomorrow,” said Birts . “You got to give back and stop complaining because the kids need our love and help. Help them, that’s all you got to do and you will be surprised how much better it would be.”
Brits will be turning 77 on April 18.
For more information about The Ducky Birts Foundation, go to duckybirtsfoundation.com.