For over three years, Philly Counts has assisted with connecting residents to vital resources across the city of Philadelphia. Whether it is making sure our communities are counted in the 2020 Census, facilitating election work, or conducting COVID-19 vaccine outreach, Philly Counts has reached our most vulnerable residents. Their impact is tremendous and often raises the question, “how does the Philly Count team do the work they do?” The answer is simple, participants in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) through the Mayor’s Commission on Aging (MCOA) make it all possible – they are our unsung heroes.

At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, stay-at-home orders were in place and Philly Counts needed creative ways to safely engage with residents. At the same time, SCSEP needed to transition seniors into employment positions that would keep them safe and healthy. This was the beginning of a partnership that soon became a cornerstone of Philly Counts.

SCSEP participants have worked alongside Philly Counts, handling intricate and impactful tasks including labeling flyers, canvassing, and phone banking. Philly Counts worked tirelessly to provide residents with critical information about the closest COVID-19 vaccination site to them. This was a detailed task that we could not have accomplished without the help of SCSEP. During an unprecedented time, we worked together to solve problems for the communities we are proud to serve.

“Philly Counts has turned our Senior Community Service Program participants into trusted messengers supporting their own communities during the pandemic. This has given our participants the experience, skills, and confidence to enter 21st-century jobs,” said Nora Dowd Eisenhower, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Commission on Aging.

Through phone banking that SCSEP conducts, we are able to have a pulse on what are the top concerns and needs of Philadelphia residents. The Philly Counts SCSEP participants helped connect residents to the Child Tax Credit, eviction support services, and food and housing resources. In addition, they helped make over 16,000 calls to residents scheduled to have their water shut off and connected them to water bill assistance. This effort resulted in over 1,100 residents receiving critical support that postponed water shut-off for two weeks. We are proud to serve and to bring life-saving services and resources to residents.

When asked about the most rewarding part of her experience, MCOA staff member Yvonne Ferguson Hancel said, “Talking to people, hearing their concerns, and helping them when they are in need. There are resources to help but people just don’t know about them.”

We are grateful for the support and partnership demonstrated by MCOA and SCSEP. Allow us to take the time to publicly acknowledge and thank all city-wide MCOA staff for the work they do every day to make Philadelphia safer, healthier, and more equitable for all.