Monthly Archives: July 2014


JBJSF Celebrates Grand Opening of Merrick Hall

The relationship between Northern Children Services and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation began back in 2004 when the Philadelphia Soul Arena Football team built a beautiful playground on the campus. Throughout the last decade the partnership has continued – culminating in JBJ Soul Foundation’s support of the renovation of Merrick Hall.

“From day one on the campus of Northern Children’s Services some ten years ago, I marveled at the history and hidden beauty of that old building – Merrick Hall,” stated Jon Bon Jovi, Chairman of the JBJ Soul Foundation. “When this project came about, it was a natural fit for us to provide one of the lead donations for this building. It is wonderful to see it now fully restored to glory and in use for such a purposeful cause – addressing the needs of young mothers in this community.”

Not only does Merrick Hall stand for the successful future of the Generations program, it represents the rich history behind the past 161 years of service of Northern Children’s Services. Thanks to this newly renovated building, the organization will be able to change the lives of more young women and children in the community who need it most, just as it was able to do in 1853 for orphans described as “innocent victims of social poverty during an era of unparalleled economic luxury.” Learn more about the history of Northern Children’s Services and how it has evolved from an orphanage to now being one of the only accredited facilities of its kind in the Philadelphia area by clicking here.

“The (Merrick) building will now expand our capacity to serve the needs of the Generation programs. In addition, it will provide 4 permanent housing units for our homeless Mother/Baby population. This is a tremendous accomplishment for Northern and the community that we serve. I am extremely proud and thankful to our Board of Directors, supporters and donors. Without their support, this would have not been possible,” Mr. Lavallias said.

A current resident of the Generations program, Brittney, gave a tearful speech to the crowd explaining the significant impact Northern Children’s Services and Generations program has had on the life of her and her son, Rashee.

“With all of this love and support given I was able to graduate from high school on time despite the fact I had my son at a young age. Furthermore, NCS as a team was very helpful and a huge blessing in making my prom a vigilant success,” Brittney said. “Ms. Cherenne (Peoples), Ms. Rasheedah (Small), Ms. Isis (Polard) and Ms. Nakia (Gordon), thank you for never turning your cheek. When times got rough – those times when I felt like giving up – your words of encouragement helped me through.”

JBJSF Celebrates Grand Opening of Merrick Hall

Ribbon Cutting at the Merrick Hall Grand Opening Celebration

For details about the Generations program and the impact of Merrick Hall on the lives of these teenage mothers, who are either homeless or transitioning out of foster care, please click here.

In addition to the JBJ Soul Foundation, IKEA and Wawa were huge contributors to the success of this project. For the past 27 years, Wawa has been an invaluable partner and a huge component to the success of Northern Children’s Services. Because of Wawa’s great generosity, a day care was created on campus and many donations were given to aid with events and projects. Thanks to their lead commitment of $430,000 towards the Generations Campaign for Merrick Hall, the building was able to undergo a complete renovation and open its doors up for the first time today. The relationship between Wawa and Northern Children’s Services is a special one and one that continues to grow.

Thanks to IKEA, furniture from the store was not only donated to the building but over the course of three days, employees from the South Philadelphia, Conshohocken, and their Corporate Office came and assembled all of the furniture for each and every room.

“IKEA is proud to support Northern Children’s Services, an organization that has great value in the communities it serves. Our expertise in home furnishings was a natural fit to donate and furnish the residential living spaces (including apartments, dorms, and shared living and dining rooms) at the newly renovated Merrick Hall. The IKEA team of talented designers from Conshohocken and New Haven were able to bring in all their home furnishing knowledge to support a better everyday life for the young mother and babies living at Northern Children’s Services. In addition, Urban Express supported the transportation and assembly of over 100 pieces of IKEA furniture. At the final phase, over 50 co-workers from IKEA Conshohocken, IKEA South Philadelphia, and the IKEA Service Office, along with support from our friends at Philadelphia University, came together for three days to transform Merrick Hall into a warm and inviting home,” commented Camilla Meiby, Store Manager IKEA Conshohocken.

Now that the doors have opened, Tracey Lavallias, CEO and President of Northern Children’s Services, is able to say that the same vision he had when he stepped into this role in 2008 has finally come true.

“One of the first buildings that caught my attention was Merrick Hall, not only because of its appeal but the history behind this building. I distinctly remembered the children occupying the building when I was first employed in 1997, including about 30 adolescent boys residing in the dormitory style housing that Merrick consisted of. I distinctly remember one troubled resident completely turning his life around. He is currently a part-time employee and remains a part of the Northern family. These experiences prompted the resurrection of Merrick Hall, with the goal of helping more children and families overcome obstacles and achieve their goals,” Mr. Lavallias said.

To see more images from the Grand Opening Celebration, please visit our Photo Gallery


About Northern Children’s Services

Founded in 1853, Northern Children’s Services (formerly Northern Home for Children) is a comprehensive social service agency providing a continuum of behavioral health and child welfare services to children and families throughout the Greater Philadelphia area. Through the provision of family, school and community-based programs and supports, Northern Children’s Services directly affects the lives of nearly 3,000 children a year. For more information about Northern Children’s Services, visit or call 215.482.1423.


Jon Bon Jovi to Receive Marian Anderson Award

We would like to thank the board of the Marian Anderson Award as well as Mayor Michael Nutter (who made the announcement today at the Sofitel Hotel in Philadelphia) for recognizing the work of Jon and the Foundation in Philadelphia and across the country. We would also like to thank the sponsors Wells Fargo, Comcast, and PECO for helping to make this event possible. As Tracy Baumgartner, Executive Director of Community Investment of Comcast Corporation, stated in her remarks at the unveiling of this year’s award recipient “Marian Anderson persevered at a time when simply being herself was a barrier. She used her art as a platform to influence change for the generations that followed – change that continues more than 20 years after her passing. The impact of the Award, which is given in her honor, provides the opportunity to shine a spotlight on another trailblazer who puts his artistic passions to work to better our society.”

We could not agree more and congratulate Jon for his passion and leadership on projects that have made a huge impact on so many lives in communities across the nation.

Press Release:
Philadelphia, PA – June 23, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced today that Jon Bon Jovi – founder and front man for the iconic band Bon Jovi – will receive the 2014 Marian Anderson Award. The singer, song-writer, actor and producer, known for his philanthropy, has a long history of civic and humanitarian outreach which has benefitted the homeless of Philadelphia. In making the announcement, Mayor Nutter noted that, “For more than 30 years, Jon Bon Jovi has been making music loved by millions, and he has used his success to help others. The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation has succeeded in changing lives through its investment in healthcare, housing and hunger support programs, as well as being an advocate for those in need. He has supported a range of important organizations including Project H.O.M.E., Covenant House, and the Angel Network, the philanthropic organization of Marian Anderson Award recipient, Oprah Winfrey. I am proud to announce Jon Bon Jovi as this year’s recipient of the Marian Anderson Award.”

Marian Anderson Award board chair Nina C. Tinari thanked the Award’s lead sponsors Wells Fargo, PECO, and COMCAST and spoke about the board’s choice of Jon Bon Jovi as this year’s recipient. “Since 1998, the Award has been conferred upon outstanding individuals whose careers and advocacy have had a global impact. But this year, we wanted to single out an artist whose work is not only global, but also deeply invested here in Philadelphia. This marks the first time that we have looked at generosity to the City and region as part of our search. We also wanted to highlight the impact of an individual who is in the forefront of artists who have made the choice to help change the world for the better. Jon Bon Jovi is a unique candidate in this regard and is a wonderful addition to our distinguished group of honorees.”

Musically and philanthropically, Jon Bon Jovi’s work honors the spirit of America and salutes the principles that define our nation. Self-reliance, optimism and community are key concepts he embodies, not just in his music, but also in his charitable efforts. These common threads have resulted in millions of dollars raised while bringing heightened awareness to the issues of homelessness and hunger that adversely impact our society.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized by the great city of Philadelphia, in receiving this prestigious award,” stated Jon Bon Jovi. “The JBJ Soul Foundation originated in Philadelphia and will continue to reach those in need, both locally and nationally. Through the ‘power of WE,’ we can end homelessness and hunger.”

Jon Bon Jovi is Chairman of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing about positive change and helping the lives of those in need “one SOUL at a time.” The projects funded by the Soul Foundation address the issues of food and shelter for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Jon and the organization have provided funding for affordable housing and shelter for hundreds of low-income individuals and families throughout the country.

Facilities and projects range from temporary shelters, transitional housing for teens, permanent supportive housing including housing for vets and special needs populations, as well as home ownership opportunities. In October 2011, the Foundation expanded by opening The JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, New Jersey to address issues of food insecurity and has since served over 26,500 meals, and most recently reached the goal of 51% of the diners paying and 49% being in-need. The community kitchen serves nutritious, culinary dishes in a restaurant atmosphere where diners contribute either volunteer hours or a minimum donation for their meals. As the Foundation continues to expand, the goal is to assist with rebuilding pride in one’s self and one’s community – one SOUL at a time.

Musically, the Grammy Award winning rock band Bon Jovi has set the bar for over three decades as one of the most successful rock bands in the world. Globally, they have sold more than 130 million albums, performed more than 2,900 concerts in over 50 countries for more than 37.5 million fans. Throughout the years, the band has consistently delivered #1 albums and Top Ten hits – most recently, Bon Jovi’s 12th studio album, WHAT ABOUT NOW, debuted at #1 around the world while the accompanying tour became the #1 tour in the world. Jon and his wife, Dorothea, have four children and still call their native New Jersey home.

Nina Tinari went on to say, “In addition to honoring those changing our world for the better, an equally important part of our work is to encourage young men and women to follow their dreams inspired by people like Marian Anderson and Jon Bon Jovi. Miss Anderson frequently said that her career was the result of many people helping her along the way. And we at the Award are trying to provide the same crucial assistance and support for young artists through our Young Artist Study Program which is administered with the support of our partner the University of the Arts and the initiative established this year with Interlochen Summer Arts Camp in Michigan. We do that work with the important support of our sponsors and everyone who attends the Gala Dinner and Concert, so we hope you will plan to join us on November 18 when we present Jon Bon Jovi with this year’s Award in an evening of musical celebration.”

For information about the organization and attending the November 18 Award Gala Dinner please visit