Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Continuing down the lane

My new friend Joyce (from Vancouver but she lives in Camden now - had been there the summer before me so we had each heard of each other but had only met through our blogs so far and now she lives with Lisa so we finally got to meet in real life - that's about accurate, hey Joyce?) came up to meet us for the day so we hit NYC! So, what do 4 girls in the Big Apple like to do? Ok, I guess some like to drink Cosmopolitans, but these 4 were off to shop!

And shop we did. Here we are perusing the streets.

So much shopping ... can you guess what I bought? NOTHING!!! I actually wasn't in the mood to shop, but I love New York so much that I was just happy to be there (even when it started gushing rain). I walked around and took pictures and had a great day.

I just LOVE the buildings in New York. Much more history on the East Coast then the West Coast, that's for sure.

Does this picture above bring a certain TV show to anyone's mind? Loved that show and was sad when it went off the air. :(

Yes, Bloomingdales ... and nope, I still didn't buy anything.

Ok, I lied. I just remembered that I did buy something.

I'm so touristy ... but I love it! Actually, I heart NY. :)

At the end of the day we went back to Deana's, packed up and the 3 of us hailed a cab (took about 2 seconds, btw) and off we went to Penn Station to catch our train back to Jersey.

Our cab let us off and after I got my back pack on, I turned around and saw this beautiful specimen.

Joyce and Linda were already on their way into Penn Station so I was running (with a huge backpack on my back) so this pic turned out a little blurry. Sorry about that.

Then I turned the next corner and what did I see ...

For any basketball fans out there, this is a cool place. This is where the New York Knicks play! Ok, concerts and other sporting activities happen here as well, but can you see what they put on top of the sign? A basketball! Need I point out which sport is THE BEST? :) I guess this is where Marcus Naslund will soon be playing, too. Boooooo!

Madison Square Garden ... often called MSG for short. Never did get to see the inside. :(

Here we are on the hottest train of all time. Poor pregnant Linda was having a hard time of it. I think I may have dozed off for a bit. Sorry Lin! I think I fanned you for a bit, didn't I?

Safely back in Camden (wait, I hadn't even been there yet!) Ok, scratch that. Now that I was finally in Camden, Linda and I went and visited the Urban Promise (UP) Headquarters where we both used to work. Aaaah, lots of good times in this building. My second year there we both worked in the office and had a lot of fun.

Here we ran into many old friends.

Top left: Linda and Bruce Main - Bruce was the Director at UP when we were there and just this past March he became the President of UP. Bruce pretty much started UP Camden in 1985 and has been there ever since (good old Canadian boy done good!). There are now UP's in Delaware, Toronto and Vancouver as well. This past year Camden was featured on 20/20 with Diane Sawyer and because of that UrbanPromise got a lot of media coverage. One family was even on Extreme Makeover, Home Edition (more to come on that later).

Top center: Ms. Heath (was the kindergarten teacher when we were there), Linda and Geri Alvarez. Geri worked in the office when we were there, then moved away for awhile and now she's back. Geri was amazing to us interns and holds a very special place in my heart for helping me through some tough times there. Geri didn't know that Linda and I were coming, so it was fun to see the reaction on her face.

Top right: Linda, Sandy & Brian Newhall - Brian directed the camp that Linda worked at her first year at UP.

Middle left: Michelle Boone Joshua (another Cdn girl - married a UP worker and have one girl and another on the way)

Middle middle: me and Bruce

Middle right: Linda, Ashley (Brian & Sandy's daughter who was 6 or 7 when we left), Joyce and Georgie

Bottom left: Lisa (my wee, Irish friend) and myself

Bottom center: myself and Greg (who was 13 when I left)
Bottom right: Monique and myself - Monique was in the Gospel Choir that I thought I was going to volunteer with to drive them around to their concerts. That's actually how I heard about UP. They came and did a concert at Northview and I took 2 girls as billets. A few years later, there I was. Anyways, I signed up to help with the Choir because it had brought me to Camden, but when I went to the first practice, I was put up on stage with everyone else! How do you think this little white, Canadian girl did in a Gospel Choir? Well, I might've looked funny and clapped off rhythm, but I had a GREAT time. Luckily, Linda was in the choir with me and we even got to travel to England, Scotland and Ireland with the group. Good times, good times.

This building below wasn't even there when we left. It was a bar that UP bought, bulldozed and built up into a wonderful building for the street leaders. Street leaders are the teens who are too old to be in the after school programs anymore so they get paid to help out in the programs.

Just across the street is the building that I worked in my 1st year there. It's called Rosedale/Eastside. Rosedale was downstairs with the 1st - 4th Graders (where I worked) and Eastside was upstairs for the 5th - 8th Graders.

This was our gym (program had just finished when we were there).

And this was my classroom with the 1st and 2nd Grades. Wow. Brings back a lot of memories.

I managed to dig out this picture from when I was there. Yes, I had VERY short hair at one time. These were MY girls! This is (from left to right): Jala, Debbie, Sasha, Champale, Jessica, me, Jessica, Shakira and Linda. Don't you just love the look on Jessica's (in orange) face? So great. I mentioned before that program had just finished before we got there, which was a little sad for me because these I was hoping to see some of these girls again as streetleaders, but none of them were around. Too bad.
This poster now hangs on the side of the UP building. I just love it.

This was the house I lived in. It was nicknamed, The Rock. Why? I don't really know, actually. Linda, do you know? There were 15 of us living in this house. We had a schedule for cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and showering. It was crazy ... but fun!

Back view. My 1st year I had the room just above the back door.

It's now a lawyer's office. I went in to sneak a peak and they were very friendly, but didn't offer to let me go upstairs or look around the rest of the house which is totally understandable. After I left I was sitting in Lisa's car with her and the lady came outside and started asking questions about where we were from and told us that she had heard really great things about Urban Promise. It's good to know that Urban Promise is still liked around the neighbourhood.

This was a house in South Camden that a few of my friends lived in.

Also while in Camden, we had to hit some of our favorite eateries. Here we are at Pizzeria Uno with Lisa. Mmmm, mmmm, mmmmm. That's some gooooood pizza!

And this? This is my favorite fast food joint of ALL TIME! Chick-fil-a is THE BEST!!! I wish we had them in Canada. I would honestly go there over Wendy's any day. While we were eating our chicken burger, I looked at Linda and said, "Why so good?" and she said, "I know, right!" They also have a really funny ad campaign. It's all cows telling you to Eat Mor Chikin. Lisa, Fed Ex me some, please. :)

On Linda's last night in town, we headed down to the Camden waterfront and had a bunch of people come and join us. This next picture shows how close Camden and Philadelphia are. Linda and Lisa are in a restaurant in Camden and that's Philly in the background (with the Delaware River in between).

More friends!
Top left: Joyce, me and Monique
Top center: Jacob and me - Jacob was also in the Gospel Choir and was about 17 when I left. I can honestly say that Jacob was one of my favorite Camden people. SUCH a nice guy.
Top right: Lisa, Kumarr (Linda worked at his camp her 1st year and she totally didn't recognize him) and Albert (he and his twin always hung out in our office because they are really close to one of the guys we worked with in our office and they now direct camps).
That was a really fun night catching up.
After we left the restaurant, Linda still hadn't done all she wanted to do, so off we went to Philly to get a Cheesesteak at the famous Pat's Steaks which is directly across the street from ...

Geno's Steaks. They are both quite well known and if you ever get to Philly, I would recommend stopping by, but I would recommend eating at Pat's because ...

Geno's is sporting this sign which I don't think is too friendly.

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine sure is, so I'll sign off with this last picture dropping Linda off at the airport. Bye, Linda. Wish you could've stayed longer. Thanks for putting this trip idea into our heads.

I still have a few days to blog about, so I'll do one last post and then I'll move on. Thanks for sticking with me!

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