6 ABC News: Hometown Hero - AHARI Founder Stephanie Booker helps homeless veterans in honor of late husband
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Philadelphia woman who once struggled with homelessness and addiction is now helping others dealing with the same plight.
For Stephanie Booker, who founded "A Home is a Right," the urge she feels to help her community comes from a place of deep empathy.
"I am a product of the environment that I serve, so I know the struggles that I went through to try and find the resources I needed to try to come back to being a productive citizen in life," said Booker.
She knows how something like a simple pair of shoes can change a life.
"Sneakers like this, they cost about $100, $120 in the store. We're giving them out for free," she said of the multiple pairs of Nike shoes she gave away during an event at Panati Playground in North Philadelphia.
Helping people in need gives her joy, especially knowing that her late husband, Richard Carter, a Vietnam veteran, found passion in helping others too.
"That was one of the worst pains I had to go through -- the loss of my husband -- but it also gave me the strength that I needed to move forward," she said.
Booker and her husband founded "A Home is A Right" foundation, or AHARI, together before he passed. They partner with organizations like Highmark Wholecare and Teamsters Local 502 to help homeless veterans.
"Our veterans need housing, that's their primary need right now," she said.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development says there are 291 veterans in Pennsylvania in emergency shelters and 433 in transitional housing.
"They have a lot of veteran housing that's scattered throughout the city, but the larger ones are in crime-infested, drug-infested areas," she said.
Booker's big plans for AHARI go to the root of her organization -- finding homeless veterans a permanent place to stay. She wants to build a community for them in University City, a safe place they can call home.
For Booker, taking care of veterans is the best way she knows how to continue the work her husband started.
"He says I'm his little soldier, so I'm going to honor my commitment," she said.
PHILADELPHIA, May 09, 2022 – AHARI – A Home is A Right, Inc. is proud to announce Highmark Wholecare, formerly Gateway Health, as its All-Star Salute Title Sponsor for its 10th anniversary celebration and fundraiser, the Heroes Masquerade Gala. The gala held May 13 from 7 to 11 p.m. in the Heroes Ballroom at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, 11630 Caroline Road in Philadelphia, marks the beginning of the seven-month sponsorship.
“Our goal at AHARI is to provide permanent supportive housing and create pathways of stability for underhoused and underserved veterans, their families, and communities in the Delaware Valley,” says Stephanie Booker. “These men and women have given their lives to protect this country and should be able to come home to a home.”
Through this new outreach sponsorship, Highmark Wholecare and AHARI will provide health and wellness education and essentials for underserved and underhoused communities in Southeastern, Pennsylvania, including COVID-19 education and vaccination, free new clothing, shoes, household items, personal care and protective equipment. The sponsorship will also provide direct access to affordable quality healthcare and raise awareness of, and funds for, AHARI Veteran Village, a 10-unit affordable housing project in Philadelphia’s University City.
“Highmark Wholecare cares for the whole person in all communities where the need is greatest,” Jhasia Castillo, Senior Community Engagement Specialist, Highmark Wholecare. “We pride ourselves on being a community-based health plan, supporting not only our members, but organizations like AHARI within the communities we serve that provide the types of resources and assistance that our members need, so they can live healthier lives.”
Representatives from Highmark Wholecare will be present at AHARI’s Heroes Masquerade Gala to share information about Highmark Wholecare and its health plans.
About AHARI – A Home Is A Right
AHARI - A Home Is A Right missions to provide permanent supportive housing to veterans at-risk of homeless and homeless veterans and their families to create pathways to self-sufficiency for underhoused and underserved communities. AHARI is committed to establishing collaborations with other nonprofit organizations with similar passions that provide housing, programming, and auxiliary support services. AHARI’s outreach programs are Mobile Hunger Relief, Getting Vaccinated Matters, WRAP® (Wellness Recovery Action Plan), and Can You Use This? PopUp GiveAways. AHARI’s partnerships include Sam Staten, Jr. of Union 332, Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, the honorable Janie Blackwell, Camphor Memorial UMC, The Baby Bureau, Good 360, Caring for Friends, PHMC (Public Health Management Corporation), Mu Beta Phi Military Fraternity, The Wedge Recovery Centers, Philadelphia Veterans Parade & Festival, Brown’s Shoprite, and most recently, University of Pennsylvania Upward Bound program.
About Highmark Wholecare
We believe in caring for the whole person in all communities where the need is greatest. We see a future in which everyone has equal opportunity to achieve their best health. Through our leading Medicaid and Medicare programs, we are coordinating healthcare that goes beyond doctors and medicine that helps members achieve not just physical health, but also delivers whole person care. Our associates are helping to drive this new kind of healthcare in collaboration with a network of 29,000 primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals, and other ancillary providers. We are also committed to supporting our neighbors through our many communities outreach and engagement programs.
AHARI - A Home Is A Right
A HOME IS A RIGHT!
Once Battling Homelessness and Depression, University City Founder and Veteran’s Wife Launches Capital Campaign to Build Affordable Housing as NPO Celebrates 10 Years of Community Service
DATE: Friday, May 13, 2022
EVENT: HEROES MASQUERADE GALA, AHARI - A Home Is A Right 10th Anniversary Celebration and Capital Campaign Launch
TIME: 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm
PLACE: FOP LODGE #5 - Heroes Ballroom
11630 Caroline Road, Philadelphia, PA 19154
On May 13, 2022, during AHARI's 10th Anniversary celebration AHARI will kick-off its capital campaign, A Home Is A Right! and formally launch outreach sponsorships with Highmark Wholecare, formerly Gateway Health, and Brown’s Shoprite & The Fresh Grocer.
More than a mantra! A Home Is A Right is the spark of a movement and manifestation of AHARI VETERANS’ VILLAGE, homes for underserved and under-housed veterans and their families. AHARI VETERANS’ VILLAGE is a 10-unit development in University City Philadelphia that features garden space for local residents, AHARI offices, and community space and programming.
There is a dire need for affordable and fair housing in the city of Philadelphia, a city saddled with the distinction of being one of the poorest big cities in America. AHARI VETERANS’ VILLAGE is located in University City, a neighborhood that proves the devastation of gentrification and its displacement of citizens, impact on the increase in crime, homelessness, and skyrocketing of taxes. AHARI VETERANS’ VILLAGE is located at the top of a block where homeowners have been there for 30 or more years. The development project will truly hire and train those local residents, provide green space for local residents, and provide community space and programming. AHARI is not a foreign developer looking to flip properties, but a local organization from the community, that serves the community with a project that will perpetually be of service to the community.
The HEROES MASQUERADE GALA will be an evening of fun and celebration. It will also be an opportunity for AHARI’s supporters and stakeholders to come together to network, encourage one another, raise necessary funds, and have a good time while doing it. There will be two exciting silent auctions. An art auction administered by Philly’s own October Gallery and a decadent destination travel auction administered by AMFund of the American Fundraising Foundation.
AHARI will take a moment to recognize pillars who have been instrumental in the development of the organization. The AHARI Awards ceremony will also have surprise awards and feature: The Founder's Hall of Fame Award which goes to AHARI Founder and CEO, Stephanie Booker, The Heroes Hall of Fame Award to R. Yerodin Avent, The Legacy Hall of Fame Award to Jonathan Abdur-Rahim King, and AHARI Angel Awards to Fran Wasserman of The Baby Bureau, Mu Beta Phi Military Fraternity, Inc, Crystal K. Dailey, and Shirley Moy.
The renowned Urban Guerilla Orchestra will provide the musical soundtrack for the evening along with local DJ Nate. LED Robots will help guests dance the night away.
AHARI will also announce its WE’RE STILL HERE summer community resource fair which will be held in partnership with Councilmember Janie Guathier and the Honorable Jannie Blackwell on Saturday, July 22, 2022, in the historical Malcolm X Park at 52nd Street & Larchwood Avenue. WE’RE STILL HERE acknowledges our resilience and resourcefulness as a community in the midst of a devastating pandemic.
AHARi - A Home Is A Right is a Pennsylvania nonprofit that mission is to provide permanent supportive housing to underhoused and underserved veterans, families and communities and to help under-served communities become self-sufficient. AHARI is committed to establishing collaborations with other nonprofit organizations with a similar passion that provide housing, programming, and auxiliary support services.
All principles are available for interview. For more information about AHARI - A Home Is A Right visit online at www.aharihomes.org or contact Stephanie Booker at firstname.lastname@example.org or
(215) 275-1747. The capital campaign may be accessed at https://bit.ly/CCAHomeIsARight.