Weekly Recap: What You Might Have Missed

We are wrapping up another busy district work session this week. From food drives to vaccine clinics, I’ve been so heartened to see PA-05 neighbors continuing to support each other, with determination to weather the pandemic and make it through to the other side.

While it’s still important to mask up and follow public health guidelines, we can cautiously say that the light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter. Thanks to American medical science and ingenuity we have three highly effective vaccines approved, and over the last few weeks, we’ve seen production ramping up and supply increasing every day.

This week, our region got a dramatic increase in vaccine supply — particularly to Delaware and Montgomery Counties, which for weeks had received far fewer vaccines than predicted, or needed. Thanks to the focus and teamwork of local representatives and public servants, the tide is turning and more vaccine appointments are available. And we welcome the news that vaccine distribution will open this month to all adults this month.

Here are a few highlights from my recent time in the district:

On March 16, Representative Houlahan and I were honored to join President Biden for his visit to Smith Flooring in Chester. We met with owners Kristin and James, talked about how COVID has impacted their work, and discussed how the American Rescue Plan will help support both employers and workers.

A few weeks later, on April 7, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona came to Delaware County to tour two local schools. Secretary Cardona spoke to students about the return to in-person learning and how the Biden Administration is working to help more schools reopen. I’m looking forward to working with the Secretary on school infrastructure, early childhood education, student loan reform and more as he settles into his new role.

I had a great visit with the folks at Penn Terminals to discuss the new direct container shipping route between Cork, Ireland and the Port of Chester. The Philadelphia region’s ports are uniquely positioned geographically to serve as a gateway to the entire Northeast, and import more than a third of our fresh produce annually.

This is the first direct shipping route between Ireland and the United States in many years, and it provides both countries a fast and reliable route for food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, and more. Chester is Pennsylvania’s oldest city and, in part due to its place along the Delaware River, was integral in the early economic success of our Commonwealth. The city’s waterfront and business district are undergoing a renaissance, and the whole area has a lot of potential.

While the increase in food insecurity over the past year has been dramatic, we are so grateful to those who have stepped up to help their neighbors. Desiree LaMarr-Murphy runs an incredible weekly food pantry from her backyard, coordinating a vast network of food donors and volunteers on her own. We were honored to lend a hand at the pantry and to hear from Desiree and her neighbors about the issues they are facing.

Read more about Desiree’s food pantry and her inspiring story here.

My team and I have been working hard to get more vaccine doses to PA-05, and particularly to communities that have the most trouble accessing health care. We looked at neighborhoods in the 5th Congressional District that lacked access to vaccines and were able to work with Rite Aid, one of the companies supplying federally allocated doses at retail pharmacies, to bring vaccination clinics to some of those neighborhoods. With Rite Aid’s support, we helped identify trusted community organizations to create one-day pop-up clinics to bring vaccines to communities in need.

So far, we’ve helped bring almost a thousand additional doses to PA-05. I want to thank Rite Aid, Eastwick United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, Widener University in Chester, the City of Chester Health Department and Union Memorial United Methodist Church in Darby for their hard work to organize and staff these clinics.

We are so excited that the first-ever outdoor Philadelphia Flower Show will take place in PA-05 this year. We talked with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society about this year’s signature event, as well as other community projects from PHS, including improving the tree canopy, greening vacant lots, community gardens, and a reentry program during a Coffee with Your Congresswoman conversation on Facebook Live.

Over the past year, we have witnessed a disturbing rise in violence against Asian Americans. And while we know the AAPI community is no stranger to hate speech and crimes, it is clear that vile rhetoric at the national level and the ongoing pandemic have fueled an alarming rise in such crimes.

I joined my colleagues and neighbors this weekend to say, unequivocally, to our AAPI residents: You belong here. You are Pennsylvanians. This is your home. And we will stand with you to fight back against hate and racism.

I recently became Chair of Congress’ Youth Mentoring Caucus, a bipartisan group of members dedicated to building support for the mentoring movement on Capitol Hill. My family has been involved in mentoring for years, and we’ve seen the significant role that mentors play in the lives of young people — helping them achieve academically and prepare for adult life.

The past year has been very challenging for kids and young people, and they are facing some real setbacks, such as academic learning loss, mental health struggles, and a lack of job opportunities. It’s so important that they have a trusted adult in their lives to help them navigate today’s challenges. I spoke to the heads of several local mentorship programs to learn more about how young people from our district can get involved.

Listen to our conversation here.

  • Joined folks from Friendship Circle Senior Center in Darby at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge for a morning walk.
  • Helped clean up Deshong Park in Chester with local leaders.
  • Attend the ribbon cutting for a new health center in Chester.
  • Spoke to the Delta Tau Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. at Cheyney University
  • Answered questions from college students at Bryn Mawr and Haverford.

Next week I’m headed back to D.C. to work on more legislation that will help the people of PA-05. I hope you’ll follow along on social media to see what I’m up to while Congress is in session!

Mary Gay Scanlon currently serves a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District.