Moms: Literacy Darlings

“I’ll always love my Mama.”

When we ask people– people like you– who first turned them onto writing, we get the same handful of responses. 

A high school teacher. 

A college professor. 

An older sibling.  

But one response swamps all the others. 


Moms, the evidence is clear, are the darlings of the writing crowd. 

Okay, so maybe, in some select cases, Dad might run a close second.

And in some families, so we’ve been told, Dad may even be the more polished wordsmith.

So there’s that.

Still… sorry Dads, but the sentiment this Mother’s Day season runs generously in the Moms’ favor. 

Most often, judging by our large (and perhaps slightly unscientific) poll, Moms are the more demonstrative lover of words.

They’re the inspiration, the muse in the family, the ones who just naturally lead with their soul when putting pen to paper, which is why their words always flow so gracefully.

Moms, in so many cases, just instinctively know that lives are enhanced with writing as a life skill. 

Being at ease behind a keyboard turns kids into lifelong readers .

(Could there possibly be a better side benefit?)

And learning to express thoughts clearly builds self-esteem in formative years and enhances fortunes when the time comes to hop into the career lane.

Bottom line?

Moms are a #MeToo literary species all their own.

Mighty, even.

Mighty, because they always know what’s write.

You Make Our Hearts Sing

“Inside all of us is Hope. Inside all of us is Fear. Inside all of us is Adventure. 
Inside all of us is… A Wild Thing.”
— Maurice Sendak, “Where the Wild Things Are” 

If you’ve been with us awhile, you know how much we value rigor and revision when it comes to writing.   

We speak often of the need for clear thinking and a pre-writing roadmap. All are valued Mighty intonations. 

But first and foremost we’re all about kids at Mighty Writers, which is why we equally celebrate their dynamism and boundless coming-of-age energy. 

And never more so than in the spring, when that coming-of-age energy reaches stunning levels of rambunctiousness. 

 “Wild thing, you make my heart sing. You make everything groovy, wild thing” The Troggs, 1966

We get it. 

Life is more than hours at a keyboard.

It’s about balance, the ability to prioritize and to know when and where to let your wild side fly. 

No one said being Mighty was easy. 

Spring is a time of change for all of us at Mighty Writers.  

We’re busy signing up kids for our summer programs and preparing to send our graduates off to their post-high school lives. 

And, of course, as always, planning ways to reach more kids with the power of writing.  

Our programming staff will soon be off to their annual retreat, where they’ll sharpen their skills and figure new ways to get our Mighty kids to write with clarity.  

Springtime also happens to be one of our two major appeal seasons at Mighty Writers.

It’s important for us to point that out because it’s your donations that allow us to grow.

We mention this only as a gentle reminder.

Gentle, because we’re in a unique position at Mighty Writers. Our donors like kids and believe in the power of writing to change lives.  

No hard sell necessary.   

It makes reaching out to you pretty darn cool.

Our best for a Mighty spring,  

Tim Whitaker, Executive Director  

We’re Pinging Camden!

You’ve heard us talk about the Camden Voice, our journalism program for Camden teens.

Now it’s for real.

Mighty Writers and WHYY is working with young writers, photographers and videographers for this just-hatched Camden Voice project.

It’s a Tuesday and Thursday program from 4 to 6pm at 1801
Broadway, just across the street from Sacred Heart Church in Camden.

And it’s all about Camden. Just Camden.

Want to be involved as a mentor or participant, call April Saul,
our workshop leader, directly at 215.313.3045, or email April at

Meanwhile, meet our very first day sign-ups:

Deonna: Grew up in Camden.

Deonna Fooks-Benbow. I enjoy writing, eating and sleeping. My favorite food is sushi and Chick-fil-a. I grew up in Camden, NJ, but moved to Winslow a few years ago. I love my hair and I like chilling with my friends on the weekends. I also like lipgloss.

Kalie Gomez. When I was younger, I tried cooking but failed. I tried speaking Spanish and failed. I tried riding a bike, swimming, sneezing with my eyes open and failed at all of them. But one thing I managed to be decent at was writing. I’m really interested in fiction. I even submitted one of my stories to a writing contest and won first prize.

Kalie: fiction nerd.
Born in Philly, bred in Camden.

Frances Echevarria. Born in Philadelphia, but my childhood memories are all here in Camden. Things were pretty hard for my household growing up. During my teen years, I went down the wrong path and ended up getting into different problems. Only recently began to get my life together. I will be graduating Rutgers next May. I married the perfect women.

Kate: magazine nerd.

Kate Muhl. I am a writer, researcher and consultant focused on what Americans care about and what marketers need to do about it. My background is in magazine journalism, creative writing and public speaking.

Denise: National Parks!

Denise Guerin. I love all forms of storytelling, currently my storytelling has been through the lens of a camera. For the past five years, I’ve been photographing and exploring the state and National Parks and helping to change the environment.

Sa’miya: Good things are happening.

Sa’miya Wynn. Born and raised in Camden, NJ. My goal in working for The Camden Voice is to show people that Camden is not a horrible place and that there are good things happening. I would like to prove that Camden often responds to negativity like one big family.

Matt: I like telling stories.

Matt Stanley. I like telling stories and as someone who has always been very introverted, I love the opportunities that journalism has given me to meet new people, be invited into their homes and to be trusted to capture their images and share their stories.

Melony: Likes gardening and photography.

Melony Ariel Hernandez. Born and raised in Camden, NJ., the
third oldest of four sisters. Was sent to live in Warminster, PA in
2028 where I attended William Tennent. Currently attending
Woodrow Wilson High School. My guardians are my
grandmother and uncle. I enjoy gardening and photography.

Paul: Journalism is exciting.

Paul Foster. I worked in local TV news for about eight years. In that time, I gained experience in all aspects of news— including story generation, interviewing and media production. Journalism is an exciting and important pursuit which offers the chance to answer why things are the way they are.


“Children make you want to start life over.” —Muhammad Ali

Minding Our Business

“Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.” — Buddha

Mindfulness is a new way of being.

And nothing less, says Amy Perez, our new director of mindfulness.

Being mindful, she says, means being present in the moment and not overly reactive to what may or may not happen in the future.

That last part gets you thinking.

There will be 60-and 90- minute workshops, follow-up classes and lots of tips and prompts and practices. 

“We will see kids better focused and happier,” Amy says. “Over time, it can change their views of themselves.”

Enhancing self-esteem is one of the goals. 

“It will help our Mighty students find new ways to feel, see and listen,” she says. “And by listen, I mean to themselves.”

It will help them think clearly. 

And write with clarity.

Crazy, what a new way of being can do for a person.

Works for all ages, too, says Amy, all demographics.

At a time when we sometimes feel just one tweet or news alert shy of delirium, mindfulness might prove the perfectly targeted remedy.


Feel that gentle-on-my-mind breeze that just whispered through?

“I love, love, LOVE her”

“It is easier to build small children than to repair broken men.” Frederick Douglass

I could easily spend several hundred words in this space talking about our toddler program.

How our instructors and volunteers and parents help our toddlers grow comfortable being around big people and other little people.

How we build toddler community. How we surround our little guys with books and pictures.

But how ’bout what toddlers do for us?

They remind us to approach every experience with gusto. 
(We’re going to Wawa! Can we stop at Rite Aid?)

To never tire of interrogatives.
(Why do they have flying sharks on YouTube when sharks can’t fly?)

Most impressively, toddlers value friendship and loyalty more than any other age group.
(Danielle is my best friend! I love, love, LOVE her!)

Naeemah Suluki is Mighty Writers’ lead toddler instructor. Comes to toddlers, nobody touches Nae.

Not sure we entirely know what makes her so effective, but the word authentic leaps to mind.

As does trust.

A week or so ago, Nae sent an update on her most recent toddler workshop.

“We sang songs, did a mindful exercise, ate some pizza and talked  about the letter P.”

So matter of fact.

Yet an agenda open and kind.

The way life should feel for us all.     

— Tim Whitaker, Executive Director

Somebody’s Got a Birthday!

Seven-foot and change.

Proud Cameroonian.    


A place very, very, few people in our metropolis can locate on a map.

Man can slam a ball through a hoop with enough force to scramble your DNA.   

And kiss it sweetly off the glass like easy.

Twenty-five years young today and  just getting started, baby!     

He alone can make Ben Simmons chuckle.    

Laughing and talking trash? 

It’s like breathing air to the big guy.    

In a town that suddenly has a star quarterback, a slugging titan and lots of supporting big names hanging ’round like it ain’t no thing… …

only one…  …

Joel Hans Embiid…   

… can inspire our Mighty teens to pose for a happy birthday photo without any trace of irony.

With arms wide open and contagious immigrant zeal, Joel Embiid calls on us to rally ’round him.   

It’s his instinct for inclusion that makes him the Man ’round here.  

Rave on, Mighty birthday guy! 

Hear It Now: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio

“You don’t need a contract with a radio
station to succeed as a deejay. You need a
contract with your community.”
—the late great Philadelphia disc jockey, Georgie Woods

Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio,” an Edward R. Murrow award-winning audio doc produced and distributed nationally by Mighty Writers in 2014, examines the legacy of Philadelphia Black radio, with a special focus on the city’s legendary radio station WDAS. 

The story of Black radio in Philadelphia is the story of a music that would have gone undiscovered otherwise, of Civil Rights and strife in many of the city’s neighborhoods and of how the radio medium has changed in dramatic ways in the last century. 

The documentary special— produced by Yowei Shaw and Alex Lewis— is hosted by legendary Sound of Philadelphia (TSOP) music producer and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Kenny Gamble.

You can hear it here.

Memoirs of an AM radio junkie here.

Some of the pioneering WDAS jocks that helped make Philly a soul music town.