Stories From The Archives: Hard-Wired For Hopeful Futures

Project HOME
Ed Rendell speaking at podium

During our 35th anniversary year, we are digging into our deep archives to share stories from our past that highlight some of the many milestones we have celebrated over our nearly four decades of service to Philadelphia.

Our education services received an enormous boost in 2004 when we celebrated the opening of the Honickman Learning Center Comcast Technology Labs. The facility, funded in part by our long-time supporters Lynne and Harold Honickman, has since become a treasured part of the 19121 neighborhood. We recounted the opening back in 2004.


“You've made true believers of us!” Those were the words of Governor Ed Rendell at the April 7 grand opening of Project HOME’s Honickman Learning Center Comcast Technology Labs. The Governor was wryly invoking his time as mayor of Philadelphia, during which he was on the opposing side of the long fair-housing struggle to open Project HOME's residence at 1515 Fairmount Avenue.

As he told the large crowd gathered to celebrate a landmark in community development efforts, today he is firmly convinced of Project HOME’s role as a positive force for community development.

It’s not hard to see why belief comes a little stingy in the North Philadelphia neighborhoods where Project HOME works. Block after block bear witness to decades of disinvestment, economic hemorrhaging, and social neglect. Add to that prevailing social attitudes about a “culture of poverty,” which further stigmatize families and communities struggling to get by. Thousands of kids in these neighborhoods cope with inadequate schools and unsafe environments, leaving only the faintest of hopes for a bright future.

But when you turn the corner onto the 1900 block of North Judson Street, you are stunned by an architectural marvel, a magnificent new building housing state-of-the-art technology and educational resources that would be the envy of even the wealthiest suburbs. At first, you can’t believe such a building is possible in this neighborhood.

Even the neighborhood children couldn’t believe it. Cindy Ferguson, the HLCCTL’s director, recalls their faces as they entered the building back in January when the programs first opened – their wide-eyed wonder, their awe and excitement as they toured the classrooms and engaged with the computers and the 'smart boards' that adorn every classroom. As one child put it: “I want to stay here forever!”

The wonders of the Honickman Learning Center Comcast Technology Labs are indeed manifold. Within its 38,000 square feet are hundreds of computers, interactive education programs, music and recording equipment, video-production facilities, a college access center, and more. But its most important aspect is not in the concrete or hard-wiring – it’s in what happens to the children who come to participate in its programs. As they learn to master the tools that can unleash their gifts, they come to believe in themselves and their potential. They begin to believe that a future is possible.

But another wonder of the HLCCTL is that it manifests what is possible. A group of people came together, bound by a common dream, sharing their vision, energy, and commitment. They forged a creative partnership of the private sector, the nonprofit sector, and government. They found the necessary resources to realize the vision. 

But perhaps most importantly, they believed in what was possible: they believed in the children and adults of these neighborhoods, even when much of society had given up on them. They believed, despite all cynicism and apathy, that social transformation can happen, that flowers can bloom even in the more rugged of urban deserts. Perhaps the Honickman Learning Center Comcast Technology Labs are not only opening up the future for children in this neighborhood – they are revealing a future for the broader community. A future we can all believe in.

Just think what we could accomplish together with more believers.

None of us are home until all of us are home®