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by Deneatra Harmon

SOWN was a 2022 recipient of a $100,000 grant from Impact100 Philadelphia.

For more than 35 years, SOWN has been providing community support networks, educational workshops, healthy living programs, and other trusted resources for older adults in the Philadelphia area. Since 2002, SOWN has provided services to grandparent-headed families. Overall, the goal is to reduce social isolation so that older residents can continue to live stable, fulfilling, and independent lives. Additionally, SOWN works to strengthen community ties so that participants can remain as a vital support system to their grandchildren and others in their care. 

Recognized as the first Pennsylvania provider of teleconferencing mental health services for older adults, SOWN helps approximately 800 individuals every year. Its Grand Family Resource Center, which recently expanded with help from the William Penn Foundation, offers initiatives designed to help participants make new connections, promote love of learning, and make nutritious food choices.

Through Philly Families Connect, which is part of the Grand Family Resource Center, participants can access group and individual counseling in person, by phone, and through Zoom. Philly Families Connect also provides parenting workshops for grandparents raising their grandchildren, gives information and referrals for social services, and offers opportunities to connect with other caregivers. 

SOWN’s other initiatives under the Grand Family Resource Center include Philly Families Read Together and Philly Families Eat Smart. Through Philly Families Read Together, grandparents and their grandchildren attend weekly in-person or virtual workshops. The workshops teach how to help children build their speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Grandparents also learn about texting and using email and apps. They also receive free books for their grandchildren to enjoy reading at home. 

Philly Families Eat Smart, also a part of the Grand Family Resource Center, encourages fun family fitness through various activities as well as healthy cooking workshops. Grandparents and grandchildren also get access to fresh produce and other nutritious foods to cook and eat at home. Philly Families Eat Smart events occur at parks and various meeting spaces throughout Philadelphia every year. SOWN’s programs are among the many ways the organization helps grandparents provide for their grandchildren, as well as connect with other grandparent caregivers. To date, SOWN has logged more than 3,000 service hours and more than 700 group and individual sessions held annually.

SOWN always welcomes volunteers. For more information about the organization and to get involved, please contact Lori Latimer.