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Get Emergency Utility Bill Help Now Through Your Smartphone

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San Antonio’s Department of Human Services (DHS) announced the availability of a new, Emergency Utility Bill Assistance online application, which is at www.sanantonio.gov/DHSutility.

The online application simplifies the previous paper-based process by eliminating the need for residents to print and photocopy supporting documentation (photo ID, proof of income, CPS Energy or SAWS bill), and mail documents or visit the Willie Velasquez Center to obtain assistance. Now, residents can complete the application online and upload required documents using their smartphone or tablet’s built-in camera.

“We have found that most of our clients today have a smartphone, even if they don’t have a computer,” Human Services Director Melody Woosley said. “We wanted to make it easy for residents to use that phone to apply for the assistance they need.”

The new online application is the culmination of the inaugural CivTechSA residency program, collaboration between the City’s Office of Innovation and Geekdom. CivTechSA coordinated a 16-week residency in which city departments pitched their challenges to be solved by local technology firms. Kinetech Cloud, a Geekdom-based custom software-as-a-service provider, was one of two businesses selected for the CivTechSA residency.

The emergency utility assistance program helps the city’s most vulnerable residents during times of need to avoid power and water service shut-offs whenever possible. The average annual income of applicants for assistance is approximately $14,000. The program processes over 10,000 applications annually, administering approximately $2.4 million in CPS Energy bill assistance and $400,000 in San Antonio Water Systems (SAWS) credits. Human Services works closely with CPS Energy and SAWS to apply the assistance credits to the bills of eligible residents in need.

“The new online application system allows our staff to provide real-time updates to clients. When a family faces utility disconnection, time is of the essence. This application allows for faster communication with clients, to help complete their application and keep utilities connected,” Woosley said.

Additional benefits of the application include a self-service portal where applicants can check the status of their application, view the average processing time for the past thirty days, and receive automated notifications each time the status of their application changes.

“Virtually every industry is being impacted by technology and local government is no different,” said Michael Guido, CEO of Kinetech. “The majority of population growth over the next fifty years will occur in urban areas. Cities must invest in infrastructure and digital services to address this growth in a sustainable way.”

The DHS solution aligns with San Antonio’s Smart City Initiative – to have San Antonio be connected, inclusive, and resilient. Interested citizens can find out more at www.sanantonio.gov/humanservices/FinanceEmergency.

 

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JUNETEENTH FREEDOM DAY PROJECT

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ST. PHILIP’S COLLEGE INVITES ALL TO JOIN IN ITS FAMILY-FRIENDLY 2019 JUNETEENTH FREEDOM DAY PROJECT

SAN ANTONIO (May 22, 2019)–––As the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, Juneteenth Freedom Day is considered a special event project on the timeline of a college that was originated in 1898 for the daughters of former U.S. slaves.

All are welcome to join St. Philip’s College students as participants in the college’s 2019 Juneteenth Freedom Day project. The highlight of the SPC project involves marching with the college’s students in the local parade that celebrates the event—the Juneteenth Freedom Parade—June 15 at 10 a.m., beginning Sam Houston High School at 4635 E. Houston St., and ending at Comanche Park #2 at 2600 Rigsby Ave.

For details on the project, email jmartin139@alamo.edu or rguerrero@alamo.edu.

Juneteenth Freedom Day is a widely recognized celebration of the moment 154 years ago (June 19, 1865) when more than 200,000 enslaved persons in Texas found out that they were both free and independent from being considered as someone else’s property. One-hundred-fifty-three years is slightly more than half of San Antonio’s 301-year existence as a city, meaning Juneteenth—and slavery—and freedom—has more than a few deep roots in one of the nation’s largest states. 

The march is the signature element of the college’s engagement with the local organizers of the Juneteenth Parade. It began getting into early gear for the last two years when the parade organizers ran into a few issues scheduling the parade close to the actual date of Juneteenth.

When the nation’s first Juneteenth parade of the 2018 season took place June 2 in San Antonio, rather than the projected June 16 date, the college had two weeks to organize its 2018 participation early and appropriately. 

As in year’s past, the college’s 2019 Juneteenth project will be confirmed in coming weeks with at least a single day of family friendly activity and engagement, and the parade is once again announced to be aligned with the actual week that Juneteenth is observed nationwide.

Celebrations public and private began once the final reading of the proclamation on the ending of slavery in the United States occurred in Galveston have enjoyed continuity in North America, for freedom from living as property in legal and commercialized concentration camp-like conditions in a country where freedom is foremost is worth celebrating. Descendants of the enslaved in other parts of the Western Hemisphere where slavery thrived or was frowned upon commemorate similar human events with exhibitions or Juneteenth-like events for the intellect—and for human unity in avoiding such atrocities of the past.

A co-organizer of the 2018 project, Paul Lede is the college’s coordinator of student success.

“We all wore our college anniversary shirts and were waving out the window and honking the horn in our van when the students inside the van decided to get their Juneteenth Freedom Day message closer to the people. Most people in the parade were in cars, and once we got halfway there in vans our students decorated by hand, the students said, ‘We want to walk,’ explained Lede. “After they got out of the vans, our students gave kids beads as they walked in front of the Sam Houston High School Band, and our contingent included Collegiate 100 chapter, honor society and student government members. The students were creative. They took time to decorate our van with beads, ribbons and banners in our college blue and white colors, so people knew it was us,” said Lede.

The college will welcome all to join its contingent in the 2019 Juneteenth Freedom Parade lineup June 15. For full details on the college’s observance to include partnering in or scaling up college participation, service and excellence, contact college Juneteenth Freedom Day program co-chairs John Martin(director of student conduct and Title IX programs) at jmartin139@alamo.edu and Ruben Guerrero (senior multimedia specialist) at rguerrero@alamo.edu.

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“Let’s Swim SA”

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SAN ANTONIO (May 17, 2019) – For the 5th year, the Parks and Recreation Department will offer free group swim lessons at all 24 outdoor pools. Registration begins this Saturday, May 18th at 9 a.m. “Let’s Swim SA”, served more than 2,000 participants last year. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, (CDC), drownings are a leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 14, and three children die every day as a result of drowning. Learning to swim is an important skill for all youngsters—for safety and for health. 

Various beginning and intermediate level youth and adult group sessions are available. “Let’s Swim SA” offers morning and evening classes. Classes are held Tuesday through Thursday for two weeks.

Session dates are: 

  • June 25 – July 4
  • July 9 – July 18
  • July 23 – August 1


Those interested in registering for the free youth and adult group swim lessons can:

  • Register online at saparksandrec.com
  • Visit the San Antonio Natatorium, 1430 W. Cesar Chavez
  • Visit designated community centers (Southside Lions, Garza, Lady Bird Johnson and Normoyle) this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Staff will be on hand to provide needed assistance.

More information available at saparksandrec.com or by calling 210.207.3299.

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ST. PHILIP’S COLLEGE’S OLDEST ALUMNA

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SAN ANTONIO (May 17, 2019)—At 121-year-old St. Philip’s College, 105-year-old Gertha Murphy is considered a special person on the timeline.

Murphy is the granddaughter of a former U.S. slave and a 1936 alumna of a college that was originated in 1898 for the daughters of former U.S. slaves.

She went far with her degree, and she is also an A-plus inspiration to students, hard workers and activists of all ages.

In addition to graduating from St. Philip’s College, Murphy worked in civil service for 27 years and became an alumna of Incarnate Word University when she was 60 and graduated in 1980 with a degree in early education.

A fixture at SPC homecoming events for her status and her achievements, St. Philip’s College ceremonially honors Murphy in real-time on May 20 at noon in the Artemisia Bowden Alumni Center on the third floor of the college’s G. J. Sutton Learning Center at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive.

The RSVP-to-attend event features complimentary admission and parking. Email RSVPs to scrockett-bell@alamo.edu or voicemail to (210) 486-2887 this weekend. The event that starts at noon will start slowing down at about 1 p.m., when guests and media can talk with Murphy from 1-1:15 p.m.

Murphy received her first college degree when she graduated from the 121-year-old college in 1936 and is currently 105 years of age. She has seen every one of the college’s presidents and is aware that she is the oldest living alumna of the oldest college in the Alamo College’s District system—the first system to earn the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The event will be part of ongoing SPC efforts to express “Our Win is Your Win” to the community it serves.

Murphy was in the news in 2017 as a guest during San Antonio Housing Authority’s ribbon cutting ceremonies in celebration of the first phase of East Meadows, a $41.7 million development containing 215 apartments that is successfully nearing completion. Through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, the Wheatley Courts became a part of a community-wide revitalization effort started in 2012 to transform the Eastside of San Antonio into a viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhood. St. Philip’s College is the original educational partner in the project and Murphy is among college alumni who were former residents of the Spartan original property that served generations from the start of tenant operations in 1941 until it was vacated in 2014 and demolished in 2015. East Meadows’ first phase, a $41.7 million development containing 215 apartments, was built where the old Wheatley Courts public housing complex of more than 400 units existed at 906 N. Mittman St. near the St. Philip’s College campus for 65 years. The new development is a step toward transforming the surrounding neighborhood into a new master-planned, safe, sustainable, energy-efficient, mixed-income community, with a fairer share of the area’s higher-quality schools, health care, transportation, and access to jobs. The area is now among the top ten fasted gentrifying properties in the nation. According to a 2017 news report, 103 year old Gerta Murphy lived at Wheatley Courts until the mid-1950s. “When they opened Wheatley Courts, it was so exciting. As soon as I got a job, I moved out. I hope they take good care of it because they are beautiful,” Murphy told reporters at the time.

Marsha Hall is the assistant to Dr. Adena Williams Loston who is the president of the college that honors Murphy on May 20.

“She went back to college and started a new career teaching Pre-K for Harlandale ISD for six years. That’s a testament to her capacity to serve. She moves and does what she wants to do at 105. She is a powerhouse,” said Hall.  

According to articles by San Antonio Express-News writer Vincent Davis, “Murphy is among a select, but growing, group of people worldwide — they have celebrated their 100th birthday. The offspring of parents born in the 1800s, they have witnessed the world evolve from horse-drawn buggies to rockets soaring in space to pocket-size computers called smartphones…. Murphy’s mother was 107 when she died; two aunts were 94 and 101. “Longevity is given by the Lord, it’s up to him to determine how long you’re going to live,” Murphy says. “He’s looking down on me and blessing me.” “

Murphy also enjoys virtual and physical lifestyles, and would fit in as an online student at the college today if she so chose.

This lifestyle was once described in an archival San Antonio Express News report, “Murphy does geriatric aerobics twice a week at the YMCA. She shops at the grocery store, cooks for herself, eats chicken, fish and many vegetables. In her spare time, she sends emails, and she has a Facebook account… “If you settle into getting old and start shrinking back and not trying to learn things, you stop growing,” Murphy says.

Archival Image courtesy SPC)

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