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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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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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Living Inside the Box

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By Lisa Harrison Rivas

Local entrepreneur aims to bring more shipping container homes to S.A.

It’s no secret that in San Antonio and much of the nation home prices are on the rise. Affordability is an issue in many communities, and this has led to thinking outside of the box when it comes to creating housing that is both affordable and appealing. The tiny house option is one way some are downsizing their living space as well as their debt. Shipping container homes are another unique dwelling option.

Though not a new concept, these homes are not common in the San Antonio area, but master designer Anya K. Bartay wants to change that. She has designed a house on the East Side using two shipping containers, and she also can incorporate several of the 40′ x 8′ containers to build a multi-level home that’s as big as a traditional house. The base price for a 2,000 square-foot home is around $220,000.

Her love of design and architecture began when she was a child. She spent part of her childhood in Panama and said that experience helped her appreciate the value of what we have in the United States.

She also credits her life in Panama with spurring the creation of Project N.O.A.H which stands for Net Zero Affordable Housing. Bartay stresses she is not designing government housing but housing that is affordable.

One of the homes she designed sits on the East Side and will become an Airbnb rental so that people can see what a shipping container home is like before they buy one. And soon, Bartay and her family will move into a container home she is building in Northeast San Antonio. It will be a model home she and her family will be living in for a year to provide data on how the house impacts the environment.

“We’re going to work with UTSA, CPS, Eco Central on monitoring all of the systems that are going to be implemented in that house. The solar, the rainwater collection to see how much is real, how much we use. To see how less of an impact we create with that house.”

Bartay recently discussed her plans to bring more shipping container homes to San Antonio.

Q: What are you working on right now?

A: I’m working on a partnership with a factory that is already building shipping container homes to facilitate my need for the construction and to help them with their need for sales. We do have a subdivision that we have in mind. The owners of that property (on the Southside) said they will give us the land and we will create a neighborhood.

Q: Why would someone choose to buy a shipping container home?

A:  The first thing is safety. The container is resistant to tornados, hurricanes, torrential winds. Lots of construction won’t withstand those different disasters.

Q: How do people react to your project?

A: When I give them a proper understanding of what container homes could look like, their reaction is wonderful.

Q:  How did you become interested in building shipping container homes?

A: What I did was start doing searches and finding out what would be acceptable to present to people I worked with who needed a little bit of financial assistance getting their architectural needs met. So, shipping containers came up.

Q: Have you talked to city officials?

A:  I have presented this to Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert Jr., Senator Jose Menéndez, Neighborhood Housing Services of America and SAHA. And they’ve all agreed to using it.

Q: So how did you get training to build these homes?

A:  Once I had a nonprofit ask me about my designs, and then I got an investor. I looked up the details on YouTube and I put them into practice and started doing the work myself. I’ve been drawing it for years, so it’s just doing it now.

Q: Describe your style

A: I have 75 percent masonry on the outside and all the different means that everyone has for permanent housing. We are embedded into the foundation. And one of the biggest things is that we provide a thermal insulation coating and a rust-o proof coating for the container so that we avoid mold or any kind of disease.

Q: How much would a basic container home cost?

A: $110 a square foot (40-foot long containers are used). We have closing costs and money down assistance for an FHA or conventional loan.

Q: What type of foundation do the homes have?

A: We can do piers if you have elasticity in the soil. And you can do a regular slab on grade if you have nice solid bedrock.

Q: How long does it take to complete?

A: It should take no more than three months, but we’re going to be striving for one and a half. Most of the construction happens in one day. If it’s a custom, we’ll say three to six months.

Q: What are some of the things you can do to customize a container home?

A: Instead of sheetrock, you may want to use wood paneling, or put brick on the outside, or have an accent wall. You can do a lot of different variations of finishes.

Q: Do you help clients come up with a design?

A:  We try to help get the psychology behind the client’s needs and implement it into the design.


Lisa Harrison Rivas is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Don Johnson Realtors. If you are planning to buy or sell, feel free to contact her at 210-380-9006 or 
lhrivas@realsa.com

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