Philadelphia Salvation Army to Host Hope Luncheon

By Hugo Bravo

On Wednesday, May 10, The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia will be honoring four individuals at the Celebrate Hope Annual Luncheon for their work in improving the lives of others through health care, the arts, and more.

“The Greater Philadelphia Salvation Army honors community partners and individuals whose work deeply aligns with our mission,” says Major Tawny Cowen-Zanders, Divisional Secretary for Greater Philadelphia. “Truly, together, we make a difference throughout our community.”

The ‘Others’ Award will be presented to Stephen Fera, Executive Vice President and Head of Public Affairs for Independence Blue Cross. Along with his work at Independence, Fera, a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, sits on various local committees, such as the Board of the PA Chamber of Commerce and the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. Through federal and state government relations, Fera has worked to provide better access to care for millions of Americans.

Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph and her husband Senator Vincent Hughes will receive the Doing The Most Good Award. Ralph, an Emmy winner for her role as teacher Barbara Howard on Abbott Elementary, is the founding director of the DIVA foundation, which produces Divas Simply Singing, an annual benefit concert to raise awareness of for HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The show is the longest consecutive running musical AIDS benefit in the United States. Senator Vincent Hughes has served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and currently as a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate, representing the 7th district. He is deeply committed to providing access to health insurance and has been a key voice in Pennsylvania’s full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The Eliza Shirley Women in Leadership Award will be given to Romona Riscoe Benson, Director of Corporate and Community Impact at PECO, Pennsylvania’s largest electric and natural gas utility. Riscoe Benson has produced the PECO Energy Jazz Festival and a career fair for urban youth looking for careers in hospitality. Her dedication to impactful community programs embodies the dedication of Salvation Army pioneer Eliza Shirley.

For more information on attending the Celebrate Hope Annual Luncheon 2023 and its honorees, visit