Beyond Rev. Jeannette Phillips’s extraordinary contributions, the presence of an extensive obituary in the New York Times, particularly in the section where a cost applies, caught our attention. A photograph of her and three columns occupied the page. Her odyssey among us was remarkable and will certainly be missed. She died at 90 on September 12, 2023, in Peekskill, N.Y., where she established her enviable reputation. She was surrounded by loved ones.

Phillips was born in Harlem on February 20, 1933, and attended the historic Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, Fla. She was an active student at the school and in community organizations, which gave resonance to her invitations to deliver a graduation message: an anti-Korean War speech. It was a harbinger of her future engagements.

On graduation in 1955, Phillips accepted a job at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Montrose, N.Y., in Westchester County. That spurred her interest in and commitment to providing quality health care. 

A year later, she married Rev. Howard Phillips, her companion in a long marriage of dedication to upliftment and civil rights. This activity had expanded considerably by 1972 when she was joined by her friends Pearl Woods, Willie Mae Jackson, and Mary Woods and began planning to do something about the disparity of health care in Peekskill. 

With her original associates and others, Rev. Phillips co-founded the Peekskill Health Center—now Sun River Health—and one of the largest Federally Qualified Health Center networks in the U.S., providing service for patients across the Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island; all told, at nearly 50 sites.

At the beginning of their endeavor, Rev. Phillips told a reporter that they raised money by selling dinners and pies. “We had one particular group, the ‘Soul Sisters’ who baked and sold the pies and cakes. You couldn’t get more grassroots than we were.” 


Source link