By Ukee Washington

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  Years ago, a Strawberry Mansion woman told her grown son that he and other men needed to do something to improve the community. He decided she was right. He started spreading brotherly love in a place dear to his heart.

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It’s another boisterous afternoon inside the Strawberry Mansion Learning Center on Dauphin Street. Every weekday, these doors open to neighborhood children, teens and adults.

“First we’ve gotta do our homework, then we get to play on the computer, or we just make jokes and start laughing and stuff,” said Rondell Burton, an 8-year-old 3rd grader.

Kevin Upshur started the learning center in 2008 in memory of his mother, Shirley. The building used to be her bar.

“This is amazing. It brings tears to my eyes sometimes, when I look around,” he said.

Now her picture hangs outside with these words: “a place where people meet, communicate and educate.” What do they mean to him?

“It means a place that people come collaborate,” Upshur told me. “When you leave here, you want to leave something positive. you want to leave a legacy of helping others.”

The center runs thanks to grants from the city, corporate donations, and a lot of volunteers like 16-year-old Joshua Hunter, who runs social media and helps students with their assignments.

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“If they need help, or email, something to get turned in. they get to come here and do it,” Joshua said.

The non-profit also provides donated snacks on Thursdays.

Students from Drexel and Penn help tutor the children four times a week. One tutor is Penn sophomore Jeremy Fedus. “I was kind of in a little bit of a bubble at my school, and I think branching out is really important,” he said.

Upshur bought the lot next door to expand the center. He has been called a community hero. Does he see himself that way?

“No, I don’t,” he said. “I see myself as a concerned man in the community wanting to make change.”

The center is open on Saturdays too for adult computer classes. Upshur takes no salary from the learning center he created.

http://strawberrymansionlearningcenter.com/

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Ukee Washington