PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Ella Best is a “get it done” type of person.
“I don’t procrastinate,” she says.
At 55, Best is a grandmother of six. She was born and raised in the Grays Ferry section of South Philadelphia with a strong foundation. Her parents were married her entire life, so were her aunts and uncles and their friends. It’s that foundation of family that Best says gave her the courage to stand up against violence in her community.
“I don’t remember any of my friends being killed,” she says, “I don’t remember going to funerals for people I went to school with because people were being killed — it’s a different age now.”
She grew up just a few blocks from her current home near 27th and Wharton, but it seems like a different world. According to police statistics, in 2014 and 2015, the city saw more than 500 homicides and more 5,000 violent crimes involving guns.
“I don’t like guns,” she says, “ban all guns.”
Best feels that way because murder statistics hit close to home.
“A lot of my girlfriends lost sons,” she says, “one of my neighbors down the street — I had to see her cry on her son’s death date…cry all in the street.”
Best says she got fed up with the violence. So she started “Don’t Shoot-I Want a Future,” to find a way to keep kids off the streets. With her husband, Norman’s help, hold created kickball clinics, gardening opportunities and other activities for youth. Best attends anti-violence marches, collects water for Flint, and gives away pampers and clothes to those in need.
“There are a lot of people who don’t have,” she says, “and I don’t mind giving.”
Best is also a hero. Last December, she and the neighbors on Sears Street in South Philadelphia sprung into action when a Philadelphia Police officer was run over by suspect. He lay in the street bleeding when Best says her grandchildren came knocking on the door.
“We had so many towels on his face, he couldn’t see,” says Best, “all I thought about — was he’s hurt and we have to help him….I didn’t look at him like a cop, he was a human being.”
The officer was rushed to the hospital and thanks to the neighbors assistance, he survived. For Best, that day is a reminder of her philosophy in life.
“I am changing things by being my best self,” she says, “whatever that is…by helping an elderly person with her bags…helping a kid with after school care.”
And she is working to better her education, something she tells the children in her community they must do. During the day, Best works at a law firm, but at night she’s a student at Harcum College.
“This is my legacy for my grandkids,” she says.
A legacy to change the game in her community by making it a safe place for her family.
“I hope people realize these guns are killing a lot of people,” she says, “they need to put the guns down.”