“There is lots of diversity here, which I find very attractive. The residents are friendly and interesting. ”
Dedicated to making a difference
Freda Egnal has social justice in her genes. In the 1930s, her parents helped unionize Philadelphia teachers. Freda had a long career as a social worker and community organizer, and for 40 years served as a block captain and committee person for West Philadelphia’s 46th Ward.
“I love being involved in activities and organizations that make the world a better place,” says Freda. “I got very engaged with the people I worked with and made an impact.”
Freda was born in Philadelphia to a social studies teacher and a homemaker who worked as a dental hygienist. During World War II, she lived in Macon, Georgia, where her father was stationed at Fort Wheeler, but she spent most of her childhood in the Wynnefield neighborhood of West Philadelphia. She had a younger brother, who now lives in Toronto. They grew up across the street from her grandfather and her aunt, who cared for him, and her mother made dinner for all of them every night.
“It was a friendly neighborhood—a good place to live,” Freda recalls. She had friends on the block, and enjoyed art, dancing and the library. She spent time on the tennis courts at West Park, where her father coached the sport. She also has fond memories of attending Camp Kinderland in New York and Folkshul, a secular Jewish school where her father taught and which her son attended.
College and community
She spent 10 years in college, studying American history at the University of Wisconsin, education at Brown University, and social work at the University of Pennsylvania. She wrote and published in the field, including materials on the history of Jewish people in Rhode Island. While she was in Providence, she met Herbert Bickford, who was president of the Rhode Island Chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). He came to Philadelphia to work with the Rev. Leon Sullivan and was involved with the Philadelphia Tutorial Project, a functional literacy program.
“He was involved in home remodeling, too. He was very handy,” Freda says of the man who became her husband.
She was a social worker and director of Parents Union for Public Schools in Philadelphia. She was involved in Friends of Walnut West Library and on the Board of Garden Court Community Association. She had a potter’s wheel and a kiln in the basement and took painting lessons. Throughout her life, she has continued to enjoy fine arts, dance, friends, theater and music.”
A dynamic and diverse community
Freda spent the last 50 years at 48th Street and Osage Avenue, just 15 minutes from Simpson House. Colleagues from an exercise class at Ralston Center who moved to Simpson spoke about how wonderful it was.
“I visited and got good vibes,” Freda says. “There is lots of diversity, which I find very attractive. The residents are friendly and interesting.”
She moved to an apartment in Olde Main in February 2021. She appreciates the support—from regular housekeeping services, to transportation, to the availability of medical care. She loves the ambiance of the historic Olde Main building. Her son, Michael, lives nearby in the house he grew up in. Every day, he calls and sends pictures of his 2-year-old daughter. But family isn’t the only thing that occupies her days.
“The activities and programs… amazing choices, some run by residents,” Freda says. “There’s too much to do. I don’t get much done in the apartment, with all the music, exercise, art, movies, and book groups to name a few. It’s very well done.”
“It’s important to take care of oneself,” Freda says. “Take care of your health, lead a balanced life, keep an open mind and a positive attitude, and maintain relationships with friends and neighbors. Keep learning and be honest.”
Call us today at 215-452-5051 or submit the form below to see for yourself why Freda Egnal and other seniors choose Simpson House for retirement living.