Even before his time at Germantown Academy, Juan Adames '20 knew the importance of helping his community. The Salisbury University sophomore said that this was instilled in him at a young age watching his parents give to people in need. That passion grew through the GA Community Service Organization until 2019 when Adames took individual action by co-founding LOT Crew, a nonprofit organization that specializes in mentoring youngsters in Northeast Philadelphia and creating and coordinating community-service projects.
Since graduating, Adames has kept up his hard work, most recently becoming a published author. Titled Philadelphia’s Diary, the book shares stories about the city at the micro and macro level that Adames has experienced or heard through his nonprofit. The book can get graphic, especially when exploring “sensitive and touchy” topics, according to Adames.
Published in January, the book can now be purchased through Amazon. After starting the writing process last summer, Adames is “grateful” to have the stories out in the world.
“The idea came from the experiences of my non-profit, dealing with different people in Philadelphia,” Adames said. “Trying to get at who people are, why they are the way they are, some of the common themes throughout Philadelphia, and why the city is going in the direction that it’s going. It’s not based off any particular person that I know or my life but based off experiences I’ve witnessed myself or saw people go through.”
Adames added that through the writing process he thought about the change that might come from the stories. With each chapter bringing a different character, topic, hardship and success, the style of writing varies. Adames said that depending on the subject, the language changes, often featuring Philadelphia slang. Sometimes the story is told from another perspective, while still being in Adames’ words. While the content of the book came easily, the publication process was entirely different.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Adames said. “I did my research and looked around, I asked a few people what I should do and how to do it. I came to a conclusion that it was going to be through something called BookBaby or Amazon, and Amazon was the safest way to go in my opinion. The publication process took about two months simply because to cover font was off every single time I submitted it.”
With the book now available, Adames is hoping to raise awareness for those who experience things similar to what is depicted in the Philadelphia’s Diary. He added that he hopes to sell at least 10,000 copies, since he is also donating some of the proceeds from the sales to children’s cancer research.
“I want to let people know they’re not alone and that they have people by their side,” Adames said. “I lost one of my best friends when I was younger, before I came to GA, and I was in that state of mind that I just wanted to bring awareness. Once I got to GA, there were a lot of people that were comforting. I met so many people, Dr. [Michelle] Friedman, Mrs. [Carol] Ayers, Coach [Jim] Fenerty, just people like that. I just wanted to write the book so people know there are people out there like that.”
According to Adames, the journey with LOT Crew wanted to change as many lives as they could. He said it grew bigger than they thought it would, to the point where they are doing Thanksgiving giveaways with 125 turkeys, Christmas giveaways with 600 presents and even gave away a car to a senior last Christmas. He added that “between GA and my parents, that’s where I got the inspiration from.”
For now, Adames wants to hear feedback. He will be doing a book signing and meet and greet on May 7 at 3:00pm at Black and Nobel (422 South St. Philadelphia, PA). There are plans for another book, but Adames is not sure when that will get published. For now, you can find his first book on Amazon.com.
“I’ve already started another book similar to the first one, but different characters, different scenarios and situations,” Adames said. “Another book will come, it’s just a matter of time.”