On Tuesday, City Paper received a call from an audibly upset Gerald Sterrett, director of The Second Mile, a West Philadelphia thrift store and nonprofit.
"I'm calling to ask if you can't do a story about us," he said. "It's getting ugly."
The problem, explained Sterrett — known around the neighborhood simply as "Mr. Gerry" — was that people have been confusing his nonprofit, whose purpose is to hire ex-cons, recovering drug addicts and other troubled people, with a different "Second Mile" charity — the one founded, to make things worse, by another Jerry: Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State football defensive coordinator now accused of having molested children. Sandusky's Second Mile is an organization "for children who need additional support and who would benefit from positive human contact."
It's just a coincidence — the phrase "Second Mile" comes from the Bible (Matthew 5:41): "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles."
"It was something Jesus told his followers," explains Sterrett. "In essence, it means: Be willing to go beyond the call of duty."
But the confusion has caused chaos at the thrift store: Sterrett says his small organization has been fielding irate calls since the Penn State scandal broke. "If you could write something explaining that we have nothing to do with that, I'd appreciate it."