7th Street Clean Up Effort was Awesome

I am working on a Saturday.  United Communities Southeast Philadelphia is providing free income tax preparation for community residents until April 15th, 2013.  In addition to this duty, I helped to organize a community cleanup on South 7th Street from Oregon Avenue to Snyder Avenue.  We received cooperation from the Managing Director's Office, the Streets Department and the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia.  I have been volunteering in Philadelphia for many years and I will admit that it was the best cleanup I have ever participated in. 

The cleanup was supposed to begin at 10:00 AM.  By the time I arrived at 9:50 AM more than 100 participants were lined up on 7th Street.  Individuals performing community service under the auspices of the Community Life Improvement Program had already bagged a large amount of trash.  By 10:50 AM, the trash was picked up and bagged and volunteers were on to Mifflin Square park for additional duties.  I stopped by the Cambodian Association's office for refreshments and coffee.  It was an awesome event.

There were some language barriers evident during our cleanup.  We used hand signals to signal shovel and broom time and to get the job done.  I worked with Naroen Chhin from the 1 Love Movement which is located on 7th & Dickinson Streets.  We are already talking about the city wide cleanup on April 13th and organizing a cookout for after the work is done.  It is great to be able to respond to a need identified in the Philly Rising Area Action plan.  We need to continue the Community Engagement aspect.

I would llike to thank Ade Fuqua and Manuel Ramos from the City of Philadelphia.  Bunrath Math, Sarun Chan and Rorng from the Cambodian Association were also instrumental.  In addition, the energy of the volunteers was infectious.  I just got off the phone with Shaku, a longtime Southeast Philadelphia resident.  We want to organize another cleanup effort on different streets in the near future.

I had an interesting meeting with Bruce Baldwin yesterday.  It had to be mediated by Francis Carney because of the intensity of the subject matter.  We will learn to exist together.  I did not grow up in the vicinity of 8th & Snyder but I will make an impact here while I am employed at the Houston Center.  I think that they have a great public servant in City Councilman Mark Squilla.  I also feel that there is a genuine interest in community development activities.  I will finish my day here with the income tax preparation and I look forward to outreach efforts in the near future.

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