MLK Day of Service in Grays Ferry: Awesome

Yesterday was a great day around the region for service projects in memory of the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr.  I participated in a project in the Grays Ferry section of South Philadelphia as part of my duties with the South Philadelphia EPIC Stakeholders.  We collaborated with the Young Chances Foundation and I feel that we made a major impact during this cleanup.  We met residents and we transformed the 1500 Block of South Taney Street in addition to the 2800 Block of Dickinson and other adjoining streets.

Grays Ferry has been in the news for reasons that have not been positive recently.  There was a 19 year old man murdered there on January 9th, 2014.  I attended a press conference at the Vare Recreation Center in his memory and as an impetus to help deter the violence there.  There was a story in the Inquirer this morning about a 16 year old who was walking down the street with a pump rifle last week.  When confronted by police, he did not immediately drop his weapon.  He pointed it at the officers and was apprehended after a search.

On Saturday, January 18th, 2014, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson convened a Breakfast meeting of a diverse array of community groups to address some of the daunting issues affecting this community.  I was shocked by the fact that only 64% of students are completing 8th grade on time.  There is no was that we can remain competitive as a society without our young people completing their education.  We also have a high degree of single parent households and higher unemployment.  District Attorney Seth Williams, State Representative Jordan Harris, Keri Salerno of Focused Deterrence and Captain Derbyshire of the 17th District were there to support the Councilman's anticipated strategy to save our young people.

Yesterday's effort was a spectacular display of community pride though.  There was a grill set up on the 1500 block of South Etting Street.  All volunteers were able to enjoy hamburgers and hot dogs that were supplied by the EPIC Stakeholders group.  We had volunteers who found the project on the MLK365 website.  I would like to thank my sister Kia Boggs Pinkney for bringing her sons Seth and Koby.  She also bought her nephews Jonas and RJ.  My son Michael and Ronald Wallace also participated.  A volunteer from 9th and Tasker, Rachel How, bought her young children and worked with a child strapped to her back.  The commitment to the ideals of the day and the tangible results were evident.  My thanks to the City of Philadelphia for providing brooms, shovels, rakes and bags also!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Tyrique Glasgow.  He is the President of the Young Chance Foundation and a force for good in this neighborhood.  I met him at the grand opening for Councilman Johnson's district office last year.  We have sponsored trips to Dorney Park, the Zoo, the Rotunda and to other venues together.  He mentions that he was a product of his environment and his current dedication is a testament to his concern for the children in his neighborhood.  There are still some corners that we can clean up in this neighborhood.  We can focus on those during the upcoming Philly Spring Clean Up.  I am still happy about our impact yesterday and look forward to more projects going forward. 

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