2020 Park Friends Network Successes & Shoutouts
As 2020 comes to a close, we look back with appreciation at what our Park Friends accomplished together under such challenging circumstances. Every year in December, the Stewardship Team honors all of our volunteer’s contributions at our annual “Party for the Parks.” Since we couldn’t gather together to celebrate in our true park style, we asked our Park Friends to share their stories so we could honor the long time commitment of our dedicated volunteers. We are so excited to share all of this year's successes and we look forward to good things to come in 2021.
Friends of Gold Star Park
In March of 2020, renovation began in Gold Star Park after years of planning. And then - construction was halted by the COVID Pandemic. Construction fence was around most of the park. Then the project started up by summer, and finally finished in November. The park design is a huge success and Gold Star has been filled with children playing and their parents have been enjoying a new outdoor space ever since the fence came down.
This project has certainly made me respect the patience and intelligence of the children. They comprehended that something good was coming. With their parents they have made inspections throughout the execution of the work phases and have loved watching the big trucks and moving things around. They are now finally enjoying the results.
- Liz Daily, Friends of Gold Star Park member
Powers Park Conservancy
Powers Park Conservancy would like to recognize State Representative Joe Hohenstein. Since being elected in 2018, Joe has been an ardent advocate of Powers Park providing both financial support and sweat equity. Powers Park has provided the residents of South Port Richmond a place to get outside and enjoy nature while staying socially distant and safe. - John Kalicki, Powers Park Conservancy member
South Philadelphia Older Adult Center (SPOAC) Community Garden
As a member of the SPOAC garden for 6 years, I have always felt lucky to have such a lush, serene and productive space close to my home that could also offer a beautiful environment for seniors utilizing the space. However, it wasn't until March 2020 and the onset of COVID-19 that I truly understood the value offered to my family. When school moved remote, and parks were closed, my 4.5 year old was stuck inside with no opportunity to experience the world around him - until we realized that our garden, with its bocce court and pagoda and flowers and vegetables could be an oasis for us. We spent hours there during the day breathing in the fresh air and "pretending" life was normal. It was a place where my kids could see their grandmother with space, and we could get our hands (and knees) dirty. And in large part, there is one person responsible for making this space a light in a time of darkness. Our President, Jon Jividen, has spent hours watering and weeding and beautifying this space for everyone in the community. He has been selfless in his commitment to the space and bringing us all so much joy.
- Shira Haaz, SPOAC Community Garden member
Friends of Stephen Girard Park
Friends of Stephen Girard Park would like to give a shout out to Dave Nelson! Dave has been instrumental in helping the Friends at Stephen Girard Park (FOSGP). Dave has helped out by making sure sure our park stays safe and he always lends a hand with his arborist skills. He has gone above and beyond his calling. Dave is out cutting the grass and mulching the leaves in the park, removing trash, removing branches and tree limbs, purchasing tools, managing the gardens and trees, and trimming the hedges around the outside of the park. Dave works tirelessly to keep our park a beautiful and safe oasis in South Philly and we are extremely grateful!
Our park is clean and inviting to all. Now more than ever, the park provides a gathering place with social distance, a safe place for our children and provides joy for all of the neighbors. - Elaine Fera, co-chair of Friends of Stephen Girard
Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park
The Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park went outside almost daily this whole year to clean up the park. They were dealing with a very challenging situation, and cleaned up trash & hazardous waste from the park to protect the space for their neighbors. The Friend's Group's continued contribution and care means so much to us - Baldwin Park Friend's really show that they care! - Meka Perez, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
Friends of Jefferson Square Park
I am so grateful for our small but dedicated group of Friends who have stuck together to maintain the Park year after year: Devyn Caldwell has revamped our website. When our beloved and historic Kentucky Coffee tree sustained major damage in a storm, Gena Senior designed a beautiful tribute banner that raised over $2500 to support ongoing maintenance. Nicole Michaud has planted hundreds of donated plants and bulbs in our beds and started an Instagram account to share images of the Park. Mike Ruzzo is our tree whisperer and keeps our cleanups running, and Jeb Wood keeps our finances flush and created a Venmo and PayPal account to help drive contributions when we couldn’t host fundraising events. Bill Arrowood keeps our trash cans empty, our lights on, and for the 15th year this year has transformed the Park into a holiday wonderland. We couldn’t ask for better Friends (but we can always use more!). Special thanks as well to PPR: Esmerelda Hajdinaj, Edelweiss Cardenas, Joe Scarpello, Harry Fritsch and their teams for responding so quickly whenever we need support!
Like many parks, Jefferson Square has seen a significant increase in visitors during the pandemic and became even more of a central gathering place for the neighborhood. We have welcomed birthday parties, rallies, gym workouts, countless games of cornhole, musicians, and theater and dance performances. Our monthly cleanups have given neighbors a chance to connect and get fresh air while giving back to their community. This week we lit holiday lights for the 15th year, and while we couldn’t celebrate in person, we hope the glow brings a little joy to our corner of Pennsport. We’re so grateful to have this space and for the many volunteers and city officials who help us keep it beautiful. - Katherine Kelton, Friends of Jefferson Square member
Friends of Penn Treaty Park
Friends of Penn Treaty Park would like to recognize Bonnie Schmonsees. Bonnie has done an amazing job starting a series of park cleanups this year. She's organized tree care, planting (more than 20!), and education, weed removals, and habitat plantings that have made a huge difference in the park already. A ton of new people have become involved - more than we've had in years - and repeat volunteers have talked about how satisfying it's been to care for the park as a group in what's been a rough year. This has been a touch time to start something new and she's really turned it into something great.
The park has clearly been a well-loved escape for people all year - Fishtown's beach over the summer, a daily walk or run destination, a safe place for little birthday celebrations, and a place to picnic with friends. - Michelle Shuman
Thanks to all of our Park Friends!
The unique hurdles faced this year highlighted to the Park Stewardship Team just how lucky we are to have each of you in our corner. This year reinforced for us what we already knew to be true, that our Park Friends are caring, creative, and resilient. Our parks were front and center this year, and they were used and appreciated more than ever. They were our classrooms, safe refuges for friends and family, portals to the natural world, and personal gyms. Our parks were essential to the health and wellbeing of Philadelphians in 2020. Through all of the extra use they received, Philly’s Park Friends were there. They imagined creative ways to engage their neighbors safely, keep the parks clean and beautiful, and meet with one another via new mediums like Zoom.
Through it all, they stayed dedicated to your park and community. We thank them for being our essential partners and for continuing to Love Your Park. We can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together next year.