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Doing good in the Fishtown neighborhood

Posted by admin on March 21, 2017
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Fri­day, June 17, was the per­fect even­ing for an out­door party at the New Kens­ing­ton Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion (NK­CDC) Com­munity Garden, Frank­ford Av­en­ue and Berks Street.

“This event is one that has been with the FNA for a while,” said John Con­solvo, FNA board pres­id­ent. “It’s the longest run­ning event that we have.”

Des­pite turnover in lead­er­ship due to brief terms and new mem­bers con­tinu­ally join­ing the FNA, which was formed in 2000, the barbe­que has been a main­stay since 2005 and has al­ways been a suc­cess­ful way to bring the com­munity to­geth­er.

“What this night is about is really a chance for people to come out and meet their neigh­bors,” said Con­solvo, who de­scribed Fishtown as a “vil­lage.”

“It’s an event like this that is low-key that gives people the chance to meet some of the oth­er vil­la­gers.”

All River Wards neigh­bors were in­vited, and a sug­ges­ted $10 dona­tion to FNA in­cluded bur­gers, hot dogs, beer from Phil­adelphia Brew­ing Com­pany and Yards, and bal­loons and a face paint­er for kids.

“It’s not really sup­posed to be a fun­draiser, but we will raise some funds this year thanks to a gen­er­ous spon­sor­ship from the Penn Treaty Spe­cial Ser­vices Dis­trict,” Con­solvo said. The or­gan­iz­a­tion donated $2,000.

Ac­cord­ing to the FNA’s web­site, their mis­sion is to serve our fam­il­ies and neigh­bors by pro­mot­ing com­munity activ­it­ies, civic in­volve­ment, edu­ca­tion, and safety by fos­ter­ing the smart growth of a unique and di­verse river­front neigh­bor­hood.

“Or­gan­iz­a­tions like ours that are vo­lun­teer-driv­en be­ne­fit by hav­ing some of the fund­ing pres­sures re­lieved be­cause it al­lows us to put more en­ergy in­to fo­cus­ing on the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s mis­sion.”

FNA awar­ded two Com­munity Ser­vice Awards at the event.

About 10 nom­in­a­tions were sub­mit­ted and the FNA board se­lec­ted two re­cip­i­ents — one in­di­vidu­al and one or­gan­iz­a­tion.

The first re­cip­i­ent, Mag­gie O’Bri­en, 59, was a found­ing mem­ber of the FNA and has lived in Fishtown nearly her en­tire life.

Around 2004, she be­came the pres­id­ent of Fishtown Ac­tion (FACT), and was in­stru­ment­al in a River Wards part­ner­ship with Sug­ar­House Casino that res­ul­ted in the Penn Treaty Spe­cial Ser­vices Dis­trict in 2008, ac­cord­ing to Con­solvo.

“As a res­ult of the casino, we’re get­ting so much money in the com­munity, and so many groups are able to ac­com­plish so many things,” O’Bri­en said. “Years ago, we would have been hav­ing bake sales, flea mar­kets, and all kinds of fun­draisers. This is a lot easi­er.”

Thanks to the part­ner­ship, Sug­ar­House Casino donates $1 mil­lion every year to pro­grams and events.

“As a found­ing mem­ber of the FNA and Fishtown Ac­tion, that’s just the tip of the ice­berg,” Con­solvo said about O’Bri­en. “All of the things she’s done in this neigh­bor­hood, I don’t even know them all. Mag­gie has been work­ing on be­half of the neigh­bor­hood for years.”

“It means a lot to be re­cog­nized, and have someone say ‘thanks’,” O’Bri­en said. “This is a great event, and I hope some of the more long­time Fishtown­ers will come out next year.”

The second Com­munity Ser­vice Award re­cip­i­ent is a re­l­at­ively new or­gan­iz­a­tion, but has already im­pacted the River Wards with its ded­ic­a­tion and com­mit­ment to pre­serving the neigh­bor­hood’s his­tory.

The FNA honored the Kens­ing­ton Olde Rich­mond Her­it­age Neigh­bor­hood Pre­ser­va­tion Al­li­ance (KORH/NPA).

The or­gan­iz­a­tion’s mis­sion is to pro­tect and pre­serve the built her­it­age of Phil­adelphia’s River Wards for the be­ne­fit of cur­rent and fu­ture com­munit­ies. The group star­ted as two sep­ar­ate or­gan­iz­a­tions, but joined forces less than a year ago.

The or­gan­iz­a­tion was born out of a con­cern for pending de­moli­tion of three neigh­bor­hood churches, ac­cord­ing to Con­solvo.

“We’re a grass­roots pre­ser­va­tion ini­ti­at­ive that ser­vices the River Wards, and we help re­gistered com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions nav­ig­ate pending de­moli­tions,” said An­drew Fearon, one of three co-dir­ect­ors of the group.

“We also sup­port nom­in­a­tions to des­ig­nate his­tor­ic­ally sig­ni­fic­ant build­ings to the Phil­adelphia Re­gister of His­tor­ic Places.”

The group is also act­ively sur­vey­ing im­port­ant build­ings in the area, doc­u­ment­ing them, and help­ing to pre­serve them, with help from loc­al his­tor­i­an Ken Mil­ano. The or­gan­iz­a­tion’s three co-dir­ect­ors, An­drew Fearon, Dana Fed­eli and Quentin Stoltz­fus, ac­cep­ted the award.

The two award re­cip­i­ents mingled with one an­oth­er, along with the 125-plus neigh­bors who at­ten­ded the event.

The night con­cluded with Ian Wilson, FNA vice pres­id­ent and re­cord­ing sec­ret­ary, brav­ing the dunk tank, as his neigh­bors and fam­ily mem­bers made sure he didn’t stay dry.

26th Dis­trict Cap­tain George Kappe was the first to suc­cess­fully hit the tar­get, send­ing Wilson in­to the tank be­low.

Source: Star News Philly

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