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