The meeting was quaint, but the mission is a big one: unite all of Philadelphia’s non-profit and community service news under one roof.
United Philly, a website project started by the Philadelphia Community Corps, meets once a week in North Central at the Edward H. Rosen Hillel Center located at 1441 W. Norris St. Local nonprofits from every realm – community gardening to education – come together with the Philadelphia Community Corps to network and find better ways to work together.
Gregory Trainor, 23, the brains behind the Corps and United Philly, always knew he wanted to get involved in community service and the nonprofit sector. More specifically, after spending time in the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Trainor got interested in house demolition and rebuilding. But when he looked for demolition projects in North Central, he found few resources to inform him of what was going on throughout the Philadelphia area. So the Corps birthed United Philly as a hyper-local community service news site.
“As journalism is evolving towards niche websites that will cover the breadth of news across cities and regions, we want to be the website that covers non-profit and community service news in Philadelphia,” Trainor said.
At the meetings every week, Trainor said he hopes to see “as many non-profits as possible” so that he can get them to start blogging for him. The United Philly website allows nonprofits to repost things from their personal blogs up onto a master blog to increase visibility.
With nonprofits already on board from Center City and West Philadelphia, United Philly does not have a North Central focus. It aims to be a truly “Philly-centric” effort bringing together all of Philadelphia. However, North Central, at least for now, is home for both United Philly and the Corps.
“[North Central] especially is kind of at the heart of the abandoned housing problem…[and it] really is the perfect area to launch a demolition program,” Trainor said. “The original idea was to start up a nonprofit demolition organization. That would be our niche. That was all we were gonna do. But as we started doing it I realized…a demolition organization really would have the entire structure and functionality to adapt to any community service project. And also, I knew we wouldn’t be able to jump straight into demolition so we decided to expand to other areas and build our way up to demolition.”
Patricia Bruno, 21, a Philadelphia native who used to tutor inner-city school children in the area before it began to conflict with her schedule, said, “They don’t [get the word out about community service projects in Philadelphia]. A lot of people I know would love to help if they knew of different places that they could fit into their schedule.”
Bruno said she thinks Philadelphia would greatly benefit from a website like UnitedPhilly.org.